A Battle Of Will

June 28th, 2019


In six months, Buc fans hope to refer to Joe Gilbert as Hercules. The man’s got some heavy lifting to do.

Tampa Bay’s new offensive line coach has been reunited with Bruce Arians after a six-year separation and he is tasked with forging a dynamic front.

Gilbert’s predecessor, George Warhop, is now in Jacksonville, where Doug Marrone labels him “one of the best offensive line coaches in the league. We’re really fortunate to have him.”

Buc supporters tend to disagree, especially after Warhop failed to develop a cohesive unit for most of his five-year tenure in Tampa. Arriving with Lovie Smith in 2014, Warhop struggled to find the right combination. Tampa Bay never generated a Top 10 scoring offense with Warhop, ranking 12th, 18th twice, 20th and 29th.

O-line coach Joe Gilbert

The big problem was a ground game that fizzled every season except 2015.

During Warhop’s run at One Buc Place, Tampa Bay averaged less than 4 yards per carry and barely averaged 100 rushing yards per game.

So here comes Joe Gilbert, with a clean slate and a dirty little secret.

“Someone’s got to win a 1-on-1 block,” he says. “We can’t double-team every guy inside. Me against you, who wants it more? It may not always be pretty, but I’ve got to instill my will over you to beat your ass.”

For more than a decade, Buc fans have longed for a badass football team. An array of coaches have talked about it, but on fall Sundays, the Bucs are rarely tougher than the rest.

How do you measure physicality?

Effort Called Out

In the NFL, it starts with running the ball efficiently. It’s about running for 4 yards on 3rd-and-3 to protect a lead in the final minutes. It’s about knocking people backwards and establishing a dominance at the line of scrimmage.

Gilbert turned in some impressive work last year as offensive line coach at the University of Arizona. The Wildcats led the conference in rushing and ranked No. 2 in total offense, but this is the NFC South, not the Pac-12.

This is where the Bucs will face DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa, Kawann Short and Gerald McCoy within the first two games.

The Bucs have a lot of money tied up at center and the left side of Gilbert’s line. The starting right guard spot is wide open while right tackle Demar Dotson, the team’s longest-tenured player, is considered a better pass protector than run blocker.

Film told a story

Looking at the 2018 cut-ups, Gilbert saw an offensive line that routinely failed to sustain blocks.

“Guys were just not finishing,” he says. “They were there, but they didn’t finish.”

Before returning to the college ranks last year, Gilbert spent six seasons working with Indy’s offensive line. He worked with Arians in his first year with the Colts (2012) before Arians moved on as head coach of the Cardinals.

Gilbert’s holy trinity for his linemen? Play smart, play physical, finish.

“We’re not putting a guy on the moon,” he says, “but if can get all five guys blocking the right people ….”

That’s been a major issue around here since Bill Muir was screaming at Jeremy Trueblood, imploring him to open up better holes for Earnest Graham.

A month removed from training camp, Gilbert says he likes the intelligence and athleticism of his group. Tampa Bay didn’t address the offensive line during the draft, but Gilbert praised the brain trust for following the board.

“We didn’t reach,” he says. “The last thing we want to do is go for a guy that doesn’t fit what we’re going to do.”

If Gilbert can help Arians restore some balance to this Buc offense, Jameis Winston will have every opportunity to flourish. It sounds so simple up front — take your man where you want him to go.

Face down on the grass sounds like a good place to start.

9 Responses to “A Battle Of Will”

  1. Barbosa Says:

    Ira is this the guy that was coaching the O line at Indy when luck was getting destroyed?

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    Barbosa … Short answer looks to be Yes, but wait, there’s more. Gilbert was Indy’s OLine coach from 2012-2017 (6 yrs). First 3 yrs were great … Colts went 11-5 in each of those 3 yrs. Made the playoffs each of those yrs. Those 3 yrs were followed by 2 yrs of 8-8 records, with QB sacks increasing in each of those yrs. And in his last yr the Colts went 4-12 & sacks allowed went ballistic (hard to throw when your QB is flat on his back staring at the stars?). Overall a decent ‘body of work’ for 3-5 yrs … then the lights went out.

  3. DooshLaRue Says:


    You misspelled OBP.
    ; )

  4. BucEmUp Says:

    Again….defenses knew the bucs dint utilize their running backs in the passing game and when they tried, tge plays were obviously coached and excecited slow and poorly.

    If the defense has to worry about a fake handoff followed by a dumpoff pasd, they wont be so quick to throw the kitchen sink at our oline to get back there.

    A little creativity goes a long way. Im not worried

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    What happened to our screen passes last year…..we threw some WR screens to Hump but not much at all to the RBs…..we need to add that weapon to our offense….
    With all the attention paid to our WRs & TEs our RB should be open.

  6. Magadude Says:

    Six years in Indy, assistant O line…here is his first gig as O line coach in the NFL. OMG, just get bad memories of the Bucs O line from their early years. I think players we got are mostly serviceable but definitely not really even average with the exception of Marpet and sometimes, Jensen.

  7. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    No, the Bucs did not reach for an OL man in the draft, but they certainly did in the 2nd for a little known CB from a Division 3 loser school. SMB could easily have been selected in the 4th round.

    If they did that then there was ample OL talent available in the early 2nd.

    Then there was the blunder in the 3rd, where they could have selected the best RB in NCAA history (8.2 YPC), instead they traded Henderson to the NFL’s next dynasty. Then they reached and selected their 4th round and 5th round DB’s in the late third. That left an opening for Gump to draft……..drumroll please………..another freaking field goal kicker.

    That did cement Gump’s induction into the MHOF.

    Yes, the Moron Hall of Fame located on West St, Bristol CT. right across the street from BSPN.

  8. Destinjohnny Says:

    When you have talent wise the 26th worst line in the nfl
    Don’t be shocked when they play up to their talent level.

  9. BucaLou Says:

    Ghost, it sounds like you are talking based on pure emotion and not intelligence or actual facts. You obviously did not do your homework before you posted your rant. Sean Murphy-Bunting attended Central Michigan which is in the MAC and is a D1 football program, not D3. I went back to look at what you posted, and then I realized that I’m probably the only person on the planet responding to the ridiculousness you’re spewing. Then I saw your avatar is a freaking clown! Then everything made sense. I’m out.