9

March

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Offensive Line

The Packers can always count on Josh Sitton on the offensive line.

Packers offensive line:  The Packers have invested a significant amount of resources into their offensive line over the last three years. Two first-round draft picks (Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod), a notable free-agent signee (Jeff Saturday) and a few contract extensions (Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang). Despite all that investment, the offensive line is still nowhere near the level of the Packers’ skill position groups.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

  • Bryan Bulaga (1st round)
  • Don Barclay (undrafted)
  • Josh Sitton (4th round)
  • Evan Dietrich-Smith (undrafted)
  • T.J. Lang (4th round)
  • Marshall Newhouse (5th round)
  • Derek Sherrod (1st round)
  • Greg Van Roten (undrafted)

 

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Bulaga: There are all kinds of questions swirling around Bulaga right now. Will he ever be the pro-bowler many think he’s capable of being? Will he move to left tackle in 2013? What do we make of his dismal start in 2012? Can he stay healthy? That last question is probably the most important. I don’t think Bulaga was 100 percent healthy to start 2012, and that was part of the reason he struggled so much early. Whether he moves to the left side depends on a lot of things: What is Derek Sherrod’s status? Does Mike McCarthy want a more physical line? Does Ted Thompson draft another tackle in April?

Don Barclay: Assuming Don Barclay doesn’t leave football in order to pursue a career as the next great wrestling jobber, he should get a shot at starting in 2013. Ideally, I think the Packers would like to use Barclay as the sixth man on the offensive line, sort of like Evan Dietrich-Smith has been used most of the last two seasons. But if Barclay has to start, the Packers probably won’t panic. Barclay is kind of a poor man’s version of T.J. Lang: Physical, goes all out, versatile, lacking a bit in pure talent.

Sitton: Plug him in and forget about him. As long as Sitton is healthy, he’s one of the better guards in the league.

28

December

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 16 vs. Tennessee Titans

My, where should we go for Hobbjective analysis this week?  I mean the entire game was essentially a highlight reel for the Packers, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how accurate much of the second half is in terms of execution because it’s pretty obvious that the Titans have stopped trying at some point and just want to go home.

One play that I think hasn’t gotten as much attention as perhaps is warranted is Ryan Grant’s first TD in the 4th quarter.  The reason why I say this is because it’s one occasion where the Titans should be 90% sure that it’s going to be a run but they still manage to get blocked out of the play.

The Situation: The blowout is almost over at 41 to 0 and the Packers just need to burn 12 minutes as the Titans stopped trying back in the 2nd quarter.  To make matters worse, WR Jeremy Ross (he of the “punt, pass and puke” play from last week) rips off a 58 yard return subbing in for an injured Randall Cobb.  The Packers start the play off at the 7 yard line.

The Formation: The Packers are in a “jumbo” 1-2-2 formation (1WR-2TE-2RB) where OG Greg Van Roten (64) is eligible and has lined up as a tight end inline with the right tackle.  Offset to the right of OB Van Roten is TE DJ Williams (84), one of their better run blocking tight ends.  RB Ryan Grant (25) is lined up 7 yards behind QB Graham Harrell (6) with FB John Kuhn (30) lined up directly behind the right tackle.  WR James Jones (89) is the lone receiver split out wide left and isn’t in the screen cap, and for all intents and purposes for this play is irrelevant.  On the offensive line, a further permutation has emerged with LT Marshall Newhouse (74), LG TJ Lang (70), Evan Dietrich-Smith (62), RG Josh Sitton (71) and RT Don Barclay (67) going from left to right.

23

December

Keys to the Game: Green Bay Packers vs. Tennessee Titans

Chris Johnson and Tramon Williams

The Packers need to bear down on Johnson this Sunday and keep him from running free

I’m going to depart a bit from the usual Key Matchups format because the Tennessee Titans are an unfamiliar opponent of the Green Bay Packers and also due to the injuries on both sides.

We will return to our regularly scheduled “Key Matchups” next week when the Packers visit the Minnesota Vikings to round out the 2012 regular season.  For this week, it’s more of a “What to Watch For”.

