Packers Training Camp Countdown: 29 Days

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. Despite nearly 29 points per game, Mike McCarthy proves good isn't good enough on offense.

Good isn't good enough for Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

Last season, the Packers ranked fifth in the NFL in scoring with 27.1 points per game. That includes 28.9 over the last 13 games. That's right in line with the team's three-year average of 28.8 points per game.

Still, it's almost a touchdown off the dizzying pace set by the 2011 team, which obliterated the club's single-season scoring record by 99 points by putting up a league-high 560 points.

In that light, McCarthy instituted a sweeping revamp of the offense.

Added were running backs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. Tight end Matthew Mulligan potentially will add another element to the running game if he plays to his reputation as a physical blocker. Suddenly, the Packers, at the least, should be much more balanced.

The biggest change offensively, of course, was the left-to-right, right-to-left swap of the offensive line.

At the forefront of the line swap is finally putting the brakes on the alarming sack totals. Aaron Rodgers was sacked a league-high 51 times in 2012, and his four-year total of 168 also is tops in the league. The 51 sacks in 2012 and the 50 in 2009 are a dubious first and second in franchise history. Since taking over as the starter in 2008, Rodgers has been at the receiving end of two of the league's four 50-sack seasons.

Nobody argues that there's plenty of blame to go around. Last season, the running game wasn't good enough to get defenses out of Cover-2. Because defenses played so much Cover-2 (and other coverage-based schemes), the receivers had trouble getting open at times. In addition, Rodgers' patience leads to big plays but also means extra punishment.

In fact, ProFootballFocus.com's data shows the Packers' offensive line actually was slightly above average in terms of protecting Rodgers, checking in 13th in pass-blocking efficiency, which measures sacks, hits and hurries by total passing plays.

Nonetheless, the hope is Bryan Bulaga's move from right tackle to left tackle to replace Marshall Newhouse will mitigate some of the protection issues. In 29 starts over the past two seasons, Newhouse allowed 16 sacks and 100 total pressures, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

The line swap should help the running game, too. Bulaga will be a big upgrade over Newhouse in that department. According to the league's media-only stats site, the Packers averaged 3.65 yards on runs to the left but 4.64 on runs to the right last year.

Newhouse lined up with the first team at right tackle throughout the offseason, but he will be challenged by Don Barclay, who proved himself a formidable run blocker when thrust into the lineup late in the season. Of the team's 12 rushing touchdowns (including playoffs), 10 came with Barclay in the lineup.

MOST-SACKED QUARTERBACKS (current starters or with chance to start)

Player: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009: Total (Average season; average per start)

Rodgers: 51, 36, 31, 50: 168 (42.0 average; 2.71/start)

Roethlisberger: 30, 40, 32, 50: 155 (38.8 average; 2.82/start)

Cutler: 38, 23, 52, 35: 148 (37.0 average; 2.64/start)

Rivers: 49, 30, 38, 25: 142 (35.5 average; 2.22/start)

Flacco: 35, 31, 40, 36: 142 (35.5 average; 2.22/start)

Newton: 36, 35: 71 (35.5 average; 2.22/start)

Bradford: 35, 36, 34: 105 (35.0 average; 2.50/start)

Dalton: 46, 24: 70 (35.0 average; 2.19/start)

Sanchez 34, 39, 27, 26: 126 (31.5 average; 2.03/start)

Gabbert: 40, 22: 62 (31.0 average; 2.58/start)

A. Smith: 24, 44, 25, 22: 115 (28.8 average; 2.56/start)

Romo: 36, 36, 7, 34; 113 (28.3 average; 2.09/start)

Cassel: 19, 22, 26, 42: 109 (27.3 average; 2.32/start)

Stafford: 29, 36, 4, 24: 93 (23.3 average; 2.11/start)

Vick: 28, 23, 34, 0: 85 (21.3 average; 2.43/start)

Note: No quarterback has ranked among the 10 most-sacked quarterbacks in each of the four seasons. Rodgers, Cutler, Flacco, Bradford and Romo are the five quarterbacks to have ranked in the top 10 three times.


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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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