Koetter: “I Like Our O-Line”

January 3rd, 2017
On the move?

On the move?

Legions of Bucs fans seal-clubbed the offensive line throughout this season thinking it was the root cause of Doug Martin’s repeated failures in the running game.

Pure silliness, but ok, everyone sees different things when watching film. It’s kind of like when Joe heads to a St. Pete “Ladies Night” and is convinced a few blondes are feeling Joe’s vibe, but it’s not really happening.

Yesterday at One Buc Palace, winning Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter was asked about shakeups on his offensive line, specifically shuffling Donovan Smith to right guard and Ali Marpet to center.

Koetter basically shrugged off the question saying his philosophy is “get your best five on the field.”

But embedded in his take was an important one-liner from the candid head coach. he likes the O-line even if the media and others aren’t on board.

“Every team has weaknesses and every team has other places that they’re strong in depth. I like our O-line,” Koetter said. “I know there’s people out there, maybe some in this room, that think we need to add [new pieces]. We need to add everywhere.  …  You just can’t get guys across the board that are the perfect fit. So, I think we have good versatility in the O-line and I think we have good depth and I think we’ve got two young guys that didn’t get to play very much this year, in [Caleb] Benenoch and [Leonard] Wester, that will be there for us when we need them.”

Joe likes the O-line, too, and has through the season.

No, Joe’s not a big Demar Dotson fan, though Joe gained a new appreciation for him after watching swinging-saloon-door Gosder Cherilus last month. Oh, the horror.

Also, Joe’s all in favor of a significant upgrade at center. Joe Hawley brings great passion, juice and attitude to the O-line unit, but he’s manhandled far too often.

It’s also worth noting that the NFC South has three superstar centers in Max Unger, Alex Mack and Ryan Kalil. That really doesn’t apply to the Bucs, but it illustrates how important the position can be.

The Saints traded Jimmy Graham for Unger. Kalil might land in a few Hall of Fame conversations when his Panthers career is finished. And Mack, a big-money free agency signing by Atlanta in March, has been a critical cog in the Falcons’ elite offense.

41 Responses to “Koetter: “I Like Our O-Line””

  1. Waterboy Says:

    Just please don’t put Cherilus back out there. I went back and got a good laugh rewatching the clips of Irvine slinging him around on the field.

  2. Bucsfanman Says:

    So Joe, Martin with a defender on his ankles 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage is Doug’s fault?!
    I think the line just needs a little tweaking. We had 4 of 5 returning starters. I’m of the opinion that you can NEVER have enough O-line depth.

  3. Doctor Stroud Says:

    Given this statement, there might be some shifting around on the o-line rather than new additions. As some on this site have said, Ali Marpet might get a shot at playing Center. A full scale riot among the fan base might ensue if Gosder Cherilus is back on the roster next year.

  4. Gencoimports Says:

    The Bucs as a team averaged 1.2 yds per carry less in 2016 (3.6) vs. 2015 (4.8). Jacquizz Rodgers averaged a half a yard less than the team did last year (plus if you throw out the 49ers game, he averaged nearly a full yard less than the 2015 Bucs.)

    The offensive line with the loss of the leadership of Logan Mankins, did take a step back in 2016. They are as much to blame as Martin and Sims as well as the conservative play calling.

  5. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I agree – in that I don’t think the O-line has been the #1 problem and needs an overhaul – but they were one of the worst run blocking units in the league statistically – regardless of Martin or Sims health or drug usage. Getting hit behind the line is on the O-line. There isn’t really a way to twist that statistic against the RB; and we were one of the worst in the league by far.

    C & RT – that’s all I think we need to address imo. No elite LTs in this draft that will be available to us. Upgrade those 2 spots and we’re good imo – and if Sweezy returns we have good depth with him / benecoch / godschalk type guys who’ve flashed ability.

  6. NutterBuccer Says:

    Over the last 2 seasons does anyone know how many time Joe Hawley has missed playing time. It is almost every single game I see Hawley on the ground then on the side lines for a few series of not rest of game. Love his mean streak but when he’s hurt almost every single game it’s not helping at all.

