Veteran Marshall Newhouse will compete for the starting job at right tackle in 2013
It took too long, but the Green Bay Packers finally did the right thing when it comes to the offensive line. Moving Bryan Bulaga to left tackle won’t make this group the second coming of the Hogs, but it should make things a lot better. There’s a reason teams play their best tackle on the left side. The former Iowa star should allow Aaron Rodgers to feel a bit more comfortable in the pocket, and even more importantly, he should give the league’s premier quarterback an extra split-second to scan the field.
But what excites me most about the move is what it could mean for Marshall Newhouse, the former left tackle who’ll now compete to replace Bulaga on the right side. As I’ve been saying since the first time I watched the ex-TCU star don a Green Bay uniform, right tackle is where he belongs. Newhouse simply doesn’t have the physical skills to be a reliable left tackle. He doesn’t bend his knees and drop his hips the way he needs to, and this will often negate his above-average athletic ability. He also lacks pop in his hands. These negatives got exposed on a weekly basis against the top right defensive ends in the league.
These negatives obviously won’t go away at right tackle, but they won’t be quite as detrimental for a number of reasons. For one thing, Newhouse will be facing a lesser opponent most weeks. Despite all the moving around defenses do these days, the majority of coordinators still prefer to have their best pass rusher lined up on the quarterback’s blind side. Also, Newhouse will be under much less pressure at right tackle. If he gets beat, Rodgers will be able to see the danger coming and move out of harm’s way.
None of this is to suggest that Newhouse will be going to the Pro Bowl any time soon. His physical limitations in pass protection and his passivity in the run game will see to that. But he does have the potential to be one of the top 15 right tackles in the league. And while that might not sound like much, it would put him about 15 spots ahead of where he ranked at left tackle for the past two seasons. And that might be good enough – along with switching Bulaga and dumping Jeff Saturday – to transform a mediocre O-line into a unit that will be effective enough to get the Packers to where they want to go in 2013.