I'm not sure where 11.5 sacks rank among the worst in the NFL, but Green Bay Packers LT Marshall Newhouse is certainly among the leaders. Does that mean he shouldn't be considered the starter in 2012?
LT Chad Clifton has had a long career, but he's been wearing down over the past few seasons and he's one of the oldest starters in the NFL. The Packers will look back at an injury plagued season, and remember that he couldn't even play the entire game during their playoff loss. He's scheduled to make $5.25 million next season, and I can't see it happening. It looks like the end of the line.
The good news for OT Derek Sherrod is that broken bones can heal. Unfortunately, his injury against the Chiefs was still severe. It's a long offseason, but we'll have to see how he's doing in August. Even if he can't play left tackle, he could be a candidate for the right side, and Bryan Bulaga could shift over.
That said, I'm thinking that Newhouse is good enough to be the starter next season. His problem is consistency. He wasn't allowing one sack per game. He was either giving up three sacks or zero. So if he can avoid the horrible games, he's got the potential to be a lot better next season. Plus, Newhouse proved to Aaron Rodgers that he can play. Rodgers said "Starting the season out, I didn't look at Marshall the way I look at him now. I look at him now as a guy who really has a strong, legitimate chance to be the left tackle of the future."
Also, I just watched the Giants go to the Super Bowl with two tackles that got destroyed by the 49ers, and last season I saw the Steelers make it there with two unwanted veteran tackles. It doesn't seem like you need to have a great set of tackles to succeed in the NFL. Of course it doesn't hurt, but Rodgers has such a quick release and makes such quick decisions that he doesn't need his tackles to be perfect. With all the problems on defense that need to be addressed, I'm thinking Newhouse is good enough and the Packers can use the cap savings from Clifton to re-sign Scott Wells and Jermichael Finley.