The Buccaneers finished their 2014 season with one of the worst offensive line performances in team history. After dismantling a questionable offensive line from 2013, Lovie Smith and his staff sought out to build their own last offseason. But it didn’t work.
They went out and signed lineman Anthony Collins to be their left tackle, signed center Evan Dietrich-Smith, traded for veteran Logan Mankins, brought in Oniel Cousins, and kept Demar Dotson. Clearly that is just a few of the offensive line moves made but the group did not play well as a unit and was far worse than the struggles from the year prior.
That has forced many to feel that offensive line coach George Warhop should not continue being a member of the Bucs’ coaching staff.
With the hiring of former Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, many are tying the hiring of Koetter to offensive line coach Mike Tice who was also the offensive line coach under Lovie Smith in Chicago from 2010 to 2011 and then becoming the offensive coordinator in 2012. The offensive line of Atlanta struggled last season under Tice as they 24th in rushing yards but just below the league average for sacks given up.
But another name that can be mentioned with ties to Koetter is offensive line coach Paul Dunn, who was fired from the Houston Texans staff just days ago. Dunn served as the offensive line coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2012 to 2013 -- two of the three years Koetter was there. During the 2012 season, he was part of a staff that coached the team to a 13-3 record and where quarterback Matt Ryan set franchise and team bests like passing yards, completions, completion percentage, and touchdowns among other feats. Atlanta was also the seventh best team for least amount of sacks given up in 2012 with 28.
However, Dunn’s time with Houston was heavily scrutinized. Patrick D. Starr, who covers Houston for State of the Texans, tells BucsBlitz.com that Houston’s offensive line struggled to find success under Dunn.
“Dunn was actually the Texans third choice, at least, for the offensive line position,” Starr said. “The one thing that was an issue was the way the offensive line took a long time for them to look like they understood the scheme. It was not until after the bye week (week 13) that they looked like they understood pass pro. Run game blocking was up and down. During camp he really didn’t push them very hard. Always saw them standing around with no helmets, his drills really didn’t do much actual work. You can talk about it but still need to be able to do it.”
And that is why numbers tend to be a bit deceiving at times. Even though the Texans' line sounded like they were not 100 percent on board with their coach, Houston finished as the fourth best team in the NFL for sacks given up (26) and were fifth in the league in rushing yards (2,161).
So if the Buccaneers allow for Koetter to bring in some of his own coaches to help coach the offense, both Tice and Dunn can be options based off of prior experience within the same organizations. And at that point the questions would be which Tice and which Dunn will they actually get.
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