The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had more blown blocks than any other team in the NFL in 2016. That’s per the 2017 Football Outsiders Almanac, their annual big book of season re- and previews, filled with analysis and statistics.
According to Football Outsiders, the Bucs had a total of 157 blown blocks last year, which led the league. That’s not necessarily news, as the generally poor impression the Bucs’ linemen have made on third-party analysts is well-known. Because, well, if you watch them play, they do let a few too many players past their blocks.
Interestingly, though, the linemen aren’t the only ones to blame: they combined for 126 of those 157 blocks, which ranks them second in the league—just behind the Seattle Seahawks. In other words: the running backs and tight ends weren’t exactly helping matters, either.
All of that led to Jameis Winston taking a league-leading 87 hits, and being knocked-down 120 times, ranking third among NFL quarterbacks. That’s not all the offensive line’s fault: Winston likes holding on to the ball until the very last second, and is not fond of taking a checkdown or throwing the ball away to avoid a hit.
But that doesn’t absolve the offensive line, which obviously needs to be better, both in pass protection and the running game. The Bucs hope that J.R. Sweezy’s return from injury will help there, as well as expected improvement from Donovan Smith and Kevin Pamphile. That’s possible, though it’s perhaps a bit optimistic—there’s reason to doubt the quality of play of all three players.
In all, I don’t know what this means. I want to be optimistic about the Bucs’ offensive line, and I can certainly tell myself all kinds of things to reassure that sinking feeling, but ultimately these third-party analysts see what’s on tape—and it’s not always pretty. Hopefully they’re only right about last year, and things chance in 2017.