Sunday Can't Come Soon Enough for Off. Line

The offensive line played a miserable first half at Seattle, with eight sacks and all five possessions ending in punts. What did offensive line coach James Campen say at halftime, and why were Campen and his blockers so fired up on Thursday?

Offensive line coach James Campen delivered one doozy of a halftime speech.

At Seattle on Monday night, the Green Bay Packers trailed 7-0. Their five possessions resulted in five punts and 87 total yards. The seven first downs were washed away in a deluge of eight sacks.

"I don't talk about halftime (speeches)," Campen said on Thursday.

This isn't high school and this isn't the movies. Fire and brimstone speeches don't cut it in the NFL. Campen's measured tone hit home as the offensive line — and the offense — regrouped.

"He could have freaked out and yelled but he stayed calm and told us what we needed to do and left it up to us to make a change," guard Josh Sitton said.

The Packers' first three drives of the second half went 13 plays for 70 yards and a field goal, 11 plays for 66 yards and a field goal and 16 plays for 81 yards and a touchdown. Green Bay gained 15 first downs, didn't give up a sack and scored 12 points to do everything but win the game.

"The first half was not the way we want to play," fellow guard T.J. Lang said. "We got beat up pretty good in the first half. Watching film of the second half, it was inspiring to watch that we responded out of that. It could have been easy to put our heads down and go in the tank, but we responded pretty positively in the second half. There's no excuse for letting the quarterback get hit that many times. It's obviously embarrassing as a group when your quarterback's getting hit that many times."

On Thursday, Campen's message was two-fold. One, it was about fundamentals. Two, there's no excuses.

Playing at headache-inducing CenturyLink Field, the Packers had all sorts of problems containing speed rushing ends Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin.

No excuse.

"Things always go back to fundamentals," Campen said. "I know that many times you guys hate that word ‘fundamentals' but in reality that's what it is. You know, when you get out of your fundamentals or you start getting into situations that might be more difficult than you previously experienced, you have to rely on your fundamentals. It's no different than you or I and we drive home from work. There's a stop sign and it says ‘stop' for a reason. You go through it, you're going to get hit and somebody else is going to hit."

The play-calling didn't help contain Seattle's fired-up defensive front. Between passes, sacks and scrambles, there were 24 passes and just three runs.

No excuse.

"I'll be honest with you, I don't give a flying crap," Campen said. "I don't care what play is called. I could give a crap if it's 100 passes or 100 runs, do your job. To me, that's a negative, defeatist attitude. Whatever is called, our job is to block. Period."

A major mystery has been the play of right tackle Bryan Bulaga. Bulaga had an outstanding 2011 season with one sack and 21 total pressures allowed, according to ProFootballFocus.com, and he dominated training camp this summer. However, in the first three games of this season, Bulaga has allowed three sacks and 17 total pressures. Most of the damage came against Seattle, with two sacks, one quarterback hit and eight hurries for 11 total pressures.

"You never want to hear your name being called in that sense, negatively. But, I mean, it happens," Bulaga said. "But I think the important part is learning from it and moving on. I think I settled down in the second half. I think I didn't use any fundamentals for most of the first half. I was just out there, I don't know what I was out there doing. I just wasn't playing my game, and that's what happens. I know that's not going to happen again."

To a man, the Packers' offensive line says it's ready to go for New Orleans. Rodgers has been sacked a league-high 16 times. For the offense to get anywhere close to its 2011 form, the line needs to make dramatic improvements.

That improvement started in the second half at Seattle, with infinitely better pass protection and solid run blocking against a first-rate defense.

"I'm excited about playing the New Orleans Saints," Campen said. "There's no other group that wants to get on the field (more). If they could have gone back and replayed that game, they'd have done it right then at 12 o'clock, 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, or played the next day. They're ready and hungry to get back on the field. Personally, for the group, they'd love to have it be Thursday night, go Monday-Thursday. They want to get back on the field. I'm proud of the guys the way they responded. That is a difficult thing to do, to come back out after what had happened. There's a lot of credit, a lot of positive things moving forward to New Orleans from that standpoint."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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