After a strong start to the season, offensive tackle David Bakhtiari is finally starting to look like a rookie.
When offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga tore his ACL during training camp, it seemed as if the Green Bay Packers were going to have some major issues on their offensive line. However, David Bakhtiari, a fourth-round pick from the University of Colorado, stepped up during camps and the preseason to earn himself the starting job at left tackle.
After a slightly rough start to the regular season, Bakhtiari started to establish himself as a solid member of the offensive line. From Week 6 to Week 11, Bakhtiari didn't give up a single sack or let his quarterback get hit.
It appeared as if the Packers had found another mid-round gem in the NFL draft.
Bakhtiari is finally starting to look like a rookie, and it's coming at the worst possible time for Green Bay. Let's take a look at what has happened to Bakhtiari over the past two weeks.
What the Stats Say
Heading into Week 13, Bakhtiari had only allowed four sacks on the season. Against the Lions, he gave up three. The most concerning part of this was that it was against a rookie defensive end, Ziggy Ansah.
While the game against the Lions was Bakhtiari's worst game of the season, his struggles really started in Week 12 against Minnesota. As you can see in the chart below, Bakhtiari was consistently beaten by the pass-rushers of the Vikings as well as Ansah of the Lions:
|Opponent||Sacks||Quarterback Hurries||Quarterback Hits||Grade|
Via Pro Football Focus
In two weeks, Bakhtiari gave up three sacks, two quarterback hits and three quarterback hurries. His combined grades in those games from Pro Football Focus (subscription required) were a negative 3.8.
While the stats are certainly bad, they don't quite paint the entire picture.
What the Film Says
When breaking down this past game for Bakhtiari on film, it's really quite ugly.
The first play we are going to look at is the first sack that Bakhtiari gave up to Ansah. As you can see in the picture below, Ansah is lined up wide outside and there is no doubt that he is going to be rushing the quarterback.
The main reason that Bakhtiari loses this battle with Ansah is because he lost at the point of attack.
When the two players first make contact, Ansah's hands are fully extended. This gives him all the leverage and control on this play. In fact, Ansah's hands are fully extended before Bakhtiari can even get his own hands on his opponent.
This ultimately allows Ansah to simply push Bakhtiari straight into the backfield with only one hand. He moves him out of the way and gets an easy sack on quarterback Matt Flynn.
The beginning of the second play looks very similar to the start of the play we just looked at. Once again, Ansah is lined up wide outside with the intention to rush the quarterback.
And once again, Ansah wins at the point of attack. However, what is so telling about Bakhtiari's overall struggles is his posture on this play. Look at the picture below and look at how far backward Bakhtiari is bent.
There is simply no way that he can get any leverage when he's getting beat that badly at the point of attack. He has no base in his legs with which to push back and is at the complete will of the defender.
The end result of this play is Ansah getting past Bakhtiari again for the sack of Flynn.
Giving up sacks, hurries and quarterback hits are never a good thing for an offensive tackle. However, what's most concerning about Bakhtiari these past few weeks has been the fact that he's been absolutely dominated at the point of attack far too often.
He's getting off the snap too slowly, and he's failing to extend his arms fully to make contact first with the defender. These are the basic things than an offensive tackle needs to be able to do to slow down a pass-rushing defensive end like Ansah.
Bakhtiari is starting to regress and looks more and more like a rookie with each week that follows. This type of poor play is a big reason why the Packers offense has been so bad recently and ultimately why the entire team is struggling.