ESPN recently went on record naming a bounce back player for every NFL roster and Ryan Jensen was the selection made for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019.
As the crown jewel of Jason Licht’s 2018 free-agency efforts, Jensen was supposed to come in and anchor an offensive line looking to form into a reliable unit to lead the way in front of running back Peyton Barber and quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Perhaps, the most important relationship on the field is that of the one between the quarterback and center.
While Jensen certainly wasn’t alone in under-performing expectations, the level of excitement surrounding his arrival - and the amount of his paycheck - perhaps made his failure to meet potential a little more dissapointing than some others.
According to Pro Football Focus’ Cam Mello via the ESPN column,
“Jensen’s first year with the Buccaneers went down as the lowest-graded season of his career as he faltered after a career-high 71.4 in 2018. He failed to move defenders off the line in the running game and struggled in pass protection, giving up 25 pressures, which is three more pressures than he gave up in 2016 and 2017 combined in Baltimore.”
Those aren’t good numbers. Magnifying those struggles was Jensen’s career high penalties number as well. While most Bucs fans - and I’m sure the team - appreciate Jensen’s tenacity and willingness to scrap with opponents, the intelligence of some of those engagements was the missing piece to some of those flags. A fact Jensen himself acknowledged earlier this off-season on the Locked On Bucs Podcast.
Moving into 2019, ESPN’s Jenna Laine points more to problems at the Tampa Bay offensive line’s weakest link, rather than fully laying blame on Jensen,
“It wasn’t only Jensen who struggled — it was the entire Bucs offensive line....The interior was especially bad, not just with Jensen, but also with Caleb Benenoch, who lookes do ill-suited at right guar that he was moved to backup offensive tackle.”
Benenoch’s struggles certainly contributed to the overall disappointment up front. While the team didn’t prioritize the right guard position in the off-season, they did add veteran Earl Watford who will hopefully bring an experienced stabilization to the position and the line as a whole.
Meanwhile, Benenoch returns to his role as a reserve offensive tackle, the role he held in 2017 where he showed some solid upside.
Check out the full list of ESPN bounce back players and let us know who your favorites are, and which other Tampa Bay Buccaneers you’re looking at to come back stronger in 2019.