Do you remember early on this off-season when Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy mentioned that the team was considering moving right tackle Bryan Bulaga to the left side? Apparently the team is serious about that, and they're not stopping there.
McCarthy confirmed to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tom Silverstein that the team is making a major overhaul of the offensive line. Included in the changes are Bulaga moving to left tackle and the guards, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, switching positions over the center. Sitton will now work on the left side, with Lang on the right. Among McCarthy's comments are the following:
I sat down with Bryan (Bulaga) and Josh (Sitton) on Monday and I told them I wanted to make the move to where they're on the left side ... Those two are our most accomplished and experienced players. I told them about the responsibilities and my expectations about playing the left side. Some of the things we'll want to get into schematically as we move forward. They were excited about it
With Marshall Newhouse's continued struggles over the past two seasons and Derek Sherrod's slow recovery from his broken leg, the team apparently felt that they were not getting enough positive production from the left tackle spot. Bulaga was one of the better tackles in the NFC in 2011, and though he was pushed around a bit early on in 2012 he regained his form well after a bad performance in Seattle. Bulaga played much better starting with the New Orleans game in week 4 until suffering his season-ending hip injury against Arizona in week 9.
The guards flipping positions may be the bigger surprise here. When playing at left guard, T.J. Lang has been very solid over the past two seasons; his only major struggles have come when he is forced into action at right tackle. He struggled mightily at that position in 2012 before Don Barclay took over and allowed Lang to move back inside. Sitton of course has been a Pro Bowl-caliber right guard and has been without a doubt the most consistent Packers lineman over the past few years. To flip them seems a little odd at first, but it may be sensible to put your best guard on the left side to keep Aaron Rodgers protected as best as possible. There is also the comfort factor of moving Bulaga and Sitton together on the left side, which should hopefully ease both players' transitions as they will be playing with the same teammates next to them.
The final piece to the puzzle will likely be determined in training camp, and that is the right tackle position. There will reportedly be an open competition for the starting job at that spot, which means that four players will likely get a shot at the job: Newhouse, Don Barclay, Sherrod, and rookie David Bakhtiari. Barclay played well in the run game over the last few games of the 2012 season, but was inconsistent in pass-blocking. Newhouse will need to adjust to a new position on the right side, while it remains to be seen how Sherrod's recovery is going.
The Packers' coaching staff certainly appears to feel that these moves will solidify the offensive line and Rodgers' blind side for the immediate future and for years to come. Hopefully they are correct in their assessment.
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