Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga is excited about the possibilities facing the team in 2013. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Bulaga ‘excited’ about new opportunity

When Bryan Bulaga was drafted out of Iowa in 2010 he was proclaimed as the heir apparent to an aging Chad Clifton who had manned the Green Bay Packers tackle position for years.

Bulaga never got the chance to step into what many feel is the high profile position on the offensive line because he was forced into filling in for an ailing Mark Tauscher at the right tackle position. He became the Packers full-time right tackle and isentrenched.

Until this week.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy announced that he was flip-flopping his offensive line, but not necessarily, he said, because he wanted better protection of his newly-minted $110 million quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.

Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang will swap positions as part of the makeover of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

You could read between the lines on this one, but McCarthy said that his decision was based more upon schemes and strategies being implemented by the head coach and his staff for the upcoming season than it was for a need to protect Rodgers’ blind side.

Either way, the work is under way to make it happen and in an interview with Bill Huber of the Packer Report published today, Bulaga said he is ready to make the best of his new position.

Here’s what Bulaga told Huber:

“I was excited about it. Obviously, I didn’t know that this was going to happen. This was just something that was brought to my attention. I was excited about it and very thankful for the opportunity, and I’m just excited to get going with it. I’m happy that in these IPWs (individual player workouts) and OTAs (organized team activities) that we can — me and Josh (Sitton) and Marshall (Newhouse) and T.J. (Lang) can get our footwork down and get used to the position switch. I’m very thankful that (McCarthy) did it.”

The shakeup along the line has been hailed across Packers Nation as a good thing. Clearly, something had to be done. McCarthy and GM Ted Thompson weren’t about to go through another season watching their franchise player being mugged in the backfield, nor were they prepared to enter another season without making changes that might lead to an improvement in the running game.

Enter Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin in the offensive backfield and the drafting of two new rookie linemen – David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter.

All four of these draft picks were also praised by everyone following the Packers. It was time to make changes and these draft picks could only make things better.

Marshall Newhouse will have to compete for the right tackle job for the Packers.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

However, McCarthy and Thompson weren’t finished.

McCarthy announced his plans to flip-flop his line – not only giving T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton, and Bulaga new positions to play – but he also put former left tackle Marshall Newhouse on notice that if he was going to continue to be a starter that he would have to compete for a job as the new right tackle. He would be competing against Don Barclay, the undrafted free agent who stepped into the position at the end of last season. Barclay didn’t set the world on fire, but he did show a mean streak and held his own. In fact, his run blocking skills stood out as the Packers running game picked up steam as the season drew to a close.

So, the exact makeup of the line is still in flux, but the change is a good thing, according to Bulaga, who is coming back off a hip injury that kept him out of the majority of last season.

“We obviously need to be better in that category [the run game]. Everybody’s comfortable with the running backs we have in house, and obviously we did draft two guys. I think everybody’s excited the way the run game is going. I think everybody is anxious to start doing it in training camp because, obviously, there’s no contact in OTAs and whatnot. I think everybody’s excited to get going and we know it needs to be a major emphasis to help out the offense and help out Aaron to make sure that not everything is just him throwing the football. We need to be able to help him out running the ball and getting positive yards that way.”

The competition at right tackle will be fun to watch when the team starts live contact during training camp. Either way, the offensive line is going to have a different look next season and hopefully more production.

Bulaga thinks the same.

“I just look at it as Coach McCarthy wanting to make a switch and flip guys around. I’m happy that I got moved over to the left side. I’m thankful for it and it’s a good opportunity. I know all the talk that goes around — like you said about playing left tackle and it being a premier position and all of that — but I don’t look at it that way. I just look at it as playing a new position and doing the best I can.”

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  • Taryn Miller

    I can certainly appreciate the why’s for the move and I have been on record of being against it.However,my anti-Bulaga move was based solely on the aspect of him being moved to the LT spot only.However,in light of Sitton going on the the same short bus ride with him,I’m all-in on this bet.

    I would expect Tretter to push EDS and Lang be the push for Newhouse and or Sherrod(?) at the RT spot until/unless Barclay plays to the level of keeping Lang at RG. Though it is rumored that Lang may be moved to Center.

  • Scott Rochon

    This team gave up 215 sacks in the last 5 years! Moving the same players around won’t make a big difference. If Bulaga was LT ready, the Packers would have moved him there 2 years ago. So instead of the left side sucking, now it’s the right side.

    • Ray Rivard

      Scott … how many of those sacks are because Rodgers hangs onto the ball too long … I would venture to guess it’s close to 50 percent. Maybe it’s the play calling or the fact that Rodgers just wants the big play to open up. All I’m saying is that a lot of those sacks were preventable. And lighten, up, man. It’s just a football game! Have some fun, will ya?

      • Scott Rochon

        Ray, How many sacks does Rodgers avoid because of his ability to run? So you’re blaming Rodgers because the O-Line can’t block? Does he hold the ball to long? Sometimes. Is the O-Line really bad? All the time!

        • Ray Rivard

          He avoids a lot because he can run, but he has to run because he’s back in the pocket waiting for the next glacier to arrive. He holds the ball too long all the time, not sometimes. Granted, much of those are because of the play that’s called, but how many times does he have all day to throw and then takes off running? Lots. All I say is let this new plan have a chance and stop ripping on the new configuration before they’ve even hit the field.

  • Louis Rivard

    This could be a risk but, if the flip shores up a running game it should be worth it. Put a running game in play the sack problems could disappear. Just imagine, a viable running game with the $110,000,000 man at the helm. GO PACK GO!!!