Most Improved Player – Offense: Center, Ali Marpet
In 2017, the Buccaneers offense continued its downward trend under the play calling of Dirk Koetter.
While they put up the ninth most yards per game and fourth most passing yards per game, the numbers are skewed due to the garbage time stats.
The numbers which matter are points, and the Bucs ranked eighteenth with 20.9 points. Down 1.2 points from last year and the worst of Jameis Winston’s career.
While the previous two seasons have been hindered by porous kicking games, the Los Angeles Chargers averaged more points per game with a similar offense and worse kickers.
The Bucs have some work to do this off-season and it starts with Dirk Koetter.
While there weren’t improvements everywhere there is one standout. The biggest improvement comes from a player who had never played his position prior to this season. Ali Marpet.
Marpet, a stand out left tackle at Hobart, originally played guard for the Bucs for his first two seasons. The return of injured 2016 free-agent signing J.R. Sweezy opened the opportunity for Marpet to move to one of the weaker positions along the offensive line.
Evan Smith and Joe Hawley played center the previous two seasons but neither made an impact.
As an All-Rookie Guard in 2015, Marpet was well on his way to a Pro-Bowl season this year before his injury sidelined him in Week 13.
Marpet was the sixth highest graded center this season by Pro Football Focus and early this season he definitely had his struggles.
There were a few poor snaps but once he and Winston got some real game action under his belt, he shined.
The Buccaneers won’t need to worry about center for the foreseeable future, but all other pieces on the line maybe different in the next two seasons. That is why Ali Marpet wins my most improved offensive player this year.