OFFENSIVE LINE: D
From the moment Logan Mankins announced his retirement we all knew this offensive line was going to be an adventure beginning with the Bucs’ first live snap of the season.
I lost count of how many different combinations were used up front, as the front line simply never seemed to fully gel throughout the injuries of the season.
Two guys who were consistently healthy were Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet. The duo of second-year players impressed at times in their rookie years and many were hoping they’d elevate their game even more this year.
For Marpet, it was a solid season with little to complain about outside of the occasional penalty which befalls any offensive lineman in the NFL.
For Smith, it’s more questions as he looked stiff, slow and simply overmatched many times during the year.
Not to be outdone, the right tackle position was no better in performance or consistency. Demar Dotson played in 13 games this season despite battling injury for much of it, but the times when Gosder Cherilus was called upon to take his place were noticeable and painful.
During the matchup against the Dallas Cowboys the veteran simply looked past his playing days despite the fact he was suited up in pads and a helmet doing his best to stop the onslaught of a suddenly Pro Bowl caliber defensive end named David Irving.
Irving had four sacks in the 2016 regular season, and 1.5 of them came against the Bucs – namely Cherilus.
It wasn’t so much the sacks of that game, as it was the timing of them. They simply couldn’t have come at a worse time as the Bucs still had the game within reach, yet watched it slip through their fingers.
Jameis Winston was the fifth most hit quarterback in the league this year, and yes some of those were his own fault, but many of them were not. The fact he only got sacked 35 times is a testament to his scrambling ability, but also contributed to the 18 interceptions he threw and less than 65% completion percentage.
The running game was a staunch disappointment as well, and the offensive line has to take a bite out of that sandwich just like the running backs do.
There were some good moments, but overall, this group left much to be desired and hopefully much to be addressed in the off-season.