5 Guys That Have to be Good: JC Tretter
There are two very simple reasons why JC Tretter needs to be good. First of all the only player that handles the ball on every play besides Aaron Rodgers is JC Tretter. More importantly, the shortest distance between 300 pound freaks of nature and the best quarterback in the world just happens to be JC Tretter. The Green Bay Packers have trotted out Scott Wells, Jeff Saturday and Evan Dietrich-Smith in as many seasons. Tretter will more than likely be the team’s 4th starting center in 4 years and the quarterback would like the buck to eventually stop. Consistency and continuity in the offensive line is very important and Tretter gives the team a real opportunity to achieve that.
If JC Tretter can be an average center, the Packers will have their best offensive line in the Aaron Rodgers era. Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton (Sitton especially) can be elite at their positions and TJ Lang is well above average. David Bakhtiari not only showed that he wasn’t an embarrassment at left tackle but that he is the type of player that projects to get better. His struggles with run blocking and bull rushes can be mitigated by continuing to put on bulk and strength, something that a rookie that declared for the draft early would normally need to develop.
Standing 6’4″ and 307 pounds JC Tretter is a good deal bigger than the most recent Packers centers. He may be signalling a move towards bigger, more physical offensive linemen that fit the profile of their current runner, Eddie Lacy, than the one-cut zone runner that Ryan Grant (the last truly effective Packer runner) was. If Tretter and the rest of the offensive line can start running the ball with effectiveness, it will give Aaron Rodgers a play action threat that he has never had before. Rodgers has been nothing short of spectacular using play action when the defense didn’t really believe him, imagine if they’re actually worried about the ball being rammed down their throats.
This is still a scary proposition, however. Tretter has struggled early in camp, specifically being beaten up by newly re-christened Nose Tackle BJ Raji. Tretter didn’t play any center in college at Cornell. The Packers believe he can play the position due to his athleticism, Ivy League background and football instincts. That’s all well and good, but Tretter was lost for the season in last year’s training camp. He has no real NFL experience. Certainly no experience playing center. Tretter needs to be able to be an above-replacement-level player while he is learning the position, because this offense will wait for no one. He also has a very strong and very impressive young player breathing down his neck in former Ohio State center Corey Linsley.
If Tretter can become one of the best 12 or 15 centers in the NFL, that’s all that the Packers can ask of him. If he can do it this season, even better. The best case scenario, and the one that the quarterback is searching for is that Tretter can perform this season and show promise for the rest of his career. Tretter is very cheaply under team control for at least the next 3 seasons. If he shows his worth, and earns a second contract Rodgers could have the same center for the rest of his prime. This Packers offensive line is young and talented, and if Tretter is good, they have the ability to be elite.