Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Demar Dotson

The Film Don't Lie: Buccaneers

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
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.
NEW ORLEANS -- The table was all set for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to turn around their season.

Then it all fell apart.

Despite holding an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Bucs lost 37-31 to the New Orleans Saints in overtime Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"We had every opportunity to win this football game," offensive tackle Demar Dotson said. "We had the Saints right where we wanted them. We didn't finish. We allowed things to slip out of our hands. We've got to learn how to finish football games. That's tough to come in here and have the opportunity we had and let it slip away."

It's tough because, with a win, the Bucs would have been nicely positioned. They would have been right in the NFC South race and they would have been coming home with a two-game winning streak and growing confidence for next week's game with Baltimore.

Instead, they're 1-4, in sole possession of last place in the NFC South and coming home angry. There was more anger in Sunday's locker room than there was after a 56-14 loss to Atlanta in Week 3.

"Somebody's got to make a play," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "You've just got to make a play. We let that one go. We let that one go."

The Bucs let this one get away in regulation and in overtime. They took a 31-20 lead when rookie receiver Robert Herron caught a touchdown pass from Mike Glennon with 13:28 left in the fourth quarter.

Plenty of teams have blown leads to Drew Brees and the Saints in their home through the years. But shouldn't you expect to hold on when you have an 11-point lead and your offense and defense have been playing well?

"Yes, we do," coach Lovie Smith said. "There's no other way around it. You're up by 11. With our defense, simple as that, you don't let them score and you win the football game."

That's not what the Bucs did. Two series -- one by the offense and one by the defense -- quickly turned the course of the game. On a New Orleans drive that featured three Bucs penalties, Pierre Thomas scored on a 27-yard run to cut the lead to 31-26.

The Bucs followed that with one of the worst offensive series in franchise history, which is saying a lot. The Bucs started with a first-and-10 at their own 20. They quickly got backed up by three penalties and a fumbled snap by Glennon. Stuck at the 1-yard line, Glennon was sacked for a safety by Junior Gallette to cut the lead to 31-28.

The Saints followed that up with a field goal to send the game to overtime. But that's where things got even worse for the Bucs. On a third down, the Tampa Bay defense appeared to force a New Orleans punt. But cornerback Johnthan Banks was called for illegal use of hands. That gave New Orleans new life and the Saints wound up winning on an 18-yard run by Khiry Robinson.

The Bucs, who finished with 15 penalties for 113 yards, have no one to blame but themselves. They had this game there for the taking and they didn't finish it off.

"It was a key game for us," Smith said. "We put a big emphasis on it. On the road and a division game, that itself says quite a bit. To be able to steal one would have put us in pretty good position. But we seem to do it the hard way. I'm still encouraged by a lot of the things I saw. Disappointed in the loss, but encouraged by some of our play. We're getting better as a football team and eventually our record will show it."

But, despite the golden opportunity, the Bucs aren't there yet.

Buccaneers trying to stay positive

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
TAMPA, Fla. -- They are coming off a 56-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons and are off to an 0-3 start. So where do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turn from here?

"We can’t see 0-4," offensive tackle Demar Dotson said. "I don’t want to see 0-4. This football team doesn’t want to see 0-4. It’s going to be a big challenge for us to go out there. Can we beat Pittsburgh? Yeah, we can, but it starts today."

Coach Lovie Smith has taken some criticism for the bad start, but Dotson said that is not where the blame belongs.

"This ain’t on Lovie," Dotson said. "When you come out there on the field, the players have to play. The players didn’t play. It’s not on Lovie. He did everything he could to prepare us. It’s all on us. We didn’t play good enough."

The mood in the locker room was surprisingly upbeat as the Bucs got ready to practice after having the weekend off.

"Tough times don’t last," free safety Dashon Goldson said. "Tough people do. I’m a firm believer in that."

Defensive end Michael Johnson, who has been dealing with an ankle injury, might have been the most optimistic of the players that spoke to the media.

"Everybody has to stay positive, keep believing and just trust in the system and trust the guys around you and the work and effort we’re putting in," said Johnson, who said his ankle is improving. "It’s going to turn in our favor. You’ll see. We’ll get this going. When we get it rolling it will be like clockwork. I’m excited to get to that point, but it’s a process."

I wouldn’t expect to hear anything else out of the locker room. Players have pride and they want to stop the losing. But there also is a cold, hard fact that needs to be pointed out.

If history is any indicator, the Bucs have a 2.5 percent chance of making the playoffs. According to ESPN Stats & Information, there have been 121 teams to start 0-3 since 1990. Of all those teams, only three have made the playoffs.

Bucs' offensive line improving

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
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.”

