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Right Tackle: The Silent Problem

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Right Tackle: The Silent Problem

Almost everything written about the Packers over the course of the past month has been focused on the defense, and for good reason. But the silent problem for Ted Thompson, and it's not a small one, is the right tackle position on the offensive line. 

After Mark Tauscher went down, a lot of pundits speculated that Tauscher had played his last down as a Packer, due to his age, injury history and the noticeable dip his play had taken, at least earlier in the year. I'm not sure I agree with this. My hunch is that Thompson has seen the tape from the games the Packers played after Tauscher went down and realized he doesn't have a replacement on the roster. Tony Moll was less than inspiring. Daryn Colledge got a chance in the final week of the season and looked lost before getting injured. (And when you look lost against the 2008 Detroit Lions, you KNOW you're out of position...) The line coming from the Packers is that Breno Giacomini is set to step in as the starter in 2009. But this is just off-season talk. If the kid couldn't crack the lineup during the free-fall that was the 2008 season, while fellow rookie Josh Sitton was getting thrown in whenever possible, well, let's just say it doesn't bode well for his ability.

So what to do? I know draftniks everywhere are salavating at the prospect of the Packers nabbing an elite talent to add to the front seven in Dom Capers' new defense, but the reality is that if there's an offensive tackle like Eugene Monroe available when the Packers pick at number nine, don't be surpised if Thompson goes offense in the first round. I know I've read how Thompson 'neglected' the defense over the course of the last couple drafts, but that's just how those drafts fell. I remember these same people accusing him of wanting Mike Sherman and then Brett Favre to fail because he was seemingly building his defense before doing anything to help the offense. These things are cyclical and really not how teams attack the draft. 

Of course, there's always free agency and there may be a tackle prospect waiting that Thompson and crew have their eye on. And as I mentioned above, I also wouldn't be surpised to see Tauscher resigned and gain his old job back. His play got better as the year went on and he was really doing solid work before getting injured. Nothing says he can't come back after rehab and continune where he left off. 

All this said, the right tackle position is one to keep your eye on if you're a Packer fan. It's no less worrisome than outside linebacker for the Packers heading into the 2009 season.

 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (16) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

scrumptrulesent's picture

There's a good reason Branden Albert (1st rounder taken by KC in 2008) was kept at guard in Virginia. His name is Eugene Monroe. If by some miracle Monroe drops to #9, this should be a no brainer imo. I don't care what defensive guys are left on the board at that point.

Honestly I would be alright with any of the big 4 OT's taken with the 9th pick at this point. They all seem to be pretty elite.

Donald's Designated Driver's picture

Ever the contrarian, I'd argue that left tackle is a bigger need. The Packers made a huge investment in Rodgers and it would be foolish not to protect his blind side with better play at left tackle. Clifton was subpar last year. He gave up a lot of pressure and had to resort to holding too often. I doubt that he will be better next year. There is a better than even chance that he will be worse.

I also doubt the Packers would spend a top 10 pick on a right tackle.

The question in my mind is whether the Packers can move Clifton to another position on the line. Thoughts?

packeraaron's picture

I would counter that one or two bad games are clouding your vision (not to sound too Star Wars) on Clifton. Yes, he was atrocious in MIN and had problems overall at the beginning of the year. But go back and watch how he handled Mario Williams or either of the Bears' DEs. The guy has still got it. And I wouldn't be surprised one bit if the Packers took a tackle at number 9 with the thought of playing him there first before eventually moving him over to LT, much like the Panthers did with Gross.

Ron La Canne's picture

Rookie OT's have issues. Even Joe Thomas had a learning curve. FA is the only option if you're looking for a starter. As of today there are 23 UFA OT's on ESPN's list. They represent a wide variety of experience and talent. Gross is obviously the Super Star, but don't forget there are many names available that could be solid starters for a year or two or more.

DO NOT FORGET WHO LOST THE GAMES WHEN THE PACKERS NEEDED THE WINS. As sub-par as the O Line performed, they where not the cause of the losing streak (they could have helped out by being able to support drives better). It was the defense (Line and Line Backers) and Crosby.

Get Gross if you can. If not there are one or two very good OT's out there to bring in.

Clifton had both knees surgically repaired in the off-season (cleaned out not ligament repair). Could that extend his career?

Chicago Hooligan's picture

I do think that if a big-name FA is brought in, I'd prefer to see it happen on the o-line than on defense.

