Koetter States The Obvious On Donovan Smith

January 3rd, 2018


Back on Dec. 4, Joe wrote a piece here titled, “Another Film Victory For Donovan Smith.”

It was more fuel for the crowd that thinks Joe is an ignorant boob when it comes to offensive play.


Because those fans despise left tackle Donovan Smith. They see two or three rough games from Smith, read their PFF Tribe gospel, aka the NFL’s National Enquirer, and consider Smith a horrific bust. So those fans think Joe has been moronic for writing over and over that Smith is at least an average starting left tackle.

Since Thanksgiving, however, Smith has been better than average. Joe watches all the available film and it’s all right there to analyze. The 24-year-old is a good football player on the rise.

Regardless, thousands of Bucs fans, a bunch of media and dozens of committed stats nerds are convinced the Tampa Bay offensive line is bad, bad news anchored by Smith, who has yet to miss a game since he was a second-round pick in 2015.

Joe has never shared that view, not even last year, though Joe does believe the line is a little broken now and in need of repair and change.

On Monday afternoon, Joe asked Bucs coach Dirk Koetter for a couple of 2017 highlights on the offensive line. It’s no surprise that Koetter went right to throw love at the most bashed lineman of the bunch, Smith.

“I think the fact that we finished these last few games with only two of our original starters and were still able to have production on offense with only two starters on the O-line; I really still think that [left tackle] Donovan Smith’s three-year run in the NFL, I mean, there’s another guy that if you listen to rumors you’d think Donovan Smith should never play football again,” Koetter said.

“I mean all Donovan Smith does is play hurt, play consistent, play against the best pass rushers in the world. Donovan Smith is a pretty darn good football player and I think Demar Dotson was having his best year in the three years I’ve been here. He was having his best year til he was forced out and he was playing hurt at the time. I think we have depth on the offensive line, I think we have versatility on the offensive line. And I mean, I know our O-line – I guess I do read some of [the rumors] (laughs) – but I know our O-line is heavily criticized. I think our O-line is in the upper-half of the league. I don’t know where the line is because I can’t rank them all. But, I mean, when I’m looking at tapes of other teams, I see some bad offensive line play. Part of that is injuries, okay? Those teams have injuries. But I think our O-line hung in there pretty good.”

So there you have it. More deep love for Smith from the organization. Deal with it.

It was interesting to Joe that Koetter only named two offensive linemen. Feel free to read into that, if you wish.

Also, Joe must add that the line was victimized by Doug Martin getting 282 carries over the last two seasons. Martin made them look bad. Simple as that.

Joe talked to Smith 1-on-1 after Sunday’s game and will share in the coming days.

56 Responses to “Koetter States The Obvious On Donovan Smith”

  1. mark2001 Says:

    Joe…why don’t they get it? Just guess they weren’t lucky enough to spend their childhood and young adulthood in Illinois, or they would know better.

  2. AlteredEgo Says:

    Imagine how good Barkley will make him look….

  3. Bucsfanman Says:

    Joe- I’ll give you that Smith has been solid and consistent. However, claiming that Martin was the reason for the overall bad o-line play is a little over the top. (Joe didn’t claim that. –Joe) Sure Barber has had some great games of late, but lets look at that situation: Marpet, Sweezy, and Dotson are injured and Hawley, Smith, and Benenoch start. Suddenly, there are running lanes. I don’t think it’s coincidence. Marpet was still learning the position and Sweezy is not 100%. Hawley, IMO is a better option at center.
    I won’t disagree that Martin’s time is done but lets be fair here, the starters on OL struggled in the run-game.

  4. Guzzie Says:

    Barkley is a great back, would love him on our team, but would rather draft a top lineman or Minkah Fitzpatrick with our 1st pick, then get Sony Michel from Georgia with our 2nd, that guy looks like the 2nd best back in the draft, but has been the back up for 4 years, 5’11 220 with great hands, elusiveness, speed for days, excellent pass pro, his only fumble this year was the one he had Monday, first fumble since his freshman year

  5. Guzzie Says:

    And I’m a Gators fan, I hate Bulldogs lol

  6. Guzzie Says:

    You sleep ok in the cold

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “Joe must add that the line was victimized by Doug Martin getting 282 carries over the last two seasons. Martin made them look bad. Simple as that.” Impressive Joe. I’ll tip my hat to that one; you’re consistent (and persistent) for sure.

