If 2015 taught the Packers anything that didn't correlate to the wide receiver corps and how slow they were as a collective group, it was that the importance of depth on the offensive line can never be understated.
Between cycling players in and out of the line-up through the duration of the 2015 season, including going more than two months without the team's original five starters, and the team's battle-tested receivers, it was a concoction that led to quarterback Aaron Rodgers' worst season as a starter. It may be worth noting that even a poor season for Rodgers is an impeccable season for a majority of NFL quarterbacks.
A different note was sung in 2016, however, and the Packers were gifted with wellness on the front lines in exchange for wounded positions elsewhere on the roster. The notorious struggling cornerbacks group, the shuffling of linebackers in defensive coordinator Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme, etc. It led to Rodgers being sacked 35 times — the third-lowest total of his career when starting a full 16-game season.
A major contributor to how well the offensive line played in 2016 can be centered on left tackle David Bakhtiari, who signed a four-year extension at the beginning of the season worth $51.67 million. His exceptional play was rewarded with his first trip to the Pro Bowl and a spot on the Second-team All-Pro roster. Fellow tackle on the opposite end Bryan Bulaga also had arguably his best season as a professional despite playing through a lingering back injury through the duration of the campaign.
Aside from individuality, what goes unnoticed is the Packers offensive line keeping their distance from pesky penalties that do nothing but hinder the offense's flow. The offensive line was responsible for just 28 penalties this season, tied for the fourth-lowest in the NFC behind the Saints, Lions, Rams and in a deadlock with the Cardinals. The 28 flags for the Packers' offensive line was their lowest since 2012 where they were tagged with 28 as well.
The team itself was one of the least-penalized in the league last season, averaging 5.8 per game, tied for the third-lowest average in the NFL. Simultaneously, the Packers were also the least-penalized team at home this season, averaging just 4.7 penalties per game when playing at Lambeau Field.
The Packers offensive linemen individual penalty counts are as followed:
Tackles - Bulaga, Bakhtiari (5), Jason Spriggs, Don Barclay (3), J.C. Tretter (2)
Guards - Lane Taylor (5), T.J. Lang (4)
Centers - Tretter (2), Corey Linsley (1)
By season, the Packers' offensive line committed 34 penalties in 2009, 31 in 2010, 29 in 2011, 28 in 2012, 31 in 2013, 29 in 2014, 33 in 2015 and the aforementioned 28 in 2016. Their avoidance of receiving flags is what made them skyrocket to one of the league's best groups, and have been renowned as such by a variety of sporting media outlets.
Lang, Barclay and Tretter all have expiring contracts in March at the start of the new league year, and all three will likely be anticipating new deals. Lang was once one-half of what was deemed as the best guard duo in football before the Packers released All-Pro left guard Josh Sitton before the start of the season. Now a Pro-Bowler, Lang represents what is left of the elite guard tandem, but says the Packers have yet to contact him about contract talks.
A surprise to no one, considering it's likely none of Green Bay's 11 free agents has received much information regarding their future with the team just yet.
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