Packers OL aims to keep Rodgers upright vs. Saints
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — For all the Green Bay Packers’ complaints about a mistake by replacement officials that cost them a game Monday night, they probably wouldn’t have been in position to lose on a last-second play if their offensive line had done a better job protecting Aaron Rodgers in the first half.
Going into Sunday’s home game against New Orleans , the Packers will have to do a better job keeping Rodgers upright after he was sacked eight times by the Seahawks.
Left guard T.J. Lang was happy with the way the line rebounded in the second half of Monday’s game, but offered no excuses for the first half.
‘‘It could have been very easy to put our heads down and kind of go into the tank a little bit, but we responded in a positive way and had a pretty solid second half,’’ Lang said. ‘‘There’s no excuse for your quarterback getting hit that many times. It’s obviously embarrassing as a group when your quarterback’s getting sacked eight times in one half. It’s something that we take a lot of pride in. We certainly need to have a better game this week, keeping Aaron upright.’’
When right tackle Bryan Bulaga watched film of himself this week, he saw perhaps the most head-scratching performance of his career.
‘‘Don’t really know what I did in the first half,’’ Bulaga said. ‘‘I wasn’t really playing my game. I settled down in the second half. So, ready to move on.’’
Offensive line coach James Campen was even more blunt.
‘‘I think you would be a fool not to recognize (the protection issues) and they’re something that obviously can’t be tolerated in bunches like that,’’ Campen said. ‘‘Certainly moving forward, the first thing you have to do is recognize what happened, analyze what happened and why and get it corrected. Moving forward and moving on to New Orleans, we’re making those corrections and adjustments.’’
Earlier this week, Packers coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged that the protection breakdowns made it tough to call plays Monday.
‘‘The good thing is that there are things we can correct,’’ McCarthy said. ‘‘Eight sacks in one half, very disruptive. Clearly, in my time calling plays, sacks are a disruptive thing to you as a play caller, what it does to your rhythm and your next play.’’
Rodgers took part of the blame.
‘‘We had some protection breakdowns and some situations where I didn’t get rid of the football,’’ Rodgers said. ‘‘There’s a fine line between trying to make a play outside the pocket and throwing it out of bounds. So we'll do a better job of that moving forward.’’
And while Rodgers did seem to hold onto the ball too long at times, McCarthy said the MVP has earned some leeway to do so because of his ability to extend plays with his elusiveness.
‘‘The other side of Aaron is when he steps up and comes out of the pocket and makes plays, you sit there and clap for him,’’ McCarthy said. ‘‘When he doesn’t ... there’s a fine line between the ability to transition from in the pocket to the out of the pocket, the way we train the quarterback. So, most of our issues in the area of sacks were in the protection unit.’’
Rodgers has been sacked a league-high 16 times in three games, one reason why the Packers have scored only four offensive touchdowns to date.
And while it has been surprising to see the Packers struggle after being so dangerous on offense in recent years, McCarthy said there’s no point in dwelling on what happened last season.
‘‘If you think you’re going to roll the ball out there and do the same thing you did last year just because you did it last year, I don’t agree with that mindset,’’ McCarthy said. ‘‘There are some things we did a little differently in camp. Camp didn’t go as smoothly as we probably would have liked. We’re not in rhythm probably like we should be. We’re starting to get the run game established. We still need to improve there. But our biggest issue on offense is negative plays.’’
McCarthy specifically noted the Packers’ inability to run the ball in the first half of the season-opening loss to San Francisco, and inability to throw it effectively in the first half Monday night.
‘‘Especially when the defense we ran against (Week 1) was daring us to run and the defense in Week 3 was daring you to throw, those are execution issues that I'm confident we'll get better at,’’ McCarthy said. ‘‘We’re not happy where we are. We’re not happy where we are as far as the 2012 offense, but against New Orleans we'll have an opportunity to take a step.’’
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