FanPost

Packers' Offensive Line's Ability to Gel a Question Mark


Far be it from me to make a mountain out of a molehill.

After all, my last post on my criticism of the Green Bay Packers' defense drew a lot of venom and discord among readers, and (at least some of) the comments had merit.

For the record, I do believe Green Bay has a good defense, and with the addition of defensive end Datone Jones and return of inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, it should be very good in 2013. I simply was pointing out a small aspect of the Packers' defensive unit that was not a hallmark among other great defensive squads.

And I see a similar moniker of great offensive line play missing among the 2013 Green Bay Rodgers' protectors: Continuity.

Perhaps the most important factor in the success of in NFL line is familiarity--even more so than talent.

It's clear that a dominant offensive line is not necessary to win a Super Bowl. The 2008 Steelers, 2011 Giants and 2012 Ravens are perfect examples of that. For years the New England Patriots featured an offensive line that was largely just a bunch of no-names. But that group collectively was one of the best offensive lines in football.

That line was hardly unchanged in regards to personnel for many years while it kept ferocious pass rushers off quarterback Tom Brady. What is truly important in the trenches is that there is a comfortable rubric that all of the linemen can reference at the snap of a football.

Certainly it's good that Bryan Bulaga is moving to left tackle--he's a sizable upgrade in talent over Marshall Newhouse. And the fact that Josh Sitton is also moving from the right side to join Bulaga is a plus. But it still is a change for both of them.

Projected starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith should be passable there as well. He'll still be flanked by Sitton and Lang, albeit on opposite sides.

As far as the right tackle goes, I don't hold out much hope for former first rounder Derek Sherrod stepping in at the position in Week One. His broken leg clearly has not mended as fast as many thought, and he still has only played five games in the last two years.

Rookie David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay will probably give last year's left tackle Newhouse the biggest competition for the starting right tackle gig. But Newhouse is far from a dominant blocking force.

All five of the offensive line positions for Green Bay at the start of the season will likely be held by different players than one year ago. While that may not raise a deafening fire engine alarm, it should at a minimum raise a few eyebrows.

Bulaga and Sitton should again work well together. Dietrich-Smith will have a much better handle on the position with a full preseason of working between Lang and Sitton. Right tackle is still ugly. (Hey, you can't win 'em all.)

As long as the kinks are ironed out in September and October as opposed to blown assignments still happening in the snowy months, this offensive line should help Green Bay play deep into January once again.

But we should all give this situation more attention than it's getting now. A healthy Aaron Rodgers and a (hopefully formerly) dormant running game are predicated on it.

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