Interesting piece from Lori Nickel in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about seemingly perpetually-embattled left guard Daryn Colledge. Mostly a recap of what we've read already about Colledge, the piece is notable for the inclusion of the following from offensive coordinator Joe Philbin when asked about Colledge's claims that the offensive staff's constant shuffling of the offensive line in general, and movement of Colledge in particular, led to Colledge's uneven play last season:
We could sit here and say, 'Well, he had to play left tackle for two weeks, and that's why he didn't play well at left guard' And I'm not sitting here saying he didn't play well at left guard. But the fact of the matter is, in the National Football League, you dress seven guys; sometimes guys have to play different positions.I think in his vault, he has probably 2,500 reps or maybe 3,000 reps at left guard even going in to last year. I don't know if we can knock our offensive staff around for moving guys: 'Oh my gosh, we can't get guys in the same position.' I don't know if that's a valid argument in that particular case.
Moving T.J. Lang out to left guard and left tackle as a rookie, and not ever being a starter - there may be some merit to that. And I'm not saying Daryn Colledge didn't play well at left guard. That's not the case. However, when push comes to shove, you've been in the league 3½ years; I mean, that's not a valid reason to me.
I agree with this for the most part. That being said, the musical chairs on the offensive line during McCarthy's tenure has been ludicrous. Now, I would contend that most of that is on Ted Thompson - he just hasn't provided McCarthy and company with many good players, at least not up until the last few years with the additions of Sitton and Lang, and hopefully Bulaga and Newhouse. The staff seemed to recognize how good Sitton was immediately, naming him the starter at right guard his rookie year before he was injured in the preseason. Of course, they turned right around last year and wiffed on their evaluation of Lang, so who knows...
Of course, Colledge seems to be mounting a challenge to Jarrett Bush for the title "Packer Player That Packer Fans Love To Hate". Perusing fan sites, whether it be blogs or message boards one thing is clear - fans are sick of Colledge...mostly because they've made up their minds that he "sucks" as a player, which could not be further from the truth.
Yes, he has lapses, sometimes at the worst possible times. For instance:
I mean, that is just about the saddest excuse for professional football you'll find anywhere.
However, while fans are quick to remember plays like the one above (or the infamous second-to-last play in the Arizona playoff game) they are just as quick to forget the many, MANY good plays Colledge makes throughout the course of the season. I've touched on it before, but here's some visual evidence as well:
This is just the kind of play that fans wipe from their memory banks the moment its over. Incomplete pass. Bring on the punt team.
But what they fail to recognize is the superb job Colledge does against Haloti Ngata in his one on one matchup. It's 3rd and long and Colledge wins. And overall Colledge wins more than he loses, whether you believe it or not.
The two clips illustrate, at least to me, how much it is a mental thing with him. In the first clip, not only is he lazy with his footwork, allowing his weight to get too far back, but he's late recognizing the stunt and reacting to it.
That's all mental.
Now, did he struggle, especially early, in 2009? You bet. And even when he 'righted the ship' so-to-speak his performance was still uneven. But I think it's clear that Colledge is a much more cerebral player than your average offensive lineman and whether he should have been effected by all the moving around or not, I think his confidence definitely took a hit when he bombed at left tackle and he never really got himself together. This, after a training camp when he was handed his starting job.
Compare that to 2008, when Colledge entered the year supposedly in competition with Alan Barbre for the left guard position. Yes, Barbre didn't provide much in the way of an actual fight, but Colledge was made to focus and fight for his job and, by doing so, produced his finest season as a pro. I think he is set to have another good year after what will no doubt be much stiffer competition from not only Jason Spitz but possibly rookie Marshall Newhouse.
But in the end, I expect Colledge to not only win the starting left guard job but to excell at it.
And yes, please feel free to bookmark this and throw it back in my face if I am wrong. ;)