What’s The Price Of O-Line Uncertainty?

July 19th, 2014
Compared to that of new starting Bucs left tackle Anthony Collins, former Bucs left tackle Donald Penn seems to have a very different take on what it takes to jell as an offensive line.

Compared to that of new starting Bucs left tackle Anthony Collins, former Bucs left tackle Donald Penn seems has a very different take on what it takes to jell as an offensive line.

The answer to the question in the headline is a giant X-factor of the Buccaneers’ 2014 season.

Offensive lines simply don’t jell and hum instantly with new parts and schemes and coaches, except in rare occasions.

Yes, the Bucs have a pile of uncertainly along their offensive line. The mess situation is well documented. But how long will — or should — it take to unify and play together?

It’s darn interesting that new Bucs starting left tackle Anthony Collins says it only takes a matter of hours, yet former Tampa Bay LT Donald Penn paints a very different picture.

Joe asked Collins how long it takes back in April.

“Good groups take, you know, a couple of days. You know, once you get to know people and talk and the you look at film and see how they play and then with coaching technique, it only take a couple of days,” Collins said.

Hmm, that was a bit of a head-scratcher answer, but perhaps Collins is a guy who can adjust quickly and successfully. His long career as a Bengals backup — yes, backup — proved he could excel on the fly.

But Donald Penn sings a different tune. He explained to SI.com this week, while also making verbal love to Greg Schiano, that a lack of continuity on the Bucs’ offensive line helped mess up his final Tampa Bay campaign.

“It was a tough one — it was up and down,” Penn said of his 2013 season. “I have a lot of respect for Coach Schiano. I understand his ways. Maybe a lot of guys didn’t pick up on it, but I feel that Schiano’s a good coach. But we had that, we had the [staph] infection thing going in, and I don’t know how many different guards playing next me last year. Different quarterbacks… we kind of went downhill towards the end of the season before last; we were on a playoff run and it hurt us. It was tough, and I’m glad it’s over and I can move forward. I’m looking forward to being an Oakland Raider.

“It was tough. I’m not trying to make any excuses, but if you ask me straight up… timing is a big part of being an offensive lineman. During camp, when Carl wasn’t there, they were trying to find someone who would fit in that spot. They had a couple of different guys going day in and day out. And in the season, I’d find out that somebody else was going to be playing, and then somebody else. You try to pick up that timing and the knowing the person next to you within a couple of days, and it’s hard.”

More a run-plower than a dancing bear, Penn was left doing too much at times — covering areas he wasn’t built to cover, and leaving spaces open that he was supposed to cover. It was an expensive lesson in the old coaching axiom: “Do your job.”

“I feel like I was worrying about a lot of stuff instead of worrying about me — taking care of my game and Donald Penn,” he recalled. “That could be why my play did go down a little last year, but at the end of the day, I have to worry about me, and doing everything I can to help our team succeed. Last year, I was worried about where this guy was, and what this guy was doing, and it trickled down on the way I played. But I can’t do that anymore. Because if I’m at my best, and I’m the best Donald Penn out there, we’re going to succeed.”

Joe will let fans think about how much time an offensive line really needs. Obviously, talent is a huge factor.

Below, you can watch Collins’ spring chat below, including his answer to Joe’s question.

23 Responses to “What’s The Price Of O-Line Uncertainty?”

  1. Andrew 1 Says:

    lmao, this whole thing feels like one big convenient excuse. Asked to do to much?! Really?! Was he asked to do too much when he couldn’t even block the guy lined up directly across from him? No, his play and his play alone is the reason why he is gone, the rest is bull sh!t. The fact that Lovie would take his chances on a guy who hasn’t even started a full season over Penn tells you all you need to know.

    Penn was once a really good LT, but those days are over. I’d say he’s got about a season or two left at best.

  2. Mumbles Says:

    Agree with Andrew 1, nobody’s fault but his own! Maybe PB&J sammiches played a part too!

  3. Cobraboy Says:

    Sounds like a lot of excuses.

  4. biff barker Says:

    Without question Penn had a down year. Let’s remember he gave us several very good ones too. I wish him Davin and Zuttah the best.
    With camp on the horizon, the truth about Nicks’ foot should known. Let’s hope whomever we plug in can get the job done.

  5. Jason Says:

    I agree that Penn’s best days seem to be behind him, and he probably only has a couple of seasons (at best) of good play left in him, at least at left tackle. However, the continuity spoken of amongst offensive linemen isn’t just about getting along, but knowing which guy that blocker will take, in which direction they’ll typically block them so you don’t interfere, etc…. and if you’ve got that on your mind, your attention isn’t fully on the DE in front of you. I can honestly see how that would detract from his (Penn’s) play.
    Hopefully we figure out our starting O-line early in camp this year, and roll with those guys the whole way to help establish that communication and continuity!

  6. Mark Says:

    Did this article call Penn a “run-plower”? Penn was a very good LT at times, but his forte was pass-blocking. Sick of reading national articles where they make claims that aren’t true because they never really watched the guy play.

  7. BFFL Says:

    I’ll take this years OL over last years anytime. I’m so happy I don’t have to watch and listen to that overrated group anymore..seems like every year people would blindly say our OL was a strength, but this year they say it’s a weakness. Hope that’s a sign of good things to come.

