Bucs win, but offensive line beaten badly

by Gary Shelton on August 24, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winston was battered by the Browns' defense./JEFFREY S. KING

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Forget the quarterbacks. What we need around here is an offensive line whisperer.

And, failing that, a shouter.

Bruce Arians, the head coach in charge of hushed tones for the Tampa Bay Bucs, should know this. His Bucs won their second preseason game in a row Friday night, beating the Cleveland Browns 13-12. But much of that was because of players who are on the borderline of making the team or not. The real issue Friday night was the complete domination of the Cleveland defensive front against the Bucs' offensive line.

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Carlton Davis III breaks up a Browns' pass./JEFFREY S. KING

It was embarrassing, if you want to know the truth. The Bucs gave up five sacks in the first half -- four in the first quarter — and averaged only 2.8 yards per run. They gave up seven in the game.

"They got their ass beat," said Bucs coach Bruce Arians. "It was all one on one."


Scotty Miller finally saw action for the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

Granted, the Browns have an impressive defensive line. But seven sacks? Most of the damage coming with starters in the game.

"We did a terrible job," said guard Ali Marpet. "One-on-one pass pro, we didn't do the job. They just beat us. Too many sacks, too many quarterback hits. Some of the experienced guys have to get better. We didn't do a good enough job when we were out there. We just did not play the way we're supposed to play."

Still, if you're keeping score, the Bucs had a second straight come-from-behind win, and they went further to help establish their training camp heroes. Kicker Matt Gay kicked the winning field goal for the second straight week. Quarterback Ryan Griffin led his team from behind twice.

Again, (we’re) excited about winning a game," Arians said. "I thought, at halftime, our guys regrouped. We talked about the first five minutes of the third quarter defense going out – I thought our defense was outstanding all night [considering] the field position that we put them in and to only give up three field goals, and one of them was after a penalty. But, all in all, I thought our defense, especially the combination of rush and secondary was outstanding in this ballgame.

Gay kicked the winning field goal./JEFFREY S. KING

But the real keeper effort was by the defense, which held the Browns to four field goals. Quarterback Baker Mayfield hit only 10 of 26 passes for just 72 yards, a rating of 30.6. And the Browns also averaged 2.8 yards per carry.

"All in all, I thought our defense, especially the combination of rush and secondary was outstanding in this ballgame," Arians said. "Offensively, obviously we didn’t block very well up front and we had up to this point. So, we’ll go back and look at it and see what happened. It was a lot of one-on-ones; a little bit of confusion. I don’t know why because it’s the same stuff we see every day. So, there should not have been any confusion. All in all, it was a good, solid night.”

Griffin led another comeback./JEFFREY S. KING

One of the hiccups for the Bucs, however, was the dislocated shoulder suffered by backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert. That means the Bucs are searching for a fill-in for the preseason finale against Dallas, although Arians said he'd be "more than comfortable" with Griffin as his backup.

Griffin, however, starred for the third straight game. In the opener, he threw for 330 yards was a two-point conversion short of a comeback. The last two weeks, he has brought his team back.

“I’m more than comfortable, more than comfortable (with Griffin at No. 2). He’s proven with some of the guys he is playing with -- directing them; (he’s) poised. He’s moved our team up and down the field. Just like he did again tonight.”

Winston wasn't concerned despite the pounding.

“I think we still had some good flashes," he said. "We’re going to get that fixed. I’m not worried about that. But I do believe we had some great flashes. On that second drive we bounced back. We had two sacks in one drive. We didn’t go three-and-out. We just have to put the ball in the end zone. We had a great opportunity to kick a field goal, we just missed out on some points.”

Tackle Donovan didn't have any excuses.

Dare Ogunbowale finds a little room./JEFFREY S. KING

“That comes with practice and just knowing them over the years," Smith said. "Obviously, we’ve been playing next to each other for some time now — all through training camp and stuff — [which] kind of preps us for that, but there’s no excuse for anything. We’ve just got to go out there and play, compete and win and go from there.

“Obviously, we gave up some sacks today. We’ve just got to get better. We’ve got to be able to run the ball. We can’t become one-sided and just throw the ball — we’ve got to be able to run the ball, and that starts with us as offensive linemen. We’ve got to own the line of scrimmage and make a new line of scrimmage when running the ball. If we do that, we’re going to be good.”

Added Demar Dotson: “It’s very concerning, because everybody on the outside are going to look in and start panicking and writing all kinds of bad stuff about the offensive line. That’s just the nature of the beast. Me personally, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it because at the end of the day I know what I’m capable of doing in pass protection. Just have to realize it was a Friday night game in the preseason. You want to do better and you want to protect the quarterback and it’s unacceptable how many times we got him hit. We’ve just got to go back and watch film and correct the mistakes. A lot of it was just technique that I’m sure it was, not finishing plays or whatever it may be, but we’ve got to do a better job of protecting the quarterback, starting with me and then going across the board. No excuse about it, preseason game that (doesn’t) matter we just got to do better.”

The Bucs finish their preseason Thursday night in Dallas against the Cowboys.

Bruce Arians says his line was 'whipped' by Cleveland./JEFFREY S. KING

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