Back to drawing board for offensive line

Starting five gets pushed around by 49ers in 34-6 rout

Among the many areas of the team that broke down for the Green Bay Packers Saturday night, the offensive line led the way. The Packers linemen got shoved around like they were playing on ice, which made for a miserable evening for Green Bay's offense.

What is discouraging is the Packers fielded what many feel will be their starters when the regular season begins - tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, guards Jason Spitz and Josh Sitton, and center Scott Wells. That, however, could change after quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked four times and the offense had a total of 20 yards in its first 16 plays.

The Packers had trouble running the ball against San Franciso's 3-4 defense and Rodgers was under pressure to throw. When he did get passes off, his receivers didn't help him much. Donald Driver a sure first-down pass in Green Bay's first drive. After Charles Woodson intercepted a pass and returned it to the 49ers' seven, tight end Donald Lee dropped a sure touchdown pass from Rodgers.

Still, Green Bay's offensive line showed that it is far from ready for prime time. And Sept. 8 is getting closer and closer.

"They (49ers) had push in the pocket consistently," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "I thought they were more physical than we were. I thought our pad level was high. That was a poor fundamental performance.

"It was not a good evening for any of our quarterbacks."

If the Packers make any changes, it probably will be at one of the two guard positions. Spitz had a woeful performance against the Niners' linemen. It appeared that he gave up two sacks to defensive end Ray McDonald.

Spitz was filling in at center but was moved to left guard this week when Wells returned from a trunk injury.

Sitton has been starting at right guard most of training camp, but he looked to be the guilty party on another sack of Rodgers. Because of an injury to Wells.

The Packers' second-team offensive line consisted of tackles Daryn College and Tony Moll, guards Allen Barbre and Sitton, and center Junius Coston. Barbre may get mixed in with the starters at guard during the upcoming week in an effort to revamp the line. Otherwise, the Packers may bite the bullet and allow the current starting five to work out the kinks.

If there's a silver lining, it was only a preseason game. But the Packers have only three more weeks and not many practices to get things corrected. The line will have most of the game this Friday against Denver to get its act together in what is normally the dress rehearsal for the season opener.

In the meantime, the Packers line, especially the interior of the line, has to get better, or its misery will continue when Pat Williams and Kevin Williams visit Lambeau Field with the rest of the Minnesota Vikings in the season opener.

"This is an excellent opportunity for our team to learn from this and I will take full advantage to help them learn from this," McCarthy said.

Packers fans can only hope so.

Todd Korth writes for and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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