I understand Packer fans calling for James Campen's head every year. They see lots of sacks and a mediocre running game and they want someone to blame. It was even rumored that he was on thin ice last offseason, though there was never anything close to official word on that.
When one looks at the struggles Campen's position group went through, it's understandable that fans want to see a change made - but unlike with Shawn Slocum, where his deficiencies are a bit more readily apparent, it's hard to quantify just what it is that Campen has 'done' to make fans so angry. Sure, the offense gave up an alarming number of sacks in the first half of the year. And yes, a lot of that is on the line. But some of that is on Aaron Rodgers and his propensity to hold the ball too long.
It gets even more interesting when you watch individual players on the line for whole games, rather than just looking at the sacks and saying "Oh the line sucks - fire the coach!" Well, actually, on a lot of those plays there were four guys playing really well and one guy getting beat. And that's not just reserved for Alan Barbre, horrible though he was. Daryn Colledge had a miserable season in pass protection as well. Jason Spitz, when he was in there, was less than inspiring as the starting center.
But looking at guys like Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, you see guys with not just talent but two guys who have really good fundamentals. Sitton in particular has really flourished under Campen's tutelage. And Lang's ability to step in at seemingly any position at a moments notice is a tribute to Campen's ability to have his young charge ready to go.
That's good coaching.
Plus, there's the little matter of the offense setting ridiculous offensive records. Did you realize this Packers team scored more points than any other Packers team in history? More than the 1996 Super Bowl team. That doesn't just happen. The offensive line had a part in that. It also had a part in Rodgers being the first quarterback ever to throw for 4,000 or more yards in his first two years as a starter and it had a part in Jennings and Driver having over 1,000 yards receiving again. Yes, the running game has long been a source of fans' teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling under McCarthy, but Campen's line has paved the way for a 1,200 yard rusher the last two years in Ryan Grant. While not dominate, it is better than average and more than serviceable for the offense McCarthy runs.
No, what Campen needs are better players. He can't stop Daryn Colledge from having his once-a-game meltdowns at the worst possible times and nothing short of a minor-miracle would have made Alan Barbre even a below-average right tackle, let alone an NFL-caliber player, which 2009 proved he simply is not.
The onus is on Thompson to provide McCarthy and Campen with better players.
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