    This season Saints put up 448 points (#4 ranking). Panthers put up 363 pts (#12 ranking). Falcons got 353 pts (#15 ranking). The Bucs? 335 pts (#18 ranking) … averaging right at 21 pts/game. That’s a long way (113 pts) from the division winner, and IMO our ‘weapons’ were just as good. What wasn’t as good was our OLine. Twist it any way you want (i.e., Martin made them look bad), but reality is that we’ve got 2 ‘keepers’ on that line (D. Smith, Marpet) & possibly 3 (Dotson), although Dots is getting ‘long in the tooth’. Pamphile & Sweezy … our 2 Guards … screwed the pooch this year. This OLine needs some major upgrading, just like our DLine.

  8. mark2001 Says:

    Guzzie…. when they become Bucs, they should no longer be considered Gators, or Bulldogs, or Redbirds…..

  9. D-Rome Says:

    I don’t understand it either. There are many successful teams in the NFL that does not have a pro-bowl caliber LT.

    However, claiming that Martin was the reason for the overall bad o-line play is a little over the top.

    No it’s not. Peyton Barber averaged 3.9 YPC for the season but that’s for the games he played. He would have likely earned well over 4.0 YPC if he received the same workload as the Muscle Shamster. For example, in the Giants game he only played 4 snaps. He didn’t play a single snap in the Patriots game or Cardinals game. Meanwhile, Druggie Shamster was gettting 30-40 snaps a game and being ineffective.

    If the Bucs played Peyton Barber more the run game would have been more effective. The final game against the Saints was a microcosm of the Bucs run game for 2017. Barber was finding holes while the Muscle Shamster was running into Joe Hawley’s backside.

  10. WyldKat Says:

    I’m still shocked at how different the results of the plays were last game, just with Martin or Barber getting the ball.

    Martin was blown up instantly or getting near nothing. Barber was getting decent runs or at least staying upright longer. Noticeable speed difference too.

  11. Bradentonbuc Says:

    Barber pushed piles and earned the yards. I also am a strong believer that the Sweezy expirement should be canned. Or at the very least bring in real competition and let them duke it out and maybe keep an overpriced veteran on the books. It has to be clear to everyone that the line play improved towards the end of the year with back ups. Not just on the oline but Jameis getting the ball out quicker and smarter audibles to take advantage and not expose the line on a blitz. I just wanna see Ali move back to guard. Maybe he can be good in a few years but good god they are putting too much on that mans shoulder. Division 3 tackle moving to guard then moving to center after never playing a down of it in his life.

  12. Bradentonbuc Says:

    D-Smith is cusping he’s just gotta cut down on the mental errors

  13. darin Says:

    Minkah with first pick? Cmon please. Why so we can have him 10 yards off a receiver? If mike smith returns theres no reason to take anyone other than dline in the draft. That simple. I mean defensively. Id love barkley in the backfield. Mike smith still cant get an 11th overall pick to start. No more wasting picks on dbs if he is here

  14. Bucsfanman Says:

    D-Rome- It’s too coincidental that when Marpet, Dotson, and Sweezy go down, the run-game lights up. I’m not taking anything away from Barber. BUT, I witnessed far too often, defensive players in the backfield right at the handoff when the “starters” were in. There aren’t too many backs who will succeed in that scenario, not even Barber.
    Take away the run-game D-Rome. Was Jameis under fire all season? I would say, definitely yes. That’s not on Martin. So….
    Look, as I stated, Doug is and SHOULD be gone. Barber earned his reps although, is he THE guy? The o-line needs work as DR stated.

  15. foodman97 Says:

    Why was martin not active for breaking team rules in week 15?

