Friday, December 21, 2012

Packers Bench Starting Center Jeff Saturday

Last offseason, the Green Bay Packers made veteran C Jeff Saturday their biggest free agent signing since the team signed CB Charles Woodson in 2006. Now, they've asked him to take a seat on the bench.
I'm a little surprised at the timing. If anything, he seemed to have been playing better as the season progressed. While I don't believe he was a problem in pass protection, he did seem to be overruled by RG Josh Sitton at times on blocking assignments. The Packers probably weren't expecting perfection, but Saturday did seem to struggle more than they might have expected from a 13 year veteran. It probably didn't help that he was adjusting to his first non-Peyton Manning led offense in over a decade.

Saturday's weakness was in the running game. He didn't seem to provide any push or the ability to take a linebacker out at the second level. While pass protection is the offensive line's top priority, Mike McCarthy has always spoken about doing more on the ground and I would expect better run blocking from Dietrich-Smith.

Unfortunately, Dietrich-Smith hasn't done a lot earn a starting job this season. He was OK at left guard, but he's fallen behind rookie RT Don Barclay on the depth chart over the past few weeks. Blocking against a bull rush isn't the best part of his game because he's undersized, however, that concern will be lessened by playing at center. He should be more mobile, and better able to move off the line and block a linebacker. What he can add to the running game may be the reason this move was made.

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