  7. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    I dont really love our starting line but I do love Licht and Koetter’s philosophy on the O-line. Depth and versatility. It will get you through a season better than just throwing all the money at the starting line and praying they dont get hurt. We’ll determine whether the Sweezey signing was a complete bust or not soon enough and Donavan Smith is improving slowly. That said, the RT position needs to be addressed. Dotson is far too inconsistent and will need to be replaced soon.

  8. BigHogHaynes Says:

    O-line = REGRESSION, not very hard to see that, we used 4 different backs and none of them had an outstanding season, JR is a good back-up, please don’t go into next year with JR as our featured back! The O-line needs to be a top-priority, BUILD A WALL for the sake JAMEIS,….BUILD A WALL!

  9. Doctor Stroud Says:

    I forgot to mention the addition of Sweezy, who will be technically in his first year, but that is because I haven’t factored him into the future of the Bucs. We know more about Big Foot, the Skunk Ape, the Roswell Aliens, where Amelia Earhart crash landed, and the true identity of Jack the Ripper than we know about this guy. His “statement” about how he is “on track” is so vague. I am just not counting on him to be in a Bucs uniform next year, and so if he does, that’s a bonus, I guess.

  10. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    Make it rain on’em Joe.

  11. Tampa Tony Says:

    Let’s see how much they like their o-line when free agency and the draft comes along. If no new players are added then they like what they have. If new players are brought in this is all just coach speak

  12. bennybucs Says:

    If Smith leaves for a head coaching job then we should hire rex ryan

  13. unbelievable Says:

    Cherilus is done. Find someone else to serve as a backup / 6th lineman.

    We upgrade the C and RT positions (whether that is bringing in new guys, or shuffling guys around), and this o-line can be very dominant!

  14. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    I heard him say the exact same thing on the radio. I believe it is a little bit of coach speak though. As candid as Koetter is he tends to not call out his players. I wouldn’t expect him to come out and say “yeah some of those guys suck.” By saying we are always looking to improve it leaves the door open for possible changes if they present themselves in free agency or the draft.

  15. BFFL Says:

    that was coach speak for our line sucks

  16. Pickgrin Says:

    Oline was visibly and pretty obviously not as good as last year with roughly the same players (minus Mankins who was apparently a pretty big loss). The guards are good though and will perhaps be better if Sweezy makes it back. The center position needs more talent than either Hawley or Evan Smith can supply. Both tackles need to be upgraded or play better.

    Either draft a Center or move Marpet to center and insert Sweezy at RG.

    I would like to see Pamphile perhaps get a shot at RT. Or maybe Benenoch can make big strides and take over that spot. Either way Cherilus needs to go and Dotson needs to be a back-up.

    Left Tackle is a tough one because finding a stud LT is so damn hard. Donovan Smith has not been terrible – but he hasn’t been all that good either in his 1st 2 season. Hopefully he can improve because Jameis needs the security of knowing his blind side is covered on every play.

  17. LakeLandBuc Says:

    I like I our O-Line, the problem was replacing Mankins with Sweezy. Koetter depended on Sweezy playing 16 games for us and he didn’t play any. Kevin Pamphile natural position is Tackle, but he did well at Guard. If Sweezy can get on the field, we can start Pamphile at RT. Our Starters should be RT Kevin Pamphile, LT Donavan Smith, C Joe Hawley, LG J.R. Sweezy, RG Ali Marpet. I believe Leonard Wester can become a decent RT. I believe Caleb Benenoch can be a good LT or RT( his natural position is Tackle). Ben Gottschalk can become a good Center. Most of these players have been cross-trained and will be decent playing multiple positions on the O-Line.

  18. Lamarcus Says:

    Oline please fix. For jameis sake

  19. LakeLandBuc Says:

    It wouldn’t be too bad if we also added a full-time FB. A two back backfield, similar to 2012 when Erik Lorig was our FB.

  20. Tony in Los Angeles Says:

    The O-line is not good. People are severely underestimating just how many sacks Jameis is able to avoid that most QBs would not. So the pass blocking is severely inflated and the run blocking was putrid when compared to last season. The Bucs are below league average at LT, RT, C, and at one of the guards. Only Marpet would be considered an above average player on the O-line.
    The Bucs could be dominant by adding a better player at LT, then pushing D. Smith to RT or inside where he to would have a chance to dominate. The domino effect by finding one better player at LT could make every position along the line better next season.

