Here Are the Weak Links on Packers Offensive Line

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Josh Sitton

Josh Sitton

The offensive line was one of the weak links of the 2012 Green Bay Packers. The stats back it up.

The Packers gave up the second-most sacks in the NFL — 51. Only the 5-11 Arizona Cardinals gave up more (58). The Packers were also 26th in yards per rush, at 3.4.

So who were the culprits?

Well, it’s hard to track offensive line production on running plays, but it’s pretty easy to track it in two other areas — sacks allowed and penalties.

And you know we’re always happy to point fingers. Hell, the Packers coaching staff doesn’t do it. Someone has to.

The Packers had seven guys start games on the offensive line in 2012. Only two guys started every game — Marshall Newhouse and Josh Sitton.

For those who didn’t start all 16, we took their stats and averaged them out over a 16-game schedule. Here’s who won and who lost.

Most sacks allowed (16 games)

  1. Don Barclay (14)
  2. T.J. Lang (12)
  3. Marshall Newhouse (10)

Fewest sacks allowed (16 games)

  1. Josh Sitton (2.5)
  2. Jeff Saturday (4)
  3. Evan Dietrich-Smith (5)

Most penalties (16 games)

  1. Evan Dietrich-Smith (13)
  2. Don Barclay (12)
  3. Bryan Bulaga (9)

Fewest penalties (16 games)

  1. Jeff Saturday (1)
  2. Marshall Newhouse (3)
  3. T.J. Lang (4)

Here’s each guy’s individual line.

Marshall Newhouse
16 starts, 10 sacks allowed, 3 penalties

Don Barclay
4 starts, 3.5 sacks allowed, 3 penalties
16 starts, 14 sacks, 12 penalties (projected)

Bryan Bulaga
9 starts, 5 sacks, 5 penalties
16 starts, 9 sacks, 9 penalties (projected)

Evan Dietrich-Smith
6 starts, 2 sacks, 5 penalties
16 starts, 5 sacks, 13 penalties (projected)

T.J. Lang
15 starts, 11 sacks, 4 penalties
16 starts, 12 sacks, 4 penalties (projected)

Jeff Saturday
14 starts, 3.5 sacks, 1 penalty
16 starts, 4 sacks, 1 penalty (projected)

Josh Sitton
16 starts, 2.5 sacks, 6 penalties

What does all of this tell us?

Well, No. 1, it’s fair to say Josh Sitton is the Packers best offensive lineman. It’s also fair to say Don Barclay is easily overwhelmed in pass protection.

That’s not a surprise, considering he was an undrafted rookie thrust into the starting lineup. What surprised all of us was that he was a road grader in the running game, which is something we’re obviously not measuring here. Does that make up for his inadequacies in pass protection? Unfortunately, no.

Also fair — T.J. Lang, Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse and Evan Dietrich-Smith have some areas to improve in. Or maybe a better assessment is this. The Packers need to bring in some new talent on the offensive line.

It’s not hard to see that the left side of the Packers offensive line didn’t play well in 2012. Of the team’s 51 sacks surrendered, 25 were given up by Newhouse and Lang — the team’s starting left tackle and guard.

Those positions should be priorities for the Packers to address this offseason. Will they? We’re going to say it’s doubtful.

The team is still counting on former first-round pick Derek Sherrod to compete for a spot. There’s also been talk of moving Bulaga back to left tackle (although he wasn’t much better than Newhouse in 2012). Then there’s the fact the Packers gave Lang a contract extension last offseason.

That doesn’t bode well for an influx of new talent. Besides, you know the Packers love the status quo more than anything else.

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

18 Comments on "Here Are the Weak Links on Packers Offensive Line"

  1. mxz600

    That’s what happens when you have no depth in the 0 line, You then have to start 2 weak players at the tackle positions, so to compensate for their lack of talent, they then have to give those 2 help by keeping in backs/tight ends to give them support to do their job. I agree, Barclay is the lines best run blocker, but this is the NFL, he’s a 1 trick pony. Part of the problem is, McCarthy doesnt care about the run game….Can it be anymore obvious?….Here’s a quote from McCarthy about the run game: ” I’m not concerned with ypc as i am with the # of attempts.” Well Mike….Thats painfully obvious. As far as practice, i dont think the 0 line gets much work in run blocking. The problem, is if the line isnt pass blocking well….they cant fall back on the run game. I don’t think there is a team in the league that is concerned with the Packers run game. As far as Derek Sherrod. He couldnt beat out Newhouse, when he was healthy. Not a good sign for a #1 pick. Which then begs the question….How many years does it take for a broken leg to heal?….As far as Aaron Rodgers sacks go…….He’s been sacked 202 times since he became a starter…..Yes, 202. Thats besides being hit over 300 times. i dont want to hear the B S that he sometimes holds onto the ball too long…..Without a running game, its up to Rodgers to win the games, without Rodgers making plays, its arguable this team could go 0-16 without him at QB. Show me ANY other QB, playing behind that Packer 0 line…Bree’s, Brady, Mannings, anyone……No way, would they have the success that Rodgers does…..Now, Here’s what i’m afraid of……Rodgers gets hit too much carrying this team…..Sooner or later, he’s going to be hurt, then what? Its a miracle, he’s stayed as healthy as he has….TT better start hitting on some 1st and 2nd round picks. And get Rodgers some help on the 0 line. There is too much talent on this team to piss it away. Rodgers has started 5 seasons, in that 5 seasons, he’s had the best #’s than any other QB in NFL history. And this is how TT rewards him?….With that P O S line?

