Entering the 2022 season, for the first time in a long time, the Buccaneers are going to have some major turnover along their offensive line. With major changes comes many different questions about how the o-line will gel and be able to protect Tom Brady. The loss of Ali Marpet to retirement, Alex Cappa to free agency and Ryan Jensen to a severe knee injury certainly raises some concerns.
However, the concern over that unit before the start of the season is being overblown. The Bucs offensive line will be fine, folks.
While the losses they have suffered on the interior will hurt, they did a solid job at replacing Alex Cappa with Shaq Mason who some believe is actually an upgrade at right guard. Yes, Mason is probably one of the least of analysts and fans’ worries, but I wouldn’t expect a drop off from Cappa to Mason, it may be even better.
Where the big questions exist are with the two inexperienced players at both center and left guard. Robert Hainsey having to suddenly step in and be the starting center for Tampa Bay on the second day of training camp was certainly not ideal, but Hainsey has shown some good things this preseason and the full camp/preseason working as the first string center can only benefit the former third round pick.
Left guard is possibly the biggest question mark and it took another hit when Aaron Stinnie was lost for the season with an injury in the preseason. Now it appears that rookie left guard Luke Goedke, who was the team’s second round pick this past offseason will be the starter. There may be some growing pains for Goedeke, who comes from a small school and is being thrown into an important role but like Hainsey, Goedeke has shown promising signs as well in camp and the preseason.
The biggest reason why the Bucs offensive line should not be a concern? Look further than their two starting tackles. Tristan Wirfs looks healthy and ready to go for the season and he has been one of the best right tackles in his first two NFL seasons. Wirfs is only going to get better and it will benefit the entire starting unit. Donovan Smith has been a polarizing figure in his career at times in Tampa Bay, but he has played some of his best football over the past two seasons and he had a great camp this summer. The Bucs could very well have one of the best offensive tackle duos in the NFL.
The questions surrounding the offensive line will be there and be asked a lot throughout the entire season, but it should become less and less of a concern as the season goes on. The consistent play of Mason, the all pro play of Wirfs, the resurgence of Smith and the development of Hainsey and Goedeke should answer a lot of fans questions and concerns rather quickly in the 2022 season.