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McCarthy, Staff Need To Hit On Left Guard Evaluation

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McCarthy, Staff Need To Hit On Left Guard Evaluation

When Packers General Manager Ted Thompson made the decision back in the summer of 2009 to move on from offensive tackle Mark Tauscher, the Packers paraded out a long list names to compete for the starting right tackle position - Breno Giacomini, T.J. Lang, Jamon Meredith and, of course, the eventual "winner" Allen Barbre.

The offense tore through the preseason, putting up points in bunches against vanilla defenses. The Packers appeared ready to roll through the regular season with their new right tackle.

And then it all came crashing down.

Oh sure, the Packers won their opener against the Bears, but the warning signs were there, with Barbre getting eaten alive repeatedly by Adewale Ogunleye, a journeyman defensive end at that point in his career, to put it charitably.

No matter how much help McCarthy gave Barbre, he never really improved. He had some stretches that were better than others, but for the most part Babre was a disaster and his insertion into the starting lineup almost ruined the season for the Packers.

The brain trust behind the decision to make Barbre the starter - head coach Mike McCarthy, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, and offensive line coach James Campen - are once again set to preside over a position battle on the offensive line. With starting left guard Daryn Colledge presumably set to move on to greener pastures (and make no mistake, Colledge will get paid by some team needing help on the offensive line) the likes of T.J. Lang, Marshall Newhouse, Nick McDonald and even rookie first round pick Derek Sherrod, who McCarthy stated would start as their "left side guy", will all be in the mix for the starting left guard position.

I know McCarthy has long thought that guard is Lang's best position. Newhouse was a bit all over the place in training camp last year between left tackle and guard. McDonald is a bit of a dark horse, but word is the coaching staff loves the guy. And if Sherrod plays well in camp and clearly belongs on the field in front of all of them, even though he was drafted to play tackle, by all means play him.

The point is, McCarthy and company need to get this right from the start. Unlike 2009, when Tauscher came riding in to save the offensive line, if not the season, in late October - Colledge won't be available to save the Packers if none of these guys can do the job. (Not that I think that's the case - I'm pretty sure Lang or Sherrod can/will get the job done.)

Perhaps a truncated evaluation period will actually help the coaching staff not over-analyze the competition. (I always felt that Lang was the obvious choice over Barbre if you looked at their play on the field in camp and preseason that year, but that Barbre was given the job because he had "put in the time")  Whatever happens, the staff needs to make up for its Barbre blunder and get this right from the start.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackersRS's picture

Why, Nagler, speaking like that you make it sound that we have a bunch of incompetents choosing the starters on the offensive line.

When, in fact, we only have one incompetent.

In all seriousness, great topic, but one I can only hope for the best, as the OL is clearly the one area on our offense that has not been on the same level as the rest.

Nerdmann's picture

The reason they had so many bad Olinemen is MM's request for "smaller quicker" guys. Since TT has been allowed to look for the "bigger stronger" guys, they've done much better.
They also drafted a guard this year. We'll be fine.

Party Favre's picture

Yea what about rookie LG Caleb Schlauderhaff? Any chance he sees the field this season? He is a bit smaller than Lang and Newhouse.

packeraaron's picture

All depends on how he shows in camp, but I would tend to doubt it, esp as the guards are responsible for backing up the center on all the protection calls in McCarthy's offense. That's why I tend to think it will be Lang, though Sherrod's pure ability may make it too tough for them to keep him off the field.

That said, I would never say never on Schlauderhaff - stranger things have happened.

ppabich's picture

What about Bulaga as a posibility. He played there last pre-season and he wasn't that great at RT last season. Isn't there at least a chance that Bulaga moves to LG and Sherrod or Lang is the RT?

PackersRS's picture

Yeah, Schadenfraude should've been mentioned, though I think he was drafted to play C.

BubbaOne's picture

Caleb Schlauderaff just tweeted he's going to use you as a blocking dummy the first chance he gets for not giving him any props...just kidding, good article.

Nerdmann's picture

What do you guys think of Marshall Newhouse? I don't think he can play G. I think he's a T, but with our last two first rounders, not sure he's gonna start in Green Bay, barring injury.

PackersThad's picture

I've always wondered this. How could someone be a tackle, but not a guard. I've always heard and could understand the reverse, but never this. Could you elaborate?

I like Newhouse a lot and I hope he gets a shot at left guard. I am pulling for him or Lang.

