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Packers vs. Rams Key Match Up #2: Bryan Bulaga vs. Chris Long

Today's key match up features not one, but two match ups that will turn the tide of the game. Can the Packers starting offensive tackles stand up to a surprisingly good Rams' pass rush?

Because it's never wrong to see Jay Cutler crying in pain.
Because it's never wrong to see Jay Cutler crying in pain.

This match goes back to the bread and butter of one on one match ups. One slight twist, there are two of them. I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of highlighting the match up of one of our tackles against the opponent’s defensive end. The problem though is that neither tackle has really asserted dominance to a convincing degree in order to not at least look at the match up for the coming week. So here we are again.

The titular (and yes I have been itching to use that word here for some time) match up of the week is Chris Long vs. Bryan Bulaga. You may know Chris Long primarily because he’s Howie Long’s son. Yes, that’s the same Howie Long with the drill sergeant hair cut, awful action movie career, great football career, and long time host of Fox’s NFL Sunday.

Beyond this familial connection, Long has quietly built a strong career in St. Louis. He’s been a league leader in hurries and has flourished since moving to the left side of the defense. He may be one of the better pass rushers in the league that the common fan just does not think about.

For the most part he’ll be facing off against Bryan Bulaga. I don’ t know what to think about Bulaga to be honest with you. One week he does pretty good and keeps Rodgers pretty clean. The next week gets flat out owned. I don’t mean that he gives up a sack and some hurries either….he flat out gets owned. I’m talking multiple sacks and a guy in Rodgers’ face all day. Sometimes he can even break this inconsistency up into halves (see the Seattle game). Of all the offensive lineman it seems to help Bulaga the most by allowing him to dish out punishment with run blocking first. The more the Packers can run and allow Bulaga some time to attack, the better he is at pass protection. Having a healthy running game (and healthy Alex Green) will be essential to helping win this battle. Mix in some help from Tom Crabtree chipping and things could look very good.

On the other side the Rams have finally found a duo to go with Long in Robert Quinn. Quinn has had a slow start to his professional career but he’s come on strong this year. I don’t have to tell you all that facing a pass rushing duo can cause fits for the Packers. Especially if they go into their Rex Grossman inspired offensive game plans. The man responsible for stopping Quinn is going to be Marshall Newhouse. Newhouse has been a pleasant surprise the last couple weeks. Really he’s had only one or two gaffs in his play during this time. The problem is that one or two gaffs is all it takes for an offensive lineman to get a bad reputation….or spoil a drive (see Newhouse’s holding penalty taking away Rodgers’ touchdown run last Sunday). Newhouse will probably need some help as well so Crabtree might be rotating from side to side.

The good news for Packers fans is that the offensive line has been getting better slowly through the year. It also improves when the Packers give a healthy dose of run into the formula….something they have been improving upon as well. The bad news is that the Packers face yet another pass rushing duo that could cause havoc if they aren't careful. Newhouse and Bulaga have to withstand another tough test…let’s hope they are up for the challenge because if Aaron Rodgers has time to throw this should be a win for the Green & Gold.