Let me introduce you to the Black Sheep of our beloved Bucs: It’s our offensive line. Such an aptly named entity, because if they aren’t anything, they are offensive. They aren’t sexy, usually, don’t see them on local commercials, or the side of the stadium’s on 50-foot banners. Kids don’t idolize them, hell when kids open packs of football cards, it’s the offensive linemen cards that get used on their bicycle spokes for the motorcycle sound, or worse, they are just chucked into the garbage, while the Skill position players cards and Linebackers etc. get put into protective holders, and are cherished. When the commissioner calls out a team’s pick and it’s an O-lineman, you can almost hear a collective sigh from the team’s average fans. Nobody screams to the Offensive Lineman for an autograph at training camp. If that’s all that comes over to you to sign, it’s better than nothing, but all the same disappointing to the fan that longed for a Mike Evans, or O.J. Howard’s signature on their rookie card, or Jersey. They are the ignored positions, the Black Sheep of the family in simple terms.
Reality Is The Opposite
Having said all that, nothing could be farther from the truth. In reality, the Offensive line is arguably the most important position on the team. Let’s face it, there is only one reason that NFL teams face off each week in the fall. That reason is to score touchdowns. The Defense tries to stop the scoring of touchdowns. All things that happen on Offense besides TDs, punts, Field Goals, turnover on downs, etc. is because the team couldn’t score a touchdown. The most important gateway to touchdowns is your Offensive Line’s play, and their ability to dictate and control the Defense at the line of scrimmage. If you can’t do that well, or above average, you are going to end up ranked 32nd in the league in red-zone touchdown rankings like the Bucs were in 2018. In all the passing and slinging the hell out of the football that the Bucs did last year when they hit the red zone, they smoked the tires off of the car bringing their forward advancement to a disappointing stop. Opposing defenses buckled down when the Bucs got into the red zone and put a stop to all the silliness. Just about all the blame for red zone ineffectiveness can be placed on the Offensive line. So the line goes, so goes the offense.
It Just Isn’t Rocket Science
Read my Lips as I holler, “YOU CAN ONLY BE AS GOOD AS YOUR OFFENSIVE LINE WILL ALLOW YOU TO BE! ONLY WHEN YOU HAVE LINEMEN THAT ARE COMPARABLE IN TALENT TO YOUR SKILL POSITION PLAYERS, WILL YOU REACH THE PINNACLE OF HOW GOOD YOU CAN BE!” Anything less than a dominant offensive line is a practice in futility. Why would you go out and draft Ferraris and Porsches at your skill positions, and line up rusting VW Beetles, and Pacers at the point of attack? Fans that are learned in basic football fundamentals, or played High School football, etc. know that the Offensive Line is supremely important. It’s where it all begins and ends, in the trenches. You rarely hear any NFL coach, much less the Head Coach speaks with such indifference and apathy when it comes to those front six. That’s the way I have taken what Bruce Almighty has said so far this preseason concerning the players tasked with protecting Jameis Winston, and opening holes for Barber, and ROJO this year. He sounds like a casual fan, it’s very disheartening. Maybe Bruce knows something you and I don’t. Maybe he has a special magic wand that he’s going to thump upside their heads before every game. You can clip an Airwick to a skunk’s tail, and slap a fedora on its head, but it’s still going to stink.
Average or Less Than Just Isn’t Going To Cut It
The Defense finished last year as one of the worst in the NFL. Arians and Licht fell over each other trying to throw Defensive players at that problem. Hell, Licht has been throwing Defensive Backs that problem for a while now. The Offense is Dead Last in the league in red-zone touchdowns rating, and not one move is made to upgrade that issue. Is it just me, am I crazier than Cooter Brown, are my lights on, but nobody’s home? Doesn’t it seem like the powers that be, just don’t get it? Nobody is going to go out and get a classic muscle car like a 68-69 Chevelle 396 SS Big Block and throw a rusty transmission, and a for crap carburetor into it. Those parts have to be on par with the rest of the cars amped high-performance abilities. When it’s not, that flashy car will be losing a whole lot of quarter milers, and just never reach it’s potential, It’s the same as our football team.
Coaching Staff Surely Must Know More Than They Let On
Maybe the Offensive scheme, the fakes, the movement of the QB, RBs, in general, can keep a defense on its heels, and enable the line to better control the situation upfront, I’m just guessing. I’m fully aware the staff knows or certainly should know much more about it than I do. It’s one of the things I will be watching like a hawk once they get out there and get to it. If there is one thing that I feel is a weakness in the Bucs game in 2019, it is the inferiority of our offensive line. It’s the only thing I see that could blow us up before we even get started. Maybe the offensive line coaches are just heads and tails above what has been here and can develop what we have into better players than they have been. I don’t know, I’m fumbling for an answer as to why no effort was made to upgrade the unit.
A team’s offensive line, one that is part of a winning, successful franchise that contends every year has an offensive line that can control the line of scrimmage. You don’t get to the Super Bowl with Bums on your line. It just doesn’t happen. I have a feeling that the line is going to be addressed at some point, but unfortunately, that won’t probably happen until reality forces the team to do something about it. Nothing would make me happier than the line playing like gangbusters and dominating the trenches this year. I just don’t see how, but maybe Arians will show me. I’ll surely be paying attention. Go Bucs!!