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Dougherty Nails It Re: Bulaga/Clifton

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Dougherty Nails It Re: Bulaga/Clifton

Earlier this week I wrote that the Packers needed to make the obviously hard but necessary decision to start rookie left tackle Bryan Bulaga on Monday night against the Bears. And to then keep him there for good.

Well, in a column that showcases why he is one of the best on the beat while I am just a hack blogger, Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press Gazette basically agrees with me.

Money quote:

(Bulaga is) a better run blocker than Clifton ever was, and now that Clifton has trouble bending and exploding in the run game, the difference is large. Bulaga doesn’t have Clifton’s uncommonly quick feet – for most of his career, Clifton was a first-rate if underpublicized pass blocker – but for a rookie he’s an unusually sound technician. At this point, there’s probably not much difference in their ability to protect.

So the starting job at left tackle could be riding on Bulaga’s performance this week against Chicago, assuming he plays. The test will be noteworthy, because the Bears this offseason signed defensive end Julius Peppers, a premier pass-rushing talent whose Week 1 sack knocked Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford out for at least a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury.

Peppers is listed as a right end but splits time at both sides. McCarthy can’t afford to have quarterback Aaron Rodgers take any shots like Stafford, so he’ll be ready to help his tackle no matter who starts on the left side, and maybe more so if it’s the rookie.

But if Bulaga plays and holds up well, it’s hard to see why McCarthy would take him out when Clifton’s ready to go. It would be the choice between a rookie who’s playing well enough now and will get better as the season goes on, and a 34-year-old veteran who’s body is breaking down.

Read the whole thing. It's pitch perfect.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (41) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Max's picture

Agreed. Dougherty is right on.

He also alludes to the fact that had the team not re-signed Clifton, Bulaga may not have been available at pick #23. I'm fine with Ted's expensive mistake if it allowed us to draft our left tackle of the future.

Chris Cook's picture

Peppers would light Bulaga up! Welcome to the NFL rookie!!! Better give him ALOT of help.

Chris Cook's picture

P.S. I am a Bears fan, if that wasn't obvious.

packeraaron's picture


Satori's picture

Your IQ (and team loyalty) were as obvious as your grasp of the English language

Thanks a lot for stopping by to illuminate us

packeraaron's picture

Be nice.

Satori's picture

I was smiling as I wrote it, does that count for "ALOT" around here ?

packeraaron's picture


Chris Cook's picture

Do I sense a little smug attitude and sense of superiority, Satori?I have a 183 I.Q., thank you very much. I wanted to emphasize a point that even a "Satori" could understand. I am writing with a smile, too (but my smile has all my teeth in it).

PackersRS's picture

Lol at Chris Cook actually responding to what's his IQ...

davyjones's picture

In an effort to be more nice,my new schtick on here is going to be:

"why (fill in the blank), that's a fascinating observation. Say more about that...please!"

Just trying to do my part to nice it up a little around hear.

Ron LC's picture

183? Didn't realize anyone that proclsims Mensa membership would actually stoop to the vulgarities of Pro- Football, especially Chicago Pro-FB.

Oppy's picture

Chicago Pro-FB?

I'm no genius, but I'm pretty sure that's an oxymoron.

Oppy's picture

Okay, just so this doesn't degrade into bash-fest, just want to state that's just a playful jab at our rivals to the south. I actually respect the Bears. I hate them, but I respect them as a pro team with tons of history, character and lore.

But, seriously.. oxymoron. ;)

FITZCORE1252's picture

"I actually respect the Bears."

That's a shame... Bunch of scrubs if you ask me. They play us tough, but I can't take them serious when:

Coach's name is 'Lovie'? Is that even serious? I mean really?

Best player's name is 'Earlicker'. OK, I guess...

QB has a double chin and false teeth!?!?

WR gained recognition in the 'Jackass' franchise.

Not to mention Virginia was a street walker in the 1930's!

I can't respect any of that, just sayin'.


Clay's 2 fer 2. Cost Kolb and Edwards their jobs. Who's fatty's backup? We'll find out by halftime.

lebowski's picture

Now we just need a left guard.

Some_dude's picture

Dumb. Why would you just give up on Clifton? It's nothing but 'young man wins' again. Clifton is an experienced tackle who has faced off against the best rushers in the league. Bulaga had stint against a Bills team with no real rushing threat. And what does it matter about the run game when we don't exactly have a ton of RB talent. Bulaga won't suddenly give us a run game.

Unless anyone has talked to Clifton or the medical team no one is in a position to say he's 'breaking down.'

PackersRS's picture

2 games of film shows he is.

It's not young man wins, it's healthier, better physically man wins.

Some_dude's picture

"2 games of film shows he is"! What a dumb comment. You can make a judgement on that little can you?

Fans moan all the time about getting veteran talent in the team, then when they have it they want rid of it. Go figure!

PackersRS's picture

What does this have to do with anything I've said?

Oppy's picture

Clifton doesn't practice half the time during Training Camp and during the season because it's too much stress on his knees, and yet, he still ends up missing games because of those same knees. This has been going on for the last five years.

