The debut of Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari Friday night against the Arizona Cardinals has been viewed as overwhelmingly positive, including from Brian Carriveau here and myself in last night’s game recap. At first viewing, the fourth-round pick appeared to handle himself quite well in his first live action against an NFL opponent.
Instead of trusting my own first impression, I decided to go back and look at each of his snaps specifically to decide on a more accurate verdict.
Sometimes, your eyes don’t betray you.
Bakhtiari was excellent against the Cardinals, especially in the passing game. Over 20 total passing plays, the rookie allowed zero pressures and rarely looked challenged as a blindside protector. The Packers gave him help on exactly one passing play. His other 19 plays were a mix of good and bad in the run game, but this should be seen as nothing but a very encouraging start for the 21-year-old left tackle.
Here’s a complete breakdown of his 39 snaps from Friday night:
Play: Interior run to James Starks
Bakhtiari: Allows defensive end to get up field, likely by design. The defender takes himself out of the play.
Play: Aaron Rodgers takes advantage of too many players on the field
Bakhtiari: Pass rusher is late getting to Bakhtiari because of the defensive confusion, but he keeps the pocket clean by sliding his feet and widening the rush attempt. No help is given on the play.
Play: Run to the left side to Starks
Bakhtiari: Originally engages Matt Shaughnessy on the block attempt but he quickly allows the defender to slide inside and make the tackle on a two-yard gain.
Play: Quick drop and throw from Rodgers to Jermichael Finley
Bakhtiari: Rodgers’ throw happens in just over a second, which frees the offensive line of any true responsibility. Bakhtiari handles his block without help.
Play: Rodgers hits the hot read against a blitz to Jeremy Ross
Bakhtiari: The blitz comes off the left side, where Bakhtiari is left alone to block two players. Rodgers obviously saw this pre-snap and went to his hot read immediately. The defender Bakhtiari blocks provides no pressure.
Play: Run to the right side to Starks
Bakhtiari: The entire offensive line attempts to wipe the Cardinals’ front down the line of scrimmage, which would have potentially allowed a cutback lane. There isn’t much push, and Bakhtiari doesn’t provide much at the point of attack on the backside.
Play: Run to the right side to Starks
Bakhtiari: It’s a stretch play to the opposite side of Bakhtiari, which gives him very little responsibility.
Play: Rodgers complete to James Jones for 50 yards
Bakhtiari: On third down and 2, the Packers give Bakhtiari no help and let Rodgers attack downfield. The left tackle does just fine, allowing Shaughnessy to get upfield before engaging and walling off the pocket. There is no pressure to Rodgers’ blindside.
Play: Shotgun handoff to Starks to the left side
Bakhtiari: The Packers combo block with Bakhtiari and Josh Sitton on the interior defensive tackle. There’s a sliver of space provided for Starks, who picks up four yards.
Play: Inside screen to Jones from the shotgun
Bakhtiari: This is a quick hitter to Bakhtiari’s side, which limits the blocking he needs to do here.
Play: Quick drop and throw from Rodgers to Finley
Bakhtiari: The Packers slide the protection down, leaving a free runner at the quarterback from Rodgers’ left side. Just over a second after the snap, he attempts to find Finley in the end zone without getting hit.
Play: Shotgun hand off to Starks inside on fourth down
Bakhtiari: The left tackle is asked to take the defensive end out of the play’s outcome, which Bakhtiari does without much trouble.
Play: Inside handoff to Starks out of the inverted wishbone
Bakhtiari: The play isn’t behind him, but he engages his man at the point and takes him out of the equation.
Play: Inside handoff to Starks
Bakhtiari: Again, the play isn’t designed to run behind the left tackle. However, Bakhtiari appears to lose his footing while trying to engage and whiffs on the block, to little consequence.
Play: Shotgun pass to D.J. Williams on third down
Bakhtiari: The Packers again give the rookie left tackle no help on a third down. He faces a series of speed moves from the pass rusher but stuffs the attempt without issue.
Play: Stretch run to Starks to the left side
Bakhtiari: While Bakhtiari originally gets underneath the pads of his man, there isn’t enough push from the rest of the line for Starks to find much room.
Play: Shotgun, Harrell intercepted
Bakhtiari: Another pass, and another instance where Bakhtiari handles himself fine out on an island. He again does well to allow the rusher to take himself out of the play by moving his feet and widening the attempt.
