Buccaneers season preview.. the offensive line.
The Buccaneers enter the 2020 season with as solid as an offensive line that we have seen in many years.
The Bucs lost starting right tackle Demar Dotson as they opted to not renew his contract. Dotson recently signed with the Denver Broncos.
Earl Watford will not be back as his contract was up and the Bucs opted to let him walk.
There will not be a lot of competition for starting spots along the offensive line as those have already been decided. The competition will be for the backup spots along the line.
Tristan Wirfs the rookie from Iowa is penciled in to start at right tackle. If Wirfs is deemed not ready to start, Arians said that Joe Haeg will start until Wirfs is ready.
Wirfs was impressive in his pass blocking at Iowa allowing six sacks in 1138 snaps. Wirfs was rated the number three offensive tackle coming out of college by Pro Football Focus.
Donavan Smith is back to start at left tackle and will protect Brady’s blindside. Smith has struggled at times in the past, but last year was one of his better years.
Smith allowed 34 pressures from his left tackle spot. Smith has allowed anywhere from 42 to 57 pressures in the last four seasons. That is an improvement.
Ali Marpet is at left guard and continues to improve in all areas of his game.
Ryan Jensen is back at center. Jensen is the number three rated center in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. Jensen had a rating of 79.3.
Arians said that Jensen was the leader of the offensive line last season.
Alex Cappa will be the right guard. Cappa who struggled his first year in the league as a lot of linemen do has improved and will need to continue that improvement in his third season.
Wirfs will be the starting right tackle. Wirfs will need to adjust to the speed of the NFL quickly as he will have only 14 padded practices to prepare him for Cameron Jordan and the New Orleans Saints in game one.
Brad Seaton has opted out of the 2020 season. He is the only Bucs player to do so. Seaton a back-up tackle has not played a snap in a regular-season NFL game.
The Bucs still have Aaron Stinnie, Zack Bailey, Anthony Fabiano, John Molchen, and Zack Shackelford as depth along the offensive line.
The Bucs running game left a lot to be desired last season, finishing 29 out of 32 teams in the league. That will have to improve this season.
The pass blocking, was rated as the sixth-best pass-blocking offensive line according to Pro Football Focus. The Bucs offensive line gave up 47 sacks a year ago and there will be a huge focus this season on protecting the 43-year-old Brady and keeping him upright.
Last year going into training camp there some nagging injuries along the offensive line that worried Bruce Arians. Arians stressed the importance of having the starters play to develop continuity and get to know one another’s tendencies.
The line suffered injuries to Alex Cappa and Demar Dotson last season and we saw much how those two meant to the Bucs offensive line in losses to New Orleans and Carolina.
The line did begin to jell and come together, and played much better in the second half of last season.
All the pieces are in place for the Bucs offensive line to take another step forward.
The team has their stud right tackle in Tristan Wirfs. Continued improvement from Alex Cappa and Donavan Smith will go a long way helping the Bucs make a deep playoff run.