Do the Green Bay Packers Have the Best Offensive Line in the NFC North? All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Last week, released their 2010 Offensive Line Rankings. They used three categories – Run/Screen Blocking, Pass Blocking, and Penalties – to determine which NFL teams had the best and worst set of players along the line. After putting together all the numbers, the Green Bay Packers ended up ranking 12th overall, 5th in the NFC, and 1st in their division.

Here is how each of the NFC North teams ranked, along with their summary analysis from PFF:

12.  Green Bay Packers (2009 Rank: 22nd)

Run Rank 12th, Pass Rank 15th, Penalties Rank 15th

Nothing too flashy about the Packers, they get a good push up the middle but had some issues with pass rushers coming off their right side. When you have a quarterback as mobile as Aaron Rodgers, that’s not necessarily the worst combination in the world.

Best Player: Impossible to look past Josh Sitton. He elevated his game to another level in the post season, showing he’s more than just an excellent technician.

Biggest Concern: He was a rookie, but 13 sacks is way too many to give up, Bryan Bulaga. He needs to step up.


21.  Minnesota Vikings (2009 Rank: 25th)

Run Rank 27th, Pass Rank 13th, Penalties Rank 9th

It’s like a computer game. One player is too good so you crank the difficulty setting up by making the guys on his team so much worse. That’s the Vikings run blocking line who are determined not to give Adrian Peterson any free yardage.

Best Player: Their best blocker may well be Jim Kleinsasser, but unfortunately he’s classified as a tight end.  Bryant McKinnie is at least an above average pass blocking left tackle.

Biggest Concern: That there is no one concern that jumps out at you. This is a line that could use an upgrade and injection of youth at near enough every spot. Even promising rookie Phil Loadholt turned into a struggling sophomore.


23.  Detroit Lions  (2009 Rank: 18th)

Run Rank 24th, Pass Rank 16th, Penalties Rank 19th

More was expected of this line, but it didn’t quite pan out. Rob Sims wasn’t terrible, but didn’t upgrade the left guard spot, and Gosder Cherilus is still yet to live up to his draft slot. We’ve seen everyone on this line play better in recent years.

Best Player: He wasn’t much better than average, but that pretty much sums Jeff Backus up.

Biggest Concern: After being a revelation in 2009, Stephen Peterman really couldn’t get it going this year. He struggled big time.


31.   Chicago Bears (2009 Rank: 26th)

Run Rank 21st, Pass Rank 32nd, Penalties Rank 31st

On the plus side, Jay Cutler is somehow still walking. Any lineman who played considerable snaps graded worse than -10.0 in our ratings, with one at -20.4 (Chris Williams), another at -31.6 (Frank Omiyale) and the worst at -42.7 (J’Marcus Webb). Brutal blocking in pretty much every respect that you makes you appreciate the work of the skill players all the more.

Best Player: With a -12.4 grade, Roberto Garza was the ‘best’ of a bad bunch.

Biggest Concern: You’d expect J’Marcus Webb to improve a little in year number two, but he has a long way to go. Let’s hope Gabe Carimi is NFL ready.

Some comments:

  • You’d expect there to be a higher correlation between the strength of the offensive line and success during the year, but that’s not really the case. The Pittsburgh  Steelers (ranked 32nd) and the Chicago Bears were both at the bottom of the heap, while the New York Jets ranked 1st and the Packers fell more towards the middle. These four teams all made it to their conference’s championship game last season.
  • The Packers have come a long way since their dismal performance in 2009. It’s amazing what some solid personnel and a little bit of consistency can do for a line. It’s actually a good sign when your worst player is the rookie playing his first time at right tackle. Let’s hope Bulaga gets more settled in and the upward trend continues next season.
  • Despite ranking higher than the Minnesota Vikings overall, Green Bay actually ranked worse than them in two of the three categories: Pass Blocking and Penalties. It’s both a pathetic waste and a tremendous testament to Adrian Peterson’s individual talents that the Vikings ranked so low in run blocking.
  • Along the same lines, who would have thought the Packers’ highest category ranking was in run blocking?
  • The Detroit Lions picked up only one offensive lineman in the draft this year, and that was in the 7th round. How much of an impact will Titus Young and Mikel Leshoure really have next season if they can’t win in the trenches?
  • The Chicago Bears, meanwhile, saw their weakness and addressed it with 1st Round pick Gabe Carimi. The question is, will it be enough for such a dismal group?
  • The Green Bay Packers have their line pretty well set along the right side from the center out. It’s the left side that remains a concern. How long can Chad Clifton’s body hold up, and will it be enough time for Derek Sherrod to get settled in if he needs to start? Also, will T.J. Lang be the answer at left guard, as many are predicting?
  • No matter what though, having a consistent line from the beginning is, to a certain extent, more important than the talent level of an individual player. Get them set during camp and let the chemistry build through the season.

Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski


17 thoughts on “Do the Green Bay Packers Have the Best Offensive Line in the NFC North?

    1. I think he mentioned something about camping out at the CBA negotiations, but I could be wrong.


    2. Sorry FMM. I slept late. I was up all night trying to figure what the hell the players are doing. They hired DeM to get an agreement. He did and now they’re balking. I smell agents and lawyers.

      PLAY BALL – NOW!

      The rankings? I must admit I’d agree to some degree with the overall middle of the pack ranking. How they got there is a mistery to me. Sitton is a no brainer he should have made All-Pro last year.

      Bulaga was a rookie and thrown into a position he was not trained to play. Yes, he got his jock handed to him early with speed rushers. As the season progressed he showed slow but steady improvement. He is the right tackle of the future and should not be considered a LT anymore. With Bulaga and Sitton on the Right that part of the line is set for a long time.

      LG! Good bye Darren. On running plays to theleft he got his lard butt knocked off the line and two to three yards into the backfield on every attempt. Pass blocking? A power rush destroyed him every time. I don’t know what TJ did last year to gain DL backup status. Either he went Breno/Moll on us or Campen has a burr up his butt. That issue must be resolved.

      LT as long as Clifton can hold on GB is in good shape. What he lacks in physical ability at his age is made up by his finese. That includes his ability to get the jump on the rusher and gain the initial advantage. It’s probably what gets him an inordinate number of motion penalties, but the net goes to Cliffie.

      I hope Sherrod works out as good as Bulaga. Too soon to give a menaingful analysis on him. Seems to have all the tools for an LT and a good one at that.

      Center? The old workhorse, Wells, is outstanding manager of the line sets. He is really the quiet leader of the line. His one problem is power rushers. He just doesn’t have the physical attributes to play one-on-one against an over- the-top 350 pounder. That’s what 250 FBs are for. Give him a hand.

      The rest? Pretty much unknown and are much like they have been in the past. A lot of coach talk and not much else. We’ll see when, and if, pre-season starts on time. Maybe an FA in the good, not superstar class, will be available to give the line some depth.

      Overall, I believe the Oline is in the middle of the pack. That is a lot better than they were going into last season.

      Let’s get this going so we can have followup discussions on what I think is the most critical issue the Packers face, the stability of the Oline.

      1. Ron, what Lang did las year to merit being a backup was 2 things:

        1) He got hurt in the OTAs and early part of camp
        2) He was able to play tackle (right and left) better than Colledge. (Can you imagine Darren coming in at LT if Cliffy needed a breather?)

        The second point was a factor, I think, especially after Tausch went down and Bulaga moved to the right side. DUties should line up more clearly this year, with TJ healthy at the start of camp, Sherrod taking the back-up spot for tackle, and Macdonald developing as a decent backup in the middle (which he did in the playoffs last year).

        Keep an eye on Campbell to beat out Newhouse as the fourth tackle(that’s my reasoned prediction for the OL), and the rookie Schlauderaff to develop into the center of the future (that’s my W.A. Guess, but reading the kids bio I kind of like his style).

        1. Could I ask why you feel that Newhouse is going to get beat out by Campbell? Lots of people giving up hope on Marshall Newhouse, a guy who clearly needed to develop physically (build upper body strength) but otherwise seems to have the tools and length to excel at T.

