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Surviving Sunday: Packers news, notes and links for the football deprived

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Surviving Sunday: Packers news, notes and links for the football deprived

Offensive line has probably been the most Jekyll and Hyde position group for the Packers during the Ted Thompson era. Some might give that title to inside linebacker, but I disagree. Inside linebacker has been consistently terrible, whereas offensive line has been both really bad and really good.

Think back to the early days of Aaron Rodgers as the Packers' starting quarterback. I was in the Metrodome in 2009 when Allen Barbre and Daryn Colledge started at right and left tackle, respectively, and the Vikings totaled eight sacks -- 4.5 by Jared Allen alone -- in helping Brett Favre beat his former team. The Packers allowed a NFL-worst 51 sacks that season.

I was in the stands at Soldier Field in early 2011 when an aging Chad Clifton and a rookie Bryan Bulaga held the great Julius Peppers without a sack, helping the Packers punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. After a shaky start, that 2010 offensive line settled in and only allowed 38 sacks.

I watched the Packers go 15-1 in 2011 with Marshall Newhouse as their starting left tackle for 13 games. Marshall Newhouse! Newhouse started 31 games for the Packers, which is still unbelievable to me.

I cheered when the Packers signed veteran free agent center Jeff Saturday in 2012, only to watch him flop and eventually be replaced by Evan Dietrich-Smith. I cringed when first-round selection Derek Sherrod broke his leg in 2011 and never was able to bounce back and provide the offensive-line boost Thompson was hoping for.

2014 was by far the best offensive line of the Thompson-era. David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley proved to be capable rookies. Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang were their usual reliable selves and Bulaga was a rock at right tackle. That same line returned for 2015, but got knocked down by injuries and couldn't repeat their success of the prior season.

Instead of seeing a repeat of the 2014 line, we had to watch Don Barclay struggle and Josh Sitton shuffled out to left tackle at the end of the regular season.

We'll find out if 2015 was just an injury-filled blip on the radar as the same group once again returns for 2016. Bulaga is the only first-round pick on the entire line. Bakhtiari, Sitton and Lang were taken in the fourth round, Linsley in the fifth. That's some really good value for a group entrusted to keep Aaron Rodgers off the turf. 

Get ready for another shift on the line after this upcoming season. Bakhtiari, Sitton and Lang are all due to become free agents. I doubt all three will return, which means the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Packers offensive line will once again be in effect.

Can Thompson continue finding value in later-round offensive line picks? Or will he take a lineman in the early rounds and hope he turns out more like Bulaga than Sherrod? If Thompson (gasp!) goes the free-agency route, will it be another failure like it was with Saturday?

We'll find out soon enough. For now, here's to better health in 2016 for the Packers Jekyll and Hyde offensive line.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Demetri Goodson is the latest Packers player to get suspended for using PEDs. There must be some good stuff in the cheese they're serving over at 1265 Lombardi Ave.
  • The Packers exhibition schedule (yes, it's "exhibition," not "preseason") was announced this week. Yawn. Hopefully, Mike McCarthy doesn't bother playing Rodgers, Jordy Nelson or other key veterans much during the Packers five -- yes, five -- meaningless exhibition contests. 
  • Writing for PackersTalk.com, Ross Uglem lets us know what we should "be prepared" for as the draft approaches.
  • Over at LombardiAve.com, Kevin Culligan thinks cornerback is more of a need for the Packers than you might think.
  • In the Acme Packing Company mock draft, the Packers landed Baylor DT Andrew Billings in the first round.
  • At the NFL owner's meetings, the Packers expressed their opposition to playing a game in China. I don't blame them. Being forced to play in Minneapolis, Detroit and Chicago once per year is bad enough. The Packers shouldn't have to also travel to China.
  • *Stadium vendor voice* CheeseheadTV.com draft guide! Get your CheeseheadTV.com draft guide here! Quit wasting your time with the same old boring online draft coverage and order the CheeseheadTV 2016 Pro Football Draft Guide now. It's Packers-centric, but it also cover the other 31 teams in the NFL. 

Non-Packers links and other nonsense

  • Here is a great story from my AP colleague Jon Krawczynski on Timberwolves rookie Karl Anthony-Towns. 
  • The newest version of Action PC Golf was released on Saturday, a perfect way to complement Masters Sunday.
  • Cancer update: I had my first CT scan since starting chemotherapy two months ago. We find out if my cancer has shrunk, stayed the same or spread on Monday. Regardless of the outcome, I'll be in the Target Field press box covering the Twins home opener on Monday afternoon and anxiously awaiting the arrival of our second son in the coming weeks. Mom is at 37 weeks and doing great. I asked our two-year-old this week if he's going to alert us when his baby brother poops his diaper. "Yes, daddy," he said. "I'll yell, 'BABY BROTHER CRAPPED HIS PANTS!'" We're raising a smart one, I tell ya...
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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.

