Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Demar Dotson

Looking at draft needs beyond QB

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22
TAMPA, Fla. -- Understandably, all the pre-draft talk involving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers these days is about quarterbacks.

They have the first overall pick, and conventional wisdom is that they will take either Florida State's Jameis Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota. But the Bucs will be looking to come away from the draft with more than just a quarterback.

Coming off a 2-14 season, the Bucs have plenty of other needs. Let’s take a look at what positions could be targeted later in the draft (if they aren’t addressed in free agency).

Left tackle: The Bucs were burned by signing Anthony Collins last year. He turned out to be a huge bust, and almost certainly will be released in March. The Bucs took a look at Demar Dotson -- who has spent his career on the right side -- at left tackle at the end of last season. Dotson could end up moving to the left side permanently. If not, the Bucs need to get a left tackle, and they could find a decent one at the top of the second round.

Defensive end: Much like Collins, Michael Johnson had a very disappointing first season with the Bucs. But you can blame Johnson’s lack of productivity on injuries that bothered him all season. The Bucs could part ways with Johnson or take a chance that he can be much better if he’s healthy. Either way, the Bucs need to add an outside pass-rusher. Jacquies Smith (6.5 sacks) was a pleasant surprise last season, but the Bucs need more than that from their pass rush.

Middle linebacker: Mason Foster can become a free agent and early indications are that the Bucs aren’t going to go crazy to try to keep him. Foster’s season was filled with injuries, and he’s not a great fit in the Tampa 2 defense, where the middle linebacker is asked to drop into coverage frequently. The Bucs could find a better fit in the third or fourth round.

Guard: The offensive line was a mess last season, and the Bucs have indicated there will be significant changes. In addition to a new left tackle, there likely will be movement in the interior. Logan Mankins is set at one guard spot. But the other starting spot was held by Patrick Omameh last season. The Bucs will be looking for an upgrade over Omameh.

Cornerback: You never can have enough good cornerbacks. The Bucs are in decent shape with Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks as the starters. But they could be in the market for an upgrade over Leonard Johnson at nickelback.
TAMPA, Fla. -- If you look at last year, it seems new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has nothing to work with.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked 30th in total offense and never really got into a rhythm in a season in which they had no offensive coordinator. Koetter was hired last week to fill the role that Jeff Tedford was supposed to but couldn’t due to health issues.

But the fact is Koetter isn’t starting from scratch. The best thing Koetter has going for him are wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Both had over 1,000 receiving yards this past season despite spotty quarterback play. Evans was a rookie and should only get better.

Koetter should look at Evans and Jackson and see shades of what he had when he was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta the last three seasons. Just like Roddy White and Julio Jones, Evans and Jackson are big and physical.

Throw in third receiver Louis Murphy, who earned the trust of the coaching staff and more playing time as the season went on, and there’s no reason the Bucs can’t have one of the best receiving corps in the NFL.

Oh, and let’s not forget tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who is even bigger and more physical than Jackson and Evans. Seferian-Jenkins dealt with a lot of injuries as a rookie, but looked like he could be a big contributor when he was healthy.

The rest of the offensive talent is somewhat hidden, but there’s reason for hope.

Let’s look at the running backs. Doug Martin averaged only 3.7 yards per carry in an injury-filled season. Koetter might see a reclamation possibility with Martin, who rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a rookie in 2012. But coach Lovie Smith didn’t draft Martin and may not be his biggest booster.

Smith drafted Charles Sims last year and the rookie played extensively as the season went on. Sims is an all-around back and he could end up as the starter with Martin possibly becoming expendable.

Of course, it doesn’t matter who’s carrying the ball if the offensive line isn’t doing its job. That was the case last year. Despite overhauling the line and going with four new starters, the Bucs got lousy play up front. Left tackle Anthony Collins, who was benched at the end of the season, almost certainly will be released and the team will probably look for an upgrade over Patrick Omameh. But tackle Demar Dotson, center Evan Dietrich-Smith and guard Logan Mankins can be effective if they’re surrounded by more talent.

