Flipping Tristan Wirfs Is A “Process”

May 12th, 2023

Offensive coach Joe Gilbert.

From reading comments on this here website, Joe sees some  folks are convinced a guy moving from right tackle to left tackle (or vice versa) is as simple as sitting in a different barstool at your local Big Storm Brewing taproom.

Every offensive lineman Joe has spoken to has told a far different story. But nah, it doesn’t matter. Move Wirfs to left tackle!


So earlier this week, Bucs offensive line coach Joe Gilbert gave the local pen and mic club a state of the offensive line of sorts. It didn’t sound like if the Bucs’ season next week, Wirfs would be locked in to start at left tackle.

It’s going to take some time, Gilbert said, (for Wirfs to learn how to wipe his rear end with his left hand).

After Gilbert praised Wirfs’ attitude and improvement, he explained there are over a million reasons why Wirfs has a lot of work to do to approach greatness at left tackle.

“Again, it’s muscle memory, it’s all those little things that he’s had a million and five reps over at the right side and now trying to do the same over on the left so it’s a little bit of a process out there,” Gilbert said.

How long of a process? We shall see. Joe found it interesting that Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht, a former offensive lineman himself, said at the combine in February that if Wirfs flips to the left side, he wants Wirfs working there from the moment he shows up for OTAs. And that’s what happened.

Wirfs’ brain has been programmed to play right tackle, though he did make four starts at left tackle in three years of college ball. Can all of those entrenched right-side moves and fundamentals be purged from his memory card and re-learned for the left side by September?

35 Responses to “Flipping Tristan Wirfs Is A “Process””

  1. NCBucfan Says:

    It’s still early, but Wirfs is arguably our best o-lineman in team history. If anybody can do it, this dude can!

  2. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    It’s not like it’s his 1st time ever in his life i have faith in Tristan

  3. Mark Says:

    Don’t worry. A guy who got benched at left guard last year can easily replace him.

  4. macout247 Says:

    Oh you did mentioned the wiping line! Everybody drink!

  5. garro Says:

    Joe I for one have been against the Wirffs move to Left tackle.
    I would urge the Bucs to at least have a look at putting Mauch there.
    After all we have guards coming out our ears.

    And for many it is like trying to write with the opposite hand. But its more than that. This is athletic movement at 300 plus pounds.

    I played both Tackle spots. It took some time and work to master both. The footwork mostly, the stance, balance, and the knowledge of what the guy next to me was doing. It is definitely more complicated than people think.

  6. HC Grover Says:

    What a discombobulation. This is dumb. just get a left tackle/ if it aint broke do not fix it.

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    If this works, its a huge payoff for the Bucs & Wirfs…..if it doesn’t….nothing ventured, nothing gained. Just move him back……(like Marpet)

    My money is on Wirfs to make the transition.

  8. For the People Says:

    I know Joe don’t like it, but I’m what most likely is a “retooling” year, why not try and turn the best RT in the game into the best LT in the game. A lot easier to find a RT in next years free agency/draft

  9. PSL Bob Says:

    Smart young dude! If he makes the switch, it won’t be the excellence we’re accustomed to for a while, but given time, I think he will rock the LT position and make the o-line and offense even better for years to come.

  10. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Wirfs was approaching 350 last year. Most left tackles are lighter on their feet compared to right tackles. Curious if Gilbert is asking Wirfs to shed a few pounds this year.

  11. Bucnjim Says:

    This is the difference between all pros and system players. All pros like Wirfs can move between several different positions with little to no problem. System players can thrive but only in one position in one style of offense or defense. Pretty sure players like Wirfs, Godwin, Winfield, etc will have success.

  12. Bobby M. Says:

    His athletic ability will to some degree mask his initial deficiencies. Wirfs worst yr will probably be on par with our former left tackles avg year. If Wirfs is decent, that’s probably equal to Smith’s best yr. I think he’ll have it down within the first 4 weeks of the regular season. From there he’ll be dominant for a decade and get paid exceptionally well for being a top tier LT. Make no mistake, this is a calculated business decision by Wirfs. He recognizes the financial upside to LT vs RT….a difference that could equate to tens of millions of dollars over his career.

