Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Anthony Collins

The Film Don't Lie: Buccaneers

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
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A weekly look at what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers must fix:

The list is long, but pass protection might be the top priority as the Bucs head into their bye week.

They need to do a much better job of protecting the quarterback when they return to action against the Minnesota Vikings. The pass protection was horrible in Sunday’s 48-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Quarterback Mike Glennon was sacked five times. He was sacked or under duress on 63 percent of his dropbacks. That’s the highest pressure percentage for any quarterback with at least 40 dropbacks in the past five years.

What’s puzzling about this is that the Bucs used a lot of resources to rebuild their offensive line in the offseason. They let veterans Donald Penn, Davin Joseph and Jeremy Zuttah go. They spent good money on center Evan Dietrich-Smith and left tackle Anthony Collins in free agency. After guard Carl Nicks left the team because of a lingering toe problem, the Bucs traded for Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins.

Right tackle Demar Dotson is the lone holdover from last year’s unit and Patrick Omameh has been the starter at right guard, but no one on the offensive line is playing well.

The Bucs could look to make some lineup changes during the bye. Garrett Gilkey already has been rotating in for Omameh, but there’s not much other depth on the offensive line. Rookies Kadeem Edwards and Kevin Pamphile have been inactive for every game.

The Bucs need to block better up front, but that might not be enough. The Bucs need to ask their tight ends and running backs to be more involved as blockers to make up for the deficiencies on the offensive line.

Bucs' offensive line improving

September, 16, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- On Monday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith realized it had been several days since he had fielded a media question about the offensive line.

“I think just about every time I’ve come in here someone has asked about the offensive line," Smith said. “I don’t hear any questions now, and that’s a good thing."

It seems as if the biggest question of the preseason has faded into a non-issue. An offensive line that hasn’t been together very long seems to be developing some chemistry. It helped running back Bobby Rainey rush for 144 yards in Sunday’s loss to St. Louis.

The line is in a much better spot than it was early in the preseason after former All-Pro Carl Nicks left the team. The Bucs experimented with a bunch of guards before trading with New England to bring in Logan Mankins.

The group still is developing chemistry, but you can see some tangible progress.

“It’s coming along," left tackle Anthony Collins said. “I’ve got my All-Pro [Mankins] next to me, and the center [Evan Dietrich-Smith], he’s getting it down. We’ve got a good right tackle [Demar Dotson]. [Right guard Patrick Omameh] is playing very, very well. I’ve just got to take care of my business. And the chemistry is going to be there with the tight ends. It’s coming.”
TAMPA, Fla. -- With the start of the regular season just around the corner, Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith talked about his offensive and defensive lines Friday.

You might be a little surprised with what he had to say. Smith had plenty of praise for an offensive line that has been criticized and has undergone a lot of changes. On the flip side, he had a challenge for a defensive line that many consider one of the team’s strengths.

Let’s start with the offensive line. Right tackle Demar Dotson is the only remaining starter from a line that wasn’t very good a year ago. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith and left tackle Anthony Collins were brought in as free agents. After some early struggles on the interior in the preseason, the Bucs made a big trade this week to bring in six-time Pro Bowler Logan Mankins.

Smith said he’s not concerned about the chemistry of the offensive line even though Mankins has yet to practice with the team.

“It’s been talked an awful lot about “the offensive line, they have to play together’’,’’ Smith said. “I don’t buy that at all. I think you get the best possible guys you can, and you make moves when you have to.’’

“He knows how to get himself ready. He’ll have to change a little bit of terminology but not as much as you would assume. He’ll fit in right away and I don’t think that will be a big issue. Some of our other offensive linemen haven’t played a lot together. But these three preseason games, they’ve come together. Based on the way they played the last time they were together [in the third preseason game], we like where we’re at going into the Carolina game [to open the regular season].’’

The defensive line is supposed to be a strength. The Bucs haven’t gotten some pressure from their starters, but the team plans to use a rotation. Smith said he hasn’t been impressed with the play of some of his backup defensive linemen.

