About The Offensive Line

September 17th, 2017

Numbers tell deeper story.

It seems unless every person on the Bucs’ offensive line pancakes a dude on each and every play, some fans, like a habitual, knee-jerk reaction, will scream that the line is garbage, win or lose today.

And of course, because some dudes in a college dorm “graded” how offensive linemen played before the last beer of the afternoon is guzzled, without even knowing what the line calls are, doesn’t mean it is so. You know, like how the statgeeks beat up Donovan Smith constantly?

Joe remembers last winter at the combine in Indianapolis, winning Bucs coach Dirk Koetter mentioned how in one cut-up of a certain play, the Bucs used five different running backs. That, Koetter said, was the problem with blocking. Not so much the offensive line, but the line couldn’t get their timing down because of so many different running backs being used — each with his own style and speed.

So this offseason, Joe ran into former Bucs scout and former Jets coach and director of player personnel Pat Kirwan and tossed out Koetter’s suggestion to him.

Kirwan had a quick and direct response.

“I agree with that!” Kirwan said.

Kirwan went into detail.

“Ask an offensive lineman,” Kirwan said. “They know what the running back’s discipline is at the point of attack. Blocking, I don’t care what it is, zone or man, it doesn’t matter. We have a point of attack.

“There is some flexibility in that with cut-backs and everything else. Undisciplined runners who don’t stay true to the scheme and don’t’ get enough reps to be true to the scheme; can end up frustrating the coach and the linemen. So, to me, the right formula in today’s game is three guys: one power back, one third-down guy and a utility guy who can sub for either one of those guys. And drill, drill, drill.”

Talk to some folks inside the NFL and they will tell you there is a near epidemic of bad blocking. Part of this, NFL types believe, is the pox of spread offenses in college.

Another element, some believe, is the lack of padded practices. It’s hard to learn blocking when you can’t hit. Kirwan seems to believe the latter is true.

“The biggest problem too, and I think Dirk would back me up on this; we don’t enough live nine-on-seven any more,” Kirwan said. “Nine-on-seven is when you really coach the running game. Walk-throughs don’t give you the read, right? All of a sudden they are going full-speed [in a game].”

The main reason Joe isn’t throwing darts at the offensive line is simple. For example, Doug Martin last year had the worst yards-per-attempt in the NFL. Worst! As much as folks want to rag on Donovan Smith, the Bucs did not have the worst offensive line in the NFL last year. Not even close.

Yet running backs who played behind worse offensive fronts did better than Martin. That’s all you need to know.

8 Responses to “About The Offensive Line”

  1. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    I think it’s a mixed backed

    We talk about RBs patience all day long but if a oline is truly dominant……any RB will be dominant behind it.

  2. The Buc Realist Says:

    And don’t forget that Te and Wr play a huge part in the run blocking as well. a 2 yard run can be a 4-6 yard run with hat on hat in the back 7!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!

  3. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Excellent point. I’m really looking forward to seeing the difference OJ can make.

  4. DallasBuc Says:

    Sounds like knee-jerk excuse making. If oline player(s) is getting blown back and knocked around all game long the line call is irrelevant.

  5. Trubucfan22 Says:

    It looks to me like kirwan is blaming bad blocking. As you said it is bad blocking epidemic around the league. So to me that means that the o line shares the blame. Doug was part of the problem. His off field issues effected his on field performance. But a clean motivated Martin should be back to his dominant self. We just have to hope quizz, sims and Barber can carry the load until Martin gets back. I do hope that Sims can go toe to toe with Cohen. Match a big cohen play with a big sims play. We’re going to need a solid run game. I hope the o line can give our guys at least a little space. Last year there wasnt any. (Besides the 9ers game)

  6. Lamarcus Says:

    I don’t trust dsmith as a left tackle yet But he hold anything for me like my baby, eggs, glass, and groceries, etc. He can hold very well. At least the zebras say so

  7. Cobraboy Says:

    The Bucs allowed constant penetration into the backfield on running downs, and Martin was the problem?


    If the O-Lone was so good, why is Hawley on the pine and the C/G’s switched out?

    Sometimes I wonder if you guys watch different Bucs games than I did…

  8. BigHogHaynes Says:

    A stat can be made to say whatever one (Joe) would like for it to say……for me I saw too many times Doug (druged up or not) got hit behind the line of scrimmage …which directly corresponds with bad 0-line play! I hear the Bears have an above average D-line ….if our running backs are hit behind the line of scrimmage today..it damn sure won’t be Doug’s fault!