Show The War Face, Warhop!

May 21st, 2018

Ira Kaufman is the most revered sports personality and writer in town. He has hung his hat at world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also hear Ira on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Wednesdays during football season, and see him now on Mondays at 10:30 p.m. on Spectrum Sports 360 (aka BayNews 9). Ira also is part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show and enjoys beet salads, Riesling, Chiefs victories and needling Joe.


You can blame Doug Martin until your face turns pewter, but that doesn’t explain why Tampa Bay’s offensive line has been outworked and outmuscled for the past two years.

The defensive front of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been completely overhauled. New players, new assistant coach. But there hasn’t been nearly the same upheaval for the men charged with protecting Jameis Winston and carving open running lanes.

Free-agent center Ryan Jensen is the notable addition as George Warhop returns for his fifth year as offensive line coach.

After an outstanding season by his unit in 2015, Warhop insisted he would be the same exacting taskmaster, kicking backsides and taking names. Instead, Warhop’s message got lost in translation the past two years.

Since Dirk Koetter was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach, Warhop’s guys haven’t gotten the job done — especially in the ground game.

Simple as that.

When Warhop arrived four years ago to work on Lovie Smith’s inaugural staff, he laid it on the line in terms of responsibility.

“I’ll be honest with you, I think we determine the entire team,” Warhop said. “How my guys play and practice has a great effect on the whole team. I firmly believe we are the linchpin to us being successful. Selfishly or not, that’s what I believe.”

Despite working for five previous NFL organizations, Warhop had no answers in 2014 as the Bucs went 2-14, finishing last in total offense and allowing 52 sacks. That’s what you get when you trust Anthony Collins to be your rock at left tackle and ditzy Jeff Tedford gets sick and goes AWOL.

Once Koetter came aboard, Tampa Bay’s run game flourished, despite Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet starting as rookies and Jameis Winston taking every snap under center. Martin and Charles Sims formed a stellar running back tandem, giving Warhop reason to believe he was in charge of a dynamic position group.

How times have changed.

X-Factors, Heart Factors

Jensen should be a rugged anchor this fall, but serious questions abound. Who will start at right guard? Can the Bucs trust Demar Dotson to stay healthy? How will Marpet adjust to yet another position switch? Is Smith ready to take that next step toward Pro Bowl consideration?

For Warhop, talent only gets you so far. The rest is from the neck up and the heart … especially the heart. He doesn’t talk about technique nearly as much as he talks about toughness, finishing and compete level.

By Warhop’s own admission, Tampa Bay’s offensive line failed to compete through the first half of last season. By the time Warhop’s group woke up, the Bucs were 2-6 and destined for another last-place finish.

Offensive line coach George Warhop

Maybe Warhop got spoiled coaching a future Hall of Famer in Cleveland, where Joe Thomas defined what it means to be a pro. When Thomas retired, he praised Warhop for accelerating his development.

“I was pretty good before he arrived,” Thomas said, “but he helped take my game to the next level.”

Leaning On Coaching

These Bucs don’t have a Joe Thomas to lead the way. Not coincidentally, the offensive line hasn’t been the same since Logan Mankins called it quits.

Overseeing the progress of young players like Smith, Marpet and Caleb Benenoch has been made more difficult due to the league’s restrictions on practice time.

“The new CBA is a detriment to offensive linemen and probably defensive linemen as well,” Warhop says. “It makes it harder for us to develop a player. It’s a negative for the big guys.”

Warhop still believes the play of the big guys will be pivotal to Tampa Bay’s success. He’s correct. Koetter wants a badass football team and it starts up front with a demanding offensive line coach.

Show me your war face, Mr. Warhop.

Text “TAKEOVER” to 345345 today. Step 1 for info on joining Ira, Joe and legions of Bucs fans in New Orleans.

16 Responses to “Show The War Face, Warhop!”

  1. bucsfaninchina Says:

    So the lack of the rush game can be attributed to our lack of talent on the O line, and it may be because the O line isn’t made of All Pros? And Doug Martin may not be to blame for the Bucs having one of the sh*ttiest yards before initial contact metric?

    News on this site.

  2. Bucsfanman Says:

    It was a bad combination: Relying too heavily on Martin and a woeful run-blocking line. If we are to win more than 6 games, this rushing attack better improve.
    4th in passing and 5-11 means you had no ground game and your QB was throwing WAAAAY more than he should. I’d rather be last in passing and go to the playoffs.

