The Rookie Learning Curve

August 18th, 2020

Don’t stand up!

Man, did Bucs coach Bucco Bruce Arians ever give Joe a flashback to high school football.

So the Bucs drafted rookie tackle Tristan Wirfs in the first round. Traded up even to get the Iowa product. But it seems this no-offseason-workouts offseason may have developed a bad habit for Wirfs, to hear Arians speak yesterday.

Joe knows from experience (albeit, high school) the best way to get blown off the ball depends on you, not so much the guy you are going up against.

For example, as an offensive lineman, if you don’t fire out with your body and shoulders parallel to the ground, you are likely opening up your body — or standing up — which gives a defensive lineman a perfect target to blast you with leverage in the ribs and hips.

As iconic former Bucs linebacker Scot Brantley once told Joe, “It’s all about leverage.”

And it seems the lack of practice has Wirfs standing up coming out of his stance.

“It’s not the mistakes, it’s the pad level,” Arians said of Wirfs struggling some in the first day of hitting yesterday. “When you’re playing in shorts, you’re standing straight up. You get in those first day in pads – if you’re allowed, you’d cut every defensive lineman because they’re straight up. Then, they’re knocking the crap out of the offensive linemen because they’re standing straight up.

“That’s the thing about playing in pads – we’ve got to get our pad level down to play in a ballgame. [That is] something you miss in preseason games, getting your pad level down defensive line-wise, linebacker-wise, offensive line the same way and tight ends. It’s something we have to work on and get better at quickly.”

So what does this tell Joe? Wirfs and others will need time to work out the bad habits. As Arians said, in previous seasons this could be done in a preseason game or two.

This year? It likely will carry over into the first two games of the regular season.

And yes, Joe will embrace a sloppy regular-season game rather than be force-fed even sloppier preseason games played with dudes you will never hear of again unless they become a coach or a convicted felon.

6 Responses to “The Rookie Learning Curve”

  1. Jaymiss Pick6 Again Says:

    Scot Brantley in 1985 absolutely decleated and dehelmeted Eric Hipple of the Lions. Dude was a freaking BEAST! You younger fellas YouTube “Scot Brantley Bucs”…a hit on a QB like that gets you fined and suspended in our current NFL.

  2. SOEbuc Says:

    What does this tell SOEbuc? OJ Howard needs to be helping on the right side of the line for the first few games.

  3. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Agree completely that might be the most devastating hit ever!

    Sadly for Brantley who was able to land more than his share of those monster hits he ended up with scrambled eggs for brains far too young.

    It’s an interesting question. How much thrill do you need in the first half of your life if it means sacrificing the second. I NEVER judge anybody on these decisions.

  4. Buczilla Says:

    I enjoyed listening to Scot and Duemig on 910 back in the day and he was a hell of a linebacker too. Wirfs looks like he’s going to be a good one (o line factory at Iowa), but every rookie is going to struggle. Fingers crossed he’s not another Charles McRae type of linemen.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I was fortunate enough to hang out with Scott Brantley at a Ducks Unlimited meeting as a kid. What a great and humble guy.

  6. Clean House Says:

    What happened to the Iowa OL assembly line?