We haven’t heard much this year about Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga. T.J. Lang and Derek Sherrod have received most of the training camp attention on the offensive line as they battle for the open LG spot. Now that Lang is apparently the clear frontrunner, it’s time to start focusing more on the offensive line as a whole.
The Packers stability on the line has allowed Mike McCarthy to test a no-huddle offense in each of the first two preseason games. Both no-huddle drives have resulted in touchdowns that made the Packers offense look unstoppable. It’s going to be fun if the Packers’ no-huddle keeps rolling into the regular season.
It’s going to be even more fun if that up-tempo style is complemented by a reliable running game anchored on the right side by Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga.
McCarthy has praised Bulaga throughout training camp, saying that he is a “different player this year than he was last year.” If Bulaga continues to progress and Sitton keeps playing at a high level, the Packers could have a formidable run-blocking duo for the first time in a long time.
On the below play late in the first quarter of Friday’s preseason game against Arizona, Bulaga knocks the defender he’s matched against off the line and gives Ryan Grant some room to operate. Sitton also gets to the second level and makes his block.
The efforts from Bulaga and Sitton did not result in a big play this time, but if they consistently make blocks like this, big plays will happen.
Last year I broke down Bulaga’s penalty-filled performance against the Bears in Week 17. One of the things Bulaga struggled with was engaging pass rushers before they penetrated deep into the pocket. By waiting too long to square up his block, Bulaga allowed pass rushers to get too close to Aaron Rodgers and the QB got spooked and broke the pocket before it was necessary.
Bulaga had no problem keeping his man from spooking Rodgers against the Cardinals. On this play, Bulaga engages the pass rusher early and prevents him from even getting close to the Super Bowl MVP.
The Packers offensive line improved from 2009 to 2010, but still needs to reduce the number of sacks allowed. If Bulaga continues to develop, Rodgers will find himself on the ground less often than in the past. And if Sitton and Bulaga grow into a formidable run-blocking duo, Packers running backs will find themselves in the end zone more than they are used to.
It’s still early, but so far it looks like an improved Bulaga will make the right side of the Packers offensive line a force in 2011.——————