Nick Perry's picture

Adam, best of luck to you and your family with the results Monday. I hope we read next Sunday the Cancer has shrunk or better yet is gone completely! Thank you for the Updates and keep up the good fight!!

ray nichkee's picture

Good luck with the news tomorrow, adam. We all want to here some goods news too.

gr7070's picture

That guy is right about CB being a potential need. However, he actually overstated Sam Shields abilities.

I like our three young guys and Shields. At least one of them will get hurt seriously, and likely others will miss a game or two. Hyde is awful in coverage!

It doesn't take much for a deep bench DB to get on the field and be taken advantage of by a solid QB in this league.

That's one thing that has made this position so strong the last few years is that the 4th CB was far more skilled than the typical dime CB, especially when injury forced that dime CB onto the field on most plays.

I fully expect Ted to draft a DB, the most important non-QB position in football. I also suspect he'll grab a WR, the next most important position.

Since '61's picture

Actually LT is the second most important position in the NFL followed closely by WR and a primary pass rusher either at DE or LB. Then DBs come in 5th. When building a team a good GM will find their franchise QB first and then an LT to protect him. Next they will find a good pass rusher and then WRs for their franchise QB to throw the ball to. Then will come the DBs and DLs who can stop the run. There are exceptions with the true shut down CB like Revis or Sherman but they are few and far between. You may not agree with me but NFL GMs do. The GMs speak with their draft picks and more importantly with their Team's money. WRs and LTs are the highest paid positions after QB, the next highest paid are pass rushing DEs and LBs. Then come the DBs and DLs. If you use our Packers as an example obviously Rodgers is first followed by pass rushers CM3, Mike Daniels and Julius Peppers followed by WRs Nelson and Cobb. Bakh is still on his rookie contract but when he becomes an FA after this season his salary will increase drastically whether he signs with the Packers or not. If Bulaga signed for $7+ million at RT Bakh is in for a huge payday and TT may look to replace him via the draft and let another team cut the check to Bakh. In any case Shields is the only Packers DB that is highly paid and even his contract is very team friendly. I believe that TT will draft a DB this year as well but it will be for depth and probably in the 5th round or later. Thanks, Since '61

ray nichkee's picture

In sentence 3 should state: a good GM, not a GM. Otherwise it is pretty well put. There is and have been plenty of examples going against the grain but they are probably reading articles at home just like us.

Since '61's picture

Ray - thanks for the positive feedback. Your suggestion has been noted and added to sentence #3. Since '61

gr7070's picture

I'll concede LT being more important than DBs, but I'm not so sure that the rest of either line is more important in today's NFL. The edge rusher are pretty close though.

WR is not as important as DB. It's too easy to scheme offensively and cover up for a bad WR and way too difficult to hide a bad DB. DB > WR

And using the Packers as an example is just awful logic. Any single team doesn't matter; that team might/not have a good X and therefore that X is/not getting paid. Like a LT on their rookie deal. And the Packers have high paid guards even though they're further down the list on importance. The Packers guards are very good; thus they're paid.

Bahktiari will get paid some in FA, but that says way, way more about FA than it does backfield! It's why Ted, rightfully, largely stays away from FA.

gr7070's picture

Here's a good *fact-based* article on roster importance. QB > OL > DB > all others per winning correlation.

http://linemakers.sportingnews.com/article/4576245-nfl-draft-analyslys-o...

And here's a very good Cheesehead TV article suggesting CB is at least the number 2 most important position.

http://m.cheeseheadtv.com/blog/how-much-should-the-packers-spend-on-each...

The advanced info on modern NFL now shows that CBs are the most valuable (or nearly so) players after QB.

I'd bet Ted drafts at least one and I wouldn't be surprised if it's in the first 3 rounds.

Nick Perry's picture

IXNAY on the serious injury comment!!!

The rest of the comment Thumbs Up.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

Thanks Adam we are all pulling for you. Keep it coming just love your writing. It will be an interesting season and injuries are going to be an issue last year hit the team hard.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Good Luck Adam!

EdsLaces's picture

Fingers crossed for you and your family.

Packadutt's picture

Good luck Adam.....ucandoit.................

Tundraboy's picture

Hoping for a great Monday for you Adam.

4thand1's picture

Good news on Monday, we're all pulling for you! Hope you will be changing a lot of crap pants in the future.

MarkinMadison's picture

Praying for good news.

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