The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played much better football against the New Orleans Saints than they did against the Tennessee Titans, and one place where that showed up was the offensive line, specifically the pass protection. According to Pro Football Focus, the Bucs gave up just four pressures all game long -- a significant improvement over last week, when Winston seemed to be under duress every other play.
There are several reasons for this. For one, Jameis Winston was a lot more comfortable and composed -- his footwork and mechanics were cleaner, he did a better job of stepping up in the pocket to help out his offensive, and he got rid of the ball more quickly. Plus, the Saints just don't have that many good pass rushers -- Cameron Jordan's really the only capable one. Finally, the team only asked Winston to drop back 30 times, compared to 41 against the Titans.
But the offensive line played better, too. Specifically, they were much better in picking up movement and the blitz. Either Jameis Winston was more on point with his recognition and protection calls, or the linemen got better at communicating among themselves -- likely, it was a bit of both. In addition, the Saints didn't blitz as much as expected, perhaps hoping that Winston would throw some balls into coverage. That didn't happen.
This improved performance doesn't mean the team's offensive line problems are fixed. Ali Marpet got beat too quickly on a couple of plays, including the touchdown throw to Vincent Jackson. Joe Hawley also struggled when he got in the game, and Logan Mankins is lowly continuing his decline -- but all of those can be compensated for with quality communication and some help.
One player the Bucs can't compensate for adequately is Donovan Smith, who has looked out of sorts in his first two games after a solid preseason. He showed some improvement in game two, especially as the game wore on, but he has somewhat slow feet and worse, a tendency to stop them and turn his hips far too quickly when players threaten the edge -- that has led to him being beat easily on subsequent inside moves. He's going to have to fix those issues or sooner or later, Kevin Pamphile will be the better option at left tackle. He's just a rookie, though, so some patience is certainly warrant.
Still, the offensive line's second game was relatively encouraging. This week, the real test: J.J. Watt and company come to town.