A conversation with the Buccaneers offensive line
It was an another ugly loss for the Buccaneers in Week 13, their 10th of the season. Retired NFL defensive end and former Buccaneer Stephen White sits down for a totally fictitious conversation with the a group that was especially bad last week, the offensive line.
*reaches over and turns off gospel radio station playing on my iPad*
“Hey, come on in guys. Have a seat. Can I get you anything before we start, some bottled water, a Gatorade or something? I apologize if you need some coffee today because we are fresh out.
“Also, coffee is for closers.”
*paces around the room quietly*
“Well, another tough loss on Sunday, fellas. I’m sick right now thinking about how we lost that game by a point because we had too many men on the field right there at the end. O’Neil Cousins, buddy, I am sure you had a good reason for thinking we would need heavy personnel in the middle of the two minute drill, so I’m not going to even ask what in the hell was on your mind at that moment. Nope, I respect you too much as a veteran offensive lineman in this league to question whether your head was half way up your hind parts with the game on the line.”
*squeezes stress ball furiously … maintains composure … barely*
“Anyway, that was just one play out of many from Sunday where our execution was subpar to say the least. Lets get on this film and try to make some corrections.
“Ok, here we go, first drive of the game on offense and we couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity. Defense intercepts Andy Dalton and give us the ball on the Bengals’ 9-yard line. We gain four yards on the first two plays which brings us to a third-and-5 from the five yard line. Oh, but it doesn’t stay third-and-5 does it, Anthony Collins?”
*cranes neck in Collins’ direction*
“Nah, Anthony is sooooo excited to play against his former team that he rocks back in his stance before the ball is snapped and gets a damn false start penalty.
“Well, I guess third-and-goal from the 10 ain’t all that bad, right? I mean we got those two man-beasts out wide in Vincent Jackson and rookie sensation Mike Evans. Surely we could take advantage of those matchups and let one of those guys go up and get the ball at its highest point in the end zone.
“Actually we had a great chance of doing just that as you watch the film. Just look at this okey doke move Mike Evans puts on their nickel corner back. He comes off slow like he is about to do a little brother-in-law run blocking, then uses his hands to get by the corner, who is now sitting heavy with all his weight going forward. That guy covering him just about falls on his face after the move for goodness sake! And there is Evans, after making that magnificent move to free himself from the nickel corner, looking back for what surely will be his ninth touchdown reception of the season.
“And he keeps looking and looking. Unfortunately, our quarterback, Josh McCown, was never able to make that throw was he? And you know why? Let’s see now, who in this room might know why McCown wasn’t able to make that throw?”
*fake scans all around the room*
“How about you, Garrett Gilkey? Why don’t you explain to the rest of the room why Evans isn’t seeing a pass go into his hands right now for six points on this play?”
Garrett Gilkey: “Because I fu …”
Cutting in, “BECAUSE YOU FUCKED UP THE SNAP?! Great answer!”
*does breathing exercises*
“But now I know this was your first game ever snapping a football, so I want you to know I take all that into account when I see you completely shit the bed like this. Still, man, that is some kind of piss poor timing. Instead of a touchdown we give up a sack, lose four yards and squander the tremendous opportunity our defense provided for us. And yes, in this case when I say ‘we’ I really mean ‘you’ for the most part, Gilkey. Don’t worry to much about it though guys, I’m sure we will get em next time!”
*golf hand clap*
Photo via Getty Images
“Our next drive got right off to a bad start with Mr. Cousins not lining up on the ball as the heavy formation tight end. But hey, I know O’Neil was doing us a solid by filling in for our three normal tight ends who all missed the game with various ailments. So, even though my toddler knows that the tight end has to cover up the tackle and we ended up punting on that drive, I’m still going to go ahead and give him a pass. I mean why not, right? At two and friggin eight or nine or whatever the hell we are right now, who really gives a damn anyway? I damn sure don’t see any of you guys chewing his ass out when he makes a mistake. How many times does one guy have to making the same mistake before one or more of y’all decide enough is enough?
“Now, we actually scored a touchdown, if you can believe that, on our third drive of the game. Only god knows how we overcame the incompetence in this room on that drive. Anthony gives up a sack on third-and-2 on a Tex game, which we obviously are just never going to get blocked up this friggin’ season. The Bengals didn’t want to let us implode, so they get a face mask penalty on the same play. Same guy who sacked the quarterback, Geno Atkins, as a matter of fact. I’m sure y’all remember him, the guy we told you all week was their bell cow interior rusher? Yeah, him.
