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Packers can’t mix up leaky line if they wanted to

Green Bay Packers' Rodgers looks up at New York Giants' Kiwanuka during their NFL football game in East Rutherford Reuters

The Packers say they don’t want to make any rash decisions, or fiddle too much with their offensive line.

That’s convenient, because they really can’t.

Even after another leaky performance against the Giants Sunday night (five sacks, 10 points), the Packers aren’t expected to make any changes up front, primarily because they lack options.

As of now no, I don’t see that will happen,” offensive coordinator Tom Clements said, via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

They only carry seven offensive linemen at the moment, and the backups on the roster are undrafted rookies Don Barclay and Greg Van Roten. Seventh-round pick Andrew Datko is on the practice squad.

It appears unlikely 2011 first-rounder Derek Sherrod is going to be activated from physically unable to perform by today’s deadline, and there has been no indication they’ve reached out to former tackle Chad Clifton.

That leaves them to improve with what’s on hand, though injuries have stretched them thin. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga’s injury has made several players work out of position, and it showed Sunday. Left guard T.J. Lang was shaky replacing Bulaga, and Evan Dietrich-Smith equally so replacing Lang.

As a group, the Packers have allowed 37 sacks this year, second-most in the league behind only the Cardinals at 46.

Clements said they tried to mix up their protections, but they’ve also been hesitant to take too many receivers out of patterns to devote to keeping quarterback Aaron Rodgers upright. Playing the Vikings twice, the Bears and Lions down the stretch will force them to come up with something.

“Each plan that we have, we have a seven-man protection, a six-man protection and a five-man protection,” Clements said. “And we utilized all of those [Sunday] night. And we also utilized an eight-man protection at one point.

“So we just have to try to mix it up and see what we can do to shore it up a little bit.”

It’s the kind of problem that could be helped by running the ball well, or at least often enough. But they’ve shown little interest in that, which means it’s a good thing Rodgers is mobile.

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19 Responses to “Packers can’t mix up leaky line if they wanted to”
  1. glastron1 says: Nov 27, 2012 10:28 AM

    Ted Thompson needs to shore up the o-line in the offseason with some veteran help. You can’t rely on rookies all the time. With all the unproven backups they have the 0-line should be top priority in the offseason. If Rodgers ever gets hurt getting sacked so many times their screwed.

  2. beedubyatoo says: Nov 27, 2012 10:31 AM

    Packers have a bunch of good young players so they can afford to be patient. Last years’ defensive liabilitues were addressed in the draft and they’ve improved greatly. Ted Thompson will take care of the offensive line problems in the draft and it will be much better next year.

    Meanwhile Packer fans, pray for Rodgers’ health.

  3. lightcleric says: Nov 27, 2012 10:33 AM

    Is it just me or have there been a RIDICULOUS number of injuries this year compared to normal? I can’t think of a team that hasn’t lost a key player, there’s teams like the Ravens(Ngata, Suggs, Lewis), Packers(O-line, Woodson, Matthews), and Steelers(basically everyone) that have just been absolutely ravaged by injury, and there’s been a boatload of quarterbacks getting concussed/injured(Cutler, Smith, Vick, RG3, Gabbert, Ben…).

    I know it’s football but this seems insane to me.

  4. qdog112 says: Nov 27, 2012 10:34 AM

    I find it interesting that the Packers have a “leaking line”, while every sack in Philly, which has a worse line, is blamed on Vick.

    Well, well, well, shouldn’t Rodgers get the same scrutiny that Vick has drawn? The fact is that Vick was getting killed early and often due to his poor OL. It’s true he dropped the ball, but getting hit like he was, who wouldn’t?

    The difference is that Philly is a train wreck from top to bottom.

  5. teal379 says: Nov 27, 2012 10:42 AM

    O-line has been an issue since McCarthy got here. Unfortunately he’s a bit too loyal to his o-line coach and they’ll use the injury excuse to keep Campen around. He needs to go. All those sacks haven’t happened since Bulaga went down – they’ve been happening all year.

