Friday Aug 20

Is Moving Bryan Bulaga to Left Guard a Mistake?

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Bryan Bulaga tries out at left guard for the Packers.I was sitting at my desk at work today, trying to catch up with some office work. I was peeking at Twitter periodically, and I came across news that Bryan Bulaga is getting work at Left Guard.

"@packers: Bulaga is working as a backup LG."

Work stopped for a few minutes after reading this. As I let this sink into my brain, I had to wonder a few things:

Why is he being moved from Left Tackle, the position he was drafted for?

What happened to Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz? Are they performing that poorly, or did one of them suddenly become trade bait?

What happened to TJ Lang? Backup at Right Guard and Right Tackle currently, but has he been surpassed my Bulaga already?

After practice, when Mike McCarthy said he was giving him the chance to compete for starting LG. As Mike Vandermause tweeted: 

"MM: giving Bulaga chance to compete for starting LG spot" 

"MM: really impressed with Bulaga. Middle of last week started thinking about moving him to guard." 

I was left scratching my head even more. Has his performance really dictated reps at a position he was not envisioned to play? He may be a first round draft pick, but he was drafted for a purpose.

Left Guard is not the purpose. He is the Left Tackle of the future, and needs to be left there to grow and develop into a premier tackle, not participate in the neverending game of musical chairs McCarthy likes to play every year. I think this is an indication of the poor performance of Colledge and Spitz, which causes concern for the offensive line heading into the season.

Start the music, and players start walking in a circle. Musical chairs just started again.

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+2 # Tarynfor12 2010-08-10 07:03
John,this is a perfect example of my comment in a previous article about Neal and Burnett and your comment (inference) to Stepping Up for rookies.How can we get rookies to step up when the veteran play or lack of it,impedes said rookie from playing where we need them.
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+3 # Max 2010-08-10 10:41
I hate to even say it, but when Clifton goes out, Bulaga will be playing where he is supposed to - at left tackle.
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+2 # Mike Davidsen 2010-08-10 11:42
Quoting Max:
when Clifton goes out, Bulaga will be playing where he is supposed to - at left tackle.

And the problem here is that when Clifton goes down, Bulaga shifts back to left tackle and Spitz/Colledge/Lang fills in at left guard. That means that by starting Bulaga at left guard, you risk having to make TWO changes when Clifton goes down, rather than ONE. This throws off the offensive line continuity big time. If Bulaga started as backup left tackle to Clifton, then an injury to Chad would just mean one substitution: BB in at left tackle; the rest of the o-line remains unchanged.

I guess I'm fairly surprised that of Colledge, Spitz and Lang, none of them can fend off Bulaga at left guard. Spitz and Lang both have health issues that may be holding them back, but Colledge has no excuse. I'd like to think that one of those quality veterans could keep the starting left guard job over a rookie tackle.
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+2 # John Rehor 2010-08-10 18:31
Unfortunately Max, you are probably right. And when that happens, the musical chairs will really begin.

Thanks Max.
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+2 # John Rehor 2010-08-10 18:33
Thanks Asshalo. Again perfectly exhibiting my point-will moving to guard limit his growth as a left tackle? For the Packers sake I hope not.

Thanks for reading
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+1 # Jr Augustine 2010-08-11 18:48
I completely agree Max. I think we've seen enough of this type of thing with MM. He's trying to make sure Bryan is a versatile player. I don't completely agree with that plan (I suppose I might when some linemen go down and Bryan has to step into a position that's not natural for him), but I think we have to face the fact that we'll often see weird stuff like this as MM tries to develop "versatile" players.
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+1 # Asshalo 2010-08-10 11:58
The next logical question is will playing LG inhibit Bulaga's progression to his eventual LT role. If the answer is no and he is as talented as the coaching staff thinks, then it could be as simple as put your top 5 on the field. Perhaps they want Bulaga to push Colledge (lord knows Barbre isn't). Maybe it makes him more prepared to fill in at yet another position.

We all assumed, myself included, that playing RT was a stepping stone but LG couldn't be as well. I'de be lying if I said I didn't share the same concern-- especially given Colledge's recent comments.
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+1 # Jr Augustine 2010-08-11 18:49
Excellent question. I sure hope not, because I expect MM will continue to give Bryan reps.
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+2 # John Rehor 2010-08-10 18:29
Thanks Taryn. Exactly my point-I think its more an indication of the poor play of Colledge and Spitz/Barbre than anything else. Forcing the rookie to play before he may be ready, especially at a new position.
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+1 # PackerHQ 2010-08-10 18:50
Better question? Where in the heck is Lang ? The guy by MM own admittance is a great LG but that idiot( he must be) Campen has him playing RG/RT??
The whole musical chair deal is growing old and mark my words MM inability to get his OL fixed will be his undoing if doesn't step in and say I don't care where you want to try so and so he plays here period.
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+1 # John Rehor 2010-08-10 19:07
HQ states my point perfectly-what happened to Lang? The guy everybody was projecting as one of the top linemen suddenly doesn't have a spot except backup RT? Do not understand this at all.

Thanks for reading
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+1 # Jr Augustine 2010-08-11 18:53
"Growing old" is right. We've been seeing a lot of the musical chairs in the McCarthy era (does it count as an era?) haven't we. I wish it weren't so, but I think it's going to continue. Part of MM's MO.
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+1 # John Rehor 2010-08-12 14:38
It may be part of his MO, but he has talent across the line now where he should be able to have starters and defined backups without shuffling the line. It affects more than one player and could in the long term hurt the development talents like Lang and Bulaga.
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+1 # JRK 2010-08-12 15:04
Colledge, a quality verteran!!! Please, did you not see his overall play last year? The only thing he did last year that that would resemble quality was his show. "The Colledge Experience"
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+1 # John Rehor 2010-08-12 15:30
Thanks for reading JRK. Mike was referring to Colledge as a "quality vet" in comparision to moving Bulaga to LG (a move I am against for the record). I agree 100% that he had a terrible year LY, but the comment was made to point out that McCarthy is willing to trust a rookie over a vet. Something most coaches would not make.
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+1 # Mike Davidsen 2010-08-12 15:59
I should have described it more as "experienced". These are veterans who have experience with our offensive line and playing o-line in the NFL. So, I'd like to think that the fact that they have experience in the system and at the guard position would make them a favorite at left guard over the rookie TACKLE. Maybe not.
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0 # Brady Augustine 2010-08-13 04:31
I think versatility should be for the second stringers. Let the starters be specialists, the very best at their particular positions. Behind them, have some versatile backups that can fill in at any position if a starter goes down. Versatility has a point of diminishing returns - a whole line of Jacks-of-all-trades-masters-of-none is in our future if they don't stop the musical chairs. Thanks John.
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