The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line was woeful last year. Football Outsiders ranked the Bucs' run blocking 32nd, stuffed ranking 32nd, and pass protection 29th overall. There are only 32 teams in the league. Maybe woeful was too kind of a description for the offensive line play.
Granted, Tampa was working with a declining left guard in Logan Mankins, a turnstile in left tackle Anthony Collins, and revolving right guards last year. To be fair, Mankins was acquired a week before regular season started via trade. Then factor in rookie QB coach Marcus Arroyo was thrust into limelight of offensive coordinator, due to Jeff Tedford's heart ailment.
With the infusion of new OC Dirk Koetter from the Atlanta Falcons along with two second round picks in the recent draft of LT Donovan Smith and RG Ali Marpet, the Bucs' offensive line does look quite suspect. Is there any promise to possessing a pass protection with so many unknowns?
It all starts at the head, or rather the OC, Koetter. 2014 season for the Atlanta Falcons' offensive line was scary. Here's a quote from Atlanta's QB Matt Ryan from ESPN:
"When you have tight ends playing offensive line for you, it limits what you can do, limits the playbooks,'' quarterback Matt Ryan said. "But I think our guys battled. I thought Levine stepped in and did a good job.
"It limits what you can do. It makes things a little more difficult. But I think we tried to make the best of that situation.''
Here is another terrifying comment about the Falcons' offensive line with this headline: "Konz becomes fifth Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman lost for the season."
And here is Jeanna Thomas from The Falcoholic, contemplating the piling up of injuries of the offensive line:
So it's not a surprise that, much to the chagrin of Falcons fans, the offensive line is struggling yet again. A team can't lose that many linemen and expect otherwise.
Give all three links a click to see the devastation the Falcons' offensive line had. It was a terrible situation for Atlanta.
Now, let us bring this back to Koetter. He was Atlanta's OC from 2012 to 2014. Already presented was the debacle due to injuries from 2014. Also already presented were the mediocre stats the Bucs' offense produced from Football Outsiders. Finally, let me tie them together.
|Offensive Line Ranking, 2012 - 2014|
|Year||Run Block||Stuffed||Pass Protect|
Despite the maladies of injuries to the Falcons' offensive line, the pass protection rank was still in the upper third of the league. The Bucs did not sustain such injuries, but its pass protection was 29th overall.
Let all this sink in for a moment.
The headline where Atlanta lost a fifth offensive lineman for the season was published on October 20, 2014. That is seven games played and nine more to go. Atlanta's offense put up 381 points. Tampa's offense produced 277 points. That is 104 point difference between the offenses. In Atlanta's last nine games, their offense put up 210 points, 23.33 points per game in the last nine games. In Tampa's last nine games, the offense generated 144 points, 16.0 points per game in the last nine games.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Mankins has returned in great shape this off-season and put an emphasis for the offensive line to be a cohesive unit by running gassers. Since Mankins was acquired just before the regular season started last season, he was not able develop chemistry and trust. Through Mankins' interview, we can get insight for Tampa's offensive line. Here are a couple of quotes from Mankins, but you should soak in the whole article from Pewter Report:
"Koetter's been great," Mankins said of working with new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. "I really like his system and it's going good right now. We've got everything for the most part installed and a good jump on the season. I think it's really improving our offense."
"I feel it's important," he said. "Every play you play next to a guy you get more comfortable, and you get to experience different looks every day out here together. The more you trust a guy next to you the better off you're going to be."
"In pass blocking you can tell a lot, but not really in run blocking because we're not hitting each other," Mankins said. "But you still get a lot of good work in here. We go through our techniques a million times. Sometimes it gets a little monotonous but it's needed and the more you do it the better you get at it, so we just keep trying to work at it.
Repetitious monotony could develop into executable autonomy of a cohesive unit when it comes to pass blocking, especially for a rookie quarterback. With the knowledge of what Koetter had been through last season with Atlanta, maybe he can pull the same magic here to where at the end of the year we can point to reasons for the production are due to the Koetter Coefficient.