Head coach Mike McCarthy was asked by a member of the media during his Thursday press conference to assess the progress of offensive lineman T.J. Lang, who is in his first season as a full-time starter.
McCarthy threw plenty of praise the left guard’s way but was also wasn’t afraid to find fault in Lang’s play either.
“T.J. has played very well,” said McCarthy, “and he’s had a little bit too much up and down if I was going to be critical.”
Lang has started every game this season for the Packers since taking over for the departed Daryn Colledge, who left in free agency to join the Arizona Cardinals after winning a Super Bowl with the Packers last season.
The Packers offense has been humming right along this season ranking first in the NFL in scoring (34.4 points per game), third in passing (312.0 per game) and fourth in yards (416.4 per game).
And while Lang has made major contributions to the lofty heights the offense has reached so far this season, he has not been immune to inconsistent play and mental errors.
“T.J.’s mistakes are all things that he can learn from,” said McCarthy. “He has too many pre-snap penalties, but he’s a good young football player that’s going to really improve.”
Lang has a team-leading six penalties this season, all of them false starts.
That’s three times as many false start penalties as anyone else on the team and twice as many total penalties as any other offensive player.
The silver lining for Lang, as McCarthy pointed out, is that they’re pre-snap penalties, the five-yard variety.
He hasn’t been flagged for holding all season long, a more costly 10-yard penalty, whereas several of his teammates on the offensive line have.
But there’s no doubt Lang has his good qualities as well. He’s given up the occasional sack to quarterback Aaron Rodgers from time to time, but they’ve been few and far enough between not to get alarmed.
Even better, he has a stoutness that just wasn’t displayed by his predecessor, which has helped the Packers grind out the tough yards in the running department.
“I really like T.J.’s style of play,” said McCarthy. “There’s a real physicalness, a toughness to the left guard position. And he’s only going to get better.”
And so there’s an optimism that he’s only going to improve.
“He just needs to stay healthy and continue to play, because he’s definitely the type of player, his demeanor, his approach, his style of play is exactly what we’re looking for,” said McCarthy. “I’m very happy with the progress he’s making.”