  8. JonnyThumper Says:

    The behind smooching of Schiano just made me gag

  9. bigpoppabuc Says:

    Somebody give the big guy some cheese to go with his whine, please. Penn was healthy all season and his play got progressively worse. He was a decent LT for a few years, but I’ve never really liked his personality, or the fact that he couldn’t control his weight.
    maybe Collins isn’t the answer but he should just about as good if not a bit better than Penn while we search for a true pillar of a LT in the coming years. I was most upset to see Zuttah go, but EDS was a great pickup. Joseph’s story is an unfortunate one but it was time to move on from that….
    the way I see it is this new O-line may be an uncertainty, but they’ll have to really, really stink it up to match last years performance from what was supposedly a “stacked” line.

  10. Louis Friend Says:

    “I didn’t live up to my contract.” That’s really all he had to say. No dishonor in failure. But guys who refuse to see the light and fix their own issues, like his ex-boss, or recognize their own eroded skills, like Penn – they become dinosaurs in a hurry. Penn’s got pride, but anyone watching the games last year could see he was on the verge of being too fat or too old to be serviceable for long.

  11. Couch Fan Says:

    It wasn’t just last year with Penn, the last few years his play got worse and worse as the season went on. It was time to start fresh. Thank you for the years Penn, and Thank you Lovie for getting rid of that whole line.

  12. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    It’s far from being “just talent” on any area of the football team including OL.

    This is why the genius Paul Brown who still has an NFL team named after him, started using IQ tests which have now been replaced by Wunderlich tests.

    Now one could make a valid argument that the need for intelligence varies by position. CB’s…WR’s…RB’s..can get by much easier on simple talent. Obviously QB is the most demanding intellectually, perhaps JFro’s downfall, and LB can be important but next to QB the OL may need to be the smartest dudes on the field.

    We have a very bright center…if the rest are as motivated and intelligent I agree with Collins not Penn.

    The perfect illustration of this was Doug Martin’s record setting rookie year. He ran behind no names of limited talent but awesome ambition, work ethic and yes INTELLIGENCE.

  13. MGM4Life Says:

    Looking more and more like this years OL will not have to face Panthers Greg Hardy twice this year so at least one positive for now.

  14. deminion Says:

    New Oline last yrs was over-paid overhyped and over their head best of luck to the former bucs go bucs

  15. buc4lyfe Says:

    Nothing but excuses. This was basically the same o line from the year before except the draft pick Dominick have away for carimi. Two rushers had 200+ games, they got complacent and quit like the team did for raheem. The qb pressure we faced the last two years is nothing compared to the o line Aaron Rodgers or Andrew luck have to deal with.

    The o line question mark is just some garbage the media keeps throwing out there just to have something to say, they said the exact same thing about the o line last year. Anthony becht picked us to go 8-8 not just about what everyone said last year so make a prediction if that’s what you’ll say because teams almost always over or underachieve but herm Edwards is the only one with guts even if it was delusional. You mean better coach better d line better coaches, better players and and we’ll be no better this year than what media predicted in 2013. Hope I make it through another month of this

  16. Eric Says:

    At some point you have to admit your oline sucks and make some changes.

    Good for Lovie for shaking it up.

  17. Kevin Says:

    This is one guy I did not mind seeing go. I thought Zuttah was very valuable because he was so versatile. I see Davin Joseph having a great year and bouncing back…but I can understand his contract was more than the team wanted to pay him. I would’ve thought Joseph would re-structure. Makes me think they just didn’t want him. I don’t know. I do think the style of play calling has a lot to do with an OL’s stat sheets though.

  18. Touch_Down_Tampa_Bay Says:

    When you have linemen playing with one leg or one not playing at all (Nicks) is easy to say they are over-payed and overhyped. But you know I like Eric’s point:

    “At some point you have to admit your oline sucks and make some changes”

    But I guess Schiano did not want to jeopardize the “His Franchise QB” with changes in the line…

  19. Brandon Says:

    Penn is taking the stance of a victim, plain and simple. He lost his coach that ONLY he understood, he had a different guy on the side of him every other play, he tried to do too much. I really liked Donald Penn but what I’m seeing here is a guy that knows the end for him is near and he’ll make all the excuses he can and throw anybody he can under the bus to stay in the league.

  20. Jbeachbuc Says:

    Yes Brandon,I’d have to agree wth that take

  21. BamBamBuc Says:

    Penn probably should have just stuck to his assignment and done his job… yes, he should have just “worried about Donald Penn”. If guys got through (which they did anyway), the coaches would see on film who screwed up. The mantra “Do your job” holds true, if he would have done his he may still be a Buccaneer, but he felt he had to do the job of the guy next to him as well and now he’s seeing the ending days of his career.

  22. ButIt941 Says:

    I have a feeling by years end Dotson will be making the move to LT and Collins will be on the right. I’ve had faith in Demar’s development since his arrival and watched him progressively get better and better. I have a feeling he is going to make a big jump this year!

  23. eric Says:

    Here we go JOE favorite quote machine Donald “The Excuse” Penn I am glad he is gone also!