Mike Vandermause column: Major changes should boost Packers offense

May 11, 2013

Loading Photo Galleries ...

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson watches rookie orientation camp practice in the Don Hutson Center on Friday. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media


The Green Bay Packers never will settle for mediocrity as long as Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy are running the show.

In an obvious reaction to last yearís slip in offensive production, the Packers have undergone a major offseason transformation.

For the first time since McCarthy became coach in 2006, the Packers finished out of the top 10 in total offense last season. Their No. 13 ranking (359.4-yard average) wasnít terrible, but it also wasnít good enough for a team that boasts the best quarterback in the NFL. So the Packers felt compelled to do something to help Aaron Rodgers.

When the Packers open the season in September, itís possible that seven offensive positions will feature new starters. Instead of minor tweaking, the Packers have taken on a major remodeling project.

It began on draft weekend when the Packers, weary of fielding a pedestrian rushing attack for the past several years, grabbed a pair of backs that potentially could carry the load for years to come.

It remains to be seen whether Alabamaís Eddie Lacy or UCLAís Johnathan Franklin will become the go-to ball carrier the Packers have sorely lacked. But thereís a decent chance one or both will emerge as a better option than James Starks, Alex Green, Brandon Jackson or Ryan Grant ever gave the Packers.

It was telling that Thompson didnít stop at selecting Lacy in the second round. Just to be sure the Packersí running back problem would never rear its ugly head again, Thompson also picked Franklin in the fourth round.

Just like that, in the span of 24 hours, the Packers turned a position of weakness into one of strength. Rookie running backs are capable of contributing immediately, and itís a good bet either Lacy or Franklin or some combination of both will give the offense a needed boost and take some pressure off Rodgers.

The Packers didnít stop there. Last week, in stunning fashion, McCarthy unveiled his plan to shake up the offensive line in one of the biggest one-year transformations in franchise history.

Assuming McCarthy sticks to his guns, every position on the line will have a new starter from a year ago.

Last yearís starting right tackle, Bryan Bulaga, will move to left tackle. Josh Sitton, previously the starter at right guard, will switch places with left guard T.J. Lang. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith will take over permanently for the retired Jeff Saturday, and the battle at right tackle is wide open.

Itís an unprecedented, if not drastic upheaval.

McCarthy said during an appearance in Madison last week that protection for Rodgers was a key to the changes.

ďItís really a combination of (many) things,Ē McCarthy said. ďNo. 1, it starts with (the fact) we have a right-handed quarterback. His back side is obviously the left side. Both Josh and Bryan are our two most accomplished offensive linemen. So thatís really the starting point. But thereís things that weíre going to do as we move into the season, particularly football scheme-wise, that we feel this is the best decision for us.Ē

Translation: The line wasnít good enough, particularly left tackle Marshall Newhouse, and something had to be done.

McCarthy isnít afraid to tinker with the status quo. He has a history of facing problems head-on and not flinching.

Following the 2008 season, with his defense in a state of disarray, McCarthy fired all but one defensive assistant.

It wasnít easy for someone as loyal as McCarthy. But he knows the NFL is all about production. If someone isnít getting the job done effectively, McCarthy wonít hesitate to find someone who can do it better.

Thatís one reason the Packers claimed a Super Bowl title two years ago and earned more playoff appearances over the past four years than any other NFC team.

Give the Packers credit for identifying their problems and swinging into action to address them. Their offense should be better because of it.

ó mvandermause@pressgazettemedia.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
579 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
862 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
1025 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
1279 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports


Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports