The Best Five

June 27th, 2017

Discusses o-line moves.

Some five months after the Bucs announced Ali Marpet would be moved from right guard to center, a segment of Bucs fans still scratches their heads wondering, why?

For winning Bucs coach the answer is simple.

In Part 2 of Dirk Koetter’s sitdown for the “Ira Kaufman Podcast,” Koetter explained moving Marpet to center is a result of getting the best five offensive linemen on the field at once.

JoeBucsFan: At what point Dirk – I know back in February when I spoke with you at the combine you had mentioned Ali [Marpet] was going to move to center and J.R. Sweezy was going to be the right guard. We know someone that scoped out Jameis and Ali a week or two before at one of these community football fields taking snaps.

Dirk Koetter: [Chuckles]

Joe: At what point did you get comfortable enough with your information about Sweezy and his recovery [from back surgery] that you thought, “OK, we can bank on him being a starting right guard and we can move Ali to center.”

Koetter: I am not sure exactly at what point that happened. But from the first time that Jason [Licht] first brought Ali to us and said, “Hey, take a start and look at this guy.” All along, Jason, George Warhop, our offensive line coach – [Marpet] was always projected as a guard/center combo. When Ali came his rookie year we had two experienced centers, and we still have those guys right now. And then obviously, last year, one of our big free agent signings, J.R. Sweezy, unfortunate situation, he couldn’t play. And because J.R. couldn’t play, Kevin Pamphile went from being a swing lineman to a full-time starter. He did pretty well; he did pretty well last year. So, all of a sudden when it looked like J.R. would be back to full health – and he still hasn’t practiced in full pads, I know that, but it looks like he will be fine – we have two physical guys in Kevin and J.R. And we thought, “Well, how are we going to get our best five [on the field]?” You know, we love the way Joe Hawley plays the game. Loved him playing in Atlanta. Loved him playing here. Joe played most games last year below 280 pounds. And Joe’s game is getting out in space and running. But we got overpowered a little bit in the middle of our o-line. We wanted to get bigger and we wanted to get our best five out there. Now [only] one team last year had the same starting five [all season] on their o-line. It was the Atlanta Falcons. So, you have to have depth on top of that. So right now we are talking about getting our best five [linemen on the field] but that is always fluid. If something happens somewhere, we will have to juggle it.

For Joe, the interesting point in this answer from Koetter was where he pointed his finger. There are legions of Bucs fans who are convinced, no matter what the Bucs say, that the offensive line doomed the team. And the guy in their cross-hairs is left tackle Donovan Smith, fueled by the well-trained orangutans at the PFF tribe.

Yet Koetter mentioned it was the interior of the line (center) that had an issue getting overpowered, not the tackles.

24 Responses to “The Best Five”

  1. rayjay1122 Says:

    Well, I do not esteem myself to know more than any Bucs coaches but what I do know is RT is definitely a weak link. Cherillus sucked and thankfully is gone. Dotson is not very good either and top that off with being a penalty machine with his holding and illegal hands to the face penalties. I think Donovan Smith is still a wildcard. He is still young and learning and LT is no easy duty. He had good and bad games and just needs to improve and be more consistent. The presence of O.J Howard should also help the blocking on the edge.

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    @Coach Koetter … “Joe (Hawley) played most games last year below 280 pounds.” First time I’ve heard anyone put any number to Joe’s weight last year. Wow! Amazing we were able to run up the gut at all last year.

  3. tmaxcon Says:

    i am on the fence with D smith. love his durability but not 100% sold. this might be his year. dotson on the other hand was the worst football player on the field for either team the majority of the games he played last season. he needs to be replaced asap. hopefully a youngin steps up but there should be an upgrade available at rt when cuts are made. anything would be better than dotson he killed more big plays than any defense in the league last year.

  4. Dewey Selmon Says:

    LT mistakes will always be overexposed and over analyzed because he is protecting the QB’s blindside.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I believe RT & Tackle depth are issues…..they don’t seem to be addressed this year.

    I’ll go on record for calling for RT & CB , 1 & 2 in next year’s draft.

  6. Bucsfanman Says:

    “Yet Koetter mentioned it was the interior of the line (center) that had an issue getting overpowered.”

    Hmmmm, I wonder how that would effect the run-game?! 🙂
    I think we all saw Hawley get blown up. It’s hard to fault the guy when he plays with that much grit. RT is going to need to be addressed in the near future. Dotson’s game has fallen off the cliff. I hope that was the exception last year.

  7. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    He won’t say RT was weak because he needs Dotson to play another year.

  8. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Bucsfanman Says
    “I think we all saw Hawley get blown up. It’s hard to fault the guy when he plays with that much grit.”

    Exactly. Being injured, he was not exactly at full strength, and he was injured nearly all year. I think if Sweezy goes down, Hawley is back at center.

  9. Casual Observer Says:

    When the big roster cuts come (in a few weeks), I would not be surprised to see the Bucs take a veteran offensive tackle for backup – or even compete at RT.

  10. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I believe in Smith. Could of swore that I read PFF had him as the 8th best pass blocking OT in the 2nd half of last year; which would line up with Warhop’s assessment that he started being a lot more consistent later in the year.