    • Packer Bob

      No depth?! Barclay wasn’t even suppose to start, EDS was the backup center, and Sherrod and Bulaga got hurt.

      Jeezes, do you even watch the Packers?

      • mxz600

        Packer Bob —–> No depth?! Barclay wasn’t even suppose to start, EDS was the backup center, and Sherrod and Bulaga got hurt.
        Jeezes, do you even watch the Packers?……………………………………………………………………………………………….. MISTER Bob……When i say the Packers had no depth…I meant, they had no proven talented depth….You call Don Barclay depth? (never played in a NFL game)….You call Derrek Sherrod depth? How can you call Sherrod depth?…..He’s still “healing” from a broken leg, from the 2011 season……..You call Greg Van Roten Depth? (never played in a NFL game)…..lol…gimmie a break……………….You call that depth MISTER BOB?

    • Iltarion

      Wow, I had to take an intermission from reading that post. So much for a message board being short and sweet.

  2. Vijay

    Interesting article…it’s funny that TJ purports himself to be “the best guard on the Packers” yet his inconsistencies show up on the field. Now, to be fair, he could be playing at less than 100% in some of those games. However, your stats do reveal that change is probably coming–at least in the form of competitive depth. I still think the personnel is pretty good, when healthy and when they have a chance to work together a little more. Let’s not forget that half of those sacks could be credited to MM and Aaron for calling deep ball plays all year long on 3rd and short, instead of just hitting a quick slant and picking up a first down.

  3. Packer Bob

    I’ll give Barclay a pass. He was suppose to be a backup. TJ Lang should never have been at right tackle but Bulaga got hurt. He’s a much better guard. The offensive line needs to be static. Same players at the same positions. All season long. When players get hurt (or in Saturday’s case just can’t perform) and players get moved around and/or new players come in, then you’re gonna see more sacks and less yards per carry.

    Let’s see what a healthy offensive line can do and in the meantime pray Rodgers doesn’t get smashed into pieces.

  4. GBslacker

    I’m not sure where I saw it — perhaps PG or JS ? — but Clements said that each running back has “tailor-made” runs designed, so each lineman has different duties/responsibilities/etc.

    How fucked up is that? as if our running game needs any extra help to fail!

    So, with the ole running-back-by-committee approach, plus injuries — that’s a boat-load of bullshit to throw on the line over the course of a season.

    Since this idea didn’t seem to bear fruit
    — I.M.H.O. —
    perhaps five guys can block the same, and the one ball carrier can get his shit together, and follow their lead.

  5. Shawn Iltarion

    Props to the O-line for never blaming their sack numbers on Rodgers, who is probably to blame for half those sacks.

    TJ Lang needs to play better. He did not have a good season. Despite this, he was just extended so he isn’t going anywhere.

    Bryan Bulaga also had some rough patches before getting injured. He is undoubtably the Packers best tackle, but he needs to take another step to make it to elite level.

    Marshall Newhouse was better than last year and needs to get even better next year. He is still good for one eff up a game, and that has to change.

    Sitton is one of the best guards in the league and EDS should be fine at center, though everyone can improve in the running game.

    That is it. That will be the starting 5, barring injury, in Week 1 next season. Anything else is just … intrigue.

  6. Rockmolder

    If anything, I’d like to see a breakdown of the sacks, pressures and hits given up by Lang during the stretch that he played RT.

    He was abysmal at that position, but I can’t remember him being quite as bad at LG. I felt like guard was the position that we had some stability and solid play. A duo that we could move forward with.

    • David

      It would be fair (and helpful) to throw out Lang’s stint/debacle at RT and look at just his LG numbers (averaged to 16).

  7. Patrick

    Some of it has to be attributed to the inconsistent personnel groups as well. The line changed a lot due to injuries and changes in the depth chart. Its difficult for a line to function without consistency. Plus, Rodgers has always held the ball too long at times, looking for the homerun. The greatest problem though is play calling.

  8. Savage57

    Green Bay Packers fans rejoice in the fact that the fates decided to send you two, “once-in-a-lifetime” QB’s and despite having consistently shitty offensive lines year after year, these two guys have been making fans smile since 1992.

    Ironic that the Packers only reps at the Pro Bowl were from the weakest unit. Yeah, I know Rodgers and Matthews were supposed to be there but as things worked out, I’m just saying.

  9. mxz600

    Packer Bob —–> No depth?! Barclay wasn’t even suppose to start, EDS was the backup center, and Sherrod and Bulaga got hurt.
    Jeezes, do you even watch the Packers?……………………………………………………………………………………………….. MISTER Bob……When i say the Packers had no depth…I meant, they had no proven talented depth….You call Don Barclay depth? (never played in a NFL game)….You call Derrek Sherrod depth? How can you call Sherrod depth?…..He’s still “healing” from a broken leg, from the 2011 season……..You call Greg Van Roten Depth? (never played in a NFL game)…..lol…gimmie a break……………….You call that depth MISTER BOB?

  10. tedtomato

    How about getting a real fullback..a Henderson type..that can actually block. Somehow they seem to think Kuhn is..but he is more of a receiver/running back. I wish they would draft a couple of 6’6″ #350 pounders for both sides of the ball as both lines are pretty weak

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