11

October

What the Heck is Wrong with Bryan Bulaga?

Bryan Bulaga

Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga has struggled this season.

According to Pro Football Focus, Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga has allowed 18 quarterback hurries, three sacks and three hits through the first five games.

In 12 games last season, Bulaga allowed 21 hurries, one sack and two hits.

I’m no math whiz, but after crunching those numbers, Bulaga has already allowed the same number of hurries, sacks and hits through five games in 2012 that he allowed in 12 games in 2011.

So what the heck is going on? Bulaga was one of the buzz players entering training camp. He was pegged as a player with the chance at going from good to great.

Injury report
Could he be hurt? Bulaga popped up on the injury report with knee trouble, and perhaps the injury is more serious than the Packers are letting on. That’s pure speculation, but given the way he’s played so far, it’s a definite possibility.

At this point, I almost hope he’s playing hurt. I don’t want to believe that the Packers once promising first-round draft pick at tackle has taken a turn for the worst and is going from good to not-so-good. If he’s playing hurt, there’s hope that he’ll get healthy and get back to playing at a high level again.

If he’s just regressing, well, that’s scary. That gives the Packers two first-round draft picks at tackle who are shaky at best (Derek Sherrod being the other). First-round draft picks are precious commodities. It’s tough to be a successful team if you whiff on your first pick in consecutive drafts.

More numbers
The other Pro Football Focus numbers aren’t much better for Bulaga.

His overall grade for the season is -8, -7.4 on pass blocks and -1.1 on run blocks. Bulaga’s overall grade was 22.3 in 2011, 12.8 on pass blocking and 9.1 on run blocks. Penalties are also popping up. Bulaga already has been flagged three times this season after only drawing six flags in 2011.

Roll the tape
If numbers aren’t your thing, check out this video evidence:

 

God gave us two hands. Offensive lineman need to use both of them.

Bruce Irvin gets into Bulaga’s body and makes his move because Bulaga is way late on getting his hands up. If Bulaga, who outweighs Irvin by at least 75 pounds, gets his hands on Irvin, he’ll win the battle much more often than he won’t.

7

October

Packers Blew Chance to Put Colts Away at End of 1st Half

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers should have put Sunday’s game against the Colts away at the end of the first half.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers gets annoyed when people ask him about not having many fourth quarter comeback wins on his resume. Rodgers usually points out that he’s won a lot of games in the second and third quarter, making any type of late comeback unnecessary.

The Packers had one of those game-clinching opportunities late in the second quarter on Sunday against the Colts. Instead of putting the game away, the Packers went three-and-out and everything unraveled from there.

After Adam Vinatieri missed a 53-yard field goal, the Packers had the ball on their own 43 with 1 minute, 17 seconds left in the first half. The offense was rolling, the Colts were reeling, and another score — even a field goal — would have probably been the deciding blow.

Time to end this one early, right? Unfortunately, the Packers did just the opposite.

Rodgers hit John Kuhn for six yards on the drive’s first play, then missed Jordy Nelson, then saw Jermichael Finley drop another pass (the drop was bad, but it was also a weird play call, Finley likely would not have reached the first-down marker even if he caught it).

We’ve seen some pathetic efforts from the Packers offense this season, but that drive might have been the worst.

We can complain about the bad defense, we can pound our fists about the dropped passes, we can curse Mike McCarthy for not running the ball or being more imaginative on offense, we can wonder what happened to the 2011 version of Rodgers, and we can shake our heads at Mason Crosby’s choke job at the end of the game. All of those criticisms are valid.

But it all comes back to that pathetic drive, in my opinion.

Make it 28-3 at halftime and there’s no way the Colts mount any sort of comeback. Score on that drive and Rodgers can go on his Tuesday radio show and tell everyone how he won another game well before the fourth quarter, no comeback necessary.

Instead Rodgers has to spend Tuesday’s show explaining how the Packers lost despite leading  by 18 at halftime, their largest blown halftime lead since November of 1957.

The quarterback could make his explanation simple by just talking about that terrible drive at the end of the first half.

2

October

Did Sunday’s Victory Save the Packers’ Season?

Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb played a big role in the Packers’ emotional win over the Saints on Sunday.

I laughed when the headline to Kevin Seifert’s game story popped up on my Twitter account Sunday night: “Emotional Packers save their season.”

“Really, Kevin?” I thought. “A season cannot be saved in week four. Calm down.”

I thought Kevin was reaching for a story angle to try and be different, get people riled up and generate web traffic.

But Seifert is an excellent reporter, one that isn’t prone to hyperbole and weird narratives that attempt to push reader’s buttons just for the hell of it. So I clicked on the story, read it, and decided that Seifert might be on to something.

This passage in particular stood out:

At 1-2, the Packers were facing some long odds if they lost Sunday’s game. Since the NFL moved to its current playoff format, 85.3 percent of teams that started 1-3 missed the playoffs. In a league in which most teams have relatively equal talent, the so-called “snowball effect” is very real.

I won’t summarize Seifert’s entire post — read it for yourself — but he makes some excellent points about emotion and the toll it would have taken on the Packers to lose another emotionally-charged game, this time at home to a team that was just as desperate as they were.

Instead let’s focus on the immediate future. If the Packers lost Sunday, not only would they be facing long playoff odds at 1-3, they’d be facing them with their next three games on the road; a tough situation in any case, let alone coming off two straight heartbreaking losses.

It’s silly to project more than three games into the future during the NFL season (even three games might be too far), but there’s a common theme among the Packers next three road opponents: Hope. The next three teams the Packers face all have reasons to be hopeful, and likely view the Packers games as a chance to go from hopeful to confident.

  • The Colts are coming off a bye week armed with a phenom quarterback and Dwight Freeney returning. Their coach was also just admitted to the hospital for treatable leukemia, which means emotions will be running high in that stadium. There’s hope for a promising future in Indianapolis, and what better way to take a step forward than by beating the Packers.