There has been a lot of talk lately about the revamped Buccaneers Defense, but one of the areas you can most expect to see some huge improvement in is the Offensive Line. Yes, I’m talking about same Offensive Line that was ranked 20th overall in 2018 and seemed to have issues in both the run and the pass.
When Bruce Arians was brought in as the new Head Coach, one of the staff changes he made, was to immediately bring in Joe Gilbert as the new Offensive Line coach, Byron Leftwich as the new Offensive Coordinator, Strength and Conditioning Coaches Maral Javadifar, Roger Kingdom, Chad Wade, and Michael Stacchiotti, along with new Offensive Assistant Antwaan Randle El, and of course the guru himself, Tom Moore.
What all this hiring amounts to, is that the Buccaneers now have the expertise and experience necessary to take an Offensive Line who ranked in the bottom half of the league last season and not only find out what was causing issues, but how to make the necessary corrections to ensure everyone is on the same page and working together as a single unit.
Of all those newly hired, the most intriguing hire may just be Joe Gilbert. Gilbert is no stranger to coaching, and certainly no stranger to Arians and what is expected from him as Gilbert and Arians had previously worked together in Indianapolis where Gilbert served as the Offensive Line coach for five seasons.
Upon leaving the Colts coaching staff, Gilbert moved out West, where he took over the role of both Offensive Line coach and Assistant Coach for the University of Arizona Wildcats where Gilbert took them through a tremendous one-year turnaround. Prior to Gilbert joining the Wildcats, they had not only one of the worst Offenses in the Pac-12, but they took the field opening week with only 1 player having had previous Division 1 experience.
Despite the lack of experience and a team that was riddled with injuries, including losing their starting left tackle for most of the season, Gilbert was still able to coach the Wildcats to a first-place conference ranking in rushing, a second-place conference ranking in total offense, and they finished third in the conference in scoring. Along with those rankings, the Wildcats managed to only all 20 sacks, which was good enough to put them at 4th fewest in the conference in sacks allowed.
With the proven success, Gilbert had in both Indianapolis and with the Wildcats, it’s easy to see why he was brought in as an addition to the Buccaneers Coaching Staff, but what wasn’t so easy for may to see right away, was how much improvement the offensive line would see before training camp even started.
The Buccaneers appear to be planning to field pretty much the same line as they did at the end of last season, but with a season under their belts and a new Coaching Staff, they look to make huge strides over where they finished last season. One of the key areas they have been working on already is getting the team to work together in ways the previous staff didn’t seem to. There has been an emphasis on getting workouts put in place that gets them all on the same page and understanding all the nuances necessary to prove they can perform their role in not only protecting Quarterback Jameis Winston but also do a better job of opening up holes necessary to establish the run game that was desperately missing from the game plan last season.