Category Archives: T. J. Lang

11

June

Offensive Linemen Musical Chairs, 2014 Edition: who stays, who goes?

Outside of special teams, nothing is more confusing, more obfuscated or more esoteric than offensive line play; We all know that Joe Thomas is supposed to be one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL right now, but do you or I really know that?  I’ve never watched a game specifically focused on Thomas (which would of course require me to watch a Browns game…..so no thanks), and I suspect that even Browns fans probably haven’t really paid all that much attention to him.  The only real reason I know of Joe Thomas at all is 1) he went to Wisconsin and 2) I’ve been told he’s one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL today.  At least with other positions, there are splash plays or statistics we can fall back on whether it be sacks, yards after the catch, Dwight Freeney’s spin move, the back shoulder catch etc.  But for offensive linemen, none of that really exists; the “pancake” has never really gotten off the ground as a established metric of offensive linemen success nor does a great block ever make the Sportscenter highlight reel.  Add on top of that there are actually 5 positions on the offensive line, and we get a confusing mess of contradictory statements; offensive linemen must all work together, but each have different jobs.  Tackles are tackles and guards are guards, except some are left tackles but not right tackles and some are right guards but not left guards.  Center is a unique position, unless it isn’t and you put a guard in there.  There is a distinct difference between “interior” linemen and “bookend” offensive linemen, unless of course you kick your tackle to play guard.

In all of that, the Packers are faced with a conundrum; there are 5 positions and traditionally 2 backup positions, making 7 offensive linemen total.  What I’ve done is made a mental excercise of some combinations of offensive linemen that are likely to happen when the Packers roster is reduced to 53.  A couple rules: I’d highly doubt the Packers carry any more since offensive linemen aren’t all that useful on special teams meaning they’d almost always be on the inactive list.  Of course the Packers have had more than 7 offensive linemen in the middle of the season due to injuries and what not, but its obviously not their first choice.  Also there needs to be a backup for both tackle and guard; supposedly there is a significance between the two but Ted Thompson probably disagrees since the vast majority of offensive linemen that have been on the Packer’s roster were college left tackles.

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11

February

TJ Lang 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

 

Packers offensive lineman TJ Lang

Packers OG TJ Lang

1) Introduction: Entering his fifth year with the Packers and third straight as a starter, TJ Lang has proven himself to be the dependable, gritty, tough son-of-a-gun every offensive line needs. He was rewarded with a four year contract extension last season and has not given the Packers any reason to regret that move.

2) Profile:

TJ Lang

  • Age: 26
  • Born: 9/20/1987 in Royal Oak, MI
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 318
  • College: Eastern Michigan
  • Rookie Year: 2009
  • NFL Experience: 5 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  TJ Lang came into 2013 needing to quickly acclimate to the right guard position, previously manned by Josh Sitton. With either inexperienced Don Barclay or shaky Marshall Newhouse as the starting right tackle, Lang would be expected to be the glue to keep the right side of the line together. Lang would also need to be ready, if called upon, to act as an emergency offensive tackle or even center should game day injuries require it.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: While he earned a season-best 4.8 grade from Pro Football Focus for his game 2 performance against the Redskins, perhaps his most impressive day was the following week against Cincinnati. Lang completely shut down the very tough Geno Atkins, leaving him with a string of goose eggs. No tackles, no sacks, no QB hurries… zippo. On the downside, after performing well against the Lions front four in their first meeting, Lang struggled mightily (as did the entire Packers OL) in the rematch on Thanksgiving day.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: The move to the right side seemed to agree with Lang, who showed some improvement in his game in all areas, according to ProFootballFocus. The most notable change was cutting down his sacks allowed, from nine in 2012 to three last season.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Lang was mostly solid against the 49ers, allowing only 2 QB hurries and for the most part, playing well against the very tough 49ers front.

Season Report Card:

(B) Level of expectations met during the season

(B+) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(B+) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  B+

26

December

Cory’s Corner: Time is running out for Derek Sherrod

Offensive lineman Derek Sherrod has missed over a year-and-a-half since being selected as the 32nd player in the 2011 draft.

Offensive lineman Derek Sherrod has missed over a year-and-a-half since being selected as the 32nd player in the 2011 NFL Draft.

While the rest of the nation seems affixed to the Aaron Rodgers watch, there is another injury concern that needs more attention.

Enter Derek Sherrod.

The 6-foot-6, 321-pound offensive lineman came to the Packers with a mountain of promise as the 32nd selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. He was supposed to be the next offensive line anchor that would protect franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers as long as he wore that G on the side of his helmet.

