Todd Bowles: It’s Not Mental With Donovan Smith

December 15th, 2022

Bucs LT Donovan Smith.

Mental health and the workplace has been a recent topic among Bucs fans.

Since Tom Brady came to the Bucs, popular Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith has likely played his best football. He played so well last year that then-Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians strongly touted him as a Pro Bowl player.

That didn’t happen, but the Bucs did have three other offensive linemen reach the Pro Bowl.

This year, Smith has taken a step back. Perhaps it is because the guys to the immediate right of him are no longer Pro Bowlers, but backups and a rookie trying to make the jump from MAC right tackle to NFL left guard.

Throw in the untimely holding calls by Smith, which have wiped out touchdowns, it’s not been Smith’s best season.

Surprisingly, last week Smith confessed he’s going through a personal issue. Joe is guessing Smith invoked this subject to suggest it has distracted him and affected his play. Smith would offer no further details.

Then on Sunday after the beatdown Joe will refer to in the future as the San Francisco Treat, Smith bristled when Jenna Laine of ESPN asked Smith if his personal issue might prevent him from finishing the season — good for Jenna to ask that! Smith didn’t take that question well and stated he will finish the season because the personal issue has been around all season.

Again, Smith wouldn’t reveal more.

Joe last week wrote that if Smith is this distracted, maybe it might be wise for the Bucs to give backup tackle Brandon Walton turns at left tackle. Earlier this year when Smith was injured, Walton did OK replacing him. Just OK, at least for one game.

Joe was killed in some circles where folks suggested Joe was insensitive. Nonsense! If a guy tried to play with a sprained ankle and his poor play resulted in dragging the offense down, he’d be pulled. You tell Joe the difference between that and Smith potentially being so rattled by his off-field problems he cannot focus on the task at hand?

If anything, giving Smith a break due to whatever is going on in his life might show the team cares about Smith.

Yesterday, Bucs coach Todd Bowles was asked about Smith and his recent struggles. Bowles said Smith’s issues, at least on the field, are physical and they can be resolved.

“Yeah, they’re physically correctable – we’ve got to correct them,” Bowles said. “You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again – it’s costing us.”

Well, the Bucs’ backs are close to being against the wall. Joe doesn’t think there is a sober person walking the streets who believes the Bucs can beat the Bengals, who have played strong ball of late and are lethal on offense.

Hell, the Bucs cannot score 23 points unless they are desperate and getting blasted. For the Bengals’ offense, 23 points is just getting warmed up.

In the final three games, the Bucs need two wins to clinch a division and a home playoff berth. The chances of a wild card berth seem ridiculous at this point.

If Smith against the Bengals on Sunday demonstrates (again) he’s not locked in and is costing the team — those are the head coach’s words, not Joe’s — then it will be time to give Smith a break and see if Walton can play focused football.

26 Responses to “Todd Bowles: It’s Not Mental With Donovan Smith”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    had a good run wonder what his cap hit would be

  2. BucU Says:

    At this point of the most forgettable season in recent memory there’s zero expectations this team is gonna somehow start clicking. That boat sailed quite a while back. Now it’s a matter of mocking the coaches and leaders of this team until they’re finally put out of their misery. This has been such a disaster but Bowles seems indifferent to it. That’s pretty pathetic that fans get mire worked up over this garbage team than the HC does. He needs to be shown the door.

  3. NEfan Says:

    Heaven forbid you do the same thing over and over again when his offense is the sequel to the movie Groundhog Day.

  4. Redeemer Says:

    He’s reverted to his rookie season. Bad footwork, poor technique. Liability

  5. Nprbuc Says:

    Bowles actually said “ You can’t keep doing the same things over and over again———“ ? Is this the same Bowles that watches us run on 1st, WR screen on 2nd and throw way short of the sticks on 3rd? Where has that coaching insight been all year? Nice guy? Maybe. Good HC? 🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪

  6. FlBoy84 Says:

    If he’s released or traded as a post-June 1st transaction in the offseason, about $7.5M is spread over the next 2 years and the Bucs get $15M+ of needed cap space. Would love to see Wirfs at LT and would be fine with Walton/Wells at RT, with an additional young OT drafted/signed to develop.

