Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy is nothing if not consistent.
Every year, he speaks of the importance of continuity along the offensive line and then shuffles guys all over the place once training camp starts in order to assure there will be no continuity.
True to form, the Packers moved first-round draft choice Bryan Bulaga from left tackle to left guard for the first time today. Previously, McCarthy said Bulaga would only play left tackle, the position he played at Iowa.
Left guard was supposed to be an open competition between Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz coming into camp, but — hold for the surprise — Spitz has been playing multiple positions along the line and doesn’t seem to be getting a legitimate shot to unseat Colledge. The competition was presumably down to Colledge and Allen Barbre, who was a failure at right tackle last season.
Now, Bulaga is in the mix. After starting with the No. 2 unit, Bulaga rotated with Colledge on the No. 1 unit at left guard during today’s practice.
After practice, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Bulaga had earned the right to compete for the starting LG position.
This is interesting for a number of reasons.
First, it doesn’t say much about the Packers confidence in Colledge, who had a terrible season last year as the starter, but seems to be handling himself fine thus far during camp. If the coaching staff does lack confidence in Colledge, you have to wonder why they didn’t give Spitz — who started at right guard two seasons ago and played well — a legitimate shot at unseating Colledge.
Second, if Bulaga has earned the right to compete for a starting job, why isn’t he competing for it at his natural left tackle position? Chad Clifton is 34 years old and missed four games last season. Even when he can stay on the field, he isn’t exactly the solid-as-a-rock left tackle he used to be.
On the second point, I can understand if the Packers just want to get their five best linemen on the field. Then Bulaga should get a shot at winning a starting job somewhere if it’s been determined he is one of the top five.
At the same time, Bulaga was drafted to play left tackle. Spending time and reps at left guard only hinders his growth and understanding at tackle.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out and what the ramifications are.
Hell, it’s still early in training camp, but you would think by now, McCarthy would have learned to take his own advice.