Titans Running Back Chris Johnson

Johnson gets hidden, sometimes even forgotten, in Tennessee because they are one of the smaller markets.  And let’s be honest, the Titans have been very forgettable the past four seasons.  But 1,200 yards and five touchdowns is nothing to overlook this week for the Packers.

Johnson had a 94 yard touchdown run in Tennessee’s Monday night’s dismantling of the New York Jets.  With that run, Johnson set a new NFL record with six career touchdown runs over 80 yards.

He’s still a very good running back and clearly has the ability to break a long run at any time.  Green Bay struggled to contain another great running back three weeks ago when Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had a long scoring run and ran wild all day.

It’s asking a lot of any defense to contain a top back, but Green Bay has had recent success defending the run and can again this week.  It comes down to the one-one-one matchups at the line, specifically with Ryan Pickett and BJ Raji.  Each played very well last week against Chicago and Matt Forte.

Tennessee’s offensive line grades out better than does the Bears’ but with top wide receiver Kendall Wright out this week, the Titans won’t have as many options in the passing game. Green Bay may be able to focus more on loading up the box, as they say.

If all else fails, just tackle.  The Packers have had more than their fair share of tackling issues over the past two seasons and it cost them in the Vikings game.  Fortunately it didn’t cost them the game, but in a close contest, a missed tackle can be the one play that prevents them from getting the “W”.

4

December

Packers Don Barclay: Who is This Guy?

Packers Offensive Lineman Don Barclay

Packers Offensive Lineman Don Barclay

After stepping in for an injured TJ Lang at right tackle in last week’s game against the Vikings, Packers rookie Don Barclay is suddenly the subject of many questions.

Even before the Vikings game, there were calls by many to move Lang back to left guard and insert Barclay at right tackle (all without ever having seen Barclay play a single meaningful offensive snap in the NFL).

Either these folks knew something we didn’t, or blind luck shall be given the credit, as Barclay stepped in and did an adequate job. Adequate meaning he didn’t do anything fantastic, but he also didn’t do anything horrible. For his first game ever, a solid performance.

For some fans, this is enough to anoint Barclay the Packers starting right tackle for the rest of the season in place of TJ Lang, there in place of Bryan Bulaga. And so the questions start…

Packers fans have a seemingly endless unquenched thirst for information about every guy in a Green & Gold uniform -even undrafted rookie free agents no one has ever heard of before.

And that, in a sense, is why we’re here. To provide you, the insatiable Packers fan, with volumes of minutiae about your beloved Packers players.

So without further ado, we present to you Don Barclay:

Don Barclay, 6’4″, 310lbs, West Virginia University

Barclay is from Cranberry PA, about an hour outside of Pittsburgh. He was deemed too big for Pop Warner football, and didn’t start playing until just before High School.

Despite living near Pittsburgh, he never considered going to the University of Pittsburgh because of an uncle of his who played for West Virginia and despises the Panthers (this because his WVU team could beat them once in his years at WVU).

Barclay was a three-year starter at left tackle who tied the school record by playing in 52 games with 39 consecutive starters after serving as a backup guard and tackle as a redshirt freshman.

At the WVU Pro day, Barclay turned in these results:

40yd dash: 5.03
20yd dash: 2.88
10yd dash: 1.73
Bench Reps: 23
Vertical jump: 29.5″
Broad Jump: 8’7″
20yd shuttle: 4.70
3-cone drill: 7.54

Most scouts were looking at Barclay as a guard, with some even thinking about him as a potential center, which is why Barclay practiced snapping the ball in front of scouts at his Pro day.

3

December

Packers 23, Vikings 14: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Aaron Rodgers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers scrambles to evade the pressure from Vikings DE Jared Allen

It was a solid rebound from their blowout loss to the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers are back in first place in the NFC North.

