Diagnosis: Out of sorts is not the right word. All in all the offensive line held up well in pass protection, with only a few major gaffes. They were not porous per-say, but neither were the stout unit we expected. They seemed to get no push at all and offered no help for the beleaguered running backs. Compared to our hopes and expectations, it was an all together “offensive” performance from the men in the trenches.
– Stuffed runs for negative yards
– 44 yards, on 22 carries between the running backs
– Rookie quarterback leading the team in rushing
– Stacked boxes, and quarterback pressures
– Milke Devlin losing his voice
Hopefully? Time: It is hard to tell this early in the season if the unit has just not had time to gel or if the talent level might be suffering. As individuals, the offensive big men didn’t have a terrible game. Nick Mangold wasn’t his usual self but didn’t kill the Jets either. Austin Howard allowed a hit on Smith but otherwise had a positive day. D’Brickashaw Ferguson was beaten three times, once on the Smith interception, and committed a holding penalty. While it wasn’t his best performance by his standards he was dealing with Vlad Ducasse to his right and Adrian Clayborn in his face. Speaking of King Ugly 2010, Ducasse had a mistake ridden day looking slow off the snap all game and letting Mason Foster burst by him for the strip sack. Finally, Willie Colon was up and down with a few punishing blocks, a false start, and giving up a few pressures. The issue at hand, hopefully, is more a need for time. Time to gel as a unit. Time to learn each other’s tendencies. Time to hone their craft and become one, cohesive line.
Communication: The Buccaneers defensive line is nothing to scoff at. Adrian Clayborn, Gerald McCoy, and Da’Quan Bowers are a solid trio. The offensive line did its best to stop them, Ducasse and Nick Mangold usually double teaming the interior rush with the others left to one on one assignments. However, the Bucs used a lot of stunts and created mismatches. This tactic caused some problems for the line and it looked like they were unable to communicate what they saw pre-snap to one another. However, to their credit the pass pro was not horrible and they did a good job of minimizing McCoy (the real threat) all day. Hopefully, the communication improves over the season and through coaching so that defensive line movements do not have the same impact.
Consistency: A big part of offensive line success is consistency in personnel. It is important that the same five guys work together for as long as possible in order to create a good level of understanding and communication. It is often the case that when an O-lineman goes down and a replacement comes in there is a notable drop off in effectiveness, despite the overall talent level of the new player. Many are calling for Ducasse to be replaced by Brian Winters at some point in the season, but let’s not forget the importance of consistency on the line. Ducasse had a rough first start but may improve over time with the unit. However, if his shortcomings are to much to overcome and a replacement is needed, lets hope that: a) Winters is ready and b) the coaching staff leaves enough time for the line to gel and prevent a significant drop off. Perhaps the Bye Week may be the best time for a change, if one is necessary.