Where Bucs RT Wirfs Can Improve

Welcome again to a different addition of “Grinding the Tape!” This week I needed to focus in on one other younger participant who may make a leap in enjoying degree this 12 months. Bucs proper sort out Tristan Wirfs has already established himself as one of many elite offensive linemen in all of soccer. In simply two years, Wirfs has already garnered a number of accolades together with a Professional Bowl and a first-team All-Professional choice.

Bucs followers have come to count on high-quality play from him on a week-in, week-out foundation. Most offensive linemen make an enormous leap in 12 months three within the NFL. May this apply to Wirfs’ already glorious degree of play. In my estimation there’s nonetheless room for progress and the reply is sure, he can.

The place Wirfs Excels

It is extremely obvious in watching his tape that Wirfs is extra snug as a go blocker proper now than he’s as a run blocker. His actions are extra fluid going backwards than they’re going forwards. His footwork is smoother, and he performs with higher inner timing. And this reveals in his grading. Via his first two years within the league Wirfs has posted go blocking grades of 81.0 and 84.2 versus run blocking grades of 74.9 and 74.6 per Professional Soccer Focus. And that’s the place we’ll begin with the areas of Wirfs’ recreation which might be already established as great-to-elite. For this analysis I watched the Bucs 2021 video games towards Atlanta Week 2, New England Week 4, and Buffalo Week 14.

Anchor and Steadiness

What jumps off the display whenever you watch Wirfs in go safety is his unimaginable anchor and unbelievable stability he shows as he drops to his set. The anchor shouldn’t be shocking when you think about he stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 345 kilos. However the stability did catch me off guard. For his measurement, Wirfs is extremely gentle on his toes. And he invitations the go rusher to assault his body realizing that he can take in energy and nonetheless set his anchor.  Right here is an instance for the New England recreation.

As you’ll be able to see, Wirfs rapidly kicks out to sq. up the rusher coming off the sting. He permits his man to drive proper into his chest. However Wirfs is aware of that he’s solely going to offer a quick step again earlier than setting his legs and ending the defenders ahead progress. And at that time Wirfs has each fingers on his man and is now totally accountable for the rep. Now this rep was towards Josh Uche who is barely 245 kilos. Is Wirfs capable of do the identical factor towards a extra highly effective go rusher? You guess!

Here’s a rep towards 6-foot-3, 291-pound Jonathan Bullard towards Atlanta.

Bullard carries much more energy together with his added weight, however the consequence is similar with Wirfs. He squares up his hips, will get a strong grip, and makes use of his highly effective decrease half to soak up Bullard’s ahead momentum, earlier than dropping his anchor and freezing the 2 males the place they stand.

As for Wirfs’ stability you actually see it on show when defenders attempt to counter to the within on him. Most counter strikes are profitable when the defender is ready to get the offensive linemen to lean too far to the skin. This leaves both A) a niche again to the within the defender can exploit or B) a manner for the defender to push by way of the offensive lineman as a result of they’re too off-balance to re-direst again to the within. With Wirfs it simply doesn’t occur fairly often. Here’s a prime instance towards Dante Fowler, Jr. of the Falcons.

Fowler tries attacking Wirfs with a pace rush to the skin, hoping Wirfs will over-set. However Wirfs is ready to transfer up the arc with unimaginable stability that permits him to simply shift again to the within when Fowler makes an attempt his spin transfer. Finally, Fowler is left in Wirfs’ heat embrace as quarterback Tom Brady completes his go to tight finish O.J. Howard.

Hip Flexibility

Hip flexibility is an underrated facet line play on either side of the ball. On the sizes that these gamers play at physics dictate that rotational mobility is usually a problem. Due to this fact, if a participant lacks that rotational mobility of their hips, they’ll simply be taken out of a play. I detailed this with an earlier GTT that includes Ndamukong Suh.

With Wirfs he reveals nice flexibility in his hips that permits him to simply change course when a defender makes an attempt to vary angles on him.

Steven Means tries to cut Wirfs’ exterior arm and rapidly flip his hips to take a direct path to Brady. However Wirfs is ready to flip his personal hips as properly to vary his aircraft and preserve himself between Brady and Means.

Outdoors Zone Runs

There’s a appreciable distinction in Wirfs as a run blocker in vast zone runs versus in a niche run scheme. With zone runs Wirfs is ready to use his athleticism and momentum to wipe defenders out of performs. And I hope the Bucs play extra to this energy of Wirfs in 2023. Particularly with the addition of rookie operating again Rachaad White. Right here is an instance towards Atlanta.

You may see Wirfs is ready to get out of his stance and on the transfer with relative ease. His athleticism permits him to maintain up with the tempo of the play. Then he strikes to the second degree. Right here he finds the linebacker and locks him up. Wirfs finishes the rep by rotating the linebacker away from the operating lane and places him on his again. This enables Bucs operating again Ronald Jones II to create a pleasant achieve.

The place Wirfs Can Enhance

Whereas Wirfs has created an unfair customary for O-line play out of a younger participant, he isn’t with out alternatives in his recreation. There have been two areas I discovered in watching his tape that I feel he can enhance upon.


This was an inconsistent a part of Wirfs’ tape final 12 months. Most probably there have been some communication points between him and Bucs proper guard Alex Cappa. These communication errors may result in the occasional play like this:

Whether or not the inside linemen didn’t name out the looper or Wirfs simply didn’t see him, that’s acquired to get cleaned up this 12 months. As a result of Wirfs by no means got here off of his preliminary block on the stunting finish, linebacker A.J. Klein was capable of have a free lane straight to Brady. You may see one other one right here with Atlanta.

Once more, Wirfs locks into his unique block on the stunting edge rusher and misses the looper who will get round to Brady. Improved communication and consciousness ought to result in this getting cleaned up. And I’ve religion it will likely be higher in 2023 with the addition of latest Bucs proper guard Shaq Mason. And it wasn’t like Wirfs couldn’t decide these up in any respect. Simply that it was inconsistent. Right here is an instance of 1 he picks up completely towards Buffalo.

On this play you’ll be able to see good communication between Wirfs and Cappa and a seamless go off of the stunting finish and the looping sort out. With middle Ryan Jensen helping Brady has nothing to fret about from the precise facet of the pocket.

Physicality In The Run Recreation

For a big human, Wirfs can play with fairly a little bit of reservation within the run recreation. His actions appear only a bit slower, extra methodical and technical. It’s virtually as if he is considering what he’s doing moderately than simply reacting.  Right here is an instance.

You may see Wirfs will get out of his stance fast sufficient. Nevertheless, his combo block on the defensive sort out and subsequent second-level block on the linebacker are gradual and lack energy and authority. He has the instruments to assist degree the sort out and wipe out the linebacker.  He simply must decide to utilizing them extra.

However that is once more an space the place he has proven he can do it. It’s only a matter of doing it persistently. Watch when he actually engages and sustains his run block.

On this rep Wirfs has extra physicality in his launch off the road and with the preliminary combo block in addition to sustaining the block on the second degree. That needs to be extra constant in 2022.

If Wirfs can work on these two very correctable areas of his recreation, he can simply take one other step ahead. That may enable him to proceed to ascend into the dialog for greatest all-around offensive sort out within the NFL. And I personally wouldn’t guess towards him.