For a draft prospect, I like the sound of Jamon Meredith of South Carolina, probably a 3rd round pick. He has played at LT and guard and is scouted as a strong zone-blocking scheme player.

packeraaron's picture

Joe Thomas had a learning curve, sure. He was also the reason the Browns went from o to 60 on offense in one season....

ETA: and Ron, don't be so narrow minded when it comes to the reasons for all the losses last season. Yes, the defense was atrocious. But going back and watching the games again (NFL.com Game Rewind is a BEAUTIFUL thing) it's very apparent that the offense was equally to blame on a number of occasions. Jacksonville, Houston, Carolina - all those games, the offense moved the ball at will but never scored any points - esp in the first quarter. The offense is far from perfect.

Andrew in Atlanta's picture

No, the offense is not perfect, but we scored enough points to win more games than we did. I would have a hard time with the #9 pick going to the OL. The defense was horrible and now we are moving to a 3-4. I read quotes like "Pickett is a natural NT" and "Kampman will play OLB" and it scares me and makes me think we need a natural for the 3-4 in the draft.

packeraaron's picture

"we scored enough points to win more games than we did" - Other than against the Panthers and the Lions, I would disagree.

Franklin Hillside's picture

I think AIA is talking about our total points scored vs. our total points given up: 419/380
Well, maybe I'm reading into that too much, but that's what I got out of his statement.

Andrew in Atlanta's picture

How many teams can you name that go 6-10 and score more than they give up? We scored what, like 26 points a game? That's enough to win in the NFL. I want an impact D player with that 9th pick

Ron La Canne's picture

We should all take note of the reallity of MM and TT's changes so far. No mater what we think, they fired the entire defensive coaching staff with two exceptions and they fired the Special Teams coach. As far as I can tell all the offensive coaches are still there. I think I know the direction of team management.

I feel strongly the O-line needs improvement too, but the reality was the defense could not stop anyone in the 4th quarter, Special Teams gave up critical field position to the opponents, and they could not run a Kickoff return worth a crap.

packeraaron's picture

The defense could not stop anyone in the 4th and the offense couldn't score in the first. Clearly, I need to do a post about this. My disdain for Sanders' defense is well documented, but it is far from the only reason the Packers went 6-10....

dustybricks6's picture

defensive tackle, offensive tackle -- maybe. I want the best player on the board, period. We have so many holes beyond these, I trust wiley 'ole ted to make the right decision. So long as it's not a wide receiver...

Cuphound's picture

I was deeply disappointed with the O-line this past season. Rodgers was sacked 34 times in 2008 in comparison to Favre's 15 sacks in 2007. They're definitely not getting any better. Moreover, I believe that Rodgers' mobility conceals the true extent of how badly the O-line did. The pocket seemed collapse a great deal last season and Rodgers was often able to scramble and then throw. I'm delighted that the Kid can dance, but I really don't want him to have to.

IPBprez's picture

Bringing in a talent like Dom Capers has to have payback built into it. Meaning Dom gets what Dom wants before all other issues. DEFENSE should be the 1st concern (NT Raji/BC ?) before TT deals with any other problems. Raji next to Pickett in the middle helps Pickett's knees and shores up the middle, allowing for Greene/Moss to deal with LB command decisions.
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When it comes to Offense, the word is we still have personnel to re-distribute along the Line and will work from that standpoint, then move out into Draft needs. I vote for Alex Mack as one selection. I ALSO AGREE with DDD's assessment. The Packers SUDDENLY giving our QB "all day in the pocket" is my TOP wish this off season. It's something GBP has not had in many season.
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GROSS will not be available, no matter what anyone here thinks. He will be corraled. He's too valuable. Not gonna happen!
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Remember, Good offenses are great to watch, BUT GREAT DEFENSES WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS. Trader Ted will focus on the Defense first, but grab something special for the Offense IF IT'S AVAILABLE. I look for TT to "draft best player THAT WE NEED" this time around.
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Question: What happens if Tauscher heals ahead of schedule and shows he can still play? Do we keep him?

Boothie's picture

I would be shocked if Thompson doesn't draft one of the four elite Tackles if they are still on the board at Pick 9. I really don't have a problem with trading down. There are several drop-offs in the draft and if he feels that he can get the player he wants down where he is trading to, I don't see the problem (if he's right). I was shocked when Wolf kept all four of his draft picks when he didn't have a #2. His comment was that he didn't feel there was a big difference between #2 and the #3's that he had.

That showed me why I'm not the GM.

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