Do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a Donovan Smith problem?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Donovan Smith(Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Donovan Smith(Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) /

While he may not always be the only problem, it seems to be a recurring theme. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a Donovan Smith problem.

Although he’s rated as one of the top left tackles in the NFL and most stalwart, missing relatively few games in his career, Smith certainly has some challenging assignments trying to stop most of the league’s best pass rushers. Most of the time he does a pretty good job handling Tom Brady’s blind side, BUT, it’s abundantly apparent to everyone that the timing of his penalties is impeccable. Impeccably abhorrent that is, and at the most inopportune moments in more games than not.

As much as it pains us to reminisce about this most recent game against the San Francisco 49ers, the NFL universe saw Mike Evans shed a defender to get absolutely wide open, which he was subsequently found by Brady for a sixty yard touchdown strike…or so we thought. The massive play ended up getting called back with, you guessed it, a HOLDING call on…wait for it…Donovan Smith! Shockingly, another penalty on Smith that brings an huge (scoring) play back.

Take out the two or three (drive destroying) penalties on Smith in almost every game, and his stats aren’t actually that bad. Pretty decent actually, yet they seem to come at the absolute worst times. It not only deflates the fan base watching, but the entire Bucs team as well. If that Evans TD wasn’t called back that would’ve tied that Niners game, 7-7, we may have well experienced a completely different outcome.

This is of course a team sport and one or two penalties from Smith shouldn’t make a difference in the outcome of a game, but it’s WHEN they happen that is abundantly troubling. We can also place some of the blame for the lack of offensive production on Brady for inaccurate passes here and there. Although getting pressured is probably part of that as well, no thanks to Smith for his occasional Swiss cheese line play.

Byron Leftwich must take a large slice of the blame pie as well as he has been the, less-than-stellar, offensive play caller. Why he is still employed at One Buc is baffling. Not one player or coach can be blamed for a team loss, but the fact that it seems Donovan Smith has his one, two, or three penalties per game at the worst times is an issue that needs to be addressed. He is the one on the field after all.

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We probably won’t see any changes this season with Leftwich, nor with Smith with the depleted O-Line depth at this point, but the reality is we will see more of this frustration from both Leftwich and Smith before anything can and will be done about it. Left tackle may need to be a priority in the 2023 draft, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if we see those coaching changes next year as well.

If the Buccaneers weren’t thin at left tackle, and O-Line in general, Smith should be benched, or at least taken off the field for a series or two when those game-killing penalties of his are made. He CAN do better, and gets paid too much not to be. Tristin Wirfs surpassed him in his very first season with Tampa, but you’d think Smith would’ve gotten it by now, eight seasons in.

This is a recurring theme with Smith, and if he can’t figure out how to consistently defend the left side and cut his detrimental holding penalties down, especially during scoring plays, he may need to be looking a new job next year.

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