Offensive Line Lacking Depth

Take away one big run by Alex Green, and the Packers' running backs averaged 2.1 per carry. That's inches, not yards.

The Green Bay Packers' running game, which tore up the St. Louis Rams last week, was abysmal on Friday night against the Seattle Seahawks.

On the surface, the team's 23 carries for 75 yards – a 3.3-yard average – isn't good enough. But look inside the numbers and it's gruesome.

More than half of the yards came on Vince Young's scrambles of 21 and 18 yards.

Until Alex Green had a 31-yard run in the fourth quarter, Aaron Rodgers was the team's second-leading rusher with 4 yards.

"I think the whole run blocking the whole day was kind of slow," right tackle Don Barclay said. "We've got to get better as an offensive line there."

Green finished with two carries for 31 yards. John Kuhn rushed once for 3 yards. DuJuan Harris carried three times for 2 yards. Johnathan Franklin toted the ball four times for 1 yard. Eddie Lacy had eight carries for minus-5.

Take Green's run out of the equation, and the backs had 17 carries for 1 yard. Even broken down to inches, the average of 2.1 is terrible.

"I don't think we're where we want to be at all," right guard T.J. Lang said of the offense in general.

Four carries went for no gain; five lost yardage. During one eight-rush sequence spanning the second and third quarters, the Packers had three runs for no gain and four runs that lost yardage.

Running behind the No. 1 offensive line, Eddie Lacy's had four carries on the drive in which a touchdown pass to Jermichael Finley was overturned by replay. Those carries went for 2, 1, 0 and 0 yards. Running behind the No. 2 offensive line during the first possession of the second half, Lacy was stuffed for losses of 3 and 2 yards, then was hit for a minus-6 when he scooped up a poorly thrown backward pass by Graham Harrell.

What it means in the long run remains to be seen. With Aaron Rodgers playing only one series and Harrell getting the final four series with the starting offensive line, Seattle played a lot of eight-in-the-box defenses. That, clearly, won't be the case with Rodgers behind center and his full complement of receivers at his disposal.

What has to be a worry is the depth of the offensive line, which simply hasn't developed. That should have been a strength of the offensive line but it's been eradicated by injuries to Bryan Bulaga (torn ACL) and J.C. Tretter (broken ankle), along with Derek Sherrod's protracted recovery from a broken leg sustained in December 2011.

Thus, rather than the possibility of Bulaga and Sherrod starting at the tackle spots, the Packers are going with David Bakhtiari (fourth round, 2013) and Barclay (undrafted, 2012; four career starts), with Marshall Newhouse (fifth round, 2011; 26 career starts) as the backup at both spots. On the interior, Tretter would have been a factor. Instead, Greg Van Roten (undrafted, 2012; no starts) might have to be the top backup at guard and center. He was pushed around by the Seahawks, though.

None of the other young options have seized control of a roster spot. Undrafted rookie Lane Taylor, who impressed in the preseason opener, hasn't taken that next step. Another undrafted rookie, Patrick Lewis, had a bad shotgun snap to Vince Young. Holdovers Andrew Datko and Garth Gerhart haven't done much, either.

Thus, offensive line might have to be fortified with a waiver-wire acquisition or via a trade.

"The offensive line depth is something we'll continue to evaluate," coach Mike McCarthy said. "As far as who's doing what, I really don't want to get into that. I really don't want to get into where we are roster-wise."


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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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