  16. Guzzie Says:

    Darin… that is the smartest thing I’ve ever heard on this sight, and I 100% agree, no point drafting a CB when our incompetent DC is scared to play press defense, and our GM isn’t smart enough to improve our DL

  17. Pa Privateer Says:

    We cannot have Hall of Fame at every position. Can we try to upgrade the OL this offseason? Yes, Absolutley, and we should.

    Doug Martin made the OL look bad. As soon as Barber started running the ball the OL looked much better. We have more depth on our OL than most other teams as far as experienced players. That depth showed up as we lost more and more starters.

    I am encouraged to think that Barber would have been even better if we hadn’t lost Dotson, and Marpet.

    I vote to bring back all the OL this off-season. Add a FA/draft pick and let them fight it out.

    Seriously. We have backup Centers on our team with starting experience. We have young guys with starting experience. We have Marpet returning next year.

    Having said that, I am pounding the table for Litch to add more talent to the OL in the FA, Draft and then UFA gems.

  18. Cover Deuce Says:

    When he does get beat, it can typically be attributed to lazy technique. I think that’s my biggest issue with him. He belongs in the league, I’m just not sure he’s the kind of tackle you give an 8 figure salary to. They definitely have more
    pressing needs on the interior though. I’d rather see them spend premium resources on a C/G and move Marpet back to RG before they start going after tackles to replace the ones we have.

  19. El_Buc941 Says:

    I hope we draft Saquoan Barkley. he’ll make our olinemen look like the cowboys oline 2 years ago.not that I’m saying our olinemen sucks but if you have say Doug Martin it makes our olinemen look bad because they can’t find the hole.

  20. Pickgrin Says:

    D. Smith is not “the problem” up front. In 2017, “the problem” was both starting guards – neither of whom displayed much capability to run block effectively.

    On the other hand – D. Smith is certainly not now and will likely never be a top 10 LT. Doesn’t Jameis deserve a top left Tackle to protect his blind side for the next 10+ years???

    I know really good LTs are hard to find and expensive to acquire. But when one inexplicably falls into your lap like Tunsil did – you have to take advantage of those situations.

    We are in position once again this year to draft a high end tackle prospect with the #7 overall pick. I certainly hope that possibility is among the options being considered when looking at 1st round prospects.

    Yes – of course we need DE help worse than any other position on the field – but 1st round DEs also have about the highest “bust” rate of any position – so if the GM and decision makers are not 100% sold on the 3rd best DE coming out this year – whomever that may be – then I hope they seriously consider taking a top OT prospect in the 1st round to help shore up our Offensive Line.

    Beyond that – we need to re-sign Evan Smith to ensure that the OL “depth” stays good – and we need to find at least 1 if not 2 starting Guards. Pamphile may be salvageable (at the right price) – but IMO, counting on Sweezy this year and hoping his run blocking will “improve” seems like a bad bet.

  21. Bucnjim Says:

    It’s a combination of both because anyone who has watched a Bucs game has seen Martin miss holes but also seen multiple defenders in the backfield before the hand off. Then there is the combination of Winston missing open receivers or the line missing blocks which have caused fumbles & interceptions. There is a lot to be fixed on this team and little time to do it. The thing that will drive everyone insane is they can’t just have a bad game as a team. It’s like water torture! Off sides, holding, offensive pass interference, D pass interference, fumble in the red zone, interception in the end zone, personal fouls for immaturity, missed easy field goals, short kickoffs, making backup QB’s look like Pro Bowlers…..etc. etc.

  22. Lamarcus Says:

    Dmsith had A+ grade last game.

  23. Matthew Says:

    This is the same organization that thought Donald Penn was disposable; sorry if I take their LT evaluations with a grain of salt & skepticism.

  24. Bob in Valrico Says:

    While O line is less than adequate it will hard to fill all the needs in one year. Put Marpet back at guard . Replace Sweezy and Develope a center to learn behind Hawley.The last couple games showed its possible tp cobble together an O line with existing players
    No way we can piece together a good D line. We need major help at DE,DT corner and safety on defense. Defense is far more broken than offense IMO.
    I still question how good our O line would have been if Licht hadn’t started to tinker with it. He certainly didn’t fix what wasn’t broken.