  3. Alan T Barlow Says:

    Well, I thought it was Koetters calls all this time when it might be the training!? It sounds bad to say but he (maybe) should have been replaced in January! I have been frustrated at the lack of protection for Winston, not getting enough time to see the field and throwing interceptions or fumbling the ball! It will be more than Koetter losing his job if the Bucs don’t make the playoffs!

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We need to cut Sweezy after June 1st and use his money to bring in the best available FA G.
    It doesn’t look like we are interested in a veteran CB….

  5. Trench War Says:

    The new CBA does make it difficult to develop any early continuity among new teammates. Since the new CBA came into effect (during the Freeman era) teams without a strong cast of veteran leadership are usually slow from the start with maybe a few exceptions.

  6. firethecannons Says:

    Jameis having to throw wayyyyy more than he should because we had no ground game, having to throwing so much more==more interceptions and more strip sack wtf fumbles and more desperate plays.

    Ryan Jensen was a good pickup and probably Cappa too eventually, but we need another piece, Sweezy not even healthy now besides being reliable and good on gameday. We need a better guard than Sweezy.

  7. 813bucboi Says:

    don’t make warhop out to be a scapegoat!!!!!!!

    the oline performed better because of 2 things……

    1.) the unit performed well in 2015 because the staff knew what their strengths were…..RUN BLOCKING!!!!!!…..

    2.) TC was tough(er) compared to how this current staff runs TC….

    the oline is being hung out to dry because of the soft mentality of the HC who prefers to air it out instead on being balanced and horrible/predictable play calling……


  8. Stanglassman Says:

    Martin seemed to favor zone blocking and the Bucs OL just didn’t have the players to do it well. With Martin gone and Ali back at G they can go to a predominantly power & power gap scheme.

    I’ve read somewhere that this is the plan but I’d like to find out more details. Is this what Auburn run with Barber and how about ROJO at USC? I wish you guys asked more insightful questions to the coaches when given the opportunity.

  9. Destinjohnny Says:

    When you take a kicker when monster o lineman are available
    When u take charles sims and the o lineman taken just after him
    Has made 3 pro bowls.
    When u take asj who was a mental midget again when stud o lineman were on the board…. don’t be suprised when Doug Martin had no holes to run through
    And your line is crap

  10. Trench War Says:

    It all starts in the trench’s. When the o-line gets a huge push forward at every snap, then they are dominating their opponent. The constant dominance wears down the opponent and their will to resist and gives our running game a huge boost while giving our RB’s room to succeed. So we should be looking for a cap fatality released veteran to replace Sweezy. We have all training camp to find one. This team needs healthy lineman they can count on and Sweezy has done nothing to insure that spot.

  11. Guinness8 Says:

    Incognito just got released. He could help our o-line.

    On second thought he probably just wants one more payday.
    Issues with his kidney and liver is probably a bad thing.
    His quote “I’m done. That’s it. It’s been a long career,” Incognito said. “Went to the doctor. My liver and kidneys are shutting down. The stress is killing me. It’s just about doing what’s right. I just want to be in the Hall of Fame.”
    He just wants to be paid to go on IR.

  12. Mike Johnson Says:

    I guess you guys were watching a different Buc team than I watched last season. 5 games..perhaps more but 5 for sure..we had enough points on the board to win. And each time, the last drive of the game..our opposition danced like ballarina to Beetoven..right into our endzone!! In those games, it almost looked as though we were..throwing those games. Thats how awful our Defense looked. So I’m not worried about our Iota. We will score. Lets see if Pressbox Smitty can stop anybody this year!!!!!!!

  13. BucTrooper Says:

    Some of these coaches have worked with some great players and then they come here and it’s like they forgot to coach…. it’s like there’s something in the water.

  14. James Walker Says:

    It was obvious to anyone who watched the games that it was #22 who lost a step, not the offensive line.

  15. westernbuc Says:

    Ira, I appreciate you pointing out the fact that this offensive line hasn’t been the same since Logan Mankins retired. Barber is a bowling ball and covered up a lot of this line’s weaknesses. I like the moves this offseason and expect a better run game this season.

    Barring serious injuries, this is Jameis’s breakout year

  16. unbelievable Says:

    An underperforming offensive line?

    Gee, who could have seen that? (Hint: EVERYONE)