Welcome back to Point Plank, the series in which Pewter Plank writers take aim at the thoughts and opinions of other writers around the NFL landscape and give our unique take. This week, we’ll be discussing an article by Charlie Bernstein at SportsTalkFlorida and his recent article about the five most indispensable Buccaneers. You can read his original article here.
In the article mentioned about, Charlie Bernstein mentions five Buccaneers as being the most indispensable, or the ones who would be missed the most if they were to be sidelined due to injury. He ranks Gerald McCoy first, followed by Darrelle Revis, Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, and Donald Penn. He ranks them in that order, so I can only assume that is intentional and based on importance, and I have to disagree from the very start.
Being indispensable means that the player is going to have an elite impact on the team, and that the dropoff to his backup would be extremely damaging to the team. And while Gerald McCoy fits that description, he doesn’t fit it as well as a couple of other Buccaneers. The five players on his list all certainly belong, but allow me to offer my list, in order, and give the reasons why I believe they are more or less valuable and tough to replace.
1. Donald Penn
Donald Penn is not the best left tackle in the NFL. He’s not even the best offensive lineman on the Buccaneers. But as a left tackle who blocks for the run very well in an offense that dials up runs to the left by the truckload, he’s extremely valuable. Add to that the fact there there is literally no one behind him on the depth chart capable of playing left tackle even close to as well as he does, and Penn being injured would be an extremely massive problem for the Bucs in 2013. It would take a sledgehammer to the Buccaneers’ offensive plans.
2. Doug Martin
Josh Freeman doesn’t handle pressure well, and tries to force passes when he feels the burden of carrying the team on his shoulders. Only one man can single-handedly take that pressure off of Josh, and that’s his young star running back. Martin, like Penn, has no one behind him who can do his job as well as he can, so losing him would chop off one arm of the Buccaneers’ offense, and in the NFL, you can’t show up to a game as a one dimensional passing offense led by Josh Freeman.
3. Darrelle Revis
This one has more to do with the elite level of play from the player in question, and less to do with replacing his output with a backup. I feel like the Buccaneers would be just fine with Eric Wright and Johnthan Banks at corner with Leonard Johnson and Danny Gorrer rotating in to help out, especially with Dashon Goldson behind them. But none of those players are nearly as talented as Revis, and losing Revis would be a massive blow to the vastly improved Buccaneers’ defense. The trade for Revis was a huge risk for the Bucs, and so Darrelle must get healthy and stay healthy to make the gamble pay off.
To take a player not mentioned in the original article, I turn to the Buccaneers’ young outside linebacker, Lavonte David. David developed into a leader on defense, and the spark plug in an impressive linebacking corps that was key to the Buccaneers’ top ranked run defense. Mason Foster is slightly above average, and the strongside linebacker position is going to be a rotating door in 2013, so David is going to be the rock of the linebackers. Greg Schiano relies on his LB’s to get downhill and make plays, and I don’t think Jonathan Casillas could do half of what Lavonte David did for the Buccaneers last year, and David is poised to take another huge step forward in the upcoming season.
5. Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson will be a major part of the success story for Josh Freeman in 2013, if there is one. Jackson is the perfect match for the Buccaneers’ signal caller, as he’s a tall, reliable receiver who has a huge range around him in which he is reliably able to catch the football. Mike Williams is not cut out to be a number one receiver, and no one else on the roster could hang as a top two NFL wideout, so Jackson must stay healthy and productive to keep the Buccaneers’ offense ticking.
What’s your list of the most indispensable Bucs? Let us know in the comments, or hop on our Facebook page and sound off there.