Offensive Line Shakeup May Be Coming for Packers
Here’s some potentially exciting news from Green Bay.
It appears a big change on the offensive line may be coming for the Green Bay Packers. The Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Rob Demovsky reports the coaching staff is leaving open the possibility of going with the veteran tackle combination of Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton in this weekend’s matchup against the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Clifton, the starting left tackle on opening day, has played in only parts of three games because of a recurring ankle sprain. He was active against the Vikings but didn’t play. Rookie T.J. Lang made his second career start and gave up a pair of sacks to hillbilly Jared Allen and was partially to blame for another.
Allen Barbre has started every game this season at right tackle with mixed results. He didn’t give up a sack on Sunday, but unofficially yielded six pressures. Tauscher, who was re-signed on Oct. 12 after nine months of rehabilitation following reconstructive knee surgery, also was active against the Vikings but, like Clifton, did not play.
That may change this week.
Last week, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he planned to start practice with the same offensive line he played the week before. But on Monday, he was noncommittal.
“I’m going to see how Chad Clifton progresses through the week. I also want to see how Mark Tauscher progresses through the week,” McCarthy said.
Oh, but here’s the best part. McCarthy said he considered making a change on the offensive line during halftime of the Packers’ 38-26 loss at home to the Vikings on Sunday. The Packers were down 17-3 at that point and havd done virtually nothing on offense.
So what did the coaching staff do?
“I’m not suggesting we did a great job by any stretch in the first half, but we didn’t have a ton of evidence where it was, ‘Oh my God we’re getting killed every play, let’s get somebody in there,’” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “Then we got the ball moving a little bit (in the second half). Again, that doesn’t mean the tackles played great, but we were rolling a little bit, and we said ‘Let’s keep riding that horse.’”
So that’s what the Packers did. Kept “riding that horse” all the way to a 38-26 loss at home to the Queens.
McCarthy also refused to say whether an offensive line that gave up six sacks on Sunday would have been better off with Clifton and Tauscher.
“I would think that would fall under the category of convenient criticism,” McCarthy said.
You’re goddamned right it’s “convenient criticism,” Mike. This offensive line is giving up the most sacks in the NFL right now – including 14 to the Vikings alone. I think someone’s going to ask whether alternatives were considered and, if so, what they were. It’s a valid question, and one you shouldn’t shrug off like a jackass.
However, the big question with Clifton and Tauscher right now is their health. Clifton said he could have played Sunday in an emergency situation, but wasn’t sure he’d have been very effective. Tauscher hasn’t played since he blew out his knee last December.
Philbin said he doesn’t know where Tauscher’s knee is at, but added “I don’t know if it’s safe to assume he’s ready to play 75 plays.”
The bottom line is this. I know Clifton hasn’t been playing the greatest and Tauscher might be a little rusty, but this news shows that the coaching staff is at least CONSIDERING what could be a significant change. They’re thinking, people! They get it that the Packers offensive line SUCKS. A LOT. And that it needs to change if the team is going to get anywhere this season.
That’s encouraging and gives a ray of hope heading into this tough stretch of Green Bay’s schedule.
Sarah is a writer and editor living in the Twin Cities, a lifelong Packers fan and an ardent supporter of all things anti-Vikings.