Clifton is a great player, and he's as wily and skilled as they come. But his knees live in 20 lbs. bags of ice while he's not on the field, and his ability to bend at the knees has been limited for the last handful of years to the point he can't get low enough to apply enough force to adequately run block, and he definitely can't be counted on to bend enough to remotely cut block worth a darn.

Nobody wants Clifton out simply because he's old. To the contrary, I think most Packers fans would love Clifton to continue to perform and compete as the starting LT as he has in the past. But the fact of the matter is, his knees are shot, and have been going for years. He's still got it when the knees aren't an issue- training camp vids of his footwork in drills made ALL of our other linemen look like Pop Warner players- but every player has a shelf life and Clifton is reaching expiration.

No one is suggesting Bulaga should start over a healthy Clifton because Brian is young and Chad is old. But a healthy Bulaga is at least on par with if not a better option than a crippled Clifton.

Ron LC's picture

Clifton's overall health was a concern before the season. As it should have been at 33 with multiple surgeries. Bulaga gave the position its' first capable backup in years. TJ has already been injured and held out this season. That means Tauscher doesn't have an adequate backup until TJ gets healthy. They could be back to last years' first 8 game performance level with one more injury.

I'm off to say a few Novenas for the OL.

corey jenkins's picture

Some dude, have you watched the games? Clifton is playing as bad as he ever has.

Some_dude's picture

The guys been injured, or have you just been listening to bloggers. McCarthy needs to give him more time, fine. Then he can evaluate where Clifton's at. I'm not ready to throw Bulaga in when a vet like Clifton can come back.

Chad's picture

As an aside...

I keep hearing that "Peppers injured Stafford on his sack."

The response I always want to say is: "And Clay Matthews knocked out Kolb on HIS sack."

I know it doesn't speak to the actual point of the discussion, but I find it funny nonetheless.

PackerT's picture

Question!...If Clifton is hobbling and Bulaga gets the start. Does Clfton even dress?, or will he inactive and Lang is active?

packeraaron's picture

That will all depend on how he responds to treatment this week.

PackersRS's picture

I think if Clifton is able to play, he starts. If he doesn't start, he doesn't play.

Wiscokid's picture

I agree.

bomdad's picture

When the switch is made, I bet the run game will get better simply because they get a full week between games to work on the coordination of zone blocking. Clifton is to the point he doesnt practice a full week any more. No one ever cuts Colledge any slack for playing next to Clifton. I never played line, but someone explained zone blocking, and if you arent in tune with the guy next to you you both look bad.

davyjones's picture

How could a guy with an I Q of 183 be a Bears fan? Ought to be smarter than to subject yourself to that.

WoodyG's picture

This is just another scenario of "out with old, in with the new". ....... PackFans should be elated that Bulaga is capable so early in his career to start at LT .....

Starting & playing Bulaga will also allow Cliffy to regain his health IF that's even possible ...... GB is just sending Cliffy to the sidelines hoping for better days for him ...... It's not like we've traded him to the Jets for a draft pick.

PackersRS's picture

Bulaga 100% > Clifton 90%
Clifton 100% > Bulaga 100%

Keith's picture

Is it even possible for Clifton to get to 100%? He's like an old laptop battery - can't quite hold a charge as long as it used to.

PackersRS's picture

100% as in his prime? No.
But 100% as in his best games last year, like against James Harrison and Pitt.

Buckslayernyc's picture

I think Clifton is toast. The guy has had more surgeries and broken bones than that position normally experiences. His qualities were connected to his feet, which were exceptional, which wolf correctly identified. I will never forget the Tennessee coaches responding to the rumors of Wolf Drafting Clifton as a surprise pick in the second round because the pack was going to use him as a left tackle..." Well Chad has played every position on the line, but we never projected him as a Left tackle at the next level.." This is a paraphrase lacking the 12 year old link....But Film does not lie. Wolf saw it then, and its missing now. He is not agile. God Bless him for cashing in one more time and leaving early, he has earned it with his excellent representation of this team and willingness to sacrifice his body. He will be in line for 2 knee replacements and probably a new hip or two in the next 10 years. He can have the money. But...he is done.

Keith's picture

To be honest, I would love to see Clifton hang on for one more season. This would allow the team to insert Bulaga at LG. Now THAT would help stabilize the line.

PackersRS's picture

Maybe bombdad is onto something when he says that no one cuts Colledge some slack for playing alongside Clifton. Specially in the running game.

I don't watch film closely, so I can't affirm if it's influencing Colledge's play or not, though.

CSS's picture

The speculative counter to that arguement: Josh Sitton excels while playing next to an equally inept run blocking tackle in Mark Tauscher. Sitton has fewer mental errors and penalties, all while playing next to Tausch. I realize Sitton is playing at an all-pro level, but the contrast is startling.

I'm cheering for Colledge, just wish he were more consistant.

PackersRS's picture

great point. agreed.

Z's picture

183? Clearly a typo. You need to push the shift key at the same time you press the 3 key to get the #.

I'd like to see Cliffy get his ring from the sidelines. The best protection for Rodgers is a good running game and that means Bluto.

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