That brings us to the biggest question facing Koetter. Who’s the quarterback? Let’s start with the obvious: It won’t be Mike Glennon. The Bucs got the impression that he doesn’t have what it takes to be a starter when they sent him back to the bench when Josh McCown returned from a thumb injury. The Bucs like McCown much more, but he’s not guaranteed the starting job. He could end up as a mentor/backup because the Bucs have the first overall pick in the draft and could use it on Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or Florida State’s Jameis Winston.

If the Bucs go with a rookie quarterback, there’s no telling what they might get. But at least that rookie will be surrounded by a decent supporting cast.
TAMPA, Fla. -- We continue our position-by-position season analysis with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive line.

This was supposed to be an area of strength after an offseason overhaul resulted in four new starters on the offensive line. Instead, this unit ended up being the team's biggest problem. The Bucs couldn't block -- they allowed 52 sacks and ranked No. 29 in rushing offense.

Things started to go badly just before training camp when it was announced that guard Carl Nicks was leaving the team. Nicks had a toe injury he wasn't recovering well from. The Bucs quickly went out and traded for Logan Mankins to take Nicks' place.

Mankins wasn't bad, but he didn't play at the Pro Bowl level he usually did in New England. Patrick Omameh started at the other guard spot and didn't have a great year.

But the worst season of all came from left tackle Anthony Collins. A high-priced signing in free agency, Collins played so badly that he was benched at the end of the season. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith, another free-agent pickup, was better than Collins, but was only average.

Right tackle Demar Dotson was Tampa Bay's best blocker, but he had problems with penalties. Dotson moved to left tackle when Collins was benched and did an adequate job. Dotson's future could be at left tackle.

It's a certainty that Tampa Bay will have another overhaul of the offensive line this offseason.
TAMPA, Fla. -- The only member of the Buccaneers’ offensive line that is guaranteed a job next year acknowledged Tuesday that change is on the horizon.

“This probably will be the last time that we all will be together as a unit and as a whole offensive unit,’’ tackle Demar Dotson said when asked about Sunday’s season finale against the New Orleans Saints. “We’ve just got one more opportunity to go out there and fight and give it everything we’ve got and hope we all make the best of it.’’

It’s too late for the offensive line to reverse course on what has been a horrible season. The offensive line, which had four new starters, was supposed to be a strength. But it hasn’t worked out that way.

Tampa Bay’s quarterbacks have been sacked 49 times, and the rushing offense ranks No. 31 in the league.

The Bucs have benched left tackle Anthony Collins the past two games. Collins, a free-agent pickup, was having a bad season and his future with the Bucs isn’t bright. The team also could look to upgrade over Patrick Omameh at guard. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith and guard Logan Mankins haven’t had great seasons, and they come with high salaries.

That means Dotson is the only offensive lineman assured of being around next season. But it remains to be seen what position Dotson will play. After spending his career on the right side, Dotson has moved to left tackle the past two games.

The Bucs could leave Dotson on the left side. Or they could add a left tackle and move Dotson back to the right side. Dotson said he’s getting used to the left side and could benefit from having an entire offseason to work there.

“I felt more comfortable than the first time,’’ Dotson said. “I think I’m starting to get more comfortable. As I get more reps and keep working at it, I’m going to keep getting better. With the right time and work and effort, I’ll be good over there.’’

Demar Dotson wins Good Guy Award

December, 23, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers offensive tackle Demar Dotson was presented with the Good Guy Award by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America on Tuesday.

The award is designed to recognize the player that’s most cooperative and helpful to the media.

Dotson was an easy choice. He’s one of the most accessible and candid players on the team. He is available to talk after a loss or a win.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy won the award last season in its inaugural year.
TAMPA, Fla. – When Lovie Smith took over as coach of the Buccaneers, one of the first things he did was overhaul his offensive line.

There were four new starters as left tackle Anthony Collins and center Evan Dietrich-Smith were brought in as free agents and guard Logan Mankins came in a trade. To say that things haven’t worked out as the Bucs envisioned is an understatement.