Play: Interior run to Starks out of a jumbo formation
Bakhtiari: After helping clean up Sitton’s original block, Bakhtiari gets to the second level and successfully puts a hat on Daryl Washington.
Play: Interior run to Starks
Bakhtiari: The left tackle walls off his man and allows Starks to cut back to the middle of the field, where he picks up seven yards.
Play: Run to the right side to Starks.
Bakhtiari: On third down, the Packers run a heavy set to the right side and pick up the first down. Bakhtiari isn’t a factor in the play.
Play: Stretch run to the left side to Johnathan Franklin.
Bakhtiari: As was the case on an earlier run play, Bakhtiari is asked to make a combo block before getting to the second level. He probably doesn’t get enough of his first block, however. At the second level, he does well to wall off the inside linebacker, which would have provided a huge running lane for Franklin had he escaped the first level.
Play: Harrell five-step drop, incomplete to D.J. Williams
Bakhtiari: Despite a quick throw and tight pocket, Bakhtiari anchors well and keeps the left side without issue. The Packers gave no help.
Play: Shotgun, Harrell to Tyrone Walker on third down
Bakhtiari: Harrell identifies a free blitzer and instructs Franklin to slide protection to the left side. Bakhtiari blocks his rusher without issue as Harrell is kept clean on third down.
Play: Inside zone run to Franklin
Bakhtiari: The Packers attempt to wash the line down to the offense’s right, with Bahktiari and Sitton both crashing to potentially open up a cutback lane. Franklin does cut back, but there’s little space.
Play: Shotgun, Harrell scramble for seven yards
Bakhtiari: Once again, blocking out on an island is no issue. In fact, Bakhtiari manhandles his rusher for the duration of the play, allowing Harrell to both scan the field and then eventually take off to his side. He isn’t touched because Bakhtiari eliminates his defender.
Play: Shotgun, Harrell quick pass to Jarrett Boykin
Bakhtiari: On a quick drop, all Bakhtiari needs to do is slide his feet and engage his rusher. Both are accomplished with ease, and there’s no pressure from the left side.
Play: Shotgun, Harrell incomplete deep right
Bakhtiari: The Packers change protection and keep Brandon Bostick in to block on Bakhtiari’s side, which evens up the numbers and allows the left tackle to slide inside. Bostick picks up the edge blitzer.
Play: Shotgun, Harrell strip sacked
Bakhtiari: On the left side, Bakhtiari stuffs an inside move without much issue. However, Marshall Newhouse whiffs on his block and Harrell is blown up.
Play: Shotgun, Harrell complete short to Walker
Bakhtiari: He anchors well at the point and allows Franklin, who appeared to have help responsibility on the left side, to exit the backfield and enter his underneath route.
Play: Inside shotgun handoff to Franklin
Bakhtiari: The play isn’t run behind Bakhtiari, who is simply asked to keep his man out of the play. He does.
Play: Play-action, Harrell complete to Ross
Bakhtiari: The left tackle is asked to block on an island for possibly the longest duration of the night, and he once again has no problems. After the rusher attempts one stutter step, Bakhtiari engages and then stays engaged until the ball is thrown.
Play: Interior shotgun run to Franklin
Bakhtiari: There’s very little space inside, but Franklin dives ahead for the first down. Bakhtiari isn’t a factor in the play.
Play: Screen to Franklin
Bakhtiari: On screen plays, the offensive line is supposed to allow defensive linemen to get up field. The Packers do well here, and Franklin picks up nine yards to the right side.
Play: Stretch run to the left side
Bakhtiari: The entire left side, including Bakhtiari, fail to get a push on an outside run. Franklin is stopped for no gain.
Play: Shotgun, Harrell incomplete to Williams
Bakhtiari: The Packers run a three-step drop out of the shotgun and ask Bakhtiari to handle his man one-on-one. Once again, he engages well and walls off the pocket.
Play: Harrell complete to Boykin.
Bakhtiari: On another short pass play, Bakhtiari eliminates his pass rusher from Harrell’s blindside. No pressure.
Play: Inside draw to Alex Green
Bakhtiari: Odd play call, but Bakhtiari does miss on his block. His man doesn’t make the tackle, but he was in position to stop Green for little to no gain.
Play: Shotgun, Harrell scrambles and throws incomplete
Bakhtiari: Despite initially losing ground on a power move, Bakhtiari recovers to keep the pressure minimal. He even tries to disengage and stop a free runner, but Harrell is already scrambling to his right.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.