But then he broke his right leg in December 2011 causing him to miss the entire 2012 season. He began this season on the physically unable to play list and wasn’t added to the 53-man roster until Nov. 5.

He has gotten scant playing time the last four weeks but hasn’t been able to really do anything of note. The Packers have a club option for 2015 before he becomes a free agent the following season.

So that puts the Packers in a precarious situation. Over a year-and-a-half has been lost already and if he cannot crack the starting lineup against guys like T.J. Lang or Don Barclay, then the Packers should be concerned.

Bryan Bulaga will come back next season and should quickly become the best lineman that has allowed jailbreak pressure for all four quarterbacks the Packers have started this year.

I doubt it’s time to give up on Sherrod just yet, but if he continues to struggle next August and into next season, how many more chances can the Packers give and afford? Ted Thompson got lucky with David Bakhtiari as a fourth round pick this past spring. Right after Bulaga went down with an ACL tear in the Family Night scrimmage, Bakhtiari has been inserted into the starting lineup and has protected the Packers’ quarterback’s blind side each week.

Even if Sherrod cannot get back to the college player that started 35 games at tackle for Mississippi State, including all 25 his junior and seasons, the Packers must try and forecast the future. Obviously, the Packers cannot continue to pay him first round money when his time in the trainer’s room outnumbers his time on the field. But if they can come to a compromise and rework his deal that suits both parties, Sherrod could find new life in Green Bay.

17

December

Packers Stock Report: Win and the Packers are in Edition

Packers QB Matt Flynn all fired up after learning he made it in this week’s rising category.

The Packers win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday was their best victory since winning Super Bowl XLV.

Sure, the Packers won 15 games and lit up scoreboards all over the NFL in 2011, but none of the 15 triumphs was as fulfilling as Sunday’s comeback over America’s (Most Annoying) Team.

Yes, the Packers persevered through a bunch of injuries and won a playoff game in 2012, but even the postseason win wasn’t as awesome as what happened in the Jerry Dome on Sunday.

Now that Justin “Robo Leg” Tucker connected on a 61-yard field goal that put the Packers back in control of their own destiny, the Frozen Tundra is buzzing about a possible repeat of 2010′s late-season magic. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before that happens, though.

Can the defense get it together for a full game? As the Packers offense goes, so goes the defense. If the offense sputters for more than a half, can the defense pick up the slack?

Will Dr. Pat McKenzie clear Aaron Rodgers? C’mon, Doc. Rub some dirt on the QB’s collarbone and let him play.

What’s wrong with Clay Matthews? The team’s second highest paid player can’t win a one-on-one matchup to save his life right now. He showed some burst when he rushed from the middle linebacker slot on Sunday. Perhaps that will get him going.

Who made this week’s Packers Stock report? That’s the most important question of them all. Let’s find out:

Rising

Matt Flynn
I was convinced that it was Tolzien Time at halftime on Sunday. Flynn’s release is so slow and everything he does seems to be a half-second behind where it needs to be. I thought McCarthy might give Tolzien and his stronger arm with a quicker trigger another shot after the first half debacle, but he stuck with Flynn, changed the gameplan around, and pulled out a victory.

Eddie Lacy
Lacy might not be able to run away from defenders, but he makes defenders want to run away from him with how hard and physical he runs.

22

November

Packers Stock Report: Time for a win Edition

T.J. Lang has been one of the few rising players for the Green Bay Packers recently.

My two jobs, a newborn baby and extended visits to family hours away from where we live has made it very difficult to write about the Packers this season. The way the Packers are playing also makes it difficult to write about the Packers.

I don’t have time to do the in-depth and comprehensive posts that I’d like to do, so I do what I can in the free hour I can manage to find here or there. As I type, my kid has been up screaming for the last 2 hours. Why is he screaming? Who knows.

All I know is that my wife is feeding him to see if that gets him to calm down and I got a few minutes to bang out a stock report, so let’s get to it:

Rising

Jordy Nelson
When in doubt, just launch a pass somewhere in the vicinity of Jordy Nelson. Nelson is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career. I wish some of his toughness could be transferred to the defense.

T.J. Lang
Teams have been stacking the box against the Packers with Aaron Rodgers injured, but the interior of the offensive line has held up well. Lang showed his versatility two weeks ago by taking over at center and had another solid game against New York even though the Packers couldn’t gain much traction running the ball.

Steady

Jarret Boykin
Can Boykin replace James Jones in 2014? That question doesn’t sound nearly as ridiculous as it did at the beginning of the season.

Josh Sitton
See the write-up about Lang above. The same applies to Sitton.

