1) Introduction: T.J. Lang is perhaps one of the most unknown and under-appreciated offensive linemen in the NFL when using his performance as the metric. With this being his second season as the starting right guard (he previously started at left guard from 2011-2012), it was his best season as a professional. He has a vicious mean streak and likes to maul opponents at the point of attack. Grading Lang is a bit of challenge because the eye ball test suggests fellow guard Josh Sitton is the better player, but Lang graded out higher than Sitton (Pro Football Focus grades of 23.1 for Lang and 22.7 for Sitton). However, no one can refute that Lang and Sitton make up one of the best guard tandems in the league.
- Age: 27
- Born: 9/20/1987 in Royal Oak, MI
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 318
- College: Eastern Michigan
- Rookie Year: 2009
- NFL Experience: 6 years
3) Expectations coming into the season: Lang was expected to continue his growth at right guard after being switched from left guard before the 2013 season. With the center position in flux yet again following the 2013 season, there was preseason talk of potentially converting and developing Lang into the starting center. He said he preferred to not make that change and felt more comfortable at guard. As such, he was expected to be the leader on the right side of the offensive line to help groom the new centers of J.C. Tretter and Corey Linsley and get right tackle Bryan Bulaga up to speed after he missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: His worst game by far was the season opener against Seattle when he earned a Pro Football Focus grade of -3.9. At midseason, Lang left the game against New Orleans with a severely sprained ankle. Luckily, he was able to avoid surgery and continued to start the rest of the season. He was hobbled, and missed practice time to aid in recovery, but still had a very effective season. His other negatives were he was called for two holding penalties and yielded two quarterback sacks during the regular season. He was also called for a personal foul for a scuffle during the Divisional Playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys while he was defending Davante Adams, which would be considered as a positive in a certain light. Another negative, which occurred off the field, was he engaged in a Twitter battle with disgruntled fans after the disappointing loss to New Orleans. The entire offensive line struggled in the red zone at various points in the season, and most notably on the goal line against the Detroit Lions in the regular season finale and the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game. Overall, he a very good season and had the highest Pro Football Focus grade off all the Packers offensive linemen (23.1).
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: The Packers have one of the best guard tandems in the NFL in both Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang. The 2014 season showcased the best Packers offensive line we’ve seen in several years, and Lang was certainly a big part of that. He brought anger to the position and wasn’t afraid of mixing it up with opponents after the whistle. The 2014 season also marked a transition in Lang’s leadership with the team. Aaron Rodgers publicly praised Lang’s new-found vocal leadership both on the field and in the locker room. He greatly helped with the center transition and re-acclimation of Bryan Bulaga, was excellent in run blocking, and did everything he could to keep Aaron Rodgers upright this season. His blocking helped running back Eddie Lacy finish with his second consecutive 1100+ yard season.
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Lang will mostly be remembered for his personal foul against the Cowboys and the red zone and goal line woes against the Seahawks despite yielding no sacks during the playoffs. Seattle appears to be Lang’s kryptonite and Pro Football Focus graded his NFC Championship performance as -2.8. It was not a particularly good game for Lang.
7) Intangibles: He has a temper and plays angry. He also isn’t afraid to mix things up on Twitter.
Season Report Card (Player Grades):
(A) Level of expectations met during the season.
(A-) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C+) Contributions to team during the playoffs.
Overall Grade: A-——————