  13. Steven007 Says:

    I had surgery on my right bicep tendon recently. I had to have it reattached due to an injury incurred at the gym. After having it weakened during a cycling accident. I mentioned that because I had to do what Joe mentions above. I had to learn to wipe with my left hand, haha. Everyone who knew I was having the surgery mentioned the same thing as if it were the one most inconvenient thing I would experience. Was it inconvenient? You bet. And I learned how to do it well enough after about 2 days. Let’s just say that it’s probably not a good comparison to what Wirfs is going to be doing. Though it is a convenient way to state things. And if we want to extrapolate like this, apparently Wirfs was wiping his ass with his left hand for a decent period of time in college. He probably got pretty adept at it then. An athlete of his stature, I don’t anticipate too many problems going back to the left hand.

  14. Joe Says:

    I had to learn to wipe with my left hand, haha.

    Year or so ago Joe had to have minor surgery on his right hand. Could still type but as far as using the hand for manual things (like wiping), it was a horrible three-week experience sitting on the throne.

  15. WillieG Says:

    I’m an excellent driver because I’ve driven a couple million accident- free miles. When my family and I go to England next September, I won’t even think about driving a car there. The learning process would be time consuming and dangerous since everything is ….backwards? Sideways? Different? I’d have to unlearn what’s engrained in my brain AND body over millions of miles and relearn starting from scratch. Not happening. I go on vacation to have fun, not to poop my pants daily. It’s basically the same for Wirfs.

  16. Elita Vita Says:

    Solution next year for this problem. Draft Penix the QB. Penix is left handed. Blind side is no longer left side but right side. Return or keep Tristan Wirfs at his original position. What do you think?

  17. SRQ Bucs Fan Says:

    I “hope” this doesn’t trigger anyone.

    After bowling right handed 30+ years with a 190-200 average I busted my fingers and Doc said no more bowling. Ha! Says I.

    I switched to left handed and started with a 97 average. One year later I’m averaging 150 with a high game of 196. At times it still like wiping with the other hand.

    According to the old timers in the league no one has switched hands bowling and had success. My goal this year is 170 average and 190 in year three.

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

    Just saying…

  18. #99 the Big fella Says:

    Wow ! I am so glad our fans know more than the coaches. I am sure you have a big career in the NFL .

  19. Brandon Says:

    Joe, offensive line is still a reactive position. Either side is supposed to react to what they see and other players do. Ultimately, it comes down to beating the man across from him. DE is not nearly as reactive. It is much harder to switch from RDE to LDE because it is far less reactive. Most pass rush moves are predetermined pre snap. Spin move, long arm, swim, chop, running the arc, and even getting out of your stance has to be mirrored. When I played RDE I was a master of speed to the outside, counter moves inside but when I moved to LDE I was a completely different DE. Still good but my technique dictated me to be a different player. More power. Wirfs will succeed. He is smart enough and definitely talented enough.

  20. 1#bucsfan Says:

    The good thing is if the coaches feel wifs isn’t cutting it on the left which honestly he will prob do fine he’s super talented but it does t work out you just insert him back to the right and insert someone else. Not really a big deal. We have guys who are pretty versatile on the o-line. Also Ali marpet moved all over the line and did a remarkable job. TW is physically superior to marpet it’ll be more of a mental challenge

  21. Goatfarmer Says:

    As others wise in the way of the Bucs have said — several linemen have successfully made the switch. Wirfs is at least as capable as them.

    He will stud out.

  22. LakelandSteve Says:

    It may not be as easy as everyone thinks. Wirfs is an excellent athlete and I have no doubt that given time and actual game reps Wirfs could be a very good left tackle. However, there may be some issues in preseason or even the first part of the regular season where Wirf’s may struggle a little bit. If that happens everyone will be screaming put him back on the right side. Hopefully the Bucs stick with him and let him get better and don’t panic and move him back just because he has a few problems.

  23. Infomeplease Says:

    It’s a process!!!!! Time can fix things!

  24. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Huge difference between left and right tackle.
    Left Tackle always faces the other teams best pass rushers, unlike at right tackle.
    I would not move Wirfs, and hoped we would draft a left tackle, but we failed to.

  25. Tucker Says:

    No one in the comment section said it was going to be easy fans just believe wirfs can make the transition because of how talented he is and just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt something. It’s not like the transition has never been made successfully. Go bucs.

  26. Just a Fan Says:

    Probably like asking a right-handed guitar player to play left-handed. The hands are trained to completely different things. You would know what to do, but you can’t play if you’re thinking about where to put your fingers next.

