The Green Bay Packers aren’t waiting until training camp to shuffle their offensive line.
Details of the Packers new-look line can be found in this excellent Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story by Tom Silverstein. To summarize:
- Bryan Bulaga moves from right tackle to left tackle
- Josh Sitton moves from right guard to left guard
- T.J. Lang moves from left guard to right guard
- Marshall Newhouse (last season’s starting left tackle), Don Barclay (who got a few starts in 2012) and Derek Sherrod (coming off a major leg injury that forced him to sit out last season) will compete to start at right tackle.
- Evan Dietrich-Smith is the starting center
Essentially, Packers coach Mike McCarthy is moving his two most talented and experienced offensive lineman from the right side to the left, which is Aaron Rodgers’ blind side, the Packers franchise quarterback who just signed a five-year contract extension worth $110 million.
Having a shutdown left tackle isn’t as important as it used to be in the today’s NFL. If you have a quarterback like Rodgers — someone who is mobile, smart and reads the opposing defense like a coach — you can get away with having an average left tackle.
But why take that risk? Why not combine your all-world quarterback with a reliable left tackle? If I climbed inside McCarthy’s head, I’m guessing that’s what his thinking behind the move would be.
On the surface, I like the move. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking the Packers offensive line woes are magically cured by moving a few players around.
Bulaga is coming off a bad injury and has missed 11 games in his three seasons in the league. He also looked completely lost at the beginning of last season. Lang played hurt most of last season and isn’t the most physically dominant guy to begin with. Who knows what the Packers will get out of the Newhouse/Barclay/Sherrod three-headed monster on the right side?
Evan Dietrich-Smith is a new starter center and is a smallish guy. Josh Sitton, if healthy, will be fine no matter where you line him up.
The Packers want to be more physical in 2013 and the offensive line will play a big role in making that happen. Eddie Lacy and the continued development of DuJuan Harris should also help.
Does shifting players on the offensive line automatically make the Packers more physical? Not necessarily, but it doesn’t hurt, either.
Staying healthy up front, no matter where players line up, should automatically help the Packers play more physical. I also think moving away from zone blocking will lead to more physicality, but that’s a different topic.
It will be interesting to see how the Packers will operate with a few new toys in the backfield and a shuffled offensive line. Bulaga, Sitton and Lang have been around a while. With them, health is more of a concern than learning new positions.
If those three remain healthy, and Dietrich-Smith, Newhouse/Barclay/Sherrod make progress, good things could (finally!) happen for the Packers on the offensive line.——————