The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have finally made a change at right tackle, some four years too late. After consistently being one of the very worst starting pass-blocking offensive tackles in the entire NFL, Jeremy Trueblood has finally been benched in favor of Demar Dotson, or at least that's what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers newfangled blog tells us about the depth chart. Which is interesting, because I can't actually replicate that result on the team's depth chart on the site, although that chart is far from official or even representative of the kind of depth chart the team uses internally. Still, I wouldn't expect the Bucs' own blog to be wrong on this.
Still, moving Demar Dtoson into the starting lineup over Jeremy Trueblood would be a sensible move. Trueblood has been a liability at right tackle for years on end, and the fact that he somehow got a two-year, $10 million contract after the 2010 season continues to baffle me. Trueblood is a solid run-blocking tackle, but he simply can't get the job done as a pass blocker. Demar Dotson, on the other hand, has steadily improved year to year and looked very good this past Sunday against the murderers' row of New York Giants pass rushers. Dotson got the opportunity because Trueblood missed the game with an injury.
The team surrendered two sacks all game, but Dotson had nothing to do with those sacks - and Dotson didn't blow a single block in pass protection from what I could see (though admittedly, I have yet to go back through the game play by play). In fact, Josh Freeman had time to go through his progressions and hit a few deep balls.
That performance was much better than any given by Jeremy Trueblood the past years, who tends to be good for some three or four blown blocks per game, if not more. With DeMarcus Ware coming to town this week, Dotson will get a good challenge as Ware will undoubtedly line up on his side at times. But Dotson is much better suited to the task than Trueblood is. Moreover, Dotson has also increasingly looked better as a run-blocker, a role he got plenty of experience in last year when he was frequently asked to step in as the team's third offensive tackle to help in the running game.
What makes all of this extra remarkable is the following fact: Demar Dotson didn't play a single snap at offensive tackle until he got to the NFL, and only played one year of college football - at defensive tackle. The Bucs have spent the past four years developing and grooming Dotson to be a starting tackle, because he had a lot of potential - but it took him a long time to learn the intricacies of the game. Undoubtedly he'll make some mistakes out there, but he should still be much better than Jeremy Trueblood. With the latter's contract running out this year, his days in Tampa are likely numbered unless he wants to come back at a much reduced price as a backup.