  7. Marine Buc Says:

    First of all D. Smith is at best a mediocre LT. He has been protected and spoiled by a QB with a quick release and having Ali Marpet next to him…

    Now Marpet is gone and TB12 isn’t able to find anyone open within the 2 second window.

    Plus – D. Smith is playing with a bum elbow which makes a mediocre LT perform below mediocre.

    Unfortunately he probably isn’t going anywhere because we still owe him a slew of guaranteed money.

  8. FlBoy84 Says:


    Smith doesn’t have ANY guaranteed money coming after this season. The only cap hit is the remaining $7.9M signing bonus that’s spread out over the remaining years of the contract. The cap SAVINGS though is $15M+, so he’s definitely a candidate for a post June-1st release or trade. Hoping this is the year.

  9. Sandman Says:

    Just switch wirf and donovan Smith sides

  10. westernbuc Says:

    I’d rather he get holding penalties than watch defensive ends work over lesser talent and murder our qb. Our offense should be good enough to overcome Smith’s struggles right now. It’s not.

  11. Joe Says:

    Just switch wirf and donovan Smith sides

    Joe prays no coach tries (again) to fix something that’s not broken. Dear God, keep Tristan Wirfs where he is.

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Yes….it’s physical…..Donovan…..don’t hold onto the defender…..refs are watching you…..and also…..Donovan…..don’t move until the snap.

    The holding is because he’s getting beat…..and that’s his only way to stop the defender.
    The false starts are because he thinks he’s gonna get beat…..

  13. Iamabuc Says:

    Well, I don’t want to sound insensitive; but this guy will always have a penalty or two in every freaking game. I understand that now he says is a personal issue, but; what happened the other 50 times. We know we can bet money on DSmith having a penalty in every game and we’ll be earning big time money. So no, I don’t buy it. Sorry.

  14. Iamabuc Says:

    Well, I don’t want to sound insensitive; but this guy will always have a penalty or two in every freaking game. I understand that now he says is a personal issue, but; what happened the other 50 times?. We know we can bet money on DSmith having a penalty in every game and we’ll be earning big time money. So no, I don’t buy it. Sorry.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Keep Wirfs at RT he is a all pro find a new guy via draft or free agency everyone has seen enough he had a solid run of being available and an on and off turnstile paid too much to get abused by guys all the time especially the inside moves guys put on him.

    feels like he has given up 8 or more sacks this year.

  16. Tony Says:


    Donovan has had a good run at what? Penalties?

  17. Anonymous Says:

    @Joe any chance they move Tristan Wirfs to left and let Walton play right ? Or Wells ?

  18. Joe Says:

    @Joe any chance they move Tristan Wirfs to left and let Walton play right ? Or Wells ?

    Joe already typed today in the comments of this thread what he thinks of moving Wirfs.

  19. ClwJB Says:

    Yes there is a mental issue here it’s called laziness and it has been the MOnof one Donovan Smith since uhhhhh PSU. Re-read his draft projections

    He is exactly what they pegged him as, an underachieving talented dude

    Tom had him motivated for a couple years but he has regressed to the foot dragging, over setting, constant inside pressure giving Smith

  20. BucsfanFred Says:

    He doesn’t care if he hurts the team. He wants that paycheck wether he deserves it or not.

  21. BucsfanFred Says:

    @ClwJB: I read Smiths draft profile. I’m astonished we took him in the second round.

  22. WillieG Says:

    Maybe not having a head coach waiting to jump in his arse after a penalty kills a drive causes a lack of focus?

  23. Darin Says:

    It’s not mental with smith but it is mental with Leftwich. A terrible coach with an ego. He be who he be

  24. TheRealDrew Says:

    I’m not an offensive linemen guru, but watching replays, he always gets his arms wide when he’s kicking back and he can’t get arms out in front before the defender is in his body, so he has to bear hug hold. Why the heII is he doing that?!

  25. firethecannons Says:

    next year needs: entire new coaching staff, new QB, new left tackle, new edge (JTS is Noah Spence 2.0)

  26. firethecannons Says:

    I do not care what his problem is, it is time to dump this dead weight he has been bad every single year except the Brady years and now he is bad even with Brady not only is he historically bad he is an embarassment–has to go DUMP HIS ASS OFF THE TEAM!