Category Archives: Bryan Bulaga

4

August

Packers News: Report: Bryan Bulaga Suffers Knee Injury

Here we go again. Bryan Bulaga may miss 2013 with an apparent knee injury

The Green Bay Packers may have already suffered their first major injury of 2013 and they have yet to play a preseason game.

Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting via Twitter that left tackle Bryan Bulaga suffered a knee injury during Saturday’s Family Night scrimmage and that the injury could be severe.  According to McGinn, the team is “hoping for the best but fearing the worst.”  If the worst case scenario comes to fruition, Bulaga will be on injured reserve for a second straight season.

It’s unclear which knee Bulaga injured, but if it’s the same leg as his hip injury from last season then there could be some long-term repercussions for Bulaga.  As the Packers’ best offensive lineman on a newly revamped line, this injury could prove devastating for Green Bay.

As for what the Packers will do in Bulaga’s absence, there are some options but none of them are really good scenarios. Marshall Newhouse could move to the left tackle position he held last year and let David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay battle it out for the right tackle job.  They could also try Bakhtiari at left tackle and keep Barclay on the right.   With Barclay entering his second year and Bakhtiari a rookie, neither of these situations are ideal.

Part of the Packers’ reasoning for shuffling the offensive line this offseason was to shore up protection of Aaron Rodgers’ blind side. That meant moving Bulaga to left tackle, which is where he played in college.  Unfortunately, it looks like he may have to wait to play that position at the professional level.

For now, it will be a waiting game until official word on Bulaga comes down. Coach Mike McCarthy made no mention of this after Saturday’s scrimmage so everyone is truly in the dark for the time being.

If the report is true then the Packers may be in for another battle with the injury bug in 2013.  After injuries decimated the roster last season, this is not the news Packers fans have been waiting for.

Buckle up, Packer Nation. It may be yet another bumpy ride for the Green and Gold.

24

July

Pigskin Paul’s Packers Preview: 12 Young Players Who Need to Step Up

Packers Nick Perry - Time to Step Up.

Nick Perry – Time to Step Up…

We have done it my friends. We have survived the dreaded football off-season. This coming week NFL teams will begin pouring into Training Camps with about 90 players per team ready to compete for jobs on 2013 regular season rosters. The Green and Gold will be amongst them obviously with high expectations and goals, but lots of questions to be answered as well. Not to be considered all inclusive by any means, here are some topics that come to mind for yours truly.

Nice to see that MARK MURPHY continues to wield the financial magic wand that continues to reap revenue and profit to keep the franchise competitive with the power brokers like JERRY JONES down in Texas. With the South end zone expansion project well on its way to completion local revenue should get a nice boost for future seasons. My only question in that regard is one for the entire NFL: At what point does your thirst for money hit “the wall” because of fan saturation/exposure and expense of access to your game?

Still can’t help but wonder whether Free Agency and Salary Cap haven’t left the team dangerously thin of proven NFL talent at the LB and S positions? Of course some younger players will get better and contribute more, but is the organization counting on more of that phenomenon than is reasonable? We shall see.

So then who might be the younger players to step it up and emerge as legit NFL starters, perhaps even stars? The other key question is often, who can return to the field and bounce back (and up) from injuries? With a young, home grown roster like that of Green Bay that list might include half of the roster, but let me pinpoint a dozen guys who might make a performance leap this season for various and sundry reasons.

NICK PERRY/OLB    Last year’s No. 1 Pick missed most of the season after a September wrist injury eventually landed him on injured reserve (with a knee injury to boot).  Assuming he’s healthy it would be nice to think that he spent a lot of  his down-time in 2012 talking with coaches and watching film that helped him better understand the position switch from DE to OLB he is making. Hopefully, that study will help him do more playing than thinking in 2013.

22

July

Packers OL Andrew Datko: Training Camp Dark Horse or Off the Team?

Packers offensive lineman Andrew Datko

We don’t know much about Packers offensive lineman Andrew Datko because he was stashed away on the practice squad all of last season.

What we did know about him after the Packers drafted him in the seventh round in 2012 we’ve probably already forgotten because, well, he was on the practice squad all of last season.

Because the Packers offensive line situation always seems to be in some sort of disrepair, it’s important that we keep any offensive lineman who can walk upright fresh on our mind before training camp battles begin.

Here’s a refresher on Datko so you don’t have to ask yourself “Who is that guy?” should Datko make some noise during camp.