“Very concerned about it,’’ Smith said. “It’s disappointing, the pressure we weren’t able to get. It’s been documented how we want to play football. As we look at it, the challenge for our defensive line this week will be to outplay Carolina’s defensive line. They have an excellent front seven. We need to play better than them up front. That isn’t just four guys. A couple other players have to step up. We’ll normally dress seven defensive linemen. All of them will play and we need production from all of them.’’

W2W4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

August, 8, 2014
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) and Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0) open the preseason Friday night at Everbank Stadium.

Three things to watch:

1. Tampa Bay’s offensive line: This is the biggest area of question for the Bucs. They overhauled the offensive line in the offseason, but some uncertainty remains. The Bucs will use the preseason games to determine who ends up starting at the two guard spots. Jamon Meredith, Patrick Omameh, Oneil Cousins and rookie Kadeem Edwards are candidates to start. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith, left tackle Anthony Collins and right tackle Demar Dotson are set as starters, but the Bucs need two guards to step up and claim jobs.

2. Josh McCown: The veteran quarterback probably will only play about a quarter, but this is his first action as a member of the Buccaneers. McCown was handed the starting job when he signed as a free agent and he has looked solid throughout training camp. McCown looked sharp for Chicago last season when he was filling in for an injured Jay Cutler. If McCown can be as efficient as he was last season, the Bucs will be in good shape.

3. The return of the Tampa 2 defense: That is the defense that was made famous in Tampa Bay by Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin back in the 1990s. The Bucs got away from the Tampa 2 when Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano were the head coaches. But Lovie Smith, an assistant on Dungy’s original staff, is a big believer in the Tampa 2 and has brought it back to the Bucs.
TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t have a clear-cut starter at either guard position. But coach Lovie Smith doesn’t sound worried about that as his team gets ready for its first preseason game Friday at Jacksonville.

Throughout training camp, the Bucs have been rotating Jamon Meredith, Oneil Cousins, Patrick Omameh and rookie Kadeem Edwards at the guard spots.

“Players have told us who gets the first opportunity,’’ Smith said. “Who deserves reps? That’s what you try to get leading up to the preseason games.’’

The Bucs lost former All-Pro Carl Nicks when he decided to leave the team just before camp due to a toe injury that hadn’t healed. The Bucs still could bring in a guard or two from outside. But Smith sounds like he’s prepared to go with what he has.

“We like the prospects,’’ Smith said. “We don’t have a lot of players around the position that have started a lot of games. We have young talent on the line. You go against [All-Pro defensive tackle] Gerald McCoy every day, you get better. We’re getting better.’’

Collins
Besides the guard positions, there have been other major changes on the offensive line. Guard Davin Joseph and left tackle Donald Penn are gone. The Bucs signed free-agent center Evan Dietrich-Smith and left tackle Anthony Collins.

That’s a lot of change for an offensive line, but Smith isn’t worried about a lack of chemistry.

“I don’t think you have to play together five years to get that chemistry,’’ Smith said. “We’ve had a lot of practices together, a lot of time together in the meeting rooms. Green Bay is a distant memory for Evan. Cincinnati is a distant memory for Anthony. They’re coming along.’’

Smith isn’t the only one with confidence in the offensive line. Collins said Tampa Bay could turn out to have one of the league’s best offensive lines.

“We’ll become famous to the city,’’ Collins said. “We’ll become famous to our own teammates. We’ll become famous to the staff that works here. It’s on the O-line, period.’’
Let’s continue our position-by-position look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the offensive line. This unit isn't going to look anything like last season and that's a good thing because this was a problem spot.

Right tackle Demar Dotson is the only player certain to return to the same starting position he had last season. Veterans Donald Penn, Davin Joseph and Jeremy Zuttah are gone.

The Bucs were very aggressive in free agency as they sought to rebuild the line. They spent big money on left tackle Anthony Collins and decent money on center Evan Dietrich-Smith. They also brought in guard Oniel Cousins for depth.

