Offensive line may soon need tweaking

Without Javon Walker and with Brett Favre in an early-season slump, Ahman Green is the Green Bay Packers' top play-maker. However, in order for Green to make plays, he'll need more help from his main blockers – the offensive line. Through three games, the line in front of the Pro Bowl back has been inconsistent. If it persists through Monday's game at Carolina, the Packers should make some personnel changes.

The Packers have gone with center Mike Flanagan and newly acquired guards Adrian Klemm and Will Whitticker in between tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher since training camp. It has been clear that while Tauscher has performed the best among the linemen, Flanagan has been least effective, followed by Whitticker, Klemm and Clifton. Flanagan is coming off a 2004 season in which he missed all but three games because of a bad knee. He had surgery on his left knee early last October. Flanagan's struggles combined with Klemm and Whitticker adapting to their new roles has left Green with few holes to break through this season.

Green's longest run this year is 13 yards. He hasn't rushed for more than 58 yards in a game. The Packers rank 25th in the NFL in rushing yards with 79.0 per game. Last year, the Packers ranked third in the NFC and 10th in the NFL with an average of 119.3 yards per game.

The Packers' problems rushing the ball also can be attributed to turnovers (nine in three games). The offense has been playing from behind, meaning it has been forced into passing situations more often than not. Mike Sherman's play-calling also has been questionable. Green Bay is more likely to run outside the tackles than between the tackles, and defenses have been prepared to attack in those areas. Sherman obviously is not confident with the interior line.

Green Bay's line has to get it together in order for Green to be more of a factor. The running game is essential to success in the NFL. It is as important to winning games as limiting turnovers. Through three games, the Packers have stunk it up in both categories and, by no surprise, are 0-3.

Green, by all indications, is as physically strong as ever. He appears to have the same burst of speed that he had last season when he rushed for 1,163 yards and was named to his fourth straight Pro Bowl. He isn't, all of a sudden, a "washed-up" running back.

So what gives? It comes down to the line. The Packers have got to be thinking of making a change soon, possibly before the Carolina game. The Packers were forced to last season when Flanagan could no longer tolerate his knee pain, replacing him with Grey Ruegamer. With Ruegamer in the mix, the line didn't miss a beat. Of course Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera were playing the guard positions.

Second-year pro Scott Wells had a solid training camp. He demonstrated an ability to not only play well at center, but guard. He is a young, solid player and the likely heir apparent to Flanagan. Maybe it's time to give him a shot at center. If the Packers' running problems persist, it would only make sense to bench Flanagan in favor of Wells, since Flanagan has been the least effective of the linemen, thus far, according to coaches and experts. Inserting one new face may do wonders for the line and for Green.

The line not only has to block well, but the tight ends, fullbacks and receivers play a large part in Green's success, too. However, it all starts up front with the five offensive linemen. Through three games, the line has struggled and so has Green. The bottom line: the Packers have been stopped short of winning.

Unlike a defensive line, an offensive line needs time to jell and play together as a unit. They need to get a "feel" for each other, and where they are going to be on each play. But there are only 16 games in a regular season. With nearly a quarter of the season in the books, a change is in order if the line doesn't improve its blocking for Green.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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