Mike Daniels
Daniels is the only defensive lineman who has provided some consistency in getting after the quarterback. If Datone Jones continues showing signs of life, it’s a step forward in transforming the d-line from a bunch of space eaters to a more dynamic and diverse unit.

Falling

Marshall Newhouse
Why. Is. Marshall. Newhouse. Still. On. This. Team?

B.J. Raji
Who made the worse decision: Raji turning down $8 million per year from the Packers or the kid who founded SnapChat turning down $3 billion in cash from Facebook? Raji is not worth $8 million per season. He’s way too inconsistent and he’s stuck in one of his disappearing spells again.

13

November

Packers Stock Report: Another Defensive Meltdown Edition

Packers safety MD Jennings isn’t doing much to help Dom Capers’ defense snap out of its two-week funk.

I’m fine with Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson not firing Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers after yet another defensive meltdown against the Eagles.

Would canning Capers and replacing him with a defensive position coach really make the defense tackle better or the safeties cover more ground and pick off a pass here or there? I don’t know. Maybe.

What I don’t get is the people who argue that firing Capers would be a “knee-jerk” reaction. The Packers defense has been average at best for the better part of three seasons now. In the last two weeks, when Capers and the defense had an opportunity to truly step up and cover for a banged-up offense, they failed. Miserably.

We’ve seen a steady pattern of issues from the Packers defense over the last three seasons:

  • Poor tackling
  • Confusion in the secondary
  • Minimal pass rush from the defensive line
  • Relying heavily on turnovers
  • Playoff meltdowns

That’s plenty of reason for dismissal.

I suppose you could say firing any coach midseason is a knee-jerk reaction in an of itself. But I don’t necessarily agree with that.

When it comes to Capers, the failures are consistent and prevalent enough that his dismissal would not be considered “knee jerk.” Again, I’m not saying it would be the right decision, but it would not be knee jerk.

Anyway, hopefully Capers figures it out and we can add him to the rising category once again.

On to the stock report:

Rising

T.J. Lang
All season, Lang has been clearing a patch for Eddie Lacy on the inside. When injuries struck the offensive line Sunday and claimed C Evan Dietrich-Smith, Lang stepped up and played center for the first time in his career. He never screwed up a snap and did an adequate job blocking. Bravo, Mr. Lang.

Jarrett Boykin
Lost amidst all the injury chaos is the emergence of Boykin. After looking totally lost against Baltimore trying to fill in for the injured Randall Cobb and James Jones, Boykin has come to life and turned into a confident and reliable receiver for the Packers rotating stable of quarterbacks.

30

October

Packers Stock Report: The Bears (and the Vikings) Still Suck Edition

Micah Hyde’s punt return for a TD elevates the Packers rookie into this week’s rising category.

The Packers closed down the Metrodome in style Sunday night, bowling over the Vikings and filling the cavernous white bubble with the sweet sounds of Go Pack Go!

Hearing Go Pack Go echoing throughout the Metrodome as the Packers beat the Vikings is one of the best sounds in all of sports. I won’t miss the Dome, but I will miss the times when the Packers play well enough to allow Cheeseheads to take the place over.

Now that the Packers have dispensed of the Vikings and Christian Ponder, it’s on to the Bears and Jay Cutler  Josh McCown. Instead of extending this intro any further, prepare for Bears week by watching this educational and informative video:

On to the stock report:

Rising

Micah Hyde
On his Tuesday afternoon radio show, Aaron Rodgers wondered how Hyde fell to the fifth round in the draft. The rookie is a solid all-around player — a decent tackler, decent cover guy, decent slot blitzer, and now he has a punt return TD under his belt. In a secondary filled with young talent, Hyde is fitting right in.

Mike Daniels
The type of relentless pass rush and the ability to finish a sack once he gets in the backfield is just what the Packers needed this season. Many thought it would come from rookie Datone Jones, but it’s actually coming from Daniels. Daniels added two more sacks on Sunday. Christian Ponder is not a good quarterback, but he is elusive and not easy to bring down. Daniels got him twice.

T.J. Lang
What’s left to say about the interior of the Packers offensive line? Lang has been battling some bruising defensive tackles all season and keeps on winning those battles much more often than he loses. Lang might be a bit undersized, but he’s athletic and excels on combo blocks when he’s asked to get to the second level.

Steady

Jordy Nelson
It’s like Nelson and Rodgers had a devious plan on Sunday night against the Vikings:

Rodgers: “Hey Jordy, instead of getting wide open tonight, just glue yourself to the nearest defender so I can show off by whizzing a pass right by the guy’s ear hole and into your hands.”