Commentary

The Packers' biggest problem

Green Bay's defense is putrid, but an injured offensive line is more concerning

Originally Published: December 21, 2011
By Vince Verhei | Football Outsiders
PackersAP Photo/Charlie RiedelKeeping Aaron Rodgers off the ground is key to the Packers' playoff success.

The most valuable player on the Green Bay Packers is quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but the next most valuable players are those who protect Rodgers. In Week 15, when the Packers lost a couple of blockers from an offensive line that was already dinged-up, their stellar offense suddenly looked mediocre. And without Rodgers & Co. blowing opponents off the field, Green Bay's badly overrated defense was exposed.

It all led to Green Bay's 19-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It was the Packers' first loss of the season, but unless their linemen get healthy in a hurry, it likely won't be their last.

The Packers went into the Chiefs game without starting left tackle Chad Clifton, who hasn't played since Week 5. His spot has been taken by Marshall Newhouse, a fifth-round draft pick of thePackers in 2010, who didn't play a game in his rookie season. Then, against Kansas City, right tackle Bryan Bulaga sprained his right knee. He was replaced (temporarily) by Derek Sherrod, but Sherrod suffered a broken leg later in the game.

At that point, running out of pieces, the Packers were forced to shuffle left guard T.J. Lang to Bulaga's spot at right tackle and put Evan Dietrich-Smith in at guard. Dietrich-Smith has bounced on and off the rosters of Green Bay and the Seattle Seahawks since entering the league in 2009.

That mess of a line was the best Green Bay could do against Kansas City, which is unfortunate, because for all his brilliance, Rodgers has been a very sackable quarterback.


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