While the Packers rushing attack – second in the NFC in yards per attempt at 5.3 – continues to be a pleasant surprise to everybody except Duuan Harris, who has boldly proclaimed the Packers “have the best backfield in the league,” the pass protection around Aaron Rodgers has been inconsistent. Through three games Rodgers has already been sacked 10 times.
Bakhtiari has shown promise while facing each opponent’s best pass rusher. His first career assignment was the NFL’s premier pass rusher, Aldon Smith. though he gave up two sacks against Smith and San Francisco, Bakhtiari didn’t get Rodgers killed, like some Packer Backers feared. A week later Rodgers and McCarthy praised Bakhtiari for his zero sack performance against the football team from Washington.
Week 3 was a different story. Bakhtiari gave up a sack, 4 quarterback hurries and according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), was ranked 61st out of 62 offensive tackles to play at least 50 percent of their team’s downs in Week 3. He also gave up a batted-ball by Bengals DE Michael Johnson on the final play from scrimmage when he missed on a cut block attempt.
Bryan Bulaga’s 2012 replacement, then rookie tackle Don Barclay, can relate to the crash course at offensive tackle upon which Bakhtiari has embarked. Most pundits didn’t see Barclay, an undrafted free agent, starting in the NFL. Since being inserted into a starting role in Week 14 of 2012, Barclay has exceeded most fans’ expectations. According to Pro Football Focus, the former West Virginia Mountaineer is the sixth-ranked offensive tackle in the NFC this year.
Though he struggled against the Bengals, Packers fans should get used to seeing 21 year-old David Bakhtiari at left tackle. Ted Thompson likes to see his draft picks play early and often, so barring a disastrous game in Week 5 against Detroit, don’t expect another installment of the Marshall Newhouse experiment.