W2W4: Buccaneers-Panthers

September, 7, 2014
Sep 7
TAMPA, Fla. – Let’s take a look at three things to watch in Sunday’s game between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Tampa Bay offensive line. This unit has been almost completely overhauled (right tackle Demar Dotson is the only returning starter) since last season. That’s not a bad thing because last year’s offensive line wasn’t very good. But the Bucs are playing catch-up in terms of continuity and chemistry. They added left guard Logan Mankins just last week. He’s a Pro Bowl player, but he has had only a handful of practices with his new teammates. That’s a less-than-ideal situation against a Carolina front seven that might be as good as any in the game.

Josh McCown. He has been a backup for much of his career, but McCown is getting the start on opening day. If he can play like he did last year for Chicago in relief of an injured Jay Cutler, McCown will be fine. He just needs to direct an efficient offense. But, if McCown plays like a backup, the Bucs could be in trouble.

The Tampa Bay pass rush. It’s crucial for the Bucs to put some pressure on Cam Newton, who is dealing with a rib injury. In Lovie Smith’s defense, most of the pressure is expected from the front four. On paper, Tampa Bay’s front four has the potential to be good. Gerald McCoy is an All-Pro in the middle and Clinton McDonald gives the Bucs an interior pass rusher. But the real key will be whether defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Michael Johnson can generate pressure.
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
Aug 8
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.
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.

Buccaneers' biggest bargains

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20
We spend a lot of time talking about which players make the most money. Let's change that up and go bargain hunting.

I just went through the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' contract numbers for 2014 with an eye out for guys that produce but aren't getting paid a lot (relatively speaking). When it comes to the Bucs and bargains, you have to start with linebacker Lavonte David.

The guy is an All-Pro, but his base salary is only $705,612 and his cap figure is $946,836. David undoubtedly will make up for it when he signs his second contract. The Bucs can't extend him until next year and you can bet they won't waste any time.

Next on my list is running back Doug Martin. He has a $1 million base salary and a $1.8 million cap figure. That's not a lot of money for a feature back -- and Martin still is the feature back, despite all the talk about using a committee of running backs.

Coming in third on my list is right tackle Demar Dotson. He has a $2 million base salary and his cap figure is the same. That's not bad for a solid starter.

In fourth place, I'm going with running back Bobby Rainey. His base salary and cap figure both are $570,000. Rainey has a chance to get some carries in the new rotation. If he can carve out a role, he'll look like a bargain.

My final bargain player is wide receiver Chris Owusu. His base salary and cap figure both are $570,000. Owusu has a chance to end up as the third receiver. If he does, he'll be a big bargain.
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.

Bucs uncertain at right guard

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
Since his hiring, Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith has been very good about naming tentative starters.

But he hit an exception last week at the NFL owners meetings when he was asked to name his starter at right guard.

“I can’t give you a good answer for that,’’ Smith said.

The reason is simple. The Bucs don’t have a clear-cut starter at right guard. Assuming Carl Nicks is healthy – and the Bucs are optimistic about that -- he’s the starter on the left side. But the right side remains a question mark.

Jamon Meredith and Oniel Cousins would be the most likely candidates on the current roster. Both have been part-time starters in the past.

“I’ll just say everybody will get an opportunity,’’ Smith said. “We have some options at the position and we’ll just kind of let it all play out. The offensive line, even though there’s been a lot of subtraction, I like the additions that we’ve added and George Warhop is an excellent offensive line coach and we’ll get a good group together.’’

The Bucs seem set at the other offensive line positions with Anthony Collins at left tackle, Demar Dotson at right tackle and Evan Dietrich-Smith at center. But right guard still needs to be sorted out.

Maybe Meredith wins the position. Or maybe Cousins does. Or maybe the starter will come from what remains in free agency or the college draft.

Projecting a lineup: Offense

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the league's busiest teams in free agency. That means the roster will have a new look.

Factoring in the new additions, let's take a look at what the starting lineup currently looks like starting with the offense:

Quarterback: Coach Lovie Smith has made it pretty clear that veteran Josh McCown is his starter. McCown would have to have a horrible preseason and Mike Glennon would have to light it up to have a shot at starting.

Running back: Doug Martin is the main guy here, but Smith has said he wants to spread carries around. That means Mike James and Bobby Rainey will be getting playing time.

Wide receiver: Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are the incumbent starters, but there's not much behind them. That's why this is a position where the Bucs are still going to make moves.

Tight end: The Bucs signed Brandon Myers as a free agent and he's the early favorite to win the starting job. Tim Wright did some nice things as a rookie last year, but he's not much of a blocker.

Offensive tackles: The Bucs have made it clear that free-agent pickup Anthony Collins is their starting left tackle. That means Demar Dotson will stay at right tackle.

Offensive guards: Assuming Carl Nicks is healthy, he's the starter at one guard position. But the other spot is wide open. Jeremy Zuttah, Jamon Meredith and Oniel Cousins could be candidates for the starting job, but the Bucs might not be done at this position.

