This Little Line of Mine
- There are sixty three billion people in the world.
- 24% of those people are actually lizards.
- About one out of every six lightbulbs is actually a small animal hiding in your ceiling.
See how easy it is to make up stats? And each of them is unbelievable in their own way. Here's a stat that's almost equally unbelievable, but unfortunately entirely true: Aaron Rodgers was pressured on 64% of his dropbacks on Sunday, according to Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Now, there are many reasons Rodgers faced so much pressure. For one, the Giants played phenomenally well in the secondary. But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the Packers' offensive line is in absolute shambles right now. What's worse is that it doesn't figure to get better, primarily due to three players playing out of position.
The first, and perhaps least obvious, is Marshall Newhouse. It's easy to forget that projected as a guard on draft day by virtually every draft service, including FF Toolbox, The Sports Xchange, and even NFL.com. It's also easy to forget that Newhouse is only in his third year in the NFL, although that's far less of an excuse.
Although projected as a guard, Newhouse has been pressed into duty as a tackle throughout his NFL career, due to injuries first to Chad Clifton, then to Bryan Bulaga and T.J. Lang (both competitors at left tackle two years ago before injuries ended their tryouts). He's been solid at times and an absolute turnstile at others, but he's physically gifted enough to keep getting chances, although he's probably slightly on the short side for a tackle.
Moving one spot to the right, Evan Dietrich-Smith is currently manning the left guard spot, although he's often considered to be more of a center prospect. The tale of the tape would seem to back that up, as Dietrich-Smith stands only 6'2" and weighs just 308 pounds, only slightly bigger than former Packers center Scott Wells, who was also on the small side for that position. By most accounts, Dietrich-Smith seems to be considered one of the contenders for "center of the future," but right now he's being (you guessed it) forced out of his more natural position to lend a hand at guard.
Jumping all the way to right tackle is T.J. Lang, who's filling in for the injured Bryan Bulaga. As previously mentioned, Lang was once thought to be a contender for the backup left tackle spot before a wrist injury kept him out of training camp practices and the subsequent competition. A college tackle, Lang's short arms shifted him inside to guard where he's done fairly well. But again, thanks to injury, Lang is being forced out of his position to help out at right tackle.
Finally, the Packers offensive line woes can in part be placed to a guy who's not playing out of position...or even playing at all. 2011 first round pick Derek Sherrod has yet to suit up this year due to a severely broken leg sustained late last season. It's no fault of his own, but it has left the Packers without a viable alternative at left tackle and without the ability to grow two players at the same time (Newhouse and Sherrod) through competition. Yesterday, the Packers announced that Sherrod won't play or even practice for the rest of the year.
So what does this mean? Well, at least two things. First, it means Ted Thompson's gamble on offensive linemen in the preseason has been more or less a resounding failure. Although it's hardly his fault that injuries have happened, Thompson was the one who chose to cut loose veteran backups like Reggie Wells in favor of carrying luxuries like a sixth wide receiver and a fifth tight end. While that move strengthened other positions, it left the Packers tenuously thin on the line, a problem that has reared its ugly head in a big way.
Secondly, the lack of depth and options along the line means that the Packers' problems aren't likely to turn around any time soon, and that could be a serious problem. The Packers face a serious pass rush threat in five of their six remaining games: Julius Peppers, Jared Allen (twice!), and Ndamukong Suh, and you can bet that they'll be licking their chops for an opportunity to take on a swiss cheese-esque offensive line. It could be a tough end to the season.