Vital Presence; Major Question

June 9th, 2023

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A Buc offense that has gone bone dry is in desperate need of some juice.

Here comes a red-headed stranger, eager to mix it up in the trenches and set an aggressive tone sorely missing in 2022.

Ryan Jensen

Todd Bowles expects full attendance at next week’s mandatory minicamp. That includes malcontent linebacker Devin White and excited center Ryan Jensen, who can’t wait to prove he’s fully recovered from a devastating knee injury.

“He was an anchor and he was an attitude guy when he was here,” Bowles says.

Jensen, who just turned 32, wasn’t available for the entire regular season after tearing his MCL, ACL and PCL on July 28, the second day of training camp. He had started all 71 games as a Buccaneer since signing as a free agent in 2018 but Jensen was idle and frustrated as Tampa Bay went 8-9 due to a plodding attack.

Instead of taking the suggested surgery route, Jensen instead utilized stem cells to accelerate the healing process.

He came back to play all 82 offensive snaps in the playoff debacle against the Cowboys. Jensen’s return was certainly no game-changer that evening as Tampa Bay’s first six full possessions ended with five punts and an interception.

“They would have had to drag me off that field,” Jensen said moments after Tom Brady’s final game as a Buccaneer.

There’s no debate: the Bucs need Jensen back at full strength. He provides the fire and the fury up front, even though his initial season with Tampa Bay proved disappointing. Jensen was called for five holding flags and 11 penalties overall in 2018 before Bruce Arians replaced Dirk Koetter and overhauled the coaching staff. The next three years combined saw Jensen flagged only four times for holding, with 11 penalties overall.

Along the way, he was awarded a Pro Bowl invitation.

Tampa Bay used to have continuity up front. Not anymore. Assuming Jensen starts at center for the opener at Minnesota, he’ll be surrounded by a new cast.

New Bucs guard Matt Feiler, a veteran of 75 NFL starts, including playoffs.

Tristan Wirfs is ticketed to move to left tackle and the starting guards are likely to be rookie Cody Mauch and newcomer Matt Feiler. Second-year pro Luke Goedeke is expected to shift from guard to right tackle.

That’s a lot of movement for an offense that couldn’t move the ball effectively last fall. Overall, seven starters from the Dallas playoff game are no longer on the roster — Brady, Donovan Smith, Shaq Mason, Akiem Hicks, Will Gholston, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Mike Edwards.

Buc fans won’t care if Jensen sports a knee brace next week. They just want to see him participate in drills and add some energy before the Bucs take a six-week break to prepare for training camp.

Robert Hainsey, who played right tackle at Notre Dame, did his best to fill in for Jensen last year. He wasn’t awful, but he wasn’t Jensen.

This team needs Jensen to provide passion up front. Wirfs is a terrific player, but he’s not a vocal leader. You can’t expect Goedeke, Feiler or Mauch to be the tone-setter for a revamped offensive line.

If Jensen recaptures his previous form, things could fall into place nicely up front. Like Jensen, Mauch is a mauler, determined to impose his will. When Mauch goes through his struggles like any rookie, Jensen’s experience and encouragement will prove vital.

As he enters his sixth season as a Buccaneer, Jensen has emerged as an elder statesman. Jensen prefers to do his (trash) talking on the field and Bowles craves an ass-kicker who exemplifies toughness, someone who will let a Grady Jarrett know he’s in for a long day.

“Life’s better with a helmet on,” Jensen says.

Especially when that helmet is worn by one ornery SOB.

Enjoy Thursday’s Ira Kaufman Podcast, loaded with all kinds of Bucs insight from The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports and Joe.

18 Responses to “Vital Presence; Major Question”

  1. shankasorous Says:

    Ryan’s healthy return would be huge.

  2. Mike Says:

    A healthy Jensen would make a big difference for sure. Dude brings it and looks to punish his enemies and see them driven before him.

  3. Fred McNeil Says:

    Ryan’s return will be a huge help.

  4. D-Rok Says:

    Great points, Ira. IMO, the O-line play will be the key to any success the Bucs do or do not have this season, and Jensen or someone like him is the key to the O-line.

  5. PSL Bob Says:

    Love the read, Ira! Can’t wait to see Jensen in action again. Th Mauch-Jensen combo could be a fun thing to watch as continuity builds over the season.

  6. Mike C Says:

    Did I just get fired up?…… I think so!

  7. dmatt Says:

    Jensen will return for vengeance. Our OL will redeem itself. Out is DSmith aka Baby Huey and in is CMauch aka Baby Thor. Wirf may not be vocal but he is nice-nasty. I believe Haines is peeking n if Goedeke don’t step up then we have a proven Stinnie n Nick Leverett.

  8. SlyPirate Says:

    Zone Blocking
    I’ve heard Canales wants to employ a zone blocking scheme. I don’t believe that’s what Arians ran. I’m wondering how Jensen will adjust, especially if he has to block downfield with a bum knee?

  9. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    It’s exciting how we have depth on the bench for our line. Seems like the first time ever.

  10. SlyPirate Says:

    Watched Sean Tucker highlight reel again.

    Just wow! Explosive, elusive, run-catch, a threat from anywhere.

    Hope he makes the team.

  11. Dooley Says:


    BA ran some inside zone, but the duo run blocking was his calling card because it was more of a vertical, attacking blocking scheme. Zone takes some of the pressure off the OLmen along the interior to win man-to-man blocking assignments. It’s kind of why our run game fluttered last season because our interior OLmen were struggling getting off the ball and putting hats on their assigned defenders, especially at the second level. That’s why Canales referred to his scheme being friendly to the OL, because he’s asking them to get into space and block an area, if nothing is playside the OLmen get to go looking for a double/chip.

  12. dbbuc711 Says:

    I am really looking forward to seeing Jensen and Mauch together 😁

  13. 1#bucsfan Says:

    If he wasn’t healthy he wouldn’t have bin able to play every snap in the wild card game. Dude his going to rip some heads off this year. I for 1 am not concerned with his health.

  14. JBBUCS_06 Says:

    protect Jensen at all costs especially during early practices and training camps w/o pads. And keep Logan Hall far far far away.

  15. Bojim Says:

    And he will taste the tears of his enemies. Go Ryan!

  16. Defense Rules Says:

    Awesome article Sage. Bucs desperately need Jensen to return to form and provide the LEADERSHIP that was sorely missing last year. There’s a whole different OLine attitude with Ryan out there, and we desperately need that.

    Could use more attitude like his on defense too. Cerebral’s nice, until you get punched in the face. Suh & JPP brought that attitude, but we struggled last year without their LEADERSHIP IMO. Youngsters rarely provide that kind of bravado, but I’m hoping that Greg Gaines will. Kancey might be a good leader in the future, but very few rookies make that kind of impression right out of the gate it seems.

  17. garro Says:

    Great one Ira!
    Love Jensen’s fire!
    His willingness to go that extra bit after the whistle should be mandatory for all of our O-line.

  18. ATLBuc Says:

    One person that should benefit from Jensen’s return is Logan Hall. Red is gonna be in his grill all day every day!