Packers Weekly Progress Report: O-Line Is Being Tested Heading Toward Week 13

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 09:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers lines up behind his offensive line against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 9, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Derek Sherrod and Bryan Bulaga are done, Cedric Benson might be, the offensive line is in turmoil and the defense is battered.

The Packers are one game out of the division lead.

If those two things seem incongruous, you are probably not a Packers fan.

Packers fans are used to it, as much as they are used to the team's ability to overcome injuries and play at a high level. Roster depth has been a strength of this team for years, and it normally pulls the team through the tough times.

This year, it is surely being tested. 

A few weeks ago, we looked at the complete roster depth in the Weekly Progress Report, and the biggest area of concern—the offensive line—has become the one which is being hit hardest.

There isn't any room for further injury at the position, so fans and the team have to cross their fingers. The fact is that anyone out there in free agency right now isn't going to be particularly good and certainly isn't going to be the fix for any issues.

The Packers didn't keep enough depth to withstand much more pounding, and the cracks are beginning to show. 

We touched on this yesterday while discussing the effect a potential return of Greg Jennings might have on the offense, but Aaron Rodgers is being hit too much (most sacked in the NFL) and the offensive line can only scheme so many ways before the lack of talent at certain spots just shines through.

That isn't meant to be a knock on the guys there, though it will be taken that way by some. Just that Evan Dietrich-Smith is a serviceable backup who isn't going to stop a New York Giants pass rush consistently. 

Just as true is the fact that, while Marshall Newhouse has been better this year, he's not taking down an elite edge-rusher like Jason Pierre-Paul without help. With Lang moved to the right side, he loses that help and for many reasons, Mike McCarthy doesn't love to use fullbacks, running backs and tight ends to support the edge.

Consequently, when they did try to use that on Sunday night, it failed because it's not something they do enough to excel at.

If the Packers are to make a run at the Super Bowl, they have to find ways to shore that line up and give Aaron Rodgers the time to reach his very deep and very talented group of receivers.

The entire rest of the team has the talent to make a run. It all comes down to if the offensive line can hold itself together with duct tape and bailing wire.

They'll get another test this weekend against the Minnesota Vikings, though honestly the Vikings already failed to take advantage of a battered Chicago line.

Still, this will be a big test for Green Bay, even at Lambeau Field.

The offensive line is the key to success in the playoffs. 

More to the point, the offensive line is the key to just getting to the playoffs.

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