Just look at the stats that best reflect the play of an offensive line that was terrible in Sunday’s 20-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Bucs gave up seven sacks and rushed for only 16 yards.

Smith came close Monday to acknowledging the Bucs made some mistakes on the offensive line.

“When you say misjudgments, there were some moves we made that didn’t work out the way we wanted them to,’’ Smith said. “That’s a fair statement. We don’t have any way to combat that statement at all. That’s what you do. You make decisions you think give you the best chance to win. You make improvements where you feel like you need to make improvements. They don’t always work out.’’

Exhibit A of a guy who hasn’t worked out is Collins. A career backup in Cincinnati, he got to play due to injury last year and fared well enough that the Bucs thought he could be a solid starter. It turns out they were wrong.

Collins struggled before suffering an elbow injury. That was a graceful way to take Collins out of the lineup for one game. But he got healthy again and has been inactive the last two games as the Bucs have started former right tackle Demar Dotson on the left side.

What did Collins do to earn the benching? Smith put it in nicer terms, but the short answer is that Collins wasn’t playing well.

“There’s a reason why everybody is in the position that they’re in,’’ Smith said. “The amount of playing time you get, yes, there’s a reason for every decision that we’ve made and I’ll just kind of leave it at that. There was an injury Anthony had earlier. He’s been showing up to practice. We wanted to get looks at other guys. A lot of things have come into play on that decision why he wasn’t active.’’

Collins seems destined to be released in the offseason, and there could be other changes on the offensive line.

“Last year has nothing to do with this year,’’ Smith said. “We’re in a different position right now. We know our roster a little better right now and what we truly do need. Like always, we’ll be as aggressive as possible trying to improve our ball club in any way through any phase – free agency, draft, etc.’’

Anthony Collins inactive again

December, 21, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. -- For the second straight game, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Anthony Collins is a healthy inactive.

A high-priced free agent, Collins has had a disappointing season and has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff. Demar Dotson, who has spent his career at right tackle, will start on the left side for the second straight week. The Bucs want to see if Dotson can be the long-term answer on the left side.

The other inactives for the Bucs are receiver Robert Herron, receiver Solomon Patton, running back Mike James, cornerback Isaiah Frey, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury and tight end Evan Rodriguez.

W2W4: Packers at Buccaneers

December, 20, 2014
Five things to watch for in Sunday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Aaron Rodgers: He might be the best quarterback in the league, but Green Bay’s Rodgers doesn’t have a great history when it comes to playing games in Tampa. He is 0-2 in two starts at Raymond James Stadium. Rodgers has thrown three interceptions in a game three times in his career. Two of those came in games in Tampa.

Green Bay’s road woes: The Packers are undefeated at home this season, but they haven’t been very good on the road. They are 3-4 away from Lambeau Field. Green Bay is averaging 21.1 points per road game and scoring 41.1 points per home game. The Packers have lost seven of their past eight games in Tampa. Their last road win against the Bucs came in 2003.

Tampa Bay’s home woes: The Bucs are 0-6 at home this season. The only time the Bucs have gone winless at home over an entire season was in 1976, the franchise’s first year.

Mike Evans: After a stellar start, the rookie wide receiver has cooled off recently. In his past four games, Evans has just 154 receiving yards.

Demar Dotson vs. the Green Bay pass rush: Dotson will make his second straight start at left tackle after spending his career on the right side. The Bucs have given up on Anthony Collins, who didn’t play well after he was signed as a high-priced free agent. The team wants to see if Dotson can be the long-term answer at left tackle.
In last week's Buzz video, I talked about how the Buccaneers need to overhaul their offensive line in the offseason. It turns out the Bucs aren't waiting until the offseason.

The process started in Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers and it sent a message that no one is safe. Left tackle Anthony Collins, a high-priced signing in free agency, was benched. Demar Dotson, who has played right tackle his entire career, was moved to the left side.

