FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig gives an in-depth statistical analysis and film study of every Packers player in his annual offseason checkup. Check every weekday through mid-April for his latest report.
Don Barclay, starting right tackle
Season stats: 15 games (all starts at right tackle — missed two games due to knee injury), nine sacks allowed, 27 QB hurries allowed, six penalties
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: minus-10.4 (No. 64 out of 75 among NFL offensive tackles this season; ranked fourth out of Packers’ five regular starting offensive linemen)
Best game: Week 10 loss vs. Philadelphia (zero QB hurries allowed, zero sacks allowed, zero penalties, 3.3 PFF rating)
Worst game: Playoff loss vs. San Francisco (five QB hurries allowed, one sack allowed, zero penalties, minus-5.7 PFF rating)
Expectations at the start of the season: Low
Expectations were … Met
Looking live: Undrafted in 2012, Barclay has already started 21 games in his brief time in the NFL. When Barclay entered training camp for his second season, the Packers weren’t just ready to hand him the starting right tackle job that he had held for the final six games of his rookie year. In the opening practice on July 26, it was Marshall Newhouse who was given the first chance with the starters, though Barclay took snaps later that day with the first-team offense. Barclay was also serving as the backup center, an experiment that did not go well whatsoever. On the second day of training camp, Barclay had back-to-back fumbles during 11-on-11 team drills while working at center with Aaron Rodgers. By Day 5, though still trying unsuccessfully to be competent at center, Barclay was given the opportunity (over Newhouse) to be the starting right tackle with the no-huddle offense. On Family Night, it was a battle between Newhouse and David Bakhtiari with the starters at right tackle, with Barclay as the second-string center. That was the night that Bryan Bulaga tore his ACL, forcing the decision to put Bakhtiari at starting left tackle. Barclay finally started at right tackle in the second preseason game, and, though it took coach Mike McCarthy a while to make it official, Newhouse didn’t regain any ground in that race after that. Only a knee injury in Weeks 11 and 12 kept Barclay out of the starting lineup for two games.
Upon further review: Barclay took a step back as a run blocker in 2013. Green Bay ran the majority of its running plays in Josh Sitton’s direction at left guard, and it’s where the offense had the most success (team-high 6.1-yard average when running between center and left guard; 5.0-yard average when running between left guard and left tackle). The least successful runs came in Barclay’s direction, including a team-worst 3.1-yard average between left guard and right tackle. While there are certainly other factors at work when assessing those numbers, it’s a season-long sample size that often proves to be indicative of each particular offensive lineman’s performance. Looking at the film before Barclay’s knee injury compared to after he returned, he was clearly hampered most in the run game. In the Week 17 game at Chicago, the Packers — taking their season-long trend to the extreme — ran eight of their first nine rushes to the left side. In the second half, in a running play to the right, Barclay was immediately overpowered and outmaneuvered by Corey Wootton at the line of scrimmage in a play that was otherwise set up well against the Bears’ defensive look. In pass protection throughout the year, Barclay was good — and much improved over his end-of-season stint in 2012. It should be noted that, while it would be unfair to assign blame to an offensive lineman for Rodgers’ fractured collarbone (after all, offensive tackles give up sacks all the time and those hits result in major injuries far less than one percent of the time), it was Barclay who lost track of Bears defensive end Shea McClellin on that fateful moment on Monday Night Football in Week 9. When Rodgers stepped up in the pocket, McClellin broke away from Barclay and made the hit that cost the franchise QB the next seven games. Overall, though, while Barclay’s pressure numbers were too high, it’s difficult to imagine him doing any better in that area than what he did.
Overall 2013 grade: C-plus
Status for 2014: Ten percent chance of being one of the Packers’ starting offensive linemen in the 2014 season. Bulaga’s return from injury will almost certainly mean the end of Barclay’s time as a starter. Plus, this will be the first offseason in which Derek Sherrod is completely healthy, so he could pass up Barclay on the depth chart, too. It’s possible that Green Bay gives Barclay another shot at center if Evan Dietrich-Smith leaves in free agency, but that vacant spot would more likely be taken by JC Tretter. The Packers, or any NFL team, could do a lot worse than Barclay as a backup, though. He’s proven capable of stepping in when called upon at right tackle, and he would improve his value to the organization greatly if he could also be a dependable backup at center and at the two guard spots.