The Green Bay Packers’ 38-10 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football showed the rest of the NFL many gaping holes on both sides of the ball. One thing for sure is the Packers must fix the offensive line before reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers goes down for the count.
Green Bay’s offensive line has given up 37 sacks this season (the second most in the NFL), which includes five to New York last night. The Packers were unable to get anything going offensively because Rodgers never had enough time to drop back, survey the field and make a play. If Rodgers does not get the necessary protection there is no way Green Bay can win against any opponent, let alone versus a team with a truck load of talent such as the Giants.
Former left guard T.J. Lang struggled at right tackle in place of the injured Bryan Bulaga. The Packers were forced to use packages in which a running back or tight end would help in blocking the right side of the line just so Rodgers could get a pass off. However, once the protection moved to the right, it allowed the Giants to abuse left tackle Marshall Newhouse. It did not matter where Green Bay gave help because they simply could not stop New York’s dominant pass rush, even when the Packers had more guys blocking then the Giants had rushing.
One way for Green Bay to fix this problem is for the offensive line to play better. Evan Dietrich-Smith needs to realize he is the starting left guard for a Super Bowl contender and must get more physical or he may never get another opportunity like this again. Lang and Newhouse must keep their assignments in front of them or, at the very least, push them to the outside so Rodgers can step up in the pocket.
“It just comes down to fundamentals and winning your one-on-one battles,” said right guard Josh Sitton. “There’s always room for improvement.”
Another option for the Packers to fix the front five is to bring in a veteran lineman to play a backup role. As bad as the line is playing right now, it could certainly get worse if one of the starters went down as Green Bay only has undrafted rookie free agents Don Barclay and Greg Van Roten left on the roster. Former Packer Chad Clifton may be the answer as he could at least be a presence in the locker room and lend a veteran voice to the younger players.
Clifton is well respected among the team and Rodgers is definitely all for seeing if the former left tackle has anything left in the tank.
“I haven’t talked to Cliff in a while, but I would guess he might be able to be lured from Nashville,” Rodgers said early last week. “I love Cliff, so I would never not want to see him up here. We’ve had a lot of fun together and it would be good to see him back up here.”
Obviously, Clifton has not played football since last year’s playoff loss to the Giants. Not to mention, the fact that he was released from the team due to a failed physical does not bode well for either party. However, the Packers may need to seriously consider bringing in someone to light a fire underneath the starters to get them to play at a higher level.
Whatever the team decides to do one thing is for sure, if the offensive line does not get it together by next week then Green Bay’s run at a second Super Bowl in three years will most definitely be cut short.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.