Thanks to their 23-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks’ 23-17 overtime win against the Chicago Bears, the Packers find themselves right back where they were before the meltdown against the Giants.  The Packers currently hold the tiebreaker against the Bears, but the two teams face off in less than two weeks at Soldier Field for what very likely could be the NFC North title game.

As for the victory over the Vikings, it was a much more inspired effort than what the Packers turned in against the Giants.  The Packers allowed Adrian Peterson to gain more than 200 yards on the ground yet were still able to win thanks to some opportunistic plays by the defense as well as some bad decisions by Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder.

The Packers offense used a two headed rushing attack that worked well and the offensive line, despite now losing TJ Lang to injury, improved and only allowed two sacks against a solid Vikings defensive line.

So who performed well and who left something to be desired in the Packers’ big divisional win? Let’s take a look?

Game Balls

S Morgan Burnett

Burnett very well may have won this game for the Packers.

With the Vikings up 14-10, Peterson broke a 48 yard run to get the Vikings to the Packers’ 12 yard line.  It seemed inevitable that they would go up 21-10 and put the Packers in a deep hole.

Instead, as Ponder rolled out to his right he tried to get the ball to Michael Jenkins but the ball instead landed in Burnett’s hands.  The Packers got a field goal on the subsequent drive and cut the Vikings lead to 14-13.

Later on in the third quarter, the Vikings were trailing 20-14 but were driving yet again and Burnett picked off Ponder once more.  The Packers again were able to drive down the field and get a field goal for the final points of the game.

2

December

An In-Depth Look at the Packers’ Don Barclay and Wrestling Jobbers

Don Barclay

Don Barclay, the Packers wrestling jobber.

There’s been some scuttle about the Packers moving T.J. Lang back to left guard and trying undrafted rookie Don Barclay at right tackle.

(Editor’s Note: This article was actually written before this week’s game against the Vikings but never appeared due to a scheduling issue.)

Lang has floundered since moving to tackle after Bryan Bulaga got hurt. Evan Dietrich-Smith hasn’t fared much better filling Lang’s slot at guard. Lang played well before the move, so perhaps moving him back to guard would solidify that spot and the Packers could focus most of their attention on helping Barclay.

Right now, it seems like the Packers have to worry about helping Lang, Dietrich-Smith and sometimes Marshall Newhouse. That’s not going to fly for much longer.

Anyway, I was going to do a post debating the pros and cons of trying Barclay at tackle, but writing about backup offensive lineman is boring.

Instead, I decided to write about my second favorite thing in the whole wide world (behind the Packers, of course): 1980s and 90s professional wrestling.

What’s a Jobber?
Those of you who listen to the radio show Green and Gold Today know that co-host Bill Johnson refers to Barclay as “everyone’s favorite wrestling jobber.” For those of you that don’t know what a wrestling jobber is, what is wrong with you? Actually, you should probably be proud of yourself if you don’t know what a wrestling jobber is.

Back in the 80s and early 90s, wrestling on TV often featured a well-known wrestler beating up a scrub in a match that lasted minute or two. It usually took the well-known wrestler longer to make his ring entrance than it took for him to win the actual match.

These scrubs were known as jobbers. The only purpose jobbers served was to get destroyed by the big-name guys. Doesn’t sound like a very glamourous way to earn a couple extra bucks, does it?

Jobbers were either too small or slightly overweight and were always dorky looking. They resembled insurance salesman or truck drivers more than jacked up professional wrestlers. On the surface, jobbers sound like complete wastes of space. But they served a purpose.

Jobbers existed to make the popular wrestlers look good. Every time people saw Jake “the Snake” Roberts DDT some poor jobber, pin him, then throw a gigantic snake on the poor guy, it made Roberts look good and enhanced the overall wrestling product.

1

December

Hilarious Video: Packers Josh Sitton and TJ Lang

First off, let me apologize. I’ve been lax in bringing you entertaining Packers videos lately (been putting a lot of focus on the new Packers Talk Radio Network project I’m involved with).

But fear not… I will get back to the business of scouring Youtube for Packers-related videos you’re sure to enjoy.

So here ya’ go:

 

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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