Center: The Bucs signed free-agent Evan Dietrich Smith from Green Bay and his arrival pushes Zuttah to guard.
On paper, Tampa Bay’s offensive line was supposed to be one of the best in the league in 2013. In reality, it didn’t come anywhere close to that.

Both the run and pass blocking left a lot to be desired. With a new coaching staff coming in, there almost certainly will be some changes up front.

Performance won’t be the only thing taken into account. The five projected starters are taking up more than $27 million in 2014 cap space. This didn’t look like anything close to a $27 million line last season.

Let’s take a look at each member of the line and individual cap situations.

Left tackle Donald Penn. He turns 31 in April and is carrying the highest cap figure on the offensive line -- $8.083 million. Quality left tackles aren’t easy to find, but the Bucs could be looking out for one in free agency or the draft. If they released Penn, he would count only $333,333 against the salary cap.

Guard Davin Joseph. He’s 30 and coming off a tough season. Joseph was coming off knee surgery and didn’t look like the player he was in the past. Joseph is scheduled to have a $6 million cap figure. There would be no cap charge if the Bucs released Joseph.

Guard Carl Nicks. He missed all but two games last season. It remains to be seen if Nicks can get back to full health. But, assuming he can return, Nicks isn’t going anywhere. He’s scheduled to count $7 million against the cap and $6 million of that is guaranteed.

Center Jeremy Zuttah. He turns 28 in June. With coach Greg Schiano and the Rutgers connection gone, Zuttah isn’t a lock to stick around. He has a $4.5 million cap figure and the Bucs could free up that full amount by releasing Zuttah.

Right tackle Demar Dotson. He’s the safest bet on the offensive line to stick around. Dotson has a $2 million cap figure with $1.25 million of that guaranteed.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Our series on Tampa Bay's five biggest offseason needs continues with a look at the offensive line at No. 2.

This unit was supposed to be one of the team’s biggest strengths in 2013. Partly because of injury and partly because of inconsistent play, the offensive line ended up being a weakness. The run blocking was horrible, and the pass blocking wasn’t a lot better.

The new regime undoubtedly will be looking for better play from the offensive line, and that could mean some major changes. The biggest question on the line is guard Carl Nicks. When healthy, he might be the best in the game. But Nicks rarely has been healthy since joining the Bucs, and there are questions about whether or not he ever will return to full strength.

Veterans Donald Penn and Davin Joseph are getting older, and they’re carrying big salary-cap figures. The team also needs to decide if Jeremy Zuttah is a center or a guard and let him stay at one position. Right tackle Demar Dotson, who comes with a low salary, appears to be the only certainty for 2014.

The team could use an early draft pick on an offensive lineman. There also is enough salary-cap room to make a move or two in free agency.

Looking at playing time: Offense

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
TAMPA, Fla. -- It’s time to take a look back at playing time for the 2013 season.

We’ll start with the offense and will have a separate post on the defense at another time. Tampa Bay’s offense ran 1,036 plays. Here is the breakdown by position with my quick take below each one.

QUARTERBACKS: Mike Glennon 842, Dan Orlovsky 4.

Quick take: Josh Freeman started the first three games before Glennon took over. Glennon got plenty of experience and has been selected to most of the All-Rookie teams.

RUNNING BACKS: Erik Lorig 383, Bobby Rainey 327, Doug Martin 304, Brian Leonard 291, Mike James 155, Spencer Larsen 35, Michael Hill 18, Jeff Demps 10.

Quick take: The Bucs were forced to use a lot of players in the backfield due to injuries. Martin was the opening-day starter, but he went down early with a season-ending injury. James was his replacement, but he also suffered a season-ending injury. Rainey finished up the year as the feature back. The good news here is the Bucs now have several backs with experience.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Vincent Jackson 969, Tiquan Underwood 563, Mike Williams 363, Chris Owusu 263, Skye Dawson 99, Russell Shepard 32.

Quick take: Jackson was the iron man in this group. Williams suffered a season-ending injury and was replaced by Underwood in the starting lineup.

TIGHT ENDS : Timothy Wright 608, Tom Crabtree 214, Nate Byham 113, Luke Stocker 105, Kyle Adams 64.

Quick take: This is another position where the Bucs had to do some juggling due to injuries. Wright, an undrafted rookie, wound up getting most of the playing time as Crabtree, Byham and Stocker all landed on injured reserve.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Demar Dotson 1,035, Donald Penn 1,033, Jeremy Zuttah 1,015, Davin Joseph 1,010, Jamon Meredith 475, Ted Larsen 361, Gabe Carimi 210, Carl Nicks 145.

Quick take: Dotson, Penn, Zuttah and Joseph were at least durable. Nicks played in only two games due to injuries. Many of Carimi’s snaps came as an extra tight end.