1) Introduction: Bryan Bulaga returned to action in 2014 after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL. With 2014 being the last year in his original rookie contract, he was expected to return to form and play with vigor and motivation. He did just that and had a very solid season while stabilizing the right end of the formation that had been a weak spot the previous year. He was Pro Football Focus’ 16th overall tackle in 2014.
- Age: 25
- Born: 3/5/1989 in Barrington, IL
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 314
- College: Iowa
- Rookie Year: 2010
- NFL Experience: 5 years
3) Expectations coming into the season: 2014 was an extremely important season for Bulaga. Not only was it the final year in his original rookie contract, he was coming off an ACL tear that caused him to miss the entire 2013 season. A good season would mean a lucrative contract from the Packers or another team if was able to hit the open market. A poor season, or another injury-riddled season, would mean less money and playing opportunities. Bulaga bounced back nicely, and entered 2014 bigger and stronger than he’s ever been in his career. He held down the right side of the formation only had poor game all season according to Pro Football Focus.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Bulaga was very consistent all season, posting positive grades during most games. His worst game by far was the week 8 loss against New Orleans when he posted a Pro Football Focus grade of -3.9. In that game he yielded a sack and 6 quarterback hurries. However, the rest of the season went better, with his best game unexpectedly coming in the disappointing road loss to the Buffalo Bills when he graded out as +4.4.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Bulaga was noticeably bigger and stronger in 2014, and that showed up on the field. He ended the year with an overall grade of +11.9, which was third best for Packers offensive linemen and 16th best for offensive tackles. His biggest improvements were in pass blocking, and that was especially important once Aaron Rodgers tore his calf muscle and had severe mobility limitations. However, his run blocking was noticeably less effective (+0.3 run and +11.9 pass).
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Despite having a pretty solid regular season, Bulaga was pedestrian at best in the playoffs. He posted a Pro Football Focus grade of +1.0 against the Cowboys in the Divisional Round and a -0.2 grade against the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game. Those numbers represent average play and are nothing to get too excited about. The negative grade against Seattle is the most troubling because of the very noticeable red zone and goal line issues that left plenty of points on the field.
7) Intangibles: He managed to stay healthy during 2014, which wasn’t always the case in the past. He was motivated and was playing for a new contract, so we’ll have to see what 2015 holds for Bulaga. Being two full years beyond his ACL reconstruction will certainly help moving forward.
Season Report Card (Player Grades):
(B+) Level of expectations met during the season.
(B+) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C) Contributions to team during the playoffs.
Overall Grade: B+——————