After Week 1′s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the offseason offensive line shuffle didn’t look so hot.
Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang flip-flopped positions at left and right guard, a move in-part made to keep continuity between Sitton and Bulaga on the left side of the offensive line.
When Bulaga was lost for the year after a season-ending knee injury during training camp, the purpose in switching guards was perhaps lost, and the decision didn’t look any better when the duo were dominated by the Niners front seven in Week 1.
Sitton received the lowest grade he’s ever received in a single game (-4.5) for his performance in the season opener from ProFootballFocus.com in large part for being flagged for three penalties, all of the 10-yard variety.
It didn’t help that the Packers gained merely 63 yards on the ground with an average of 3.3 yards per carry and Sitton giving up three quarterback hurries either.
Lang received the second-worst grade among all Green Bay offensive players in Week 1 (-3.0) for allowing a sack to Aaron Rodgers and two hurries.
For a pair of players who each received multi-million dollar contract extensions over the past two seasons, more was expected.
To their credit, Sitton and Lang rebounded in Week 2 in a big way.
ProFootballFocus.com handed out their highest grade in the Washington game not to quarterback Aaron Rodgers (+4.6), who threw for a franchise-record 480 yards, and not to running back James Starks (+1.4), who became Green Bay’s first player to rush for at least 100 yards in 45 games.
That honor went to Lang (+4.8), who had an impressive showing in both his run and pass blocking.
Sitton also had a positive performance in his own right, garnering a grade of +3.8 for mauling the Washington defensive front, which was especially impressive considering he was limited throughout the week of practice with a back injury.
The interior lineman combo was an important cogs in an offensive mechanism that was nearly unstoppable this past Sunday, becoming the first team in NFL history to have a quarterback throw for at least 475 yards and a running back rush for at least 125 yards in the same game.
The Packers averaged a fabulous 5.8 yards per carry in Week 2, a number that would have been even better had it not been for a couple of Rodgers kneel-downs at the end of the game. They also averaged 9.6 yards per pass attempt.
The challenge in Week 3 is no less daunting, facing a Cincinnati Bengals defensive line that features All-Pro Geno Atkins.
For an offensive line that boasts a pair of young tackles in rookie David Bakhtiari on the left side and second-year pro Don Barclay on the right, Sitton and Lang can be a calming influence on their inexperienced counterparts.
The Packers would certainly benefit from a more consistent display from their starting guards as the season wears on.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” and editor of Cheesehead TV’s “Pro Football Draft Preview.” To contact Brian, email email@example.com.