    On way too many occasions the Bucs had to max protect and only send 1-2 receivers out on routes this season. That’s pathetic. Don’t settle for Jameis saving the o-line with his pocket movement, give him time nd he could be elite.

  21. loggedontosay Says:

    I was watching film of Ali Marphet being analyzed on Inside the Pylon website.
    On film, I could clearly see Ali completing his assignment with dominance. I could also see all of the other linemen missing blocks or getting dominated by defensive linemen. Jacquizz Rodgers would find would cut back or take another whole and make positive yardage. Doug Martin would wait for the whole to open, but the offensive linemen were getting dominated. With more effort by the offensive linemen, the Bucs could have had a lot more successful plays. On pass protection, the offensive line was terrible. The Bucs do not have fast and quick receiver outside of Mike Evans who is just dominant on all levels. Jameis Winston is very accurate. Tom Brady would not be as accurate as Winston if he played for the Bucs. To prove my point: Patriot v. Bronco AFC championship game. The Patriots are an established team with more talent than the Bucs. Tom Brady’s completion percentage was 56%.

  22. PRBucFan Says:

    Need to address the RT position

  23. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    Agree completely with your assessment. We can get better everywhere but OL is surely not our most pressing need. In fact it may be the only area on the team with decent depth and flexibilty.

    What happens if LVD or Kwon go down. LB depth?
    Secondary depth?
    RB lots of depth but no real game breaking studs and no Marshan Lynch type to go beast mode.

    DL…getting close at least…

    WR…are you kidding.

    I think our OL is still a work in progress but at least we’re getting close,.

  24. mike10 Says:

    First round: Offensive Line or Safety.

    You have to have a top 10 guy on your O Line, as each team in the NFC South does.

  25. mike10 Says:

    Tony in LA, agree completely w what you said.

  26. LakeLandBuc Says:

    Thanks StPete

  27. DallasBuc Says:

    Our oline was brutalized all season and especially in the last 3 games. It was almost unfair. People that don’t see that have a classic problem seeing things that they want to see, not necessarily what is in front of them. I’m glad Koetter “likes” the oline. What else is going to say, the truth? He knows better than anyone that they were knocked around and knocked back each in the trenches all year, preventing us from establishing a run threat and forcing Winston to run for his life.

  28. Kevin Says:

    Koetter knows we need o line help…hes not stupid. Hes not going to announce his plans to everyone. His qb was of the most hit in the league. Smith needs to work hard this offseason becasue he was pretty bad at times this season.

  29. SOEbuc Says:

    Hope Sweezy can become the big run blocker he was suppose to be when we signed him.

  30. Dano Says:

    The run blocking sucked this year. Sorry Joe

  31. GhostofTedford Says:

    JR $$$$$Weezy was signed on the strengths of his run blocking….has yet to practice or even play a single down. Yet again the importance of depth on the roster. Invest in the line.

  32. Pawel Says:

    Easy fix is a big fat Center, and there is one good first rounder Center, huge man moves piles and opens up 6 lane highways.

  33. Defense Rules Says:

    Lots of interesting comments on this subject. I think that Tony in Los Angeles hit it on the head though. Joe Hawley’s seen better days … might be good as a backup, but not as a starter next year. Dotson is certainly big (OK, tall) but he just wasn’t getting the job done for the most part … OK as a backup, but not as a starter. Donovan Smith is starter-quality, but … not at LT. Personally think he’d make an excellent Guard with some ‘retraining’. Really like what Pamphile has done this year, and expect that he’ll continue to get better and better. And Ali Marpet … personal favorite on the OLine. Convinced he could dominate at either Guard or Center.

    Personal druthers for next year’s OLine would be:
    RT – Pamphile
    RG – Sweezy (if healed up) … if not, keep Marpet at RG and sign a FA Center
    C – Marpet
    LG – Donovan Smith
    LT – Sign an experienced Free Agent with great upside (several FA available).
    OLine depth: Dotson, Hawley, Benenoch, Wester or Allen, plus 2017 draftee

  34. Rod Munch Says:

    Here was Dirk’s playcalling this year once Martin came back…

    1st down… Run up the middle, the defense would have 8 players in the Box and Martin would get hit by 2 people in the backfield the moment he got the handoff.

