Countdown: Dirk Koetter’s 10 Biggest Decisions For 2017 — No. 4

July 26th, 2017

Center of attention

So you thought Joe wasn’t doing a Countdown series this summer? Shame on you. Joe always has something like this planned to make you think and throw stuff at your computer. Last year, it was the Top 10 X-Factors of 2016. In 2015, it was the 20 worst Buccaneers personnel moves of the past 10 years. Now it’s Dirk Koetter’s 10 Biggest Decisions for 2017.

(Of course, this list is about decisions forseeable now, not wacky crystal ball stuff.)

No. 4 — Sweezy/Marpet Ropes

Dirk Koetter has made it clear that the long term plan for stud right guard Ali Marpet always was a relocation to center.

And here we are.

The Division III left tackle turned NFL guard will now snap the football to America’s Quarterback, Jameis Winston, from a position where he has no experience.

As Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter Ira Kaufman wrote, manbeast Ndamukong Suh will be right over Marpet’s shoulder on opening day. Tough duty.

A big decision for Koetter might be the call on how much time Marpet will get to adjust and thrive. There will be a learning curve, but Koetter must decide on the limit.

Does Marpet get the preseason and three regular season games to prove he’s a good center? Does he get a full season? Suppose Marpet is just average at center?

Of course, part of the Marpet position change is about the presence of guard J.R. Sweezy, who banked $9 million or so of Team Glazer loot last season without practicing or playing. Back surgery derailed Sweezy but the Bucs weren’t scared off. They guaranteed Sweezy more cash this season to play right guard. (Pass the Tums, please.)

So how much rope will Sweezy get to perform?

One might need an algebra degree to figure out the variables and options here if either Sweezy and/or Marpet can’t cut it. The odds are one of them struggles for a while and Koetter will need the perfect toucSo h.

This is the season of optimism. So Joe’s just going to smile today and hope they both perform well.

No. 5 — Changing The Offense

No. 6 — The Kicker Pick

No. 7 — Developing Noah Spence

No. 8 — Managing Locker Room Change

No. 9 — Engaging Brent Grimes

No. 10 — Playing The Best Players

35 Responses to “Countdown: Dirk Koetter’s 10 Biggest Decisions For 2017 — No. 4”

  1. JB Says:

    Marpet will have a great year and “be a 50MM dollar man” like Chip Smith predicts, next season.

  2. Baz Says:

    Joe, you’re wrong about Sweezy’s position on the Seattle O-line. He was a RIGHT guard, but the Bucs were going to move him to the LG because Marpet was obviously entrenched at RG already.

    You are correct. Thanks. Joe knew that yet still screwed it up. #toomuchsun. –Joe

  3. WhatdaBUCisthis Says:

    I bet the quickest way for them to get it is to pound the rock. Keep a RB in to pass block or motion Howard towards them to help until they/Capt Dirk knows that this setup isn’t a liability. I see us being blitzed a lot to open the season. The line must hold. Capt Dirk needs to call more 3- 5 step drop plays. We will light up the league this year!!
    If ya ain’t first, ya last

  4. Leighroy Says:

    Baz is correct. Dang Joe, if you gunna use italics and emphasize it as a point in your article, get it right! #fakenews

  5. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “The odds are”

    Not sure you can put odds on a situation like this that is pretty unprecedented; but get the point. We will see!

  6. Evolvingbucfan Says:

    What better practice than to go against Suh the first game??? Actually i’d prefer he face him in the beginning of the season so he will know real quick what to work on and what he is gonna be up against. This kid/man beast will only get better what is he 23-24 ? very high ceiling for this kid! and doesn’t hurt either to have players on this team/ line that can ball at different positions too!

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    Just when I was starting to feel better about the OLine, along comes Joe raising a number of ‘What If’s’. What is Marpet struggles at center? What if Sweezy’s back isn’t all healed up? What if Dotson turns out to be over the hill or just as bad commits multiple penalties each game? What if Pamphile & D. Smith don’t show improvement on the left side of the line? Nope, not gonna buy into all that Joe. Can’t go down that path at this point. Everything will be peachy-keen in Bucsland starting with preseason Game 1.

  8. Lamarcus Says:

    I love marpet going against Suh on opening day. It’s a good thing

  9. Fsuking Says:

    Sweezy was a right guard for the seahwaks

  10. DB55 Says:

    I love this plan bc if it doesn’t work the only thing we can lose is Jameis or a RB. And a franchise QB is much easier to find/replace than a center or a guard. #Brilliant

  11. Maze Says:

    Don’t think it’s going to be a big deal for the stud Marpet

  12. Lord Cornelius Says:


    What else should we have done? C was a weakness last year.

    I’m all for upgrading the O-line but this was like the single worst off season in memory to actually find an upgrade – both in FA and the draft.

    I’d rather take a risk on Ali Marpet being as good at C as he was at G (and many think he’ll do better at C than G); than take the risk of using the same line as last year and hoping for Joe Hawley to randomly become a bigger/better C.

