Green Bay Packers offensive guard Josh Sitton has officially been elected to his first Pro Bowl after right guard Mike Iupati stepped down due to his team, the San Francisco 49ers, reaching the Super Bowl. As great of an honor as it is, does Sitton really deserve the selection?
Sitton is regarded as the Packers best offensive lineman, and history proves this to be true. In 2010, the year Green Bay went on to win Super Bowl XLV, Sitton was voted the NFL Alumni Offensive Lineman of the Year and was a first team All-Pro as well as a Pro Bowl alternate. When the Packers went 15-1 in 2011, Sitton was a second team All-Pro.
However, many members of the Wisconsin media feel that several players on the Packers, including Sitton, have not played at the same level since winning the Super Bowl. The fact is Sitton has not performed as well as he could after he signed a six-year, $34.95 million contract on September 2, 2011, despite staying relatively healthy over the past two seasons. Too many times in sports we see players get the big pay day and then simply not work as hard to stay on top of their game. I am not saying Sitton has done this specifically, but facts are facts.
The 26-year old was a member of one of the worst statistical offensive lines in the NFL. Green Bay allowed quarterback Aaron Rodgers to get sacked a league-high 51 times, and they were only able to muster 3.58 rushing yards per carry. Basically, not one single offensive lineman did their job correctly in 2012, and it was a major reason why the Packers were defeated by the 49ers in the playoffs.
Sitton is the leader of the line and should take full responsibility when a poor performance is given. Green Bay attempted to run the football in Sitton’s direction 12 percent of the time in 2012. Those carries resulted in 3.52 adjusted line yards, which was the second worst among Packers offensive linemen and ranked 26th in the league among all right guards. However, when the team ran the ball between Sitton and the center on 42 percent of their running plays it resulted in 4.20 adjusted line yards, which was good for 12th in the NFL.
Considering the Jacksonville, Florida native is owed $3.4 million plus a $650,000 roster bonus in 2013, the Packers are hoping for a much better outcome similar to what he delivered in 2010. Sitton has the respect of his fellow linemen, including veteran Jeff Saturday who stated in late December that he wished he could give his Pro Bowl selection to Sitton. This means Sitton can single-handedly improve the overall line’s level of play with his own gusty performance.
I have plenty of respect for Sitton, and I believe he is a top-notch player who is overflowing with potential. Clearly, the best is still yet to come, and the Packers should feel lucky to have such a talented player protecting Rodgers. With that being said, I believe there were better candidates to replace Iupati then Sitton.