    2nd down… Toss outside, to which the defense, knowing that Bucs only run like 5 plays on 1st and 2nd down, would blitz a LB and Martin would be getting hit in the backfield, probably break the tackle but be slowed down and would break 2 more tackles to pickup 1 yard.

    That was Dirk’s offense from week 8 or so until the end of the season. It was horrible.

    Joe, I remember having this same conversation in 2014 when all the talk was that Martin was washed up, and you were on that bandwagon – and watching the tape what I saw was someone constantly getting his in the backfield because you had an offense that was incredibly predictable. That’s what I saw then – that’s what I saw this last year. When Martin had a hole he was generally bolting through it and would shoot out for like 7 yards before you could blink, but then again Dirk would go back to his 5 plays for 2 downs and just run them over and over and over.

    When Rodgers was in the game Dirk did not call the game the same way – not sure why but Dirk would really mix it up, instead of just running it up the middle on every first down, like every 3 times he’d do the 2nd down sweep on 1st down, and it would really trick up the defense. Oh tricky Dirk dun got em!

    I don’t know what all is going on behind the scenes with Martin but I didn’t see a guy who wasn’t playing hard or was missing tackles. The offensive line wasn’t getting people off the blocks, but again that was because the other teams were run blitzing on early downs because Dirk wasn’t mixing it up. The o-line wasn’t bad but I don’t think they were nearly as good as they were last year, losing Mankins hurt a lot and your big FA signing LG never play a game, that hurt, and RT was constantly an issue, as was Hawley going out of seemingly every single game multiple times with injuries, and coming back, but nearly every game that was happening. Marpet I felt played very well and I think LT Smith is at the lower end of LTs in the league, but he’s not getting Winston killed and I think he’s still learning the pro-game – and he hasn’t been lazy, which was the rap coming out of college.

    I think if Dirk does get an OC to run HIS playbook (please don’t make the team learn a whole new offensive and defensive playbook, please please please) then I think we might see some huge improvements. Dirk had a nice year as HC but I don’t think he sees the field all that well at ground level when he’s not in the booth.

  35. Trubucfan22 Says:

    So 2/5 o lineman should be replaced (according to joe). But the o line is already great (according to joe). So which is it joe? Is this an elite o line or do parts of it get manhandled far too often?

  36. Issic Haggins Says:

    That’s a scary take on a line that allowed your franchise qb to get pounded , this is a classic example of Winstons toughness and play, making it ok to get him hit allot !!! I mean Allot !!!! Prob equal to Brady in three seasons !!! Like Koetter and Licht but this is a classic example of self defense, they played fools gold last year and got Lucky , but not so much this year !!!

  37. yrbndr Says:

    @Doc Strouds take was right on with Sweezy… We don’t ANYTHING about his availability or ability. Can’t count on him at all. The staff knows exactly what we need while being PC about stating it.

  38. LargoBuc Says:

    Ryan Ramzyck. Grab Corey Davis/John Ross/ OJ Howard in the first then trade up in the second for Ramzyck. I like D Smith, I just feel I would like him more at right. Imagine him and Ali run blocking on the same side. Plus Ramzyck brings solid pass protection from what i’ve seen and read so far. Arm chair GM sure is fun 😀

  39. JameisDungy Says:


    Jameis having incredible escapability under pressure made this line look better than it is. Its been a long time since I’ve seen a rb tackled behind the los as much as the Bucs backs were tackled this year as well.

    Get a real LT. Move Smith to LG. Move Marpet to Center.

    I wouldn’t mind the OT from Wisconsin if he’s available.

  40. teacherman777 Says:

    Demar Dotson is fine.

    Evan Smith is a puntang. He is gone. We will save 4 million.

    Gosder Cherilus was decent for the past 2 years. Bu this contract his up. He’s gone.

    Sweazy will hopefully come back and help us out. If he’s healthy, move Marpet to center, keep Pamphile at LG, and put Sweazy at RG (where he played in Seattle)

    We found out this year that Pamphile can start.

    So we could have Marpet at Center, Pamphile at LG and Sweazy at RG.

  41. teacherman777 Says:

    And keep Hawley to back up and mentor Marpet