  • At Florida State, Datko started 12 of 13 games as a true freshman at left tackle. Even though he only weighed 260 pounds, he still had 21 knockdown blocks. Talk about starting your college career with a bang.  
  • He started all 13 games his sophomore season and only allowed two sacks. In 11 games as a junior, he only allowed one sack.
  • Things went downhill from there. After starting the first four games of his senior season, Datko hurt his shoulder — the same shoulder he hurt in high school. The injury required surgery in November and Datko couldn’t lift at the NFL combine, causing him to freefall down draft boards and fall right off many of them.
  • Physically, Datko is the type of offensive lineman the Packers like to draft: A successful college left tackle (when healthy) who is athletic, versatile and could theoretically play multiple positions.
  • Datko’s ceiling in 2013 is winning the Packers sixth man job along the offensive line. If he does that, both Datko and the Packers have to be ecstatic. It would mean the 6-foot-6, 315 pounder is healthy and Ted Thompson can breathe a little bit easier if Derek Sherrod is a lost cause.
  • Obviously, Datko’s worst-case scenario is the shoulder acting up again and getting cut.
  • Realistically, look for Datko to be in the mix for the seventh or eighth offensive line slot, probably not the sixth. The sixth-man job likely goes to the loser of the battle to start at right tackle. Datko lined up at guard during OTAs, which also helps his chances of making the team, if healthy.
19

July

Fact Czech: Packers Tackle Marshall Newhouse will Never be any Good

Packers tackle Marshall Newhouse can be good on the right side of the offensive line.

Packers tackle Marshall Newhouse can be good on the right side of the offensive line.

Marshall Newhouse should be benched whenever the Packers play the New York Giants. He shouldn’t even be active.

In three games against the Giants since 2011 — including a playoff loss — Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 11 times and the Packers have managed only 230 total rushing yards when you subtract Rodgers’ scrambles.

Obviously, Newhouse isn’t the only Packers offensive lineman responsible for all that ineptitude, but he’s probably not going to be showing the game film from those contests to his grandkids one day.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) gave Newhouse a cumulative grade of -16.9 for all three Giants games. Both regular season games against the Giants were Newhouse’s worst of the season in 2011 and 2012 according to PFF.

No doubt those abominations against the Giants stick in the minds of Packers fans, as well they should. As my old high school history teacher used to say when lecturing about bloody military battles, “It weren’t purdy.”

I’m sure Mike McCarthy weighed Newhouse’s performance in games against New York — a team with good pass rushers and a disruptive defensive front seven — into his decision to move Bryan Bulaga to left tackle. But just because Newhouse lost his left tackle gig, it doesn’t mean he’s a lost cause.

I think the odds are decent that he’ll end up being a good right tackle in Green Bay. Unfortunately, many Packers fans seem to think there is no hope left for Newhouse. Perhaps they’ll end up being right, but I wouldn’t close the book on him yet.

Let’s crack open the PFF numbers again. I like PFF, but sometimes I hesitate to cite them because people either think PFF’s work is gospel, or complete nonsense, and it distracts from the topic at hand. In Newhouse’s case, I think the PFF numbers give some context to Newhouse’s overall career and helps us not just remember the glaringly bad games, like the three against the Giants.

Newhouse made a drastic improvement from 2011 to 2012. His overall rating jumped 28 points, from -32 in 2011 to -4.3 last season. Newhouse finished with a 5.3 pass-block rating last season, a 21-point improvement from -16.5 in 2011.

17

June

2013 Green Bay Packers: An Early Look At The Depth Chart

Green Bay Packers huddle

Who are your 2013 Green Bay Packers?

With the off-season activities now officially over with, we now turn our attention to the upcoming training camp and preseason.  The big question is:  What will the 2013 Green Bay Packers look like?

I’m taking a look at each position and listing who I think are the likely starters, as of today.  Training camp always tends to change that list quite a bit so this is obviously as of today, as it stands, and without having really seen many of these guys play.

Quarterback

Starter:  Aaron Rodgers

Backup: BJ Coleman

Bubble: Graham Harrell, Matt Brown

Quick hits: Rodgers is the league’s highest-paid player and let’s not forget he’s pretty good at what he does.  No question there and so the biggest debate is whether Coleman can leapfrog Harrell and will the team carry three active quarterbacks?  My thought is that if Coleman wins the backup spot, they will likely cut Harrell.  Illinois State’s Matt Brown could be a good candidate to land on the practice squad, much like Coleman did last season.