But a big question mark remains at guard. That’s the health of Carl Nicks, who has appeared in only nine games the past two seasons due to injury. The Bucs and Nicks have said he’ll be ready for the start of training camp, but he missed the entire offseason program.

If Nicks is healthy, the entire line suddenly gets a lot better because he’s one of the best guards in the league. But, if Nicks has any setback, that’s a huge blow. Cousins, Patrick Omameh and Jamon Meredith will compete for the other starting spot and two of them could start if Nicks isn’t ready.

Fact or fiction: Offense

July, 17, 2014
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On Wednesday, we played a game of fact or fiction with issues surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense. Now, let’s switch over to the offense:

1. Josh McCown is a good enough quarterback to lead the Bucs to the playoffs.

Our take: Fact.

McCown
Justify it: I went with fact over fiction, but just barely. I’m thinking Tampa Bay’s defense can be something really special. That alone could put the Bucs close to the playoffs. McCown doesn’t have to be spectacular, just steady. There is nothing in McCown’s background to suggest he is going to come in and throw for more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. But he is a crafty veteran, and with Tampa Bay’s defense that might be enough.

2. The Bucs will use a committee of running backs and no one back will get the bulk of the carries.

Our take: Fiction.

Justify it: One of the biggest myths of the offseason has taken on a life of its own because coach Lovie Smith said a team needs more than one quality back. He is serious about that and there will be some sort of rotation. But the fact is Doug Martin still is the feature back and will get most of the carries. He just won’t get almost all the carries like he did under former coach Greg Schiano. There will be room for Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey, Mike James and Jeff Demps to compete for touches.

3. This can be a top-tier offensive line.

Our take: Fiction.

Nicks
Justify it: I like the signings of free agents Anthony Collins and Evan Dietrich-Smith. But I’m skeptical about this unit because I’m skeptical about the health of guard Carl Nicks. He missed all but two games with a toe injury last season and wasn’t ready to take part in the offseason program. Nicks has said there is some permanent damage and that he will have to play through pain the rest of his career. That doesn’t sound encouraging. If Nicks somehow can get back to full strength, this offensive line could be very good. But let’s wait and see how Nicks fares.

4. Mike Evans will be a 1,000-yard receiver as a rookie.

Our take: Fact.

Justify it: Evans steps into a great situation as the No. 2 wide receiver. He will start opposite Vincent Jackson, who will draw most of the attention from opposing defenses. That means there should be plenty of opportunities for Evans. His size should give him a big advantage in one-on-one matchups with cornerbacks.

5. Tight end will be an important part of this offense.

Our take: Fact.

Justify it: Coordinator Jeff Tedford’s offense remains a bit of a puzzle to all of us. But just look at the clues when it comes to the tight ends and you can see some significant roles. The Bucs have Tim Wright, who had more than 50 catches as a rookie and free-agent pickup Brandon Myers. Throw in second-round draft pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins and it’s obvious the Bucs will be deep at this position. Luke Stocker also remains on the roster, but he needs a big training camp to stick around.

Top 15 Buccaneers: No. 10

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
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We continue our list of the top 15 Buccaneers with No. 10:

Anthony Collins, left tackle

What he did in 2013: A career backup in Cincinnati, injuries forced Collins into the starting role at left tackle last season and he responded quite nicely. He started seven games and played well enough to earn a nice contract and a starting role with Tampa Bay.

Why he’s No. 10 in 2014: The Bucs are taking a bit of a leap of faith by going with Collins at the most important position on the offensive line. But Collins showed last season that he can hold his own against some strong pass-rushers. The Bucs believe Collins can protect quarterback Josh McCown's blind side and also think he can be a strong run blocker.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith prides himself on putting together teams with good defenses. That comes with a heavy price.

The Bucs have $64.7 million of this year’s salary cap tied up in defensive players, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That’s the third-highest figure in the league. Only Buffalo ($66.5 million) and Detroit ($65 million) have more cap room committed toward the defense.

