Who is struggling worse…the Packers’ offensive line or the Saints’ defensive line? On one hand it’s pretty clear that both units are struggling. The Packers offensive line have given up 14 sacks in the last two games and have not opened things up for a 100 yard rusher so far this season. Meanwhile the Saints’ defense is dead last in the league right now by the traditional (if flawed) metric of yards allowed. This also includes being dead last in rushing yards allowed per game….and it’s by quite a bit. Usually we talk about something has got to give arguments it’s when a top defense is going against a top offense, but here we see something different. Something has got to give because someone has got to shine amidst this parade of horribles, right?
This match up features two former first round picks at the start of their careers. Cameron Jordan has not looked too bad for the Saints, at least on paper. Currently he has 20 solo tackles for the year (compared to 31 for all last year) and one sack. Not too shabby. I have to admit that I haven’t watched too much tape on the Saints so far this year so my take might be a bit off this week. The sheer number of tackles suggest that he is okay against the run (although take that for a grain of salt because this is the worst rush defense in the league), but his sack numbers suggest he may be disappearing a bit in the pass rush (again take with a grain of salt since that’s what we said about Bruce Irvin last week and you know what happened there). Jordan is 6-4 and 287 pounds, a good weight for a 4-3 DE, but still a bit light and could be targeted on outside runs.
This week he will be facing off against right tackle Bryan Bulaga who is coming off a tough outing against the Seattle Seahawks. Bulaga is at an interesting spot right now. On one hand he is coming off a phenomenal year in 2011 where he was one of the best tackles in football. Period. Then again, he struggled as a rookie with some good days and bad days and he has been struggling this year too. It got so bad that he has been referred to around the site as Allen Barbre v. 2.0. Now this take is a bit….let’s say off…..since I highly doubt Barbre could ever put together a season anywhere close to Bulaga’s 2011 campaign. At the same time it should be noted that he was outright terrible in the first half against Irvin and couldn’t get a block on him until the Packers slowed down the game plan with the running game.
In order for the Packers to get a win out of this particular match up this week the game plan has got to reflect this similar mindset as the second half of Monday night’s game. The Packers have to get a good tempo going on offense and keep the aggressive Saints’ defense on their heels. This means attack them, and attack them where they are weak….the running game. If the Packers can keep a balanced attack and keep the Saints guessing as to what they will do next then we should be able to see the offense finally get going. This will require all the offensive linemen to win up front, but Bulaga is in a unique place. He really should be the face of the team this week because he, more than most, will have to put the last game behind him and focus on the match up coming up. If he can do that then he should get back to his form…specifically kicking butt and taking names. If he can’t and instead dwells on the failures of Monday night, like many of the Packers may be tempted to do given the way it ended, then it could be a long afternoon and a disappointing day for the Green and Gold.