  25. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    The simple truth is that everyone expected an offensive line with a 3rd year player, a player who had never played his position, and a player who was new to his position to gel within one season? Not to mention Kevin being newly starting and Dotson often injured?

    Realistically, it doesn’t happen that fast.

    While I agree Dotson needs replacing because he is too often injured, the rest of the line is okay.

  26. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Koetter has to say that about smith, he cant throw him under the bus, problem is jasin licht being such a poor trenches evaluator, passing on Laremy Tunsil and letting penn walk,…. koetter and licht have to say the OL is good because it isnt changing so better keep the OL you got happy to protect jameis

  27. 813bucboi Says:

    d.simth is solid at LT…..I think he should’ve been plugged in at G when we drafted him but that’s all water under the bridge now…..

    no RB or skills player in the first round……we need to draft T or G or DE or DT in the first round at #7 or trade down and collect more picks…..

    draft derrius guice in the 2nd round…..draft Taven Bryant DT/DE hopefully in the 3rd round but he might be long gone….some have him going in to first round….GO BUCS!!!!

  28. loggedontosay Says:

    I listened to Koetter’s press conference. I thought he was making excuses for his terrible coaching. I hear pundits using the word consistent in every phrase it describe athletes production. I am telling you that is the wrong word. Donavan Smith is a good football player. He is not good for what Koetter is trying to do with his offensive schemes. He is also the reason Jameis got hurt. I checked PFF ranking of Smith, and he is ranked as poor . However, if I disagree with PFF ranking of Smith I must disagree with their ranking of Gerald MaCoy.

  29. loggedontosay Says:

    I listened to Koetter’s press conference. I thought he was making excuses for his terrible coaching. I hear pundits using the word consistent in every phrase it describe athletes production. I am telling you that is the wrong word. Donavan Smith is a good football player. He is not good for what Koetter is trying to do with his offensive schemes. He is also the reason Jameis got hurt. I checked PFF ranking of Smith, and he is ranked as poor . However, if I disagree with PFF ranking of Smith I must disagree with their ranking of Gerald McCoy. McCoy is ranked as elite.

  30. Owlykat Says:

    Sweezy needs to be traded or cut. When a Guard has back surgery as Sweezy did it hurts his flexibility to get low. The Seahawks must be still laughing about how they got dumb Licht to make that trade. Licht has no clue in how to judge good OL prospects. Neither do the Glazers who gave Licht an extension this year. They need to consult a real expert and demand Licht take the top LT in the draft to protect Jameis! Then move Smith to LG where he will make all Pro.
    No Pamphile has not been an excellent Guard because his best position is Tackle and he should be kept to replace Dotson whenever his play declines. Spend a third pick on a good Center to eventually replace Hawley. Benenoch should never play Tackle, but he is OK as a LG to backup Marpet there. Get a backup RB in the fourth round and cut our over the hill RB and save his salary. The Defensive line needs a huge NT for a 3 Four Defense so get one in Free Agency. There are lots of good DEs in this draft at 250 pounds to convert to play outside LB as long as they have shown ability to stop the run and spend a second round pick for him. Put our two LSU Linebackers inside and put our top hurt DE at the other OL position. Green can spell both outside LBs and mentor them. You get a lot of pressure on our opposing QBs and you will get more turnovers from our existing Safeties and CBs. Get some more fast LBs who are special team stars tackling and blocking, a new Special Team Coach, and a clutch proven Field Goal Kicker, and we will mirror the improvement the Saints showed this year.

  31. Nate Says:

    I said this before and so have the smart media folks

    the line is not bad ….is Donovan Elite…NO….but those Orlando Pace types come along one every 5-10 years

    Donovan and Ali stays….everyone else however has to be replaced or kept as a backup role

  32. Owlykat Says:

    Correction—put our hurt best DE at the other OLB position. Cut Nr.50 and get a better DL Prospect in Free Agency.

