Do the Green Bay Packers Have the Best Offensive Line in the NFC North?
Last week, ProFootballFocus.com released their 2010 Offensive Line Rankings. They used three categories – Run/Screen Blocking, Pass Blocking, and Penalties – to determine which NFL teams had the best and worst set of players along the line. After putting together all the numbers, the Green Bay Packers ended up ranking 12th overall, 5th in the NFC, and 1st in their division.
Here is how each of the NFC North teams ranked, along with their summary analysis from PFF:
12. Green Bay Packers (2009 Rank: 22nd)
Run Rank 12th, Pass Rank 15th, Penalties Rank 15th
Nothing too flashy about the Packers, they get a good push up the middle but had some issues with pass rushers coming off their right side. When you have a quarterback as mobile as Aaron Rodgers, that’s not necessarily the worst combination in the world.
Best Player: Impossible to look past Josh Sitton. He elevated his game to another level in the post season, showing he’s more than just an excellent technician.
Biggest Concern: He was a rookie, but 13 sacks is way too many to give up, Bryan Bulaga. He needs to step up.
21. Minnesota Vikings (2009 Rank: 25th)
Run Rank 27th, Pass Rank 13th, Penalties Rank 9th
It’s like a computer game. One player is too good so you crank the difficulty setting up by making the guys on his team so much worse. That’s the Vikings run blocking line who are determined not to give Adrian Peterson any free yardage.
Best Player: Their best blocker may well be Jim Kleinsasser, but unfortunately he’s classified as a tight end. Bryant McKinnie is at least an above average pass blocking left tackle.
Biggest Concern: That there is no one concern that jumps out at you. This is a line that could use an upgrade and injection of youth at near enough every spot. Even promising rookie Phil Loadholt turned into a struggling sophomore.
23. Detroit Lions (2009 Rank: 18th)
Run Rank 24th, Pass Rank 16th, Penalties Rank 19th
More was expected of this line, but it didn’t quite pan out. Rob Sims wasn’t terrible, but didn’t upgrade the left guard spot, and Gosder Cherilus is still yet to live up to his draft slot. We’ve seen everyone on this line play better in recent years.
Best Player: He wasn’t much better than average, but that pretty much sums Jeff Backus up.
Biggest Concern: After being a revelation in 2009, Stephen Peterman really couldn’t get it going this year. He struggled big time.
31. Chicago Bears (2009 Rank: 26th)
Run Rank 21st, Pass Rank 32nd, Penalties Rank 31st
On the plus side, Jay Cutler is somehow still walking. Any lineman who played considerable snaps graded worse than -10.0 in our ratings, with one at -20.4 (Chris Williams), another at -31.6 (Frank Omiyale) and the worst at -42.7 (J’Marcus Webb). Brutal blocking in pretty much every respect that you makes you appreciate the work of the skill players all the more.
Best Player: With a -12.4 grade, Roberto Garza was the ‘best’ of a bad bunch.
Biggest Concern: You’d expect J’Marcus Webb to improve a little in year number two, but he has a long way to go. Let’s hope Gabe Carimi is NFL ready.
- You’d expect there to be a higher correlation between the strength of the offensive line and success during the year, but that’s not really the case. The Pittsburgh Steelers (ranked 32nd) and the Chicago Bears were both at the bottom of the heap, while the New York Jets ranked 1st and the Packers fell more towards the middle. These four teams all made it to their conference’s championship game last season.
- The Packers have come a long way since their dismal performance in 2009. It’s amazing what some solid personnel and a little bit of consistency can do for a line. It’s actually a good sign when your worst player is the rookie playing his first time at right tackle. Let’s hope Bulaga gets more settled in and the upward trend continues next season.
- Despite ranking higher than the Minnesota Vikings overall, Green Bay actually ranked worse than them in two of the three categories: Pass Blocking and Penalties. It’s both a pathetic waste and a tremendous testament to Adrian Peterson’s individual talents that the Vikings ranked so low in run blocking.
- Along the same lines, who would have thought the Packers’ highest category ranking was in run blocking?
- The Detroit Lions picked up only one offensive lineman in the draft this year, and that was in the 7th round. How much of an impact will Titus Young and Mikel Leshoure really have next season if they can’t win in the trenches?
- The Chicago Bears, meanwhile, saw their weakness and addressed it with 1st Round pick Gabe Carimi. The question is, will it be enough for such a dismal group?
- The Green Bay Packers have their line pretty well set along the right side from the center out. It’s the left side that remains a concern. How long can Chad Clifton’s body hold up, and will it be enough time for Derek Sherrod to get settled in if he needs to start? Also, will T.J. Lang be the answer at left guard, as many are predicting?
- No matter what though, having a consistent line from the beginning is, to a certain extent, more important than the talent level of an individual player. Get them set during camp and let the chemistry build through the season.