Packers Rookie LT David Bakhtiari Masters the Metrodome
It was Oct. 4, 2009. My wife and I got married two days before and to kick off our honeymoon, we had tickets to watch the Packers play the Vikings at the Metrodome in Brett Favre’s first game against his former team.
We couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to start our new life together than by watching the Packers stick it to Favre under the giant Teflon egg shell that somehow passed for a professional sports venue.
Well, things didn’t work out as planned. Favre was the one sticking it to the Packers and the Vikings rolled to an easy victory that soured our first few days of marital bliss.
Obviously, things have turned around since then for the Packers, but one thing has remained consistently shaky whenever the Vikings visited the Humpty Dumpty Dome: Green Bay’s left tackles always struggle.
On the night-to-forget in 2009, T.J. Lang and Daryn Colledge combined to allow four sacks, six hurries and one QB hit from the left tackle slot. Aaron Rodgers was often doomed before he was able to set his feet as he tried to out-duel Favre.
Lang and College might have turned in one of the worst left tackle performances in Packers’ history that night, but they’re not the only left tackle’s to struggle in the Dome.
According to Pro Football Focus, Packers left tackles allowed six sacks, five QB hits and nine hurries in five games at the Metrodome from 2008-12. The collective pass block rating of anyone who lined up to protect Rodgers’ blind side was a paltry -8.2. Run blocking from left tackle wasn’t much better — a collective -4.1 over the same time period.
Much of that damage has been caused by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. Allen has eaten up many left tackles over the years, not just left tackles wearing green and gold. In addition to the god-awful horn and piped in noise, one of the most annoying things about the Metrodome is Allen’s calf-roping sack dance, a dance that Packers fans have seen far too much of over the years.
Thanks to Bakhtiari on Sunday night, though, the only thing Allen was roping were a couple of giant goose eggs in the sacks and tackles column.
The rookie allowed just a single hurry against Allen and didn’t allow a sack for the third straight game. Bakhtiari had another penalty, the sixth straight game he’s been flagged for something, but that’s going to happen to a lot of rookies. When the fight between the young Bakhtiari and the all-pro Allen was over, Bakhtiari was the clear winner.
When Bryan Bulaga went down during training camp, I thought Bakhtiari would struggle with power rushers and be a liability in run blocking. So far he’s had his moments of rookie struggles, but he more than holds his own against power rushers and fights like hell run blocking. He plays like he belongs, and his quarterback and coach have taken notice.
Eddie Lacy is getting most of the attention as the standout of this Packers rookie class. Much of that attention is deserved, but let’s also save some love for Bakhtiari, an obscure fourth-rounder who is opening holes for Lacy and doing a fine job of keeping Rodgers upright.
If Bakhtiari continues improving, I’m going to think of him as a (very) late wedding present to make up for what my wife and I had to endure on that miserable October night back in 2009.——————