Young offensive line needs time

No one said that starting two rookie guards within a new zone-blocking scheme would be easy. The Green Bay Packers' young offensive line got a good test of where its at, and the results were somewhat predictable.

The Packers' line struggled against the San Diego Chargers' defensive front, led by Pro Bowl tackle Jamal Williams. Green Bay was only able to gain 44 yards rushing and Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers were sacked a combined five times in Green Bay's 17-3 exhibition loss to the Chargers Saturday night at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

There were times when both Favre and Rodgers were running for their lives after breakdowns in the line, though, both tried their best to downplay Green Bay's inability to run or pass the ball.

I felt comfortable, you know. I was confident in myself," Rodgers said. "I thought we had a couple breakdowns up front, but I felt like I was able to get out of the pocket and make some plays."

The Packers averaged just 2.4 yards per rush and were only 3 of 13 on third-down conversions.

Fortunately for Green Bay's line, it was only the first of four preseason games. The line, which consists of rookie guard Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz, third-year pro Scott Wells and veteran tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher simply need more time to work together in order to function better as a unit. They'll get roughly two more weeks of training camp practices before the Packers prepare to open the season against the Chicago Bears.

Will it be enough time for the line? It won't hurt, but what is disturbing is the way that Spitz, Colledge and even Tauscher were beat last night. On a handful of occasions Pro Bowl tackle Jamal Williams literally pushed Spitz or Colledge into the backfield to make a play on a running back or pressure the quarterback.

The fact that the Chargers blitzed early and often with success has to be unnerving to Coach Mike McCarthy and his staff. The quarterbacks often were flushed out of the pocket, or had no time to react and escape the blitz.

"We were all frustrated," wide receiver Donald Driver said. "We couldn't get anything going. We knew that their corners were decent corners, but we knew that we could take care of business against them. We just didn't get an opportunity to get anything going."

In other words, the offensive line did not give Favre or Rodgers much time to find receivers downfield, or allow the running backs to make cuts off blocks.

"It's tough sometimes," said offensive tackle Junius Coston. "You just have to take it for what it's worth, then look at the film and try to get better. If you let it get to your confidence you're going to be a worse player because of it."

Green Bay's offensive line will have to build its confidence one block at a time. It will take some time, so fans should try their best to cut the line a little slack. The games don't count anyway in August. At the same time, don't expect this year's offensive line to turn into the Denver Broncos' offensive line of 1997 and '98. It will encounter growing pains, that will take some time to go away.

Todd Korth

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

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