The Bucs aren’t exactly being frugal on offense, where $55.6 million of this year’s cap room is committed. Ten teams have less money committed toward offense.

Here’s a look at the top 10 salary cap figures for 2014:
With rookie camp over, it’s time to take a look at where Tampa Bay’s draft picks stand.

Wide receiver Mike Evans. The first-round pick had a stellar rookie camp. The Bucs are expecting Evans to be an instant starter opposite Vincent Jackson.

Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. A second-round pick, the Bucs view him as a possible starter. But there’s plenty of depth at tight end and Seferian-Jenkins will have to win the job in training camp and the preseason.

Running back Charles Sims. The third-round pick will be part of the backfield rotation. Sims’ main role could be as a third-down back because he has strong receiving skills. The Bucs also are giving Sims a look as a return man.

Guard Kadeem Edwards. The reality is the fifth-round pick is a project and probably won’t be ready to start as a rookie. But Edwards will provide some depth and could develop into a starter down the road.

Tackle Kevin Pamphile. Another fifth-round pick, Pamphile also is viewed as a developmental player. In a best-case scenario, Pamphile will be the swing tackle behind Anthony Collins and Demar Dotson.

Wide receiver Robert Herron. He wasn’t taken until the sixth round, but he turned some heads in rookie camp. The Bucs are hoping the speedy Herron can emerge as the slot receiver. Herron also is getting a look in the return game.
It’s hard to find statistics on offensive linemen. But, thanks to STATS, we’ve got some.

It’s possible the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could take an offensive lineman with their first-round draft pick. So let’s take a look at the top three linemen in the draft.

You can make a numerical case that Michigan’s Taylor Lewan is the draft's best pass blocker. The Wolverines had 371 pass plays last year and Lewan allowed just two sacks, according to STATS. Lewan also allowed 10 pressures.

Auburn’s Greg Robinson allowed four sacks and eight pressures on 273 pass plays. Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews allowed six sacks and 21 pressures. But it's important to note the Aggies passed on 52.7 percent (473) of their offensive plays.

I don't think there's much difference among Robinson, Matthews and Lewan, and the Bucs would be happy if they end up with any of the three. The Bucs could use the rookie at guard to start off with. Or they could move left tackle Anthony Collins to guard and start a rookie on the outside.

Mock draft on the way

May, 6, 2014
May 6
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The NFL Nation mock draft starts at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday and I'll be picking for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Much is going to depend on what happens with the six picks ahead of me, but I'm confident one of the scenarios listed below will play out.

If quarterback Johnny Manziel is there, I'm taking him. The Bucs need a quarterback for the long term and Josh McCown is only a short-term answer. Manziel might be a franchise quarterback and Johnny Football would create some excitement for a fan base that needs something to get excited about.

If Manziel is gone before Tampa Bay's pick, I probably will go with his college teammate, wide receiver Mike Evans. The Bucs have a glaring need opposite Vincent Jackson. I'd prefer Sammy Watkins because he's more of a speed receiver than Evans, but it's likely Watkins will be gone. Evans is a clone of Jackson in a lot of ways. That's not a bad thing. Jackson already is over 30 and Evans eventually can replace him as the No. 1 receiver.

What if Manziel and Evans both are gone? I've got a plan for that. I'd take an offensive lineman. Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan -- in that order -- would be my fallback options. They're all tackles, but the Bucs' big need is at guard. Maybe a rookie could slide inside or maybe Anthony Collins, who has played some guard in the past, can make the move from left tackles.

Please join us for the mock draft.
Time to start our position-by-position look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the NFL draft nears. Let’s start with the offensive line.

Where things stand: This position group underwent a major offseason overhaul. Former starters Davin Joseph, Donald Penn and Jeremy Zuttah are gone. The team signed free-agent center Evan Dietrich-Smith and left tackle Anthony Collins. But there’s uncertainty at guard with no clear-cut starter on the right side and questions about the health of Carl Nicks.

