Tampa Bay Buccaneers right tackle Jeremy Trueblood had a phenomenal breakout season in 2008 and was heralded as one of the better and more underrated right tackles in the league. He followed that great season with a two dismal ones in 2009 and 2010, and he repeated the lows of the 2010 season last year. Despite a poor 2010 season, the Bucs had faith in Jeremy Trueblood due to his 2009 season and gave him a two-year $10 million offer. He is slated to be a free agent after this season, and his contract year has even more importance.
The transformation from being an underrated tackle with upside to an overrated one-year wonder has been quite stark for Jeremy Trueblood, but he has one more chance. The Bucs will probably keep him at right tackle and will most likely start him next season, and it is time for the 28-year-old to finally put himself back on the map after three terrible seasons. Some fans still believe that he is a solid player after his 2008 season, but those fans have not watched him closely recently.
The Pro Football Focus recently took a long look at offensive linemen this week, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line did not rate highly- as usual. The unit did improve from a lowly 30th ranking to 23rd, and this is thanks to the play from Donald Penn and Jeremy Zuttah. Besides them, however, the rest of the offensive line is below average. Jeff Faine is blocking Zuttah from his true position at center, Davin Joseph is probably the most overrated and overpaid guard in football, and Jeremy Trueblood hasn’t been effective for two seasons.
In fact, PFF singled him out as being the team’s worst offensive lineman last season with a -30.6 grade. He was nothing short of terrible at everything, and his pass protection was especially bad (66th out of 75 tackles). He received 962 snaps last season, which is far too much given that he allowed 59 pressures in that period of time. The contract the Bucs gave him does not look good, and it is up to him to make good on it and re-up his stock as a right tackle in the NFL with a solid contract year.
That might be a lot to ask from a player who is one of the worst ten tackles in the NFL, but the Bucs aren’t likely to replace him. There is a severe lack of options on the free agent market right now, and there aren’t any right tackles worth signing at this point. Jeremy Trueblood is less than an adequate starter, but the upgrade from him to Vernon Carey isn’t as pronounced as an upgrade from Geno Hayes to Erin Henderson.
I expect Jeremy Trueblood to have one more chance to stick with the Bucs, but don’t be surprised if the new coaching staff views him as a weakness and gives him much less than 962 snaps. He shouldn’t be given that much playing time, but backup James Lee isn’t exactly a world-beater either. He was provided with an opportunity to jump over Trueblood on the depth chart, but he was miserably poor as a pass protector in that time span.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to re-evalaute their offensive line evaluation, because they gave two players who were playing poorly big contracts (the other is Davin Joseph). After three seasons of disappointing football, it’s time for Jeremy Trueblood to show a flash from the past in the most important year of his career. Everybody is rooting for him and nobody wants him to fail, but it’s up to him to prove that he isn’t like the Baha Men and is more than just a one-hit wonder.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.