  13. GMC hater Says:

    I would trust Marpet to play any position on the o-line. Sweezy and his back injury are more concerning to me.

  14. Dave Says:

    Joe says:Sweezy was a starting left guard with the Seahawks, so he’ll have more to adjust to than just a year off.

    Sorry Joe, but you are incorrect.
    Sweezy was the starting right guard for Seattle.
    It is his natural position, thus negating half of your concerns.

  15. GhostofSchiano Says:

    Why Oh Why did we not sign Nick Mangold? If Hawley was not the long term solution then having this guy on the roster to take over in case this experiment fails would have been good.

    Could you Imagine – Dotson, marpet, Mangold, Sweezy Smith.

    Pamphil, Benoch and EDS for relief.

    We go out and get Winston weapons but if the line only gives him 2-3 seconds to go through his progression we are doomed.

  16. GhostofSchiano Says:

    Please lay off Joe, I had thought the same thing. Either way why break up the chemistry between Marpet and Smith? Move Sweezy makes more sense.

  17. DB55 Says:


    See Schiano

  18. Dave Says:

    I think Marley can handle suh.
    He is all about pure power and Marpet is strong as hell

  19. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Schiano / DB55

    Nick Mangold is 33 years old; coming off of an injured year in which he missed half the season; and as of one month ago was still receiving physical therapy for his foot/ankle

    He’s more of an injury risk than Sweezy; but people know the name Mangold so it sounds like an automatic upgrade.

    If the team drafted Ali to eventually be the C; and the coaches have liked what they’ve seen when working him out there these last few years; what is the big worry? I’ll take my risks with a 24 year old about to enter his prime over an injured 33 year old no one else wants to sign

  20. stpetebucsfan Says:

    All these moves seem obvious to me. Ali is going to be the next Kevin Mawae. Mawae thought this might be the year he got in the HOF but not quite. Like Marpet…Mawae played two years at RG before moving to center where he became ALL Pro. From what I’ve seen so far the Marpet move is the one with the best odds of success.

    Sweezy’s back…odds increase with that unknown…

    Dotson…my biggest fear. I like Dot but he was just servicable in his best years and he ain’t getting any younger.

  21. GhostofSchiano Says:

    And where is a “Veteran Presence” for these kids? Logan Mankins is gone.

    You have all this “Depth”, well check that out –

    Guys with less than 2 years could be called upon. This has me worried.

  22. GhostofSchiano Says:

    So we have Josh Allen, james Stone, Joe Hawley and EDS….4 centers on the roster. F-O-U-R. And you move Marpet to Center.

    Yeah that makes sense. Who knows maybe Dirk will have Folk kick all Field goals / Xpoints and have Aguyao do all the kick offs.

  23. GhostofSchiano Says:

    Thank you Lord Cornelius, I just googled that. Did not know about that injury.
    Makes sense now.

  24. First Down Tampa Bay Says:

    The Magic Marpet will fly us into the Postseason!

  25. stpetebucsfan Says:


    You just listed four mediocrities and tried to compare them to a player with real potential in Marpet. Ali has already played better than those four.

    Center is a critical position and having a smart guy there to call the line assignments is also important. Marpet has the potential to become All Pro.

    The four you mentioned have the potential to stick on an NFL team and MAYBE get some PT.

  26. GhostofSchiano Says:


    Not comparing them to Marpet, just curious why Licht and Koetter have four centers on the roster in addition to Marpet?

    I know EDS has filled in at guard, but a roster spot is a roster spot.

  27. Gilhealy Says:

    Ghost, they won’t have that many come Sept. Probably keep a couple around during camp for drills. Marpet’s gonna be a good one.

  28. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    “Suppose Marpet is just average at center?”

    I think for it being his first year at the position, average in acceptable.

  29. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    GhostofSchiano, some are camp meat. Others are cross-trained at other positions.

  30. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:


    Joe Hawley is only mediocre when playing injured. When healthy he is pretty dominant. The problem is that he has been playing injured pretty much most of the time he has been here.

    If he gets healthy, he’s starter quality depth. And there are rumors he can play guard.

  31. JimmyJack Says:

    I don’t worry about Marpet. He is a awesome player. I just can’t picture him struggling no matter where he lines up.

    Sweezy is expected to play good. If he can’t hack it with his back then he needs to be benched. A bit nerve racking that we made no moves on our Online but they have a good repore with developing young players so I will put a touch of trust in the young Olinemen we haven’t yett seen.

  32. JimmyJack Says:

    I love Hawley by the way. That dude is inspirational. Balls of steel and things like that rub off on other players. How the Saints let him go is purely mindboggling.

  33. Mike Evans GOAT Says:

    He never played for the aints

  34. JimmyJack Says:

    ^^^my bad then. I guess it just seemed like a Saints move.

  35. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Point taken. Nobody has ever questioned Hawley’s heart nor his toughness in the trenches. But you are correct. Not fair to pass judgement till we see him playing healthy…if that is still possible at this point in his career.