Packers XLV

Bulaga Era May Dawn vs. Bears, Peppers

Posted September 22nd, 2010 @ 01:09pm

There's little doubt Ted Thompson was targeting defensive help with his first round pick in last year's draft. But when big Bryan Bulaga, a projected top 15 pick, was still available at #23, Thompson pounced--knowing that he needed a young left tackle to protect his franchise QB.

Thompson had held off a strong play by the Redskins and resigned veteran Chad Clifton, paying him $7.5 million to return on his aching knees. But his play on Sunday showed that his knees are winning the battle and he doesn't appear able to play anywhere near the level he's accustomed to, particularly when it comes to run blocking. Mike McCarthy pulled him in the first half, after watching him come up short against the Bills' non-descript defensive end.

With Julius Peppers looming on Monday night, the Packers need to throw Bulaga in there and see what he can do. You can expect a fullback to be right behind him on most passing downs to provide assistance when necessary. In the opener, Peppers drilled Matthew Stafford and knocked him out for a month with a shoulder injury. Peppers will move around and the Pack will pay close attention wherever he is. He has a rap for taking plays off, but under the bright lights of Monday Night Football I expect him to be jacked up for all 60 minutes.

While the Bears defense played surprisingly well in Dallas, let's not forget they allowed the Lions to march up and down the field at Soldier Field and were only a ridiculous rule away from losing the opener at home to Detroit. Their secondary is still below average, so with time Rodgers should pick them apart.

Time. That will be the key on Monday night. After a rough first half in Philadelphia, the offensive line has settled down and played very well in pass protection. With Bulaga's insertion the running game should prosper, since he's reportedly miles ahead of Clifton in this phase of his game. This will be a much stiffer test for that unit. The crowd will be crazy--there are few things more aggravating on this planet than cocky Bears fans--and that is what we will have in store on Monday night.

If this does mark the beginning of the Bulaga era, let's doff our caps to Chad Clifton, who provided years of excellence and helped keep two Pro Bowl QBs healthy, game in and game out. He becomes an expensive insurance policy for the Pack, but a worthwhile one--to school the Iowa kid and to be available if Bulaga goes down.

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