  27. Larrd Says:

    Playing NFL football seems hard. Only three months or so to get used to doing the same thing, but on the other side! I hope they are well paid.

  28. OrlandoBucFan Says:

    “Left Tackle always faces the other teams best pass rushers, unlike at right tackle.”

    This is why I think we need to move Wirf’s to left tackle. He is our best offensive lineman and he is extremely athletic. Why wouldn’t you want your best offensive line protecting your quarterback’s blind side while blocking the other team’s best pass rusher. At the very least, it is worth exploring.

    As far as the transition goes, I’m sure with enough repetitions, Wirf’s will get it down. When I was in the Marines in the 1980’s, I was stationed in Okinawa for a year. As a MP/K-9 handler, I patrolled all the bases on the island, which meant I had to drive… a lot! It took me about a month to get comfortable driving on the left side of the road, but I did it. Driving on the left side of the road also means your shifting with your left hand (not right), as well as dealing with turn signals, windshield wipers and other controls in different locations, while also trying to remember not to turn into the wrong (right) lane, particularly when making right turns.

  29. Rand Says:

    Wirfs an athletic smart guy he’ll have it figured out. Once players start rushing him it will start becoming automatic. To deny the best o-lineman on our team a chance to move into the top paid position would have been selfish and a travesty. Once he gets a load of the extra cash he’s going to make everything will be right as rain. He’ll even be able to wipe his butt with his left hand.

  30. Rand Says:

    using all that extra cash lol

  31. Christopher Schiefen Says:

    Joe, you consistently leave out two things in you analysis:

    1) there aren’t and will not be any halfway decent LTs out there. How do you keep missing this part?

    2) Tristan is arguably already one of the best tackles of all time. The only reason he wasn’t playing left tackle is because A) Iowa B) Donnie was already well-established there. You get quicker ends going against you on the left side, & you cannot make a mistake because the quarterback won’t see it. I prefer he’d stay at RT too, but skill-wise, he’s already a top-3 LT, he just has to work out the kinks.

    No one out there is better than Donnie last year, and we couldn’t have him play LT again. This is the only option, & the fact you can’t see it means you’re living in a bit of a wishful fantasy.

  32. pepsi Says:

    Joe give us the names of the offensive lineman you talked to about this who are as talented as Wirfs just from an athletic and elite specimen stand point. youre acting like theres a lot of precedent to this.. there isnt. Wirfs isnt just a very good RT, hes the best RT in the league who, as a NFL lineman specimen, might very well be in a league of his own. Were asking a very rare talent to try and make the adjustment and betting that the odds of Wirfs succeeding are much higher than they would be if it were someone else asked to make the switch. The fans believe strongly believe in wirfs, Joe is looking strictly at “paper” so to speak. Wake up Joe and start having some confidence that Wirfs is a special talent. You also didnt propose a better solution to fill the LT hole. The draft didnt have options at 19.. and the best FA option was the very guy we released and who arguably ruined our entire season (D.Smith).

  33. pepsi Says:

    didnt see Christopher Schiefen post pretty much the same comment as me. Yes exactly Chris.. Joe ingores each time that Wirfs is not a comparable dude to anyone else.. and Joe ignores that we had no LT with no good solution to find one with confidence. the options were A)draft a guy at 19 who may not be very good, B)resign DSmith after the worst year of his career, or C)move Wirfs to LT – Wirfs who is an elite tackle.. the answer was obvious. Moving Wirfs was the least in opportunity cost. with option C) theres a strong chance that our LT will be better than A or B right out the gate and theres possibility that our LT could blossom into a better LT than we could possibly ever get without using a top 5 pick in a draft with an elite LT prospect. and with option C) we saved pick 19 to be used on Dline instead, and saved at least 10mil in FA.

  34. Capt.Tim Says:

    Its obvious no one on our line can run block.
    We were LAST in the league last year.
    And Wirfs didnt play anybodys best DE. He played a bunch of run stoppers.
    Then why do any of you think he is a great player???
    Based on what?

    Wirfs is gonna want top money. We are gonna want him to play against the opponents best DE
    Its that simple.
    If you are gonna keep him at right tackle. Quit saying he is a great player.
    Because great players play against the other teams great players.
    Not against the thick bodies

  35. Pepsi Says:

    Capt.Tim are you drunk? Wirfs is probably the only tackle in the league that has routinely shut down Cameron jordan, he’s done it twice a season since being drafted