          1. Newhouse is a tackle prospect who they tried first at guard but who didn’t stay on the depth chart there because ‘he didn’t have the strength.’ So he moved back to tackle and was never on the game day roster (not just didn’t take a snap, which can happen, but wasn’t trusted to dress on game day even with all the injuries).

            For a 5th round pick that is a disappointment. His pattern seems way to much like Breno and Barbre and a half-dozen guys who were late round gambles but didn’t pan out.

            I may be pulling the trigger on that assessment a little early, but that’s why I made it. Hope I am wrong and he develops into a quality player.

            1. We’re just drawing separate conclusions from the same data, then.

              Considering that out of the gates Newhouse needed to improve his strength- something that the coaching staff freely stated- and the fact that he is by far more suited to OT than OG (lack of strength, great feet and length) I took the fact that he was given a chance to compete for an OG spot as more of a sign that he has shown enough spark in practices that they wanted to give him the opportunity to be one of the “best five OL” to play on the field.

              My take was that he’s developing, has the talent, but isn’t physically ready for the NFL as of last year. I think the season w/o suiting up was a year he could completely dedicate to the weight room w/o wear and tear from play.

              Hope he’s not a wash-out.

              1. Hope you are right and I am wrong. It would be great to go into 2012 with 4 surefire young players at OT (Bulaga, Sherrod, Newhouse and Campbell)

  1. Jeff Backus also has a torn pectoral muscle. That is a bad injury, especially for a LT. The Lions have said that it is a one month injury, but I seriously doubt that if it is a real tear.

    The Vikings had some injuries last year as well and could rebound on the offensive line, unfortunately for them they have a rookie QB.

    The packers line is just average in my opinion. Josh Sitton is the only player on the line that has the ability to overpower his opponent. The rest of the guys appear to just stay in front of their man. Hopefully Bulaga, or Sherrod can become dominant players.

  2. Reading this, I imagined T.J. Lang going to a team within the division. He would likely help to make each line better. Yet picturing him here, I’m not as confident. Guess that’s the price of SB 45.

      1. Me too! They dropped from 52 sacks in 2009 to 32 in 2010. Still too many! Don’t forget AR’s quick release and run ability negated quite a few almost certain sacks. Must improve!

  3. Jeez. Being the best offensive line in the NFC North is like Matt Hasselbeck being the best QB in the NFC West (he was slightly better than Sam Bradford, who really didn’t play well, despite what the media will tell you).

    But the sole reason the Packers were ranked #12 by PFF is Josh Sitton. He was just so dominant that he by himself propelled the Packers to that position. Put just a good guy in there, and we’re #18 or something.

    Wells is very good at recognizing the blitz and making adjustements, and is great at playing leverage in the passing game, Clifton was awful in the first half of the season but very, very good against the pass rush later on (still somewhat a liability in the running game), Bulaga was good in the running game but awful, awful early on in the pass, and Colledge had a good season all around, his best year after 08.

    Still too many problems to be considered a great OL, but if Bulaga further develops, Clifton and Wells are able to maintain his play from later in the season, and Sitton at least remains the same, this line can be very good (it was against arguably the best front 7 in the Steelers). If Lang can be better than Colledge, or if for some miracle Colledge can improve his game, there will be no more games like the first Chicago game or the last Detroit game.

    We have 2 dominant players in this line, Sitton, and Clifton in pass blocking. If the rest can play well and not be a liability (like Bulaga was), we can be an unstoppable offense, but for this line to be dominant, we need another dominant player to develop, preferably on the LG spot.

  4. Hard to rate the OL.Rodgers does things to help them seem better than they are at times,mobility,release,defense reads and the plays called wih 5WR,3WR and 2TE, creates presuure of defense decision to rush or not.
    Then the same things can make cheese of the them,holding the ball,easy read play calls and predictable situations.
    Over all though as Ron said,sacks dropped,they survived a runless game plan and gave enough time for the RECs to get it done. B grade

  5. Wow,impressive analysis from the bloggers on this site… looks like you guys are paying attention.

    To be at the middle of the pack and first in the division isn’t bad considering the o-line was considered one of the weak-links just a year ago.

    With viable prospects such as Sherrod, Lang, McDonald and Schlauderaff, TT could transform what was a weakness into a strength.

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