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.