“Then we get inside the damn 10-yard line, and low and behold Anthony has ants in his pants again and gets another false start on first-and-goal. I swear, I almost thought some of y’all were point shaving watching this film. I’m still not all the way convinced either way. Regardless, we did go on to block well enough for Doug Martin to run it in from the 7-yard line on second down which gave us a 10-0 lead that we barely deserved.
“By the way, you guys eat well for Thanksgiving? Turkey and dressing and all the fixings? Do any of y’all participate that Black Friday, Cyber Monday online shopping deal? Cool, cool. I was just asking.
“The next drive got off to a similarly bad start with another penalty on the offense, but thankfully this time nobody in this room was to blame. Guys, we simply aren’t good enough right now on offense to over come a bunch of stupid penalties, so of course we end up punting again at the end of that drive also. Screw it, we will get ‘em next time though, right boys? That’s what your calm demeanors seemed to be saying to me Sunday at least.
“Of course, McCown goes McCown after that and throws an interception trying to hit a hot read late against a blitz which he knows better than to do. It sucks, but it’s bound to happen with him about once a game, we just have to live with that. But then our defense, who each and every one of you should write a sincere apology to, gets the ball back for us again right before halftime. But we piss away that opportunity as well.
“This time it’s my boy Patrick Omameh doing the honors. Patrick, when was the last time you got your eyes checked, son? I only ask because I wasn’t sure you even saw Wallace Gilberry lined up across from you because he beat you so fast off the snap. Nice job grabbing him though. I’m sure that’ll cool his ass off.
“Who cares that we had both Evans and Jackson coming open deep on post routes? Yeah, we probably would have been in field goal range, but really who wants to have to run alllll the way down the field just to have to spike the ball so we can kick a field goal, amirite?
“Patrick gets called for holding, we get moved back 10 yards, and the offensive coordinator wisely just runs out the clock to end the first half whilst giving me the side eye. Thanks guys, thanks for nothing.
“We left a lot of points on the board in the first half alone. You know what though, and this might sound a bit cliche, but that’s why they play two halves! You don’t have to end the game the way you started it.”
*more fake enthusiasm*
“Sounds good doesn’t it? Well, you cats even defy cliche’s because after watching this film, I’m not sure you didn’t actually get worse after halftime.
“My man, Garrett again was with the shit. Are you a double agent, son? Are you working for the enemy? Ever heard of Benedict Arnold? Because I just …”
*hands involuntarily form into tight fists … veins start popping out of forehead … counts backward from 100 … finds “happy” place*
“Ok, where was I. Oh yeah, Garrett were you actually trying to do a leg whip on this play in the third quarter, bro?
“I know it’s an odd question to ask, but you have shown yourself to be such a bad athlete, I can’t be sure if what we’re watching was intentional or not. I mean it’s certainly not like you needed to leg whip that linebacker on a screen play. Vincent Rey seemed intent on running right into you anyway, and you’ve got him by damn near a hunnit pounds, so why even try to cut him in the first damn place? But, again, this wasn’t even really a cut block. Quite frankly, it closely resembles the “monkey rolls” we all used to do in elementary school on the playground, goofy and dangerous.
“Either way, this is bad, really bad, mmmkayyyy? Let’s try not to ever do that again,
“Now, on the next drive we are already backed up inside our own 5-yard line, the last thing we need is another damned penalty. I guess nobody decided to let Garrett in on that secret though because this guy went out of his way to get a flag on second-and-9. Like, for real bro, how do you basically whiff on a guy who is lined up right in front of you? Then which of the many voices rattling around in your head was speaking to you when you decided ‘fuck it, he beat me off the snap, but I can still tackle his ass and make this whole situation even worse!’ Please, for the sake of my blood pressure, never ever listen to that muthafucka again!”
Photo via Getty Images
“Another penalty, eventually another punt. Y’all starting to see how that works? Is it starting to take hold in those teeeeeeeny tiny brains of yours?
“You wouldn’t have thought y’all had ever heard such a thing before Sunday, that penalties deprive us of points. O’Neil, one of our elder statesmen, gets a clipping penalty at tight end on the next drive. That negates a nice 5-yard run by Charles Sims. Did I happen to mention we were in the red zone again at the time?
“By the way, if you see Sims or Martin walking the halls, you might not want to turn your back on ‘em. If it was me and y’all screwed me out of as many yards as them, I’d have gone upside one of y’all’s head by now. I’m just sayin’.
“Ok, now here comes Garrett with a friggin illegal snap. An illegal snap, bro? Are you shitting me? You cats are so bad they’re having to resort to digging deep in the damn rulebook just to find more shit to call on you. Unreal.
