You say the Bucs need help on the right side of the offensive line?
Well, it looks like they may have found some in Joe Haeg.
Tampa Bay signed Haeg last week to a one-year/$2.3 million deal worth up to $3.3 million after incentives. The former Colt has started 35 games over the first four years of his career, but the key with those starts is the fact that he’s started at four (technically five) different positions over the entirety of his career. His versatility is what made him so valuable in Indianapolis and it’s why Tampa Bay is willing to pay him good money to play for Bruce Arians and Harold Goodwin.
Haeg has started 22 games at right tackle, 9 at right guard, two at left guard, one at left tackle, and one game as an extra tackle in a heavy package on the first snap of the game in Week 13 of the 2018 season against the Jaguars. He started and played in 32 of 33 games from Week 3 of the 2016 season until Week 3 of the 2018 season when an ankle injury forced him to sit for the next 10 games. The injury opened the door for 2018 second-round pick Braden Smith to take over at right tackle. Smith made his first start during Week 5 of the 2018 season and is still the starter to this day.
Haeg’s luck officially ran out in 2019. After completely revamping the offensive line, the Colts had all five starters play for an entire season. The unit was one of the better offensive lines in the league, evidenced by finishing 12th in adjusted line yards and seventh in adjusted sack rate, per footballoustiders.com.
Even though Indy still valued Haeg’s services, his time as a starter was up unless an injury occurred. The Bucs are currently short a starter at right tackle and they also need depth/competition for Alex Cappa at right guard. So, it made sense for Haeg to come to Tampa Bay. The fifth-year pro will get a crack at a starting gig, and If he can’t win the job, then he will be the team’s No. 1 option in terms of depth.
Enough reading. It’s time to actually see what Haeg brings to the Bucs.
For starters, Haeg is good in pass protection, which is what you obviously want when a) Tom Brady is your quarterback and b) you are in an offense like the one Bruce Arians likes to run.
He plays with good awareness, footwork, and instincts. He’s strong at the point of attack and plays with a wide base, which allows him to win a lot of his matchups. On the following play, he does a good job of picking up the stunt from Da’quon Jones and Derrick Morgan on this play and ends up blocking both players.
Haeg is able to get his hands inside of Jones’ chest and then uses his strength to hold him off before releasing and taking Morgan out of the play. He’s lined up at the right guard position (#73) on the right-hand side of your screen:
But is he still effective in pass protection at the right tackle position? Well, of course he is. He does an excellent job of standing up Cardinals’ defensive lineman Frostee Rucker on this play. He’s lined up at the right tackle spot on the left-hand side of your screen:
Haeg’s run blocking is solid, but it’s not as dialed-in as his pass pro. Regardless, he can still be very effective when it comes to opening lanes for running backs.
This is an interesting rep. It shows Haeg’s strength and powerful hands, but it also shows how he can be a bit too “top-heavy” from time-to-time and overplay his matchup. He almost loses his balance after the Bronco defender chops his hands, but he’s able to keep his balance and continues to drive his assignment down the field. He’s lined up at right guard on this play:
Now don’t get me wrong, Haeg isn’t a perfect player, but no one is. The NFL is built to exploit matchups.
Speed and agility are two examples of physical traits that tend to give Haeg issues. Jurrell Casey does a good job setting up Haeg with an inside step before bouncing back out and working his way into the backfield. Haeg is lined up at right guard on the right-hand side of the screen:
Quick, sudden change of direction also tends to get the best of Haeg. Here, Josh Mauro of the Cardinals gets Haeg’s momentum moving to the right, but cuts back - similar to the idea of what Casey was doing - and is able to work around Haeg for the sack. Haeg is lined up at right tackle:
At best, Haeg is good enough to start in the NFL and at worst, he is a solid depth player. This signing holds a lot of potential for the Bucs and the offensive line. There’s still a long way to go, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see named the starting right tackle by the time the 2020 season kicks off.