Developing Continuity On The Green Bay Packers Offensive Line

It's a generally accepted theory in all of sports that continuity and chemistry on a team is very important. It's possible in some cases for pieces to be moved in and out constantly and for a team to still have success, but this is a fairly rare occurrence. The Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl championship this past season was mostly about the great talent they assembled and a lot about some excellent preparation and play-calling both pre-game and in game, but continuity certainly played a part.

Since becoming the Packers General Manager, Ted Thompson has stuck to a strategy in the draft of picking the best player available that fits his and the coaching staff's system, while very occasionally making a slight sacrifice to fill a need. These draft picks have developed into contributing players at a very high rate. Additionally, most of the free agents that the Packers have signed have been with the team for a few years now. Team continuity was key.

One area of the team that's in the process of a shake-up is the offensive line. However, it appears to be the good kind of shake-up. Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton are aging quickly, while Daryn Colledge has never quite developed into the dynamic guard we all hoped he would be. Josh Sitton has become a rock at right guard, and Bryan Bulaga appears to be improving with every game right next to him. Scott Wells is a staple at center, but what is to become of the left side? The answer is unclear, but the potential answers are promising.

Waiting in the wings, appearing to be no more than one season away from starting at left tackle and left guard are first round draft pick Derek Sherrod and versatile everything man T.J. Lang. The starting offensive line for the 2012-13 Green Bay Packers is likely to be Sherrod, Lang, Wells, Sitton, and Bulaga. At the start of the season, those players will be, respectably, 23, 24, 31, 25, and 23 years old. 

Wells is obviously the senior member of that group, but as a guy who patiently waited for his turn and not someone who has started for the duration of his career, Wells probably has more left in the tank than the average 30 year old center at this point in his career. Additionally, guys like Kevin Mawae and Olin Kreutz have proven that centers can play for a long time if they're serious about staying in shape. Hell, Frank Winters was nicknamed "Frankie Bag of Donuts" and he played until he was 37. 

Taking that into consideration, there's no reason that this group of offensive lineman can't stay together as a complete unit for five years if none of them sustains a serious injury. Even though the NFL has less extreme player movement than most other major professional team sports leagues, that would be a great accomplishment and would give the Packers a significant advantage over most of their competition.

From what I have seen of them, I have faith in all five of the above-listed offensive lineman. They're all extremely talented, all have skill sets that fit our system, and all are young enough that they can play together for a number of years. I've heard some sentiment from Packers fans that they're a bit concerned about our offensive line in both the short term and the long term, but I'm not in that camp at all. I'm excited about this group, and I think they're going to be the unsung heroes that allow Aaron Rodgers and our running game to flourish for a long time.

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