“We catch yet another break when the Bengals try do a surprise onside kick and Orie Lemon recovers it for the good guys. Our offense gets the ball to start the drive on the Cincy 31-yard line, which is awesome. The least we should get here is a field goal. But with that kind of starting field position and the talent we have at wideout, a touchdown should always be the goal.
“Shiiiiiiiiit after the way we played on Sunday, I’m starting to change my philosophy on all that. Any time we get inside the 35 I’ll just be happy if one of you don’t screw up the drive with yet another penalty or a bad play and get us moved out of field goal range. Case in point my dear friend Garrett on third-and-16 again soils the Serta and gets completely run over by Atkins to give up a sack with the ball at the Cincy 22-yard line. At least we were able to avoid disaster for once and still kick the field goal. Not for lack of you guys trying your best to fuck it up though.
“But we should all just relax right? Just keep patting each other on the back Y’all will get em next time. Sure you will. Sure you will.
“Hold up, hold up, my goodness, I’m used to seeing Anthony, Garrett and Patrick fucking up, but now here comes Logan Mankins joining in the fun too! I guess he didn’t want you guys to feel bad, so he got a false start penalty of his own on the first play of the next drive to show you. Good deal Logan, way to be a team guy!”
*more false enthusiasm*
“Check this out. Patrick and Sims are blocking Gilberry a few plays later, and doing a decent job, when both guys just let him go at the same time. Just so happened that McCown chose that exact moment to step up decisively in the pocket, which led to Gilberry sacking him for a loss. Great job, great effort.Thankfully the Bengals again hurt themselves by getting a penalty on that play that extended the drive. Again, no thanks to anybody in this room.
“But here’s the deal, even with Patrick allowing Atkins to come around and blast our quarterback on the first play of the last drive, you guys still had an opportunity to be heroes on Sunday. You pass blocked well enough on third-and-3 for our quarterback to get the pass to Evans for a first down. Then, Patrick, you and Garrett got some pretty good blocks downfield on Bobby Rainey’s big 29-yard gain on a screen. We were pretty much already close enough to kick a long field goal and win the game after that play, but then the Bengals decided to be generous yet again and gift us another five yards when Gilberry jumped offsides. The ball was spotted at their 31-yard line, instead of the 36.
“All we had to do was run the ball a couple of times down hill with no penalties, kick the field goal and go home with our third win of the season. That’s it. Nothing more nothing less.
“BUT YOU JACKASSES COULDN’T EVEN PULL THAT OFF!!!”
*There isn’t a number high enough to count down from to calm down now*
“Garrett did you seriously tackle Brandon Thompson on first-and-5 from the Bengals 31-yard line with us down a single point and only 43 seconds left in the game? Did you really do that, son?”
*Gilkey tries to speak.*
“NO, YOU GET OUTTA HERE RIGHT NOW!!!”
*points emphatically at the door until he leaves*
“Ok, first-and-15 after the penalty … oh hey, look Evans is open for a deep ball! If only McCown could step up in the pocket and deliver an accurate throw. But he can’t do that can he, Patrick? Because you have once again been beaten by a pass rush game haven’t you?
“YOU GET OUTTA HERE TOO!!!”
*points back and forth between Patrick Omameh and the door, shaking with rage*
“O’NEIL YOU AND YOUR RARELY CALLED PENALTIES CAN GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE, TOO!!!”
*starts throwing shit and flipping tables … catches breath … calms down*
“Anthony Collins, you got one foot out the damn door too, bruh. Just try me. If I had anybody else … “
“I was embarrassed as a coach to see this shit on film. Hell, I am worried as a husband now because my wife did all that good Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping, just like all y’all. Now, after watching this shit I gotta call home and tell her to take it all back which she ain’t gonna like at all. Why?
“BECAUSE YOU MORONS ARE APPARENTLY TRYING TO GET ME FIRED FOR CHRISTMAS!!!
“All that good Thanksgiving food around my house, and I haven’t had an appetite since I first turned on this damn film. So Happy friggin Holidays to the rest of the guys left in this room. You will now get the opportunity to show that I’m not quite as shitty of a coach as Garrett, Patrick and Anthony would have everyone believe. I am well aware that I’m about to be coaching for my job, so you better get your mind right. I’m gonna show you youngins what ‘turnt up’ really means at practice, and we are going to get all this shit fixed right away.
“Now the rest of y’all can get the fuck out, too. I gotta call my wife”
*shakes head ruefully*