April 18, 2022
During the NFL annual meetings last month at the posh Breakers complex in Palm Beach, Joe had a little one-on-one with Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.
The talking point wasn’t Marvin Lewis’ failures, it was Taylor’s love affair with his new right guard, Bucs starter Alex Cappa.
In March, Cappa turned his nose up at Tom Brady’s appeal and signed for more money in Cincinnati. Taylor told Joe he could see how great Cappa’s chemistry was with his fellow Bucs offensive linemen on film. And according to Taylor, that was the kind of chemistry driven by Cappa, not Cappa being a follower.
Joe pushed Taylor for more details. Taylor didn’t go overboard and struggled a bit thinking about what seemed like a specific piece. Either way, the message was clear, Cappa’s impact went beyond finishing blocks and resisting the guy in front of him.
Offensive gurus regularly stress the importance of continuity on the offensive line. It’s a big reason why Bucco Bruce Arians came in 2019, looked at his legacy offensive line and said, “We’re good.” The whole band came back and Donovan Smith got a big contract extension.
At the time, many Bucs fans were convinced that the O line was poor and that Smith was their best punching bag. Those fans were wrong.
So what about Chemistry 2022? Cappa left and Ali Marpet retired.
Aaron Stinnie will replace one of them but he only has four NFL starts to his resume. The Bucs have traded for guard Shaq Mason, but how long could it take Mason to feel fully comfortable? He could be rolling by week 1, but it could be a month and Joe would figure that out.
Then there’s the wild card for the Bucs drafting a stud guard at No. 27 overall in the draft next week, a true plug-and-play beast that would up the talent tier and relegate Stinnie to the backup role. in which he thrived.
Either way, it will be interesting to see if the loss of Cappa is the chemical hiccup the Bengals leader thinks it might be.