    I don’t agree with the “be patient” line either. There are ZERO guarantees in the NFL. Next year is next year – waiting 3 years for a guy to develop or thinking”next year’s draft!” just doesn’t cut it Players might not be available, others get hurt, others leave via FA.

    The window is short right now – lots of guys coming up for contracts that will ALSO need to be replaced if they can’t work things out. Raji, Jennings, Clay and Aaron needs a new deal too. So you know they’re looking for a NT and WR in the draft as Raji and Jennings are the most likely gone. PLUS score decent o-line help? Not likely.

    Coaching change needed on that line and bad.

  6. dwarftosser says: Nov 27, 2012 10:50 AM

    What do you mean they’ve shown little interest in running often? They are running 43% of the time right now, which is crazy often when they aren’t even averaging 4 yards a carry. It’s frustrating because they run so often this year that they have way too many 3 and outs and don’t seem to be able to get Rodgers into any kind of rhythm early in the game.

  7. intedwetrust says: Nov 27, 2012 11:03 AM

    @qdog…locally Rodgers does get a lot of scrutiny for holding the ball too long. In many cases he takes coverage sacks and waits too long to get rid of the ball. Lately though, with the injuries it seems like the D-line is getting to him at the same time the ball is and there’s nothing he can do but assume the fetal position. Early on in the season he could field some of the blame, but in it’s current state it’s just not his fault.

    If anything the coaches need to roll him out to a side with blocking help from a back or TE to get him extra protection and give him that opportunity to actually scan the field rather than getting pummeled as soon as he takes the snap. Last season they had similar problems and they worked it out, I’d expect they’ll get something figured out before the playoffs or it’ll be an early exit again this season.

  8. skittlesareyum says: Nov 27, 2012 11:03 AM

    It’s the kind of problem that could be helped by running the ball well, or at least often enough. But they’ve shown little interest in that, which means it’s a good thing Rodgers is mobile.

    Actually, lately the Packers have tried running the ball a lot. It hasn’t been working, but they do try. Excluding Rodgers scambles the Giants game featured 23 carries (versus 27 passes).

  9. purpleguy says: Nov 27, 2012 11:05 AM

    Unfortunately, I don’t think the Pack has much to worry about this weekend with my Vikings — they should just follow the Bears max-protect, short-passing game plan. If we couldn’t get through that leaky Bears O-line, we won’t be able to at Lambeau either. Might be different at the Dome, but not at Lambeau.

  10. faultylogic29 says: Nov 27, 2012 11:06 AM

    Because of the way Ted Thompson builds his roster, all you have to do is look back to the draft. Bulaga (1st round) has been a pretty decent right tackle, and he’s out. Sherrod was also a 1st rounder and had a gruesome leg injury last year. We still don’t know what he brings. Newhouse has been a bit of a steal, but it’s pretty tough to find a good left tackle outside of the first 2 rounds. And Newhouse has played like just a competent LT. Other than Sitton, the draft and injuries have not been kind to the O-line.

    That said, when are the Packers going to figure out how to beat the Cover 2? It’s been almost a year since the Chiefs and Giants provided the blueprint, and even with a bad O-line I feel like McCarthy needs to figure this out.

  11. Gravy says: Nov 27, 2012 11:23 AM

    No options? Of course there are options. #1 is to stop thinking the run game comes with an on-off switch and start drilling this line into blocking for a few run plays. #2 Is to get a coach who does that.

    The Packers O-line has sucked for the 5 years James Campen has coached it. He used to be bailed out by Joe Philbin who has gone to Miami.

    Mike McCarthy can coach this line up to average. I assume he is doing that today.

    Kinda crazy to keep believing Rodgers can play like Superman every week.

  12. thetokyosandblaster says: Nov 27, 2012 11:30 AM

    I have every confidence that the Packers will address the line and the running back situations in the offseason.

  13. gpack22 says: Nov 27, 2012 11:47 AM

    @faultylogic and @ Teal – You are dead on. He has been drafting OL. He tried the veteran route in Saturday (hasn’t worked out too well, he’s old). Sherrod is definitely an unknown still.

