Much of the current offseason we’ve discussed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ upgrades on the defensive side of the football. But perhaps the Bucs greatest upgrade from Week 17 of 2012 to Week 1 of 2013 is the healthy return of a complete offensive line.
Last season Davin Joseph was injured in a preseason game and went on to miss the entire 2012 season. Carl Nicks, a key 2012 offseason acquisition, found himself watching from the sidelines after just seven games in pewter and red after he was placed on the IR due to a recurring toe injury following the Thursday Night Vikings’ beatdown.
Well, Nicks and Joseph are both supposedly healthy, rearing, and ready to go come September. Put them with the already solid line of Donald Penn, Jeremy Zuttah, and Demar Dotson and you have quite the offensive line.
In a recent Rotoworld post Evan Silva rated the Buccaneer O-Line as the fifth best in the NFL. In his post he describes the returns of Nicks and Joseph, as well as pointing out that the Bucs have one other huge luxury waiting in the stable. That would be “super-sub” Ted Larsen.
Larsen filled in well for his fallen teammates last year and grew into not only a dependable backup, but a reliable starter. He will be relegated to a spot on the bench for the first week, but knowing the way offensive linemen hold up in this league, it wouldn’t surprise me if Larsen got 10-15 starts (but hopefully he doesn’t have to).
Obviously I’m projecting health here, but if the Buccaneers do indeed get to the Week 1 tilt in New York with the full complement of linemen we are expecting, life will be much easier on Josh Freeman and Doug Martin. And knowing Josh’s struggles dealing with pressure, this could greatly improve the entire offensive attack from the first snap.
Offensive lines are the unsung heroes on any team. But there’s no denying that they are crucial to any teams success. Just in the top eight of Silva’s projections we see the 49ers, Patriots, Ravens, and Broncos. Good teams have good offensive lines, and with the way things are shaping up, the Bucs will have one of the best units out there.