Reader's note: This article was originally submitted on June 18, 2017, where it still remains in the queue. The YouTube embed and Twitter embeds are not enabled in the FanPost section, where they do work in my writer's capacity for Bucsnation. So I will just post the link beneath each image. Sorry for the inconvenience.
After two years of playing right guard, Ali Marpet officially transitions into the center position. A position the Tampa Bay Bucs coaches have been planning on doing since he was drafted in 2015. Many Bucs fans were and are still confused about moving the best right guard from his position to center. Traditionally, centers just aid the guard that needs help, but are more important as the guy in charge of the offensive line.
Then I stumbled upon this gem of a video by Brett Kollman reviewing Chicago Bears' running back, Jordan Howard. Kollman has done many reviews of players as I have used his video review of Jameis Winston for Winston's draft year. Although the focus is on Howard, it is important to denote the schemed of the offensive line as well as who is the most important player for said scheme. While watching the player review, keep in mind which player reminds you of the play of Jordan Howard.
Welcome back from watching that video. Now, we can continue the conversation.
When Doug Martin is the running back, then a run play will usually be a zone blocking scheme, ZBS. Pewter Report's Trevor Sikkema has denoted that the offense runs ZBS with Martin because Martin excels in ZBS. Fellow running back, Jacquizz Rodgers, is not as effective in a ZBS run scheme and was used in a man scheme, which means they simply push forward to generate positive yardage. Rodgers is not the bell cow. The bell cow is Martin. ZBS is the offensive scheme that Koetter probably calls for Martin, which apparently worked in 2015.
Charles Sims, the third down back, was known to be one-cut back in college. One-cut backs and ZBS go hand in hand.
Another back who would probably do well in ZBS is Peyton Barber. While not flashy, it is his mind that will benefit him in a ZBS run scheme.
Link to this Tweet: https://twitter.com/TampaBayTre/status/846564022040379394
Now that it is established that the Bucs run ZBS, we can say that the center position is the most important position for ZBS scheme after watching Kollman's breakdown of Jordan Howard. Not only that, but take a gander at Barber's run from Sikkema's tweet. Notice that it is Marpet pushing his man downhill while whoever was playing center did not have any push.
Link to this next tweet: https://twitter.com/TampaBayTre/status/846562988421255168
Here is another Sikkema video tweet showing Tampa running ZBS. Yet another video of Marpet being the mover, creating a hole for Martin to find. We see Dotson with a key seal as well on that play.
Maybe we have been underselling the center position. Maybe we do not understand ZBS enough to know center is the most important position to the line. Maybe our coaches knew this and that is why Marpet to center is important to a ZBS run scheme.
Moving Marpet to center does not just improve the run blocking, but pass blocking as well. Here is a quote from Zach Sauers from the pewterplank.com in an article titled "The Future of the Buccaneers' Offensive Line":
As for the center position, Joe Hawley has been the fiery heart of this offensive line. Hawley is the type of the guy who you quite frankly would want on your side in a bar fight. Getting into the heads of his opponents and giving it his all on every single play is great, but the NFL is a business.
Now although Hawley has great qualities, he also can be a liability, being thrown around in the middle of the line forcing Jameis to stand farther back in the pocket which eventually leads to issues.
Standing further back in the pocket does create an issue for left tackle play of Donovan Smith. Smith is told to push the defender on a wide arc. Should Winston stand too far back, then Winston will be in the path of that arc that will either create a sack, a fumble, or a hurried pass. As we denoted above, Marpet has the strength to move players run blocking. As a pass blocker, he will not be easily thrown around like Hawley. Winston may actually have the possibility of stepping up into the pocket.
The more information I collect in my head, the more interested I am in seeing how Marpet performs at center as well as possibly solidify the line.