Running Back/Fullback

Starter:  DuJuan Harris

Backup:  Alex Green, Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin

Bubble: John Kuhn, James Starks, Angelo Pease, Jonathan Amosa

Quick hits: Harris came on and was effective late in the season for the Packers.  He didn’t participate in much of the team’s offseason due to having a cyst removed near his lung.  He is expected to be ready for training camp.  Green will get every opportunity to remain a part of the team’s plans but will face very fierce competition from rookies Lacy and Franklin.  Still, I see the team keeping all four.  James Starks is likely all but out of Green Bay after being largely ineffective during his three-season stint with the team.  And we may have seen the last of John Kuhn, which will make the team’s decisions at this position easier.

Wide Receiver

Starters: Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb

Backups:  Jarrett Boykin, Charles Johnson

Bubble:  Jeremy Ross, Kevin Dorsey, Alex Gillett, Terrell Sinkfield, Myles White, Tyrone Walker, Sederrick Cunningham

31

May

Predicting Packers Butt Height

“There’s two main components that a center needs to have, and it’s not quickness or agility or snapping or anything. It’s two things: One, he has to have a good height, and I’m talking about where his butt rests. It can’t be too low because I don’t wanna get deep in that stance and it can’t be too high so I feel like I’m standing up. It’s gotta be just right. He’s got that.  It’s a feel. My center in college was about my height and he’s real low in his stance. So it made me have to kinda duck down a little bit. It’s hard to get out of center. Scott Wells — my previous center — [and] Jeff Saturday: great height. Great butt height.  And the second is most important, and that’s sweating. How much do they sweat? The worst thing that you can have is third, fourth quarter on an October day where it’s 65, 70 degrees and he’s sweating through his pants. Because that is not a situation you wanna be in. You gotta change pants at halftime. Our backup center — great guy — Evan Dietrich-Smith, he has major sweat issues. And when you get that ball snapped up and there’s a lot of sweat that just splashes all over you and on your hands and the ball — it’s not a good situation. So he actually has changed at halftime before. So those are the two things you look for: butt height and sweating. Jeff’s doing really well in both categories. … Low sweat ratio and solid butt height.” – Aaron Rodgers

Ah, classic Aaron Rodgers; but ironically Rodgers’ observations about centers is one of the more in-depth analysis on what it really takes to be a center in the NFL out there right now.  Fans and the media typically don’t pay much attention to offensive linemen in general, but when they do they gravitate towards the all important left tackle position.  Right tackle and guard are gaining a little steam in terms of importance (just look at how many of them were drafted this year in the 1st round), but center still remains the forgotten position.  Outside of being able to snap a ball, what makes a good center?

20

May

Who’s to Blame for Aaron Rodgers’ Record High Sacks?

Aaron Rodgers sacked by SeahawksWe’ve all seen the numbers. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked a total of 51 times in 2012 – more than any other NFL quarterback – and 55 times if you count the playoffs. It eclipsed his previous record of 50 sacks in 2009 and brings his five-year total as a starter to 202. His lowest sack count in that span was 31 in 2010, the same year they won the Super Bowl.

Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling that Packers fans have in response to this data. Arguably the best player in the game right now is on his back way more often than he should be, and we are all left wondering why. Well, perhaps some fans are looking more for an answer to “who” than for “why.”

Who is to blame for this risk to our precious franchise quarterback? Who can we channel our anger towards when we’re yelling at the 60-inch plasma television?

Unfortunately, that’s not easily answered. But we can give you some suspects to choose from . . .

(don’t forget to cast your vote in the poll below…)

SUSPECT #1: The Blockers (Offensive Line, Running Backs, etc.)

In most cases, the offensive line is usually who we shout profanities at immediately after Aaron Rodgers gets sacked. After all, when it comes to the passing game, their number one responsibility is to protect the quarterback long enough for him to complete a pass. If he goes down, then it means they failed.

During the 2012 season, the two biggest culprits were Marshall Newhouse and T.J. Lang. They each allowed 9 sacks according to ProFootballFocus.com, which accounts for roughly 35% of the 51 total sacks. It’s not surprising that Mike McCarthy felt the need this offseason to shake up the offensive line, pointing specifically to a weakness “on the left side.”

There’s plenty of blame to go around, though. Josh Sitton, Jeff Saturday, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Bryan Bulaga, and Don Barclay combined for another 17 sacks allowed. All in all, that makes 35 sacks from the offensive line, which is a clear majority of the season total.

Let’s not forget, though, that tight ends and backs also share some responsibility for blocking pass rushers. Fullback John Kuhn allowed two sacks and tight end Tom Crabtree allowed one. (Some might be surprised that none of the halfbacks allowed a sack according to PFF, especially in recalling the major gaffes by James “Neo” Starks.)