What to watch for: The uncertainty at guard makes it very possible the Bucs will draft an offensive lineman early, perhaps even in the first round. They might have a shot at tackles Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews or Taylor Lewan. They could ask a rookie to slide to the interior or move Collins inside. Even if nothing happens in the first round, look for Tampa Bay to draft at least one offensive lineman.

Plan B for the Buccaneers?

April, 30, 2014
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Virtually every mock draft I’ve seen recently has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking either a wide receiver or a quarterback.

Texas A&M’s Mike Evans is the popular pick among receivers, and his college teammate, quarterback Johnny Manziel, has been frequently tied to the Bucs.

Matthews
Lewan
But let’s turn hypothetical here. Let’s say that Evans and Manziel are drafted before Tampa Bay picks at No. 7. Or let’s say the hidden reality is that the Bucs don’t like Evans or Manziel as much as everyone seems to think.

Is there a Plan B in place?

Coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht are bright guys, and you can bet they have contingency plans ready. Licht has made it abundantly clear that the Bucs would be willing to trade down, which I think is a real possibility.

But let’s stick with our hypothetical here and say the Bucs stay at No. 7 and either can’t or don’t want to draft Manziel or Evans. What direction does Tampa Bay go in that scenario?

This is just a hunch, but I wouldn’t rule out the offensive line. Yeah, the Bucs spent good money to get left tackle Anthony Collins and center Evan Dietrich-Smith. But there still is uncertainty on the offensive line.

The job at right guard is wide open, and it's unclear if guard Carl Nicks can fully recover from a toe injury. Nicks has said there is nerve damage and he might have to play in pain for the rest of his career.

That is why I’m thinking there is a real chance the Bucs select an offensive lineman at No. 7. There aren’t any true guards worthy of that pick. But there are three tackles that could be available, and none of them would be a bad choice.
Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan all could be available when Tampa Bay picks. The consensus is that Robinson is slightly ahead of Matthews and Lewan, but some mocks have all three going in the top 10 picks.

I can see the Bucs taking any one of the three. They could plug that player in at guard for the short term and eventually move him to tackle. That would give Tampa Bay’s offensive line a big boost and firm up one of the few glaring weaknesses.

It’s just a thought, but going with an offensive lineman might not be a bad option for the Bucs.

Minicamp questions for the Bucs

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
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As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin a three-day minicamp Tuesday, let's explore some of the biggest questions facing the team.

Is there really a competition at quarterback? Not in minicamp, where most of the time is spent installing the offense. Josh McCown will get the first-team work and Mike Glennon will work with the second team. If Glennon is going to have any chance at surpassing McCown, he’ll have to thoroughly outplay him in training camp and the preseason. Unless the Bucs draft a quarterback in the first round, this is McCown’s job to lose.

Will the offensive line be better? It probably can’t be worse than last year when the line’s play was a major disappointment. The Bucs blew up that line and they’ve overhauled it with additions like left tackle Anthony Collins and center Evan Dietrich-Smith. Still, the biggest question is whether guard Carl Nicks, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, can get back to full strength. If Nicks is totally healthy, he might be the best guard in the game and he makes everyone around him better.

Who starts at wide receiver opposite Vincent Jackson? Let’s be brutally honest. That player isn’t on the roster yet. The Bucs may open minicamp with someone like veteran Louis Murphy running with the first team. But Murphy will be competing for the fourth or fifth receiver spot before all is said and done. This team still needs to add a second and third wide receiver.

Who’s the tight end? The answer to that one may come in plural form. Tim Wright did some nice things as a rookie last season. But Wright is limited as a blocker. That’s why the Bucs brought in Brandon Myers. He can contribute as a blocker and a receiver. The Bucs aren’t likely to use a fullback very often, which means there could be a lot of two-tight-end sets.

Aside from Lavonte David, what’s the situation at linebacker? David is set as the weakside starter, which is the most important linebacker spot in coach Lovie Smith’s defense. Mason Foster is the favorite to remain the starter in the middle, but he needs to show he can drop into coverage much more frequently than he’s done in the past. Jonathan Casillas appears to be the favorite to start on the strong side.

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