Packers – Rams Video Second Look: Offensive Line

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Packers offensive line.There were a few things I noticed while watching the first string offensive line as they were blocking for the rather impressive Eddie Lacy. I mentioned a few in my “First Impressions” post, where I give my initial observations without rewinding. It’s a little game I like to play, a way of testing if my perception of what is happening during the game is accurate or not.

I normally get the answers when I go back and watch the game a second time, this time with the benefit of rewind at will.

Time permitting, I’m going to try to pick one or two of those first impressions and look at them together with you, in video form, every week.

Today’s topic is the offensive line’s run blocking. Although Eddie Lacy had some impressive gains, I was noticing Packers offensive linemen getting pushed into the backfield on several occasions, especially Evan Dietrich Smith and TJ Lang.

In this first video, Lacy breaks off an 8 yard run, but no thanks to Evan Dietrich-Smith (EDS), who can not handle the speed of the gap-shooting DL. Lacy. Matthew Mulligan is also beat badly, and Lacy is confronted with two ST. Louis DL in his path, two yards deep in the backfield. For another running back, this is a loss of a few yards. But thanks to his much-renowned spin move, Lacy gets away from that trouble, breaks a tackle past the line of scrimmage and then plows through a few more defenders for some extra yards. It’s good to have a real running back, isn’t it?

(Note: I slowed the play down in the second part of this video. I also recommend using the pause button to stop the action at various points to get a better idea of what is happening.)

 

On this next play, EDS does pretty much the same thing. his time the DL is face up on him, but he goes past EDS like he’s a statue. Over on the far left, DJ Wlliams give a beautiful “ole” block on the defensive end, then pretends to go after a linebacker with nothing more than a light tap. Again, there are two DL in Lacy’s face in the backfield, yet he split the two, gave a small spin to get one guy off his leg, but then he runs into a wall of other defenders that haven’t been blocked very well. One was the linebacker Williams showed no interest in blocking, the others were there because Josh Sitton takes a poor angle going after a linebacker, missing him  completely, and Bakhtiari fans on his attempt at a downfield block. End result is a wall of tacklers not even Lacy can get away from. TJ Lang does a “good enough” job on his man, who actually takes a few steps back as if he has coverage responsibilities. Don Barclay is the only OL who gets an “A” on the play, keeping the defensive end from joining the gang tackling fun.

 

Not wanting to be left out, Josh Sitton takes a few back steps in this video, almost getting stepped on by Lacy and forcing Lacy to make a split-second cut to the left. (Pause the video and look at Lacy’s feet as he avoids Sitton – it’s impressive).  It might have worked, if DJ Williams could actually block someone. Instead, his man zeroes in on Lacy and helps make the tackle.

 

In this next video we see that every interior offensive lineman struggled that evening. Here TJ Lang gets knocked backwards 2 yards before getting some double-team help from EDS. Meanwhile, Josh Sitton is easily shed, turned around and then knocked to the ground by his man. Matthew Mulligan (not a good night for him) barely gets a touch on the defensive end, who penetrates to meet lead blocker John Kuhn head on, forcing Lacy to turn inside, but there’s nowhere to go beacause of the EDS, Lang and Sitton failure to execute. Bakhtiari misses his attempt at a downfield block, but it doesn’t affect the play. RT Marshall Newhouse gets an “A” for getting to the next level and executing a solid block on a linebacker.

 

Lest you all think we are doomed, I have to be fair, it wasn’t all bad. There were some good moments, too. So here’s a video that shows the line executing perfectly (even DJ Williams makes a key block).

I didn’t realize this until after I had pulled these clips and started writing about them, but I find it interesting that this last clip is the only one that is not a Zone Blocking Scheme.  Both guards are pulling (not that they look good doing it), but the play works. Can we read anything into that? My initial reaction is no, just coincidence.

What I’m more concerned with is continually seeing Packers offensive linemen in their own backfield, and not because they are trying to be there. There is little to no push from the interior linemen, which is not normally a huge deal in a ZBS, but getting knocked back into the path of your running back is bad regardless of what type of blocking scheme you’re trying to run.

What I see on these videos has made me appreciate Eddie Lacy even more.  It’s good to have a real running back, isn’t it?

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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  • http://cheesestradamus.com BobBrews

    Excellent analysis. Evan Dietrich Smith and TJ Lang are serviceable at best. The Pack must again look that way when drafting. Since we are so good at picking undrafted players maybe we should bundel-up our picks and move up in the draft. Our number 1 picks seem to be on a perennial PUP list anyway. So why not blow all the picks on a keeper?

    • Elle

      Well, they’re serviceable at best in the run game. EDS and TJ Lang are also relatively new to their positions. They’re definitely better pass blockers than run blockers (EDS is a tiny bit undersized to start with).

      • Go Pack

        Yes, I am concerned about the O Line as far as run blocking. With Bulaga out, I think TT should add a player or two at final cut downs to bolster this O line

      • JC

        TJ Lang is not really new to his position.

  • Mojo

    On the first video, with EDS and the right side allowing all that penetration it actually created a lane up the middle. Way to go.

    The fourth video showcases what had to be one of the worst plays of the game. The whole line gets pushed backwards. A truly offensive offensive line that time.

    In the fifth video we had six blocking five, so don’t know what that shows.

    And despite this #12 managed to move the ball down the field. No wonder he gets payed the big bucks.

    For some odd reason after watching these videos I suddenly have the urge to buy a pre-owned vehicle in St. Louis.

  • jim

    time to bring out the seven man sled

  • Brian

    Doesn’t this really call into question the o-line coaching…again?

  • JC

    This line would have been so good with Bulaga and Bahktari at the tackle spots and Barclay pushing at guard and center. I am sure that Barclay would have pushed someone for starting job.

    • Stroh

      Hell no. Its on the Strength coaches who should have prevented Sherrods broken leg and Bulaga’s ACL and Tretter for that matter too!

      Imagine if we had those 3 what our OL might look like?!

  • packett

    I’d like to see the next pre-season game have zero pass plays. Just line up and run every single play. Let the other defense know there are no pass plays. Make the O-line work. Yea..make em earn yards for the RB and practice those blocks. heh heh.

  • jtmax

    Our Oline is not athletic enough to do ZBS. Forget it. Lacy will get flattened in real games if we block like this. Barclay is the only guy who can run block and he helped turn our run game around last year when he stepped in at the end of last season.

  • GBPDAN

    I noticed the same thing when I replayed the game. I dont see us running the ball very effectively against SF in the opener with this soft Oline. Lacey will have his work cut out for him against that front 7, because our line will get manhandled in the run game. I hope im wrong

  • steve cheez

    pad level…

  • SchenySchen

    DJ Williams is going to need to step it up if he plans on making the squad. Can’t run block, drops too many balls. I was high on the pick a few years ago but the guy can’t get out of his own way, let alone a defenders. GoPack!

  • lebowski

    Suh and Fairley are going to toss these guys around like rag dolls

  • Pete Kliman

    Relax boys,we are not a run first team and our passing game will set up our run attack.