  11. The Buc Realist Says:

    @Lord Cornelius

    You remember correctly!!!! And word on the street is that DS76 has lost weight and is bending very well!!!!! They are working on keeping the clock for pass blocking a little longer!!!!!! Also, the play calling will help setup the O-line for success this year!!!! They were put into a predictable box due to all the injuries to WR, RB and TE!!!!

    Really, the Tackles just have to cut down the penalties, ( which I am sure is another point of emphisis!!!) and this unit will be more than fine!!!!! They will just need a little time to get the communication down and AM74 squared away will the line adjustment calls!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    “The tackles have to cut down on the penalties and this unit will be fine”. Agreed.

  13. Pickgrin Says:

    Donovan Smith led the league in Penalties – Dotson was very close behind. They had like 25 penalties between them. That’s a hell of a lot of stalled drives.

    Regardless of how the Marpet and Sweezy experiments turn out – If the Tackles don’t play better this year, this offense will not come close to reaching its potential…

  14. tmaxcon Says:


    only reason dotson did not lead o line in penalties was he missed games and smith did not.

  15. SOEbuc Says:

    Dotson is too old and a penalty machine. If the whole last year DL man monster Benenoch could come in and dominate in training camp and win the job I would be extremely pleased.

  16. Lord Cornelius Says:

    @ Realist – for sure! I’m honestly really high on Smith going by those 2 facts alone (his 2nd half 2016 and his work this off season). Dude is only 24 years old (birthday 4 days ago)

    There for sure will be less bodies to block at the line given our personnel upgrades. I love Hump but he’s not a Djax/Godwin type who can take advantage of a matchup. He’s great for working space but there was no space last year since teams crowded the box and doubled Mike Evans. Coordinators didn’t even have to spend much on the game plan for us…they just had to stress because we had Winston. Now they have to account for a lot more potential miss-matches. I’m excited to see Godwin in some plays working against a teams 3rd or 4th best CB going up and grabbing deep balls

  17. LakeLandBuc Says:

    PFF rank the Bucs O-Line going into the season as the 30th graded Line.

  18. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “LakeLandBuc Says:
    June 27th, 2017 at 2:26 pm
    PFF rank the Bucs O-Line going into the season as the 30th graded Line.”

    They at least acknowledge they could be much much better than that.

    kind of weird that they’d rank the line 24th in 2016 and project a worse finish this year despite the line being one of the youngest in the league and adding sweezy. Will be fun to revisit this next year

    They must think Donavon Smith’s improved play in the 2nd half of his 2 year career was some abberition and not natural growth for a player with his amount of snaps

  19. Lord Cornelius Says:

    wtf how is the Jags line ranked 13th? branden albert is not an elite LT; and their LG is freaking patrick Omahah.

  20. Lord Cornelius Says:

    The PFF looks like a joke. There is no consistency to it really – they’re using 2 year individual grades by players as an average and not even taking into account a player’s age / progression / if they’ve switched teams etc..

    Here are the dumbest rankings imo:

    Dallas at 9 – they should be top 5 even with Leary/Free leaving. Collins may be an upgrade at RT even lol.

    The Falcons line (ranked 6) was the only one in the league to start the same guys all year which was a huge reason they were even a top 10 type line. Maybe they pull it off again but it’s pretty unrealistic. I’ll go against that Falcons line all day over Dallas.. We definitely had more success with a pass rush week 1 with our D-line healthy compared to Dallas and a healthy D-line.

    Jags at 13 with Omameh lol

    Viking at 14 with this logic “Realistically, they shored their line up enough to where there aren’t any glaring weaknesses, but at the same time there’s little in the way of high level play either. They finished 29th in our end-of-year 2016 rankings so this would be quite the bump up.”

    So they’re going on an all paper projection for their bottom 3rd line from last year and admitting there is no upside even for much better than average play – and that logic equals 14th ranking or a top 1/3 line almost? Wtf world is this?

    Rank the Pats at 19 despite them being the same line that ranked 10th last year. Yeah that makes complete sense. Random regression for no logical reason I guess

    Chargers at 20 – massive on paper upgrades compared to the Vikings but not given the same boost in rankings. Cool.

    Bucs at 30; after being 24 last year; and no changes except for all the players entering their 3rd/4th years and adding sweezy. Yep most o-lineman regress from year 2 to 3 and 3 to 4 I guess? No that’s not really the norm. We’re probably their worst ranking

  21. tnew Says:

    The center of the line really got blown back. I knew Hawley was playing hurt some of the time but couple that with playing at that lite of a weight at center. Tough sledding there.

  22. Alanbucsfan Says:

    “Man, Joe would love to see what the secret documents of the Bucs data team had to say about Doug Martin’s 2.9 yd ave on144 carries” – Joe

    “But we got overpowered a little bit in the middle of our o-line” – Koetter

    Add in weak receiving group and Martin’s personal issues – not too hard to figure out why Martin had terrible year, but that was last year, we shall see
    if he redeems himself with awesome pass weapons and improved o-line

  23. unbelievable Says:

    Shhhhh Alanbucsfan, the o-line isn’t supposed to get any blame for that.

    Only Doug, and our lack of WRs can be faulted.

  24. Bill Says:

    LC, I want your OL rankings. You know your stuff.