That’s a good thing because we know if you become complacent in this ever-changing environment you will find yourself two steps behind and slipping on the third step trying to catch up.
When McCarthy announced yesterday that his plans were to flip-flop his offensive line – moving right tackle Bryan Bulaga and right guard Josh Sitton to the left side to swap with left guard T.J. Lang and left tackle Marshall Newhouse – it was a sign that the head coach was not happy with the status quo. He’s shaking things up – letting people know that number one, he’s concerned about the 51 sacks of Aaron Rodgers last year, and number two, that he’s serious about jumpstarting the team’s rushing attack.
“We’re built that way because we’re blessed with Aaron Rodgers and we need to maximize the ability and create the opportunities for our perimeter group,” McCarthy said yesterday. “Running the football’s important. we’ve placed a high importance on it. We’ve created a lot of competition at the running back position with our new draft picks. We feel that overall, with our offensive personnel, the competition for opportunity has been greatly increased since we last played.”
He’s also not sold on former left tackle Newhouse. While he’s officially moving him to the right side, McCarthy isn’t saying he will be the starter. In fact, Don Barclay, who finished out as the starter last season at right tackle, is penciled in as the 2013 starter. Yes, there will be competition for the right tackle position, but Barclay showed a mean streak and a skill at run blocking that gives him the edge, at least at this point in the game. More will be nailed down once the teams get on the field and in the classrooms for the spring run-throughs.
“It’s really a combination of (many) things,” McCarthy said. “No. 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 that’s really the starting point. But there’s things that we’re going to do as we move into the season, particularly football scheme-wise, that we feel this is the best decision for us.”
In essence, what this all tells us is that though the Packers offense has been one of the most prolific the past several years, McCarthy feels it’s still not good enough.
Throw in the fact that the Packers drafted two highly-touted running backs – Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin – two offensive linemen – David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter – as well as two jumbo-sized wide receivers – John Dorsey out of Maryland and Charles Johnson out of Grand Valley State – and you’ve got a recipe for potential change and improvement.
We know for sure that Lacy and Franklin are going to come into camp and compete immediately for a starting spot on the team. As for the new receivers – we know they’re not going to come in and unseat Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb, but with Jones in the final year of his contract and the potential for him to test the free agent market, the Packers have at least brought in some fresh legs to compete. Whether either or both of these new guys stick remains to be seen, but they put the coaching staff in a position to look closely at what they bring to the table. The same goes for the new offensive linemen … they will add depth and talent.
“It really doesn’t (matter) for us because of the way we play,” McCarthy said. “In the system I grew up in, you always wanted to be more athletic on your left and have your power players on your right side. You like to have that element as part of your offensive line, but, let’s be honest, we spread people out. And (with) our ability and our talent in our perimeter group, it’s important for both our right tackles and left tackles to be athletic.”
And that’s what makes the NFL so great. New players, new season, new opportunities.
Standing still is not Mike McCarthy’s modus operandi. He’s shown us with the movements along the offensive line and the new faces in town that he’s moving on.
We all better be ready for it.