Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lovie Smith says Bucs line played below expectations

Bucs guard Davin Joseph is among the highest paid players on a highly paid line that produced woeful numbers on offense.


Bucs guard Davin Joseph is among the highest paid players on a highly paid line that produced woeful numbers on offense.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Bucs had one of the highest paid offensive lines in the NFL last season, but new coach Lovie Smith said it didn't play that way.

With RG Davin Joseph coming off knee surgery and LG Carl Nicks limited to only two games because of complications from MRSA, Tampa Bay struggled to find consistency and ranked last in the league in total offense and 30th in points per game.

"Offensive linewise, we didn't play as well as we need to," Smith said. "The way we paid at the position said we should've been the best team in the league almost, and that wasn't the case."

The Bucs starting offensive line is scheduled to earn about $28 million in 2014, led by Nicks ($7 million), LT Donald Penn ($6.75 million), Joseph ($6 million), C Jeremy Zuttah ($4.5 million) and RT Demar Dotson ($2 million).

"Part of our evaluation, yeah, money does come into play," Smith said. "But it's the play of our group that wasn't good enough. We say we're evaluating it. We are. But you have to first compare it with the first step, free agency, what's out there, whether we have a legitimate shot with certain guys. I'll just say we need to upgrade our offensive line play."

Smith said Nicks, who is recovering from foot surgery, is making progress and hopes to play this season.

"I think that's still up in the air," Smith said.

He added that both Penn and Joseph could have bounce-back years.

"I'll just say both guys will tell you they didn't play as well as they're capable of playing last year," Smith said. "But I don't think there's anything that says they can't play back up to that.

"Davin is a little different because he had an injury, and I don't think he was fully healed last year when he played, so you're hoping another year out from surgery will make it better for him. And Donald, sometimes you don't play as well for whatever reason."

Keeping MCCOY: Look for the Bucs to approach two-time Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy about a contract extension. He is in the final year of his deal.

"It's safe to say Gerald McCoy is going to be around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a while," Smith said. "I don't like talking specifics on players, but it's safe to say we're going to build around Gerald, whose an inside guy as good as there is out there but we need to get him help."

MORE CAP ROOM: Several NFL executives say, and several media reports agree, the salary cap will increase to $130 million in 2014 from $123 million last season. That means Tampa Bay's salary cap space will grow from about $12 million to more than $19 million, according to general manager Jason Licht.

The figure is higher than teams were expecting, which will provide some relief for several cap-strapped clubs. Teams have until March 11 to get under the cap.

Lovie Smith says Bucs line played below expectations 02/20/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 20, 2014 10:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. It's not a game, but the names are all the same in this football family


    TAMPA — A coach yells across the field into a scrum of blue-and-white clad football bodies at Jefferson High: "Kim Mitchell! Kim Mitchell, come here!"

    These twins are not only identical, but they have almost identical names. Kim Mitchell III, left, and Kim Mitchell IV are  talented football players at Jefferson High with Division I-A college offers. Kim  III wears No. 22 and plays cornerback while Kim IV wears No. 11 and plays safety. (Scott Purks, Special to the Times)
  2. Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) pumps his fist to the crowd after Tampa Bay's 29-7 victory over Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. The Bucs play at Minnesota at 1 p.m. Sunday. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Sorting through the Bucs' injuries


    Greg Auman sorts through the Bucs players sidelined with injury and illness in the latest edition of our Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Kwon Alexander left the Bucs' game against the Bears with a hamstring injury. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. College football week 4: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions


    The Times' college football coverage team makes its picks for week 4 of the college football season:

    USF coach Charlie Strong and the Bulls face Temple in a 7:30 p.m. game Thursday at Raymond James Stadium. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  5. Young girl injured by 105 mph foul at Yankee Stadium renews call for more netting


    NEW YORK — A young girl at Yankee Stadium was injured by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier during Wednesday's game against Minnesota, leading some players to call for protective netting to be extended.

    Baseball fans reacts as a young girl is tended to before she is carried out of the seating area after being hit by a line drive in the fifth inning of a baseball game between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, at Yankee Stadium in New York. [Associated Press]