Marshall Newhouse Returning Should Not Be Cause for a Packers Sigh of Relief
Don't go breathing a sigh of relief just yet, though.
If there is one thing we learned last week with Newhouse out for the game against the San Diego Chargers, it's that there are some real depth problems at left tackle.
With Newhouse out, the Packers opted for Herb Taylor as a replacement. You might not have recognized his name—after all, he hasn't played a snap since 2008.
As far as I could tell on Thursday, he still hasn't. Oh, he was on the field. I just didn't see him do anything I'd want to see again. I'm not sure what he did was something to be termed as "actual NFL play."
He was abused repeatedly, and once by rookie Charger Melvin Ingram, who then proceeded to destroy Aaron Rodgers' evening with a hard hit that caused an interception.
Taylor was wildly outmatched, and it was more than just rust. It was a lack of ability.
Rookie Andrew Datko is another possibility, but he's raw and far from ready to go—though the argument for him over Taylor can be made.
Derek Sherrod is still recovering from his broken leg, and we have no real timetable for his return.
There's a problem here.
Given that the position is surrounded by Pro Bowlers, I thought mediocre play could be supported by the skill of those around the position.
It's been done many times on teams before, to fine effect.
It didn't play out that way last Thursday, though.
While it's just a game—and a preseason one at that—this should concern Packers fans. They have to hope that Newhouse can A) stay healthy and B) take a big step forward.
I don't know right now if the hole at left tackle was from the lack of Newhouse or a general inability of surrounding talent to help out. We'll know a little more Thursday night when they face the Cleveland Browns, but will we get enough of a look?
Newhouse wasn't great last year—but Taylor was so much worse. It could be there was only so much T.J. Lang could do from left guard to help Taylor, especially since the Chargers found a pass rush this offseason.
Adding Cedric Benson—who does not struggle in pass protection, unlike James Starks and, to some extent, Alex Green—will help support the scheme with an extra pair of hands, and using a tight end to help out is an option as well.
However, ultimately, it comes down to line play, and the Packers now leave me with a question eerily similar to one I have been harping on for the Chicago Bears since I started this job: Is the left tackle good enough to protect the quarterback?
If the answer to that is no, then the question becomes: Do they have another answer on the roster?
For the Bears, the answer seems to be a resounding no.
I'm not sure the Packers are in any better shape at left tackle. Yes, the rest of the line is outstanding, far better than Chicago's. We know a line is far more then just one player, even at left tackle.
For now, Newhouse is returning, and the Packers have three more games in which to test out backups.
If they find them wanting, they need to find a solution, be it a player, a change in scheme or further support from another place.
Hopefully Newhouse stays healthy and plays well.
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best is a good motto—as of last week, the Packers appear to need more preparation, just in case.
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