Veteran Evan Dietrich-Smith wasn’t really challenged in his first start at center
The Packers benched center Jeff Saturday in favor of Evan Dietrich-Smith prior to last Sunday’s game. After re-watching every play, I still have no idea whether the move will make the offensive line better heading into the playoffs. That’s because the Titans were so awful on defense that Green Bay could’ve scored 40 points with assistant coach James Campen hiking the ball. And trust me, that’s only a slight exaggeration.
In pass protection, guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton were so dominant that Dietrich-Smith oftentimes had nobody to block. He would occasionally offer some assistance, but it was seldom needed against overmatched defensive tackles Jurrell Casey and Se’Derrick Marks. In the run game, EDS provided better push on double teams and was slightly more effective making blocks on the second level. There were times, however, when the three-year veteran from Idaho State looked a bit confused as to which defender to engage. In those instances, he pretty much just flailed about aimlessly until the play was over.
All in all, I thought Dietrich-Smith did OK in his first start at center. But I’ll reserve further judgment until I see him line up against better competition. That should come this week against the Vikings. While defensive tackles Kevin Williams, Letroy Guion, Christian Ballard and Fred Evans are hardly a fearsome foursome, they are an athletic group of veterans who play fast indoors. If EDS holds up as well as he did last Sunday, I’ll feel a lot better about the state of the O-line heading into the second season.