Jay's picture

Scroll down and there's a blurb that the staff has allegedly moved Newhouse to a Tackle. I guess the reasoning behind someone being a good tackle but not a guard is that the guard position relies more on strength than agility. That's not a fully satisfactory answer: I can see how that's relevant in run blocking, but it seems like you would need more technique than brute strength in pass protection. Am I wrong?

A more convincing illustration would be that Clifton would be a terrible guard but is a quite good LT. Newhouse seems more in Clifton mold.

Oppy's picture

News to me is that Newhouse is being *moved* to Tackle.

It was my understanding he has always been a developmental project at OT. He without question has the feet of a tackle.

MarkinMadison's picture

You're dealing with bigger boys on the other side of the line when you play guard. You need the strength to hold all of that bulk back, even in the passing game. Your feet don't need to be as nimble, because it's not like you've got to slide more than a step in either direction to pick up your block.

Nerdmann's picture

Long arms, too lanky for the inside.

channel Don Hutson's picture

Looking forward to seeing if Lang returns to the form/promise he showed in 2009. His injury last year certainly didn't help his play, but it may have given him the chance to mature. I think while we might not exactly have a wealth of resources on the o-line this year, it certainly looks much better than it did/was in 2009. It will be interesting to see if Colledge's replacement is the upgrade many fans have been calling for.

Mojo's picture

Nerdman brings up a topic I always wondered about. Did TT originally draft O-lineman with body-types that favored the ZBS at MM's request, instead of taking the best O-lineman available at the time? I mentioned that to others and they though I was just protecting TT.

Anyway, plug the LG hole with Lang who seems to have the size and temperament to not get pushed back like Colledge often did. If that doesn't seem to work don't be afraid to move Sherrod in there until the day comes for him to take over for Cliffy.

It would be great to see McDonald, Newhouse and Schlauderaff get real-game action, but doubt that will happen, unless there is injury. Otherwise, how they perform, under game conditions, is just conjecture, much like it was with Breno and Barbre.

Nerdmann's picture

Breno was one of the first "bigger stronger" guys, but the dude was too stiff from what I heard. Couldn't bend the knees and get low, he'd get tipped over.
As for Barbre, word was his problem was mainly "between the ears."

afrenchpackersfan's picture

Personally, I think Lang will start at LG for the 2011 season (while Sherrod still develops at LT)... Then, I tend to thing that Caleb Shlauderaff will start LG as soon as he is ready (and Lang will be the perfect backup for the R/L T position)... I really don't know whether Newhouse is going to be a good LT backup but I don't think he fits perfectly at G...

OneTwoSixFive's picture

How about Clifton backed by Sherrod at LT, Lang backed by Sherrod at LG, Wells backed by McDonald at OC, Sitton backed by McDonald at RG, Bulaga backed by Newhouse at RT, Shlauderaff is 9th OL and doesn't suit up game days unless there is an injury. I am still going with the idea of McDonald being our starting OC sometime down the road.

Oppy's picture

I think this is pretty close to accurate. I think EDS may still play a role assuming that Colledge flies the coop. Either EDS or Lang as the starting LG, the other, the backup. McDonald's focus will definitely be at C, but he'll be an emergency G as well. Newhouse probably projects more as a LT than RT; but this year he'll sit as a backup RT, agreed. He could be Sherrod's primary back up when Cliffy retires. Shlauderaff could very well end up on PS, it's my understanding he's pretty raw, but who knows, perhaps he surprises and makes the team, joining the ranks of Green Bay O linemen who all play G if needed.

Edit to add in that if Tauscher comes back to play this season, that'll mess up everything real good, lol

MarkinMadison's picture

I think the shortened camp and lack of mini-camps will make it less likely for Sherrod to start. Lang has the edge. It may work out for the best anyway. Clifton was phenominal at the end of last year but the odds don't favor a repeat of 2010 for a 36-year-old guy.

Ken's picture

Lang seems to be the logical choice. sherrod and bulaga are the long-term tackles, why mess with that?

Agreed, Aaron, on barbre winning by default.

Ruppert's picture

The big question here is whether the evaluation period would actually be truncated. I mean, it's not like it got started on time and then the end of the period got chopped off. Unless, of course, the evaluation period started 1 or 2 years ago. But I digress.

I don't want to seem truculent when discussing truncation.

And my money's on Lang. I can't see the brain trust letting a rookie pass Lang on the depth chart unless said rookie is phenomenal. Of course, if he deserves the promotion, fine. I still think it'll be Lang.

Nerdmann's picture

Clifton's a short timer. Keep that in mind. I'd leave Sherrod at LT. They'll need him there for sure. MARK IT DOWN.
My main concern is to avoid the "musical chairs" fiascos of years past.

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