With the way the Green Bay Packers offensive line performed during the 2009 season, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that three of the five spots are likely to be in flux this offseason.
Chad Clifton’s left tackle spot was a weakness for most of the season and right tackle was a major problem until Mark Tauscher was inserted into the starting lineup. Sure, the Packers line played decently once Tauscher joined the starters, but the coaching staff also changed the Packers’ offensive scheme by employing more short drops and quick releases in the passing game. That strategy severely limited the Packers deep passing game and it says nothing of the future.
Clifton will be 34 when next season starts. Tauscher, 33. Clifton missed four games in 2009 and parts of several others. Tauscher missed eight. Simply, these guys need to be replaced.
And that’s not all. Pro Football Weekly says the only players on the line that are safe are center Scott Wells and right guard Josh Sitton.
That means left guard Daryn Colledge, who will be a restricted free agent in an uncapped year, could have to earn his job back, if he’s resigned at all.
We hear it’s a much different story, however, at left guard, where free agent Daryn Colledge had a very subpar season, culminated by his ill-timed overtime holding penalty in the playoff loss to the Cardinals. The Packers have shown no signs of going out of their way to re-sign Colledge — a situation that we hear has left the veteran lineman more than a little out of sorts.
Subpar is putting it mildly. Colledge was the Packers worst offensive lineman not named Allen Barbre. If he wasn’t giving up sacks, he was committing penalties.
Essentially, the Packers have three openings on their starting offensive line group and even if they wanted to trot out some of the same guys they did this season, they’d have trouble doing so. Both Clifton and Tauscher are unrestricted free agents. Colledge and Jason Spitz, who opened the season as the starting center, are restricted free agents.
Thankfully, all is not lost.
In his second season, T.J. Lang will likely be ready to fill one of the tackle spots. Spitz, if he’s resigned, could easily take over for Colledge at guard. Frankly, Spitz proved to be a better guard in 2008 than he did a center in 2009. That leaves the draft to fill the other tackle spot.
But the Packers will also need depth. Right now, that consists of Barbre and Breno Giacomini at tackle – neither of which has proven capable of playing at the NFL level – and Evan Dietrich-Smith and Stanley Daniels at guard. Dietrich-Smith, who can also play center, looks to be solid up-and-comer, while Daniels is an unknown.
Resigning Colledge as a backup seems to be a viable option, but clearly, the Packers have quite a few holes to fill along the line. Hopefully, GM Ted Thompson will take the time to address it this offseason.