Putting the Packers offensive line under the microscope

If the Packers are going to be an explosive offense, they must protect their QB.

If the Packers are going to be an explosive offense, they must protect their QB.

Fail Mary. The Inaccurate Reception. Senseless in Seattle.

Whatever you want to call it, the Packers’ Monday Night misfortune has been the topic of the sports world this week. Did the Packers deserve the win at Seattle? Sure, they did. But buried under the outrage surrounding the NFL’s replacement officials are some lingering issues with the Green Bay offense.

Through three games last season, the Packers averaged 33.0 points per game. The wide receivers were constantly making plays, and Aaron Rodgers had racked up eight touchdowns compared to just one interception.

This year, however, the Packers are averaging just 19.0 points per game through three games. Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings both have yet to catch a touchdown pass, and Rodgers, the reigning MVP, has accounted for only three scores.

So, why such a dramatic decline in production?

Perhaps opposing defenses have caught on to the Packers’ offensive philosophy. Or maybe their lack of a consistent running game has finally caught up to them.

In either case, one thing was quite obvious during Monday night’s game in Seattle–the Packers’ offensive line is struggling mightily.

Rodgers has been sacked 16 times through three games, which is four more times than any other quarterback in the league. Pro Football Focus has only credited the offensive line for allowing nine of the 16 sacks, but the starting line has performed well below league average thus far in 2012.

According to Pro Football Focus, only one of the Packers’ five starting offensive linemen (Josh Sitton) has earned a positive overall grade. The line has featured some pleasant surprises, as well as some major disappointments. Left tackle Marshall Newhouse has been solid in pass protection, while right tackle Bryan Bulaga has struggled in every area.

Let’s take a closer look at the Packers’ offensive line through three games. The five linemen are ranked 1-5, from best to worst, by their overall grade according to Pro Football Focus through three games.

(All stats include players who have played at least 75% of their team’s offensive snaps.)

1) RG Josh Sitton: 0 sacks allowed, 3 QB hurries

*Ranks 11th among 52 guards, (+4.3 overall, +3.6 pass blocking, +0.8 run blocking)

2) LT Marshall Newhouse: 3 sacks allowed, 3 QB hurries