In House Options To Replace Wirfs

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First the good news. As previously reported Tristian Wirfs escaped serious injury and may only be out for three to four weeks. Now the bad news. There is no one on this roster that has the same tenacity and ability. Replicating what he brings to the offensive line will be near impossible. So here are the in-house options to take his snaps.

Josh Wells

Currently, Wells, a more well-knownbackupp in Tampa, is listed on the depth chart as the player to fall in behind Tristian Wirfs in case of injury. The undrafted free agent from James Madison started his career in Jacksonville where he spent the 2014-2018 seasons. He would join the Buccaneers in 2019 after being released by the Jaguars. Though he has started a few times for the Buccaneers he’s primarily been a stop gap due to injury. Since the 2019 season he has seen 518 snaps with the majority of them coming at left tackle. With that amount of snaps he has 268 passing downs and allowed 26 pressures for an average of 10 snaps between pressures.

So far this season he has 80 snaps (38 on passing plays) at left tackle and as an inline tightend. He’s allowed four pressures. This is very much in line with is career numbers at 10 snaps per pressure. This is reflected in his over all pass blocking PFF grade or this year at 54.1.

Brandon Walton

Walton, originally from Clearwater Florida, played his college football at Florida Atlantic.  During his time there he helped the team reach its undefeated season in 2017. His personal achievements include being named co-MVP of the offensive line in 2018, and third team All Conference USA honors. Additionally, as a senior he earned first team All Conference USA honors on his way to helping Florida Atlantic win their championship.

Walton entered the 2020 draft year but did not hear his name called on draft day. Subsequently he signed with the Buffalo Bills as an unrestricted free agent. After a few roster cuts and time on the practice squad Walton signed with the Steelers. Eventually they too cut him and the Buccaneers claimed him where he found solid ground on the Tampa practice squad.

Now Walton is a left tackle by trade but could make the move over in the absence of Wirfs. This season he has some seen some action working to aid Donovan Smith in weeks two through four. During that span he played 112 snaps (75 passing plays) and allowed three pressures. That works out to a pressure every 18 snaps. All the pressures he allowed came during the Green Bay game, to include his lone sack. In week two though he posted a 80.3 pass blocking grade according to PFF and allowed zero pressures. So far he is averaging a grade of 65.4 over the three game span. Could that translate to right tackle? It remains to be seen but this team is in dire need for some help on the o-line.

Luke Goedeke

Given his performance this season I know you cringed a little in reading that name. The reality is he may be an option here. In college at Central Michigan Goedeke converted to right tackle and started all his games in that position. Additionally he was named a first team All-Mid American Conference there. The ugly truth about the first seven games is clear and evident. Playing in a new position at the NFL level turned out to be a rough experience. Could a return to a familiar position get Goedeke back on track and in the good graces of this team and it’s fan base? Maybe, maybe not. He’ll certainly get a look during practice so be sure to keep an eye out for reports this week.

Final Thought

Given this staff’s die hard loyalty and small cap space I doubt they turn to an outsider. But I’ll provide some names to look for if they do in my next article. That said, one of the above players will play right tackle next week. They may even have a rotation to determine and play with personnel grouping a bit. I would look for more two tight end sets with Wirfs out though. Ko Kieft may get more action during this four week run than he will all the other games combined.

I believe Walton gets the nod to start out of this group.

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