    Campen has got to be fired, and it’s been a long time coming. Between his ineffective coaching and McCarthy’s poor running schemes they’ll never be able to run the ball consistently. That’s when our “genius” coach decides to abandon the run and throw all day which creates more sacks and hits on Aaron (see 1st half of Seattle and 2nd half of Indy).

    Whatever happened to some of their 3 step drops, slants and other short passes? It wasn’t too long ago that all we heard about was yards after the catch. MM is trying to outsmart himself sometimes.

  14. 4gone says: Nov 27, 2012 12:08 PM

    Forgive me but I hate the “next year” talk. I want to win now.

    Uncle Ted has assembled a dome, finesse, passing team that happens to play outside in a colder climate. They get beat regularly by teams who are hard nosed, punch you in the mouth teams.

    That said and despite Ted’s propensity to ignore older veterans, calling Chad Clifton and/or Mark Taucher makes sense. Would give them veteran help who know the system. Beats 7th round rookies. Play for now, make the call.

  15. ernie ernie says: Nov 27, 2012 12:33 PM

    My two cents. Its all about the money stupid.
    Ted Thompson has none. Unlike other teams with deep pockets owners who have a problem staying under the cap, Ted doesn’t have the money to reach the cap.
    This is GB’s real problem. They have to spend as little as possible on the O line. I mean two ‘undrafted’ guys plus Datko who was a late round pick due to a persistent shoulder injury all through college, no one else wanted him.
    These are the people you have in the future to protect your MVP QB.
    2010 will be the last great team. When your competition in just your division can go out and spend money on: Julius Peppers, Cliff Avril, Jared Allen not to mention a few running backs and then still have the money to draft top quality players, something has to give.
    The Packers will lose the next 5 games and all due to the players I mentioned above the competition went out and bought. Not drafted.
    PS, Ted has been trading number two and three picks -can’t afford them, for a bunch of 4th, 5th and 6th rounders. How is that working for you Ted.
    All the packers D backs are 5’9 and smallish.

  16. ernie ernie says: Nov 27, 2012 12:39 PM

    Don’t blame Campen for having to work with rejects,4th and 5th rounders good teams passed on. Saturday was excellent but he is 37 now. Sherrod showed nothing when he was healthy so his return doesn’t matter. He is toast one way or the other. Datko has a persistent shoulder problem that never healed from college and why all 31 other teams weren’t interested.
    That’s like blaming the running back coach for having to work with Alex Green and Starks, two more guys available in late rounds because the good teams said, who the hell are these guys? Not on our team.
    Its not the coaches, its the low quality players they are expected to coach. The old saying, can’t make a silk purse out of a pigs ear applies here.

  17. judsonjr says: Nov 27, 2012 1:17 PM

    For people wanting to get Chad Clifton back, you do remember that he got destroyed by the Giants in the playoffs less than a year ago…so much so that he was benched for Newhouse.

    As for complaining about TT. He actually assembled an OK line. However, when you win a Super Bowl you have average guys that get overpaid (Wells, College). Then when you lose two tackles to injury, you start shifting people around, and the line play will suffer. Honestly, how many teams are going to be OK versus the Giants, 49ers, etc when they have a 3rd string tackle playing.

    This is something that has to be fixed by formation, scheme, and play calling.

  18. longhairdontcare66 says: Nov 27, 2012 2:33 PM

    Jake Long- I know Ted never spends big money on free agents but we need to keep Aaron from getting killed. Losing Bulaga was bad becasue it moved TJ to a new position. With Long, Lang, Sunday, Sitton, and Bulaga we have a very good offensive line. I wish I had the pull Jerry has in Dallas haha.

    ~NFL Owner

  19. axespray says: Nov 28, 2012 3:27 PM

    teal379 says:
    Nov 27, 2012 10:42 AM
    “O-line has been an issue since McCarthy got here. Unfortunately he’s a bit too loyal to his o-line coach and they’ll use the injury excuse to keep Campen around. He needs to go. ”
    —————————————————-
    aside from Clifton/Sitton – name me a potential pro bowl caliber player he’s had the opportunity to coach…

    Campen has been stuck having to make something with the Daryn Colleges/Jason Spitz/Scott Wells/Marshall Newhouses of the world – guy is like Rambo making grenades out of ants or something.

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