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In The Mix On The Offensive Line

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In The Mix On The Offensive Line

Interesting discussion on Green and Gold Today with Jason Wilde and Bill Johnson yesterday regarding the make up of the offensive line and how the team seems to be approaching it this offseason.

Wilde seems to have some kind of bee in his bonnet about the fact that McCarthy and company are apparently not going to give Bryan Bulaga a shot at competing at the left guard spot with Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and possibly Marshal Newhouse.

The Packers stance is that they will be running Bulaga strictly as a left tackle behind Chad Clifton. I agree with this for the most part. Clifton hasn't made it through a full season in forever. Best to have Bulaga ready for the inevitable.

As for left guard, I'm on record saying I think Colledge will win that job and play well. I know there is a section of the fan base that feels the Packers can't win a championship with Colledge as starter - to which I respond with the 2008 World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, who started Willie Colon for God's sake, along with an assemblage of turnstiles. Yes, the Packers can absolutley win a Super Bowl with Daryn Colledge at left guard.

Center and right guard are set with Scott Wells and Josh Sitton (...who makes the Pro Bowl this year. Book it.)

And while I think Bulaga doesn't make a whole lot of sense as a guard, I DO think the Packers would be well served, if they felt compelled to get their first round pick on the field, which seems to be Wilde's main point of contention - that they will be paying him too much money to sit the bench - I would think giving him a shot to win the right tackle position would make a world of sense.

Yes, the team resigned Mark Tauscher. Yes T.J. Lang, who by all accounts will be ready to go for training camp after sitting out the offseason after having surgery on his wrist, will be in the mix as well. But if you really want to give Bulaga a shot, it makes a world more sense to let him compete there rather than left guard, a position I think he is completely ill-suited for. Right tackle, on the other hand, would suit his physical traits and prepare him for the switch to left tackle down the road. We've seen this with various teams throughout the years, most recently with the Ravens playing Michael Oher at right tackle last year before making the switch over to the left side. The Panthers also did the same thing with Jordan Gross.

So yes, by all means, let Bulaga compete for a starting job. But let it be at a position that makes sense.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (33) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Steph01's picture

Bulaga is "completely ill-suited" to play left guard? That's nonsense. There's no reason why he couldn't be excellent at that position if given enough reps in practice. I'm not saying that he should play LG, I'm just saying that he could.

packeraaron's picture

I just don't see it.

hyperRevue's picture

I agree with making Buluga the primary backup at LT, but didn't Clifton start 16 games in 2007 (and missed just 1 in 2008)? I feel like his injury history is being slightly overblown.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/C/ClifCh20.htm

packeraaron's picture

It's not just missing starts though. He's not finished many games in that period and practices full time in fits and starts.

PackersRS's picture

Not to mention that he has only 4 full seasons in his entire career. http://www.nfl.com/players/chadclifton/profile?id=CLI075046 . AND he's 34. And he's had major injuries.

dgtalmn's picture

Nice, but worries me is the Pack trying to mix up the line again and have half the season with out a set group of starters. if they start to play musical chairs at the OL we will be in trouble.

alex's picture

I think bulaga would suffice at guard but he wouldnt be better or at least that(much) better then collegde. He will play Tackle for the rest of his career unless hes just terrible. At some point this season he will need to come in for chad. And I dont want a gut thats been going through mini camp and training camp at guard to replace my starting Tackle.

Wiscokid's picture

I agree with you 100%

PositiveEnerG's picture

Clifton doesn't practice full-time, so Beluga will get lots of practice reps in addition to playing if/when Clifton can't go. I have no problem keeping him at 2:38:37 PM and getting him lots of work in camp, preseason, practice reps during season and play if Clifton can't go or not close to 100% (when he may have gone in the past).

nerdmann's picture

Remember Colledge was a T too before we got ahold of him. We put him at G and there's no going back.
And I agree, Colledge will play well this year, but I think he could still be challenged by Newhouse.
As for Bulaga, I still haven't seen him play. I think he should be given an opportunity to beat Clifton out, fair and square. If he's really that much better. Cliffy would hold up much better in relief duty.

Steph01's picture

Why couldn't Bulaga be a quality guard? Sitton made the transition and Bulaga is a more physically talented player.

packeraaron's picture

He just seems too tall to me. He's 2 inches taller than Sitton. But maybe you're right.

Tarynfor12's picture

Oh my,two inches taller as in comparison of having arms 1/2 inch shorter,^%&$^ nitpicing assinine rhetoric.The point is you drafted a guy with the talent for a specific function,fine ,as a rookie he plays behind the vet but I want his as on the OL as a LG OR LT period.
How can anyone justify the stupidity of height and arm length of players when every year we here about the changing BODY STRUCTure of players and yet try to compare and justify a 1/2 inch in any direction of a persons form.PLEEEEZZEE stop the madness!

packeraaron's picture

How is my stating that he "just seems too tall to me" equate into "nitpicking assinine rhetoric"? Dude. Talk about asinine. How about calming down and reading what I wrote, which was clearly a completely personal and subjective observation? Good lord.

bomdad's picture

I agree with AN, put him at LT and leave him there. If he isnt starting there next season, he's a bust. He's the only guy on the whole line that was drafted in the first round fercrisakes, he should be the starting LT by the end of this year.

Clifton's contract is the only thing keeping him at starter for the first few weeks. You need the LT to take snaps during in-season practices. Why? To make a zone blocking run scheme work.

