According to Pro Football Focus, Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga has allowed 18 quarterback hurries, three sacks and three hits through the first five games.
In 12 games last season, Bulaga allowed 21 hurries, one sack and two hits.
I’m no math whiz, but after crunching those numbers, Bulaga has already allowed the same number of hurries, sacks and hits through five games in 2012 that he allowed in 12 games in 2011.
So what the heck is going on? Bulaga was one of the buzz players entering training camp. He was pegged as a player with the chance at going from good to great.
Could he be hurt? Bulaga popped up on the injury report with knee trouble, and perhaps the injury is more serious than the Packers are letting on. That’s pure speculation, but given the way he’s played so far, it’s a definite possibility.
At this point, I almost hope he’s playing hurt. I don’t want to believe that the Packers once promising first-round draft pick at tackle has taken a turn for the worst and is going from good to not-so-good. If he’s playing hurt, there’s hope that he’ll get healthy and get back to playing at a high level again.
If he’s just regressing, well, that’s scary. That gives the Packers two first-round draft picks at tackle who are shaky at best (Derek Sherrod being the other). First-round draft picks are precious commodities. It’s tough to be a successful team if you whiff on your first pick in consecutive drafts.
The other Pro Football Focus numbers aren’t much better for Bulaga.
His overall grade for the season is -8, -7.4 on pass blocks and -1.1 on run blocks. Bulaga’s overall grade was 22.3 in 2011, 12.8 on pass blocking and 9.1 on run blocks. Penalties are also popping up. Bulaga already has been flagged three times this season after only drawing six flags in 2011.
Roll the tape
If numbers aren’t your thing, check out this video evidence:
God gave us two hands. Offensive lineman need to use both of them.
Bruce Irvin gets into Bulaga’s body and makes his move because Bulaga is way late on getting his hands up. If Bulaga, who outweighs Irvin by at least 75 pounds, gets his hands on Irvin, he’ll win the battle much more often than he won’t.
Getting your hands up and using them is part of good technique. If a player is playing hurt, technique often suffers. Is Bulaga’s knee causing his technique to falter? Who knows…
I’m not trying to be an alarmist here. Well, maybe a little. Bulaga is causing an alarm to go off, but it’s more like an alarm clock instead of a major fire alarm.
When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, you’re a little annoyed. When you smell smoke and your fire alarm goes off, you panic.
Don’t panic about Bulaga yet. But it’s ok if you’re a little annoyed.
The Packers need Bulaga to return to his 2011 form. This needs to happen so the Packers can turn this season around, and be confident that their 2010 first-round draft pick wasn’t a waste.