Earlier this week I wrote that the Packers needed to make the obviously hard but necessary decision to start rookie left tackle Bryan Bulaga on Monday night against the Bears. And to then keep him there for good.
Well, in a column that showcases why he is one of the best on the beat while I am just a hack blogger, Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press Gazette basically agrees with me.
(Bulaga is) a better run blocker than Clifton ever was, and now that Clifton has trouble bending and exploding in the run game, the difference is large. Bulaga doesn’t have Clifton’s uncommonly quick feet – for most of his career, Clifton was a first-rate if underpublicized pass blocker – but for a rookie he’s an unusually sound technician. At this point, there’s probably not much difference in their ability to protect.
So the starting job at left tackle could be riding on Bulaga’s performance this week against Chicago, assuming he plays. The test will be noteworthy, because the Bears this offseason signed defensive end Julius Peppers, a premier pass-rushing talent whose Week 1 sack knocked Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford out for at least a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury.
Peppers is listed as a right end but splits time at both sides. McCarthy can’t afford to have quarterback Aaron Rodgers take any shots like Stafford, so he’ll be ready to help his tackle no matter who starts on the left side, and maybe more so if it’s the rookie.
But if Bulaga plays and holds up well, it’s hard to see why McCarthy would take him out when Clifton’s ready to go. It would be the choice between a rookie who’s playing well enough now and will get better as the season goes on, and a 34-year-old veteran who’s body is breaking down.
Read the whole thing. It's pitch perfect.
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