PackersRS's picture

To be fair, in drills, without pads, Clifton has looked MILES ahead of Bulaga. Actually, Bulaga has kinda struggled druing OTAs and Minicamp...

Clifton, right now, is the better player. So it's not just the contract...

bomdad's picture

If FA came after the draft, Clifton would still be in the Skins parking lot holding the Packers hostage.

Bulaga at guard is setting sights way too low.

PackersRS's picture

According to ProFootballFocus, Willie Colon had an 8.5 grade in 2008, and 18.4 last year. So he had a good year in 08, and a fantastic year last year, according to them. Not as bad as his rep.

About Bulaga, Clifton doesn't have a full season since 2007. He's 34. So keep Bulaga at LT, because he WILL start this year AT LT. No point in shuffling him.

packeraaron's picture

Numbers are nice - but they can't hide the tape of his being dominated by superior competition.

PackersRS's picture

Again. Those are not numbers. Those are evaluations made by that site. How they evaluate is another story.

But, for the record, I agree with them. If AR made our OL look bad, Roethlisberger makes their look like swiss cheese. He holds the ball way too long. Of course, he's like a FB, so it's hard to bring him down. That's the way he plays. But it affects their OL.

CSS's picture

5 most talented lineman (capable of making the fewest mental errors) on the field at all times, don't care who they are. Bulaga is 21 years old, stamina certainly won't be an issue and he's played every position except center under Kirk Farentz, among the most respected developers of offensive lineman in the collegiate game.

My only other comment: Lang and Bulaga need to refine their technique and understanding of the passing game in the NFL (Tauscher and Clifton are 'saavy' of the pro game, if you will). That being said, both are an instant upgrade in the running game over their elders. Not close.... Wouldn't be surpriesed if they were better at POA than College as well.

cow42's picture

If you are a proponent of "continuity" - you want Bulaga to stay at LT. If you are a proponent of "best 5 on the field" - you want Bulaga to be given a chance to compete at RT and/or LG.

I'd rather have everyone on the line be masters of one job - not jacks of many... continuity.

Leave the kid at LT and be patient. His time will come. Probably sooner than we expect.

cow42's picture

obviously nirvana would be to have the best 5 on the field building continuity... that;s happen in a year or 2...

bulaga, spitz, wells, sitton, lang

Jersey Al's picture

Personally, I don't want Bulaga anywhere but left tackle, unless somewhere down the road he shows he's not capable. He was drafted as the left tackle of the future. Let him get as many reps at that spot as possible and maybe next year, stopgap Clifton won't be needed.

Tarynfor12's picture

You draft a LT and don't want him near the position.Really?The best for him is playing I feel is, LEFT anything.You learn by partaking in the area designated for you based on ability.I'm getting a headache.Stop cuddling and let the big dog play on the left side anywhere.
we are not talking about a CB but a guy who can eat Green Bay for a snack,are we really looking at him,Geez he has DE and OLB looking like buffet.

nypacker's picture

Playing Left TACKLE and Left GUARD are a lot more different than you may think.

Packerbacker's picture

I agree with almost everything here Aaron. You have to let him concentrate on one position his rookie year. There is normally one, maybe two rookie o-lineman each year that can handle starting. The rest need polishing. Bulaga will be good, maybe great, but not right away.
Where I disagree with you is on your prediction that Sitton will make the Pro Bowl. I think that he will be outstanding this year, but I don't think that he'll have the name recognition (what recognition an interior lineman can have) necessary to win. He is too fresh a face. Unfortunately, the Pro Bowl selection process has become too much of a popularity contest. I think that Sitton will need two or three years of great play to make the squad.
Having said that, he might have a chance if he can make huge plays in primetime games and get good press that way.

gratif's picture

Is Packer First round pick/Iowa LT Ross Verba ever discussed in relation to Bulaga?

That guy wound up a guard. Just sayin'

CSS's picture

Different players, different athletic abilities totally different eras and decades. No relationship whatsoever.

Asshalo's picture

Makes a lot more sense than LG. Tho poor chad clifton has destroyed his body throughout the years (not that he hasn't been paid) and Bulaga would most likely get PT immediately this year at that spot.

But by putting him at RT and moving him to LT say Clifton gets hurt, do you risk replacing two line spots rather than one? I guess it's more about putting your best on the field.

Ron LC's picture

As probably the biggest detractor of the Packer Oline, I must admit MM has to very creative in his choice of 9 or 10 players. what makes it so complex are the current 1st team tackles. Clifton and Tauscher are clearly the best tackles on the roster now. But, who here would bet that either will perform for the full season. Not many, I'd wager.
_____
So, 2 of the backups selected for the final roster must be players that are primarily, if not exclusively, tackles. I'd vote for Bulaga and Lang here.
_____
The remaining 2 or 3 out of necessity will have to cover more than one position. I think I'd go with the best performers in camp (duh). The problem is the rest consist of guys who have 3, 4, and 5 years of experience and have yet to perform at NFL levels. Let's hope Newhouse will be as good as we hope he will be.

Tarynfor12's picture

To Aaron Nagler and Jersey Al.I want to apologize for the replys posted to you as my son seemed to think he was allowed to partake in conversation without my approval.
Please know I like both of your sites and love the respect toward each and everyone in them,somethink someone is learning at this moment Sincerly Tarynfor12

packeraaron's picture

No worries at all. He was tame in comparison to some and I understand where he's coming from. Tell him to sign in under his own name - the more voices in the mix the better! :)

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