Coach Lovie Smith said the move was a "coach's decision." That's Smith's way of saying that Collins wasn't getting the job done. The handwriting is on the wall and it doesn't look like Collins has a future in Tampa Bay. He still has $3 million in salary guaranteed for 2015, but the Bucs will get a net cap savings if they release him.

That looks like a foregone conclusion. But the overhaul isn't going to stop there. The Bucs may decide Dotson is the future on the left side. Or they may draft a left tackle and move Dotson back to the right side.

It's pretty safe to assume Dotson will have a job somewhere on the offensive line, but he might be the only member of the unit you can say that about. Guard Logan Mankins has a chance to stick around, but he's aging and he hasn't played up to the level he did when he was with New England.

Center Evan Dietrich-Smith, another high-priced free agent, has been inconsistent and isn't a lock to stick around. Neither is guard Patrick Omameh.

This offensive line has been bad in the running game and pass protection all season. It's time to rebuild the offensive line.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If you thought Doug Martin was washed up, think again.

With one run, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back showed that he still can be dangerous. That play came in the first quarter of Tampa Bay’s 19-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Martin, who has been quiet all season, broke off a 63-yard run that set up Tampa Bay’s first touchdown. Martin finished the day with a season-high 96 yards on 14 carries.

There might be a reason Martin looked a little bit like the player he was as a rookie in 2012, when he ran for more than 1,400 yards. It might be because Martin is fully healthy for the first time this season.

“Starting with the first game of the season, I’ve been battling with the knee,’’ Martin said. “After that, it was my ankle. But now I’m feeling the healthiest I’ve felt.’’

That’s why Tampa Bay’s running game looked better than it has all year in the first half. In the first two quarters, Martin gained 92 yards on eight carries.

“That’s what we wanted to do coming out was pick up the running game,’’ Martin said.

With Demar Dotson moving from right to left tackle, the Bucs came out running the ball effectively. They averaged 9.5 yards per carry in the first half.

But the weird thing is the running game went silent in the second half. Martin got only six carries after halftime. Part of the reason for that was because the Bucs fell behind and had to start passing.

But maybe the Bucs should have stuck with the running game more because it looked like Martin finally was playing up to his potential.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Seen and heard in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room after Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers:
  • McCoy
    Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy suffered a hyperextended knee, coach Lovie Smith said. McCoy left the game in the first quarter and did not return. Smith didn't know how serious the injury was, but it's not too much of a stretch to think that McCoy's season probably is over. The Bucs have only two games left, and there's no sense in exposing their best player to further injury.
  • Smith and quarterback Josh McCown both said they were perplexed by a call by the officials at the start of the fourth quarter. After an initial ruling that McCown had thrown an incomplete pass, the play was reviewed and the ruling was changed to a fumble on a ball that traveled about 15 yards in the air. Smith said the explanation from the officials was that the ball already was out and moving before McCown's arm came through.
  • Smith confirmed that left tackle Anthony Collins was indeed a healthy scratch. Collins was benched as the Bucs moved Demar Dotson from the right side to the left side. Smith said the move was a coach's decision. He also said Dotson is Tampa Bay's best tackle and the coaching staff wanted a look at him on the left side.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith hinted during the week that there could be some lineup changes, and he followed through.

Demar Dotson, who normally starts at right tackle, will start at left tackle Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Oniel Cousins will start at right tackle. Anthony Collins had been the starting left tackle most of the season, but he missed last week’s game with an elbow injury. Collins, who has not played well, appears to be a healthy scratch from the starting lineup and is listed as inactive Sunday.

The other inactives for Tampa Bay are receiver Robert Herron, receiver Solomon Patton, safety Major Wright, linebacker Mason Foster, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald.
DETROIT -- It's a misconception that an offensive line doesn't have statistics.

You can measure a line in several ways. Rushing yards and sacks are a good place to start. Those indicators weren't good for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Sunday's 34-17 loss to the Detroit Lions. An offensive line that hasn't been very good all season had its worst outing yet.

