Geno Atkins vs. Ryan Jensen, Ali Marpet, Caleb Benenoch, Evan Smith
Tampa Bay’s interior offensive line (guards and center) are weirdly unbalanced, talent wise. At left guard and center the Bucs have studs in Ali Marpet and Ryan Jensen, but moving over to right guard they have a rotation between two struggling players in youngster Caleb Benenoch and veteran Evan Smith.
The right guard position has significantly hamstrung the entire Buccaneer offense, from bad run blocking to whiffs in pass protection. In Geno Atkins, Cincinnati has an All-Pro defensive tackle who will expose this issue.
At age 30, Atkins is playing at an elite level on par with the rest of his elite career. He’s got six sacks through seven games, putting him on pace to beat both of his marks from the previous two seasons. In the view of Pro Football Focus, Atkins is the eleventh best tackle in the league so far this season. So, it goes without saying that Atkins will be a handful, even for Marpet and Jensen.
Making matters tougher is the fact that the rest of Cincinnati’s defensive line is extremely talented, so the Bucs won’t be able to throw many double teams at Atkins successfully. This battle of wills in the trenches will play a huge factor in the outcome of the game.