Buccaneers game grades: 2017 Week 2 win over Chicago Bears
Offensive line depth and talent was a big concern for fans of the Buccaneers and a few media outlets entering the off-season.
However, the team disagreed, and did just about nothing to get better. Instead, they relied on some continuity, shifting of talent, and believed the return of injured players from 2016 would create the improvement they needed.
At least for one week, it seems to have worked.
Ali Marpet shifted to center, a move facilitated by the return of guard J.R. Sweezy who was injured the duration of the 2016 season.
Kevin Pamphile took over left guard duties, Demar Dotson lined up at right tackle and former Penn State lineman Donovan Smith resumed his usual left tackle duties.
The last man on the list was the one with some of the biggest question marks surrounding his play.
Without getting too deep into it, bluntly, Smith looks to be better suited as a right tackle than he does on the left.
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This isn’t to say he can’t do the job, but this year is widely thought of as his make-it-or-break-it year.
Early on, it honestly didn’t look good. Going against Willie Young from Chicago, Smith got beat badly and surrendered a sack of Winston which brought up 3rd-and 13. The drive ended with a field goal, and the sack certainly didn’t help matters.
Now, to be fair, Winston held the ball beyond three seconds. I get it. However, he held the ball fewer than four, and Smith is a starting offensive lineman matched up against a Bears defensive end who played just 20 snaps in Week 1.
We aren’t talking about an All-Pro getting to the quarterback in three seconds. We’re talking about a back-up on a defense which couldn’t generate any organic pass rush against Atlanta on opening weekend.
If Smith is going to be a long-term starting left tackle for the Buccaneers, he can’t get beat by those guys.
Ultimately, Winston was sacked just twice, and the Bucs gained over 100-yards on the ground including one rushing touchdown.