Smith, Marpet Rising To The Top

October 2nd, 2016
"Thanks for keeping me out of a wheelchair, bro."

“Thanks for keeping me out of a wheelchair, bro.”

Joe has made it clear he is, well, um, suspicious of the stat geeks mainly because there is no evidence of their football acumen when they are watching tape.

Anyone, including a three-year old, can watch tape. But do they know what they are looking at and, more importantly, how do they know what each player’s individual assignment is on a given play?

But Joe does try to keep an open mind and there are some statheads Joe respects. Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report and locally data-driven Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times are two.

The PFF tribe does a decent job tracking YAC and missed tackles and broken tackles. That’s about it. The Football Outsiders crowd Joe respects a great deal, partially because they often state their stats are not necessarily absolute. Joe respects that honesty and candor.

In that vein, Ben Muth of Football Outsiders takes a deep dive into the offensive line of the Bucs. Muth, a former All-PAC 10 offensive lineman at Stanford,  believes the 2016 draft picks, Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet, are beginning to show signs they are two of the better blockers in the NFL.

It’s a shame that Smith had the three big negative plays (two penalties and sack), because without those he had a nice little game. Not dominant, but he certainly held his own with Quinn for most of the day and looked like he belonged as a starting left tackle in this league. If he can limit the back-breaking mistakes, he could be a long-term option in Tampa.

Marpet was thought of much more highly after his rookie year than Smith, but I thought he had a harder time on Sunday. Part of that had to do with who he was blocking. I love Robert Quinn, but Aaron Donald is a straight-up face-eater. He’s so fast and so powerful that he’s probably going to have a way to beat just about anyone he plays against.

Marpet had more trouble with Donald’s power than quickness. Donald was able to bull-rush him back into the quarterback and pressure Winston a couple of times (he also batted a couple passes). And there was a play early in the first where he drove Marpet straight back into the backfield on an outside run and forced a big loss. I want to see Marpet play against someone who isn’t a top-five defensive player, though, before I say he doesn’t play with enough power. One thing I do feel pretty good about saying is that Marpet looks great playing in space. He looked good blocking at the second level all game. And then he pulled a couple of times and really won me over.

Look, only the spreadsheeters hated Smith. Joe spoke last offseason with many NFL folks and couldn’t find any (current players, former players, current coaches, ex-coaches, current front office types and former front office types) who thought Smith was garbage. Only the Excel warriors.

Simple facts: The Bucs rushed for 2,162 yards last year and gave up the fourth-fewest sacks in the NFL. Teams don’t do that with a left tackle who is a human broken gate, nevermind a rookie left tackle.

Look who Smith had to block and how many sacks those guys got, and then get back to Joe and try to explain why and/or how Smith stinks. He doesn’t. It’s called getting the job done.

Marpet really looks like he’s going to be a Pro Bowler in the future. A guy who has to tangle with him daily in practice with a few Pro Bowls under his belt thinks so too.

5 Responses to “Smith, Marpet Rising To The Top”

  1. Buc1987 Says:

    Doesn’t matter how good the o-line is as long as Jameis keeps turning the ball over they will never be any good. (Sarcasm)

  2. SOEbuc Says:

    For Ali to be a pro bowler this team would have to start getting wins. I feel he could go 16 games with 0 sacks or pressures and no penalties and he still wouldn’t make it just because of our crappy, non recognized franchise

  3. Mike Johnson Says:

    Actually we have not given our Defense a chance. jameis constantly puts them in bad field position with his turnovers. I mean the Defense is out there a lot. Yes, Jameis throws TD’s. But the guy is like of never know what you are going to get with him. He turns it over quite a bit. And is right up there in the top 3 for QB tunovers. Buc fans laugh at me when I said we should have gone for Aaron Donald. Look at Denver. They got a 6th rder playing good ball at the QB position. Jameis needs to improve quickly. Because the way he’s looking? He’s gonna be a dan marino type with no Superbowls.

  4. Buc1987 Says:

    It’s easy to laugh at you Mike…

    What with your wild assed predictions of doom and gloom craziness.

  5. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Says:

    W/o a running game, the defense does not get much of a rest, and can easily wear down. Some say we miss Doug Martin, but do not forget that Logan Mankins is also gone. Somehow, we must figure out a way to control the clock with some kind of a running game. I agree with Ira Kaufman that we might want to give Rogers a try today, instead of Sims.
    Yes, Sims can flash sometimes. But he seems to go down far too easily, when running inside the tackles.

    Also, please remember Trevor Semen was a very highly rated QB at one time, who fell in the draft due to injury concerns. He flat lit the Bengals up with 4 TD’s last week! And this was in the Bengals hometown, and while under pressure from their pass rush all day. Do not underestimate Trevor Semen.