"At the end of the day, this offensive line hasn't performed well at all," right tackle Demar Dotson said. "We're playing as a poor offensive line. We're not getting the job done."

That was evident on a day when the Bucs ran the ball only 14 times for 26 yards and allowed quarterback Josh McCown to be sacked six times and hit countless other times. Give Detroit credit for having a good defense, but put most of the blame on Tampa Bay's offensive line.

McCown was so beat up after the game that he was limping around the locker room and had his back wrapped.

"They got too much pressure on our quarterback," coach Lovie Smith said. "We know that. It's reasonable to say that. We have to do something to give ourselves a chance. We couldn't protect the quarterback, we couldn't run the ball. Didn't get anything going throughout. We had a couple of long throws that got us a couple of points and allows you to look at the score and say, hey, they were able to do something, but we never really got anything going on the offensive side to give us a chance."

That's because the line was sputtering. And let's not use the fact that left tackle Anthony Collins didn't play due to an elbow injury as an excuse. A high-priced free agent, Collins hasn't come close to living up to his billing. It's not like he would have made a difference Sunday.

The line didn't do anything well and that started with a running game that was non-existent. Detroit came into the game with the league's top-rated rushing defense and the Bucs pretty much abandoned the run from the start.

"In hindsight, especially with how we ended up passing the ball and not being able to protect it, no we weren't committed enough to the run early on," Smith said. "Not that we were getting a lot from our run. I think they dominated us in all phases today, whether we were running or passing the football we didn't get anything going."

Without a running game, there was added pressure on McCown, who completed 20 of 39 passes for 250 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

"That's the toughest thing," Dotson said. "You're asking, especially the tackles, to go out there and pass protect when everyone in the stadium knows it's going to be a pass. You hate those situations as tackles, but they're part of the game."

A part of the game that the Bucs aren't very good at.
DETROIT -- Seen and heard in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room after their 34-17 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Linebacker Lavonte David left the game in the second half and was evaluated for a possible concussion. Coach Lovie Smith said after the game that he didn’t have any update on David. The Bucs already were thin at linebacker with Mason Foster sitting out. Reserve linebacker Brandon Magee also got banged up and had to leave the game. If David is going to miss some time, the Bucs might have to sign another linebacker.

Quarterback Josh McCown was visibly limping in the locker room and his back had wrapping on it. McCown took a beating from the Lions. He was sacked six times and hit on a bunch of other plays. Right tackle Demar Dotson didn't sugarcoat things. Dotson said the offensive line isn't playing well at all.

Although he had two touchdown catches, rookie receiver Mike Evans said he played his worst game. Evans said his blocking wasn't up to par and he didn’t do a good enough job getting open. He finished with four catches for 45 yards and had a pass go off his hands that was intercepted. He said he thought he was interfered with on that play.
TAMPA, Fla. -- It’s another Monday in the NFC South, which means it’s time to talk playoffs for all four teams.

Even after wins by New Orleans and Atlanta on Sunday, the 2-10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers still mathematically have a shot to win the division. They would have to win their final four games, which could be a problem.

What have the Bucs done lately to make anybody think they have a chance to win even one game?

Sunday’s 14-13 loss to Cincinnati was yet another case of the Bucs finding a way to lose a winnable game. Two weeks in a row, the Bucs have jumped out to a 10-0 lead and then squandered it.

That’s not what a playoff team does. Let’s be real honest here. Let’s turn to offensive tackle Demar Dotson.

“We’ve been talking playoffs for how long?’’ Dotson said. “We just need to win a game.’’

Dotson’s right. All the talk about the Bucs and the playoffs in recent weeks has been a bit ridiculous. Yes, the NFC South is weak, but the Bucs haven’t been able to take advantage of that.

“I don’t think we deserve the right to talk playoffs,’’ Dotson said.

No, they don’t. The playoffs aren’t realistic for the Bucs and they really never have been. This is a team that needs to use the final four games to decide which players to keep and which ones to unload for next year because next year is really all that matters.