  33. Defense Rules Says:

    Bonzai … We could give this year’s OLine until the cows come home as they say but they are who they are … average at best. Our 2 Guards simply didn’t git ‘er done. Marpet was sooo much better as a Guard (as in All-Pro caliber). Donovan Smith isn’t a bad LT at all, but I still think he’d excel as a Left Guard. Hawley did fine as our Center for these last several games IMO. Dots actually had a pretty decent year also. If Licht could find us a stud LT in FA or the draft, this OLine could kick some butt. Keep Pamphile, Evan Smith and a couple others as backups and we’d be fine. Beyond that, focus on upgrading our DLine

  34. Gambelero Says:

    I think the Bucs slow pace of play leads to more of the “dumb” oline penalties, spending 15-20 seconds going through reads while the oline is in formation and taking 38 of the 40 seconds every play. Getting to the line and getting plays off quickly will attenuate the “jumping” issue.

  35. Bucsfanman Says:

    I really do think that Marpet is best suited at Guard. It has been noticeable when a real Center has been in the game.
    It’s all about the trenches, offense and defense, defense especially!

  36. Tackleblockwin Says:

    No idea why we waste our breath talking about our LT. We have far greater issues at RB and on Defense.

  37. Saskbuco Says:

    This would be a perfect O-line fix IMO, sign Weston Richburg (been medically cleared) and move Ali back to guard, draft Quenton Nelson (very good chance he’s there unless Indy takes him).

    I know we need to fix the pass rush, but I honestly think Nelson (if available) has to be the pick, as for the D-Line I think it’s finally time to spend big on a pass rusher. Back up the brinks truck for the guy they like the best.

    Ready for the Bucs fans to freak about this post in 5,4,3,2…….

  38. Phil Says:

    I don’t know that he’s a bust but Joe Thomas he’s not. Sometimes it takes offensive lineman some time to develop. You would like to think they get better the more games they play.

  39. Tony from Los Angeles Says:

    All we’ve heard from Koetter is positive reviews across the board. It’s just lip service to cover himself in the event they can’t find good replacements and have to stick with the incumbents.

    Smith is a very average left tackle. The Bucs should strive to be above average. I absolutely think Smith would excel at RT or at G – despite what he says. If the Bucs got a true stud LT and moved Smith to RT – all of a sudden they are well above average at 3 of the 5 slots (including Marlet). That’s how good teams think.

    The Bucs need to infuse 8 new faces into the competition at both lines.

    Fix the trenches, fix the Bucs.

  40. NJBucsFan Says:

    Jose Says: “Because those fans despise left tackle Donovan Smith. They see two or three rough games from Smith…”

    You spelled twelve and thirteen wrong.

  41. NJBucsFan Says:


  42. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Ali Marpet was also given props through the year for grading out well. So that’s two young building blocks.

    For some reason folks are down on Marpet and think he should be moved back to guard. I’m not sure why. Center anchors the entire line…we can use our most talented OL right there in the middle. BTW…notice the HOF finalists include Kevin Mawae…a guy who played guard for two years and THEN moved to Center.

    Dot is getting old but perhaps has a year or two….so what do we do about Sweezy and Pamphile. Hope they both rebound this year? They’ve both had years that would be adequate but they need to play better than this year.

    MAYBE another year of healing for Sweezy? Pamphile is the mystery. Because of the dearth of OL talent in the league he’s liable to find a sucker GM to give him more money than he’s worth. I just hope it’s not ours!!! LOL If Licht can get him at the right money but I would compete against any crazy GM’s that want to over reward him.

  43. Rod Munch Says:

    Smith is fine – he’s not awful, not good, just fine – which is OK since you need players like that when you have a salary cap. If the Bucs could get a stud LT and move Smith to RT the he might do better – but he’s Ok where he is now.

  44. unbelievable Says:

    Serious Lol at the Martin making the o-line look bad.

    You’ve got that backwards, buddy.

