All of these tweets, and many more, were posted last Thursday night after it was confirmed that the Packers would be without their top four tackles on the depth chart at the beginning of the season. Yours truly had one wish going into the evening: Please have #12 walk off the field under his own power at the end of the night. That wish came true, and then some.
Much to the delight of cheeseheads everywhere, Aaron Rodgers’s all white uniform was virtually as clean when the game clock expired as it was when it read 15:00 in the 1st quarter. Lane Taylor was plugged in at left guard and even performed better than Josh Sitton did a couple years back when he was thrust into duty there. Justin McCray, who looked incompetent at his natural position of guard in the preseason, sprung a couple leaks, but largely left Rodgers untouched. Offensive line coach James Campen and company deserve some credit. They left the maximum amount of talent they had out on the field.
The unexpectedly solid performance from a patchwork offensive line has soothed over much of the anxiety voiced on Twitter before the Thursday night matchup. In a perfect world, the Replacements will continue to surprise. In reality, this just can’t be expected. In two weeks, they will be squaring off against two Pro Bowl talents in Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen from the Vikings. That pair will be licking their chops if they’re up against McCray and Lucas Patrick. Mike McCarthy has to be cognizant of this and game plan accordingly.
While the broken plays and improvisation often reap benefits, they must become the exception instead of the norm. Seeing Rodgers de-cleated at the end of the Atlanta game followed by 6 sacks and several more hits vs. the Cincinnati is an unsustainable trend. He was protected vs. the Bears and has an extended break going into a contest against an underwhelming Dallas defense. If Bakhtiari and/or Bulaga can get healthy enough for the Vikings game, then the chances of keeping one of the top five quarterbacks of the past 30 years on his feet will significantly increase. Otherwise, the unsustainable trend will arrive at an agonizing end. That you can take to the bank.
________________John Piotrowski is a UW-Eau Claire alum, spending most of his life in western WI. He makes the trek east to Lambeau whenever possible. Follow him on twitter at @piosGBP.