The injuries for the Buccaneers are mounting on the offensive line. Left tackle Donovan Smith, the guy responsible for protecting his quarterbacks blind side, did not play in yesterday’s game against the New York Jets due to injury. Demar Dotson, one of the longest and most seasoned veterans on the team also did not play yesterday.
Due to the injuries to the line, second year pro, Caleb Benenoch, who is a backup, had a chance to show what he could do at right tackle. Kevin Pamphile slid over from left guard to left tackle, but both were expected to have their hands full against a Jets defensive line, that was able to rush the passer, one that has racked up 18 sacks this year, was held to just 1 on Sunday. I’d say that’s a job well done.
As much as we thought this might be a long day for our beloved Buccaneers, it turned out in our favor. Ryan Fitzpatrick, along with the o-line, did a great job keeping him upright allowing him to step into his throws. Fitzpatrick needed time to get the ball to his receivers, time that the injuries on an line weren’t expected to provide, but time is exactly what he had.
This was Fitzpatrick’s first start for Tampa Bay. Lucky for him, the backups had a heck of a game versus the the Jets.
Donovan Smith is still a huge question mark, giving up untimely sacks and penalties. Although he played okay on Sunday, I do feel he is still a huge liability in pass protection, and frankly, could turn out to be yet another second round bust for the Buccaneers. Perhaps the Bucs should consider moving him to guard instead of tackle, a place that may be much better suited for his run blocking skills. Unfortunately, he just hasn’t lived up to the early second round price tag. I hope management finally figures this out and moves him to his more natural place on the inside of the line.
Demar Dotson has been a great right tackle for his entire career, playing in 102 total games, while having started in 75.
If Dirk and Jason keep their jobs after this horrifying season, they need to sign a serviceable left tackle next year in free agency, or sadly, with our very high draft positioning. Although we won on Sunday, don’t be fooled, this going to get worse before it gets better.
Management needs to see that and be able to correct it. All they’ve done so far is put a band-aid on this huge and glaring weakness that was once considered one of the teams strengths. This offense has a lot of potential, but unfortunately, they are soft as cotton. The line just can’t seem to run or pass protect long enough to give the quarterbacks time to find an open receiver.
I foresee huge changes to this team come next year. I just don’t understand why we weren’t sellers or buyers on the NFL trade deadline, if for no other reason but to stack draft picks and help with our salary cap.
Edited by: Harmeet Kapur