  45. godzilla13 Says:

    IMO the OL is the least of this teams problems. I would like to see Marpet back at guard and I like Hawley at center. The OL was better last year with this line up. Start Evan Smith at guard (I agree they need to re-sign him). Football Outsiders ranked the Bucs OL 16th overall and 12th in power ranking (Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown) which is not that bad. The OL did give up 100 Q hits (ranked 22nd) and 40 sacks (tied at 18th) so there is much room for improvement.

    Donovan Smith 8 penalties and 5 sacks. Smith gave up 0 sacks in 2016.
    Demar Dotson 5 penalties and 2 sacks in 11 games played.
    Kevin Pamphile 2 penalties and 2.25 sacks
    JR Sweezy 6 penalties and 4 sacks
    Ali Marpet 3 penalties 2 sacks in 11 games played
    Evan Smith 5 penalties 1.25 sacks in 15 games played
    Joe Hawley 1 penalty and 0 sacks in 4 games played

  46. loggedontosay Says:


    You are not giving Jameis credit. But for Jameis’ efforts there would have been many more sacks. I believe the only QB sacked more than Jameis was Russell Wilson.

  47. Dave Says:

    I agree with Dirk.
    However, after a defensive end and a running back and a defensive back, another O linemen is needed in the draft.

  48. mike10 Says:

    O boy.. we can only hope this to be coach talk!

    Because if this is our true self-scouting on the OL, we’re looking at another year of
    – poor rushing production from our RBs
    – high numbers of fumbles/INTs from Winston
    – low win totals

    We have to get stronger in the trenches; both sides: OL & DL

  49. mike10 Says:

    The real story on how they feel about the OL, will be told in the draft and FA.

  50. SOEbuc Says:

    Joe do you just read MY comments from the day before and turn them into articles lol? I swear it seems like it. Donovan Smith has supposedly rising since his rookie year and for the most part he hasn’t at all. I guess they keep saying this every year to try to make it look like Jason didn’t make a big mistake. QB’s been whacked so badly from the left side where Smith and Pamphile work. No Chubb= Quenton Nelson. And they sure as $h!t not resign D. Smith after 2018 unless he can look like a pro bowler.

  51. jjbucfan Says:

    Smith is a Guard or RT, His contract is coming due, are you really going to give him NFL LT money? If so were you in the car with TJ Ward?

  52. passthebuc Says:

    A Boob??
    I do not know, but I do not want you drafting or picking FA’s for the Buc’s

  53. jjbucfan Says:

    Oh and Ali Marpet- good job this year at Center… Now get your ass back to RG!!

  54. Rod Munch Says:

    loggedontosay is correct, the reason the Bucs didn’t have a ton more sacks given up is because Jameis is a wizard at keeping plays alive and not taking sacks. Also those 3rd down stats only further prove what I said all last year and this year, that Dirk is a dope for going into empty backfield shotgun sets on 3rd and 3 all the time. A dumb 3rd and 3 shotgun empty backfield set is what Jameis killed in Arizona and tanked the season. I can’t stand that teams go into shotgun on 3rd and 3 and 3rd and 2, but the fact Dirk goes into empty sets so there is no threat of a run is even worse. Come out with a back and be under center and at least make teams think you **might** run the ball, and if you’re not going to do that at least keep a RB by the QB so they **might** think a draw is coming (although they probably won’t play to defend that on a 3rd and <3). Anyways all you have to do is watch the actual games, the offense line rarely gave Jameis protection and almost never opened up holes in the running game. The NextGen stats on time spent in the backfield for RBs proves that point, both Martin and Barber were in the bottom 3rd of starting runners in that stat, which means they were having to dodge people in the backfield to even get back to the LOS, and again that's what my eyes showed me all year.

  55. satchseven Says:

    Anyways all you have to do is watch the actual games, the offense line rarely gave Jameis protection and almost never opened up holes in the running game. The NextGen stats on time spent in the backfield for RBs proves that point, both Martin and Barber were in the bottom 3rd of starting runners in that stat, which means they were having to dodge people in the backfield to even get back to the LOS, and again that’s what my eyes showed me all year.


  56. Pickgrin Says:

    Good post Rod