Packers Annual Checkup: G Josh Sitton
Today is the 44th day of FOX Sports Wisconsin Packers writer Paul Imig’s offseason evaluations of every player on Green Bay’s roster. Click here for all of Paul’s previous evaluations and come back every day through mid-March for Paul’s in-depth film and statistical analysis. Coming up soon:
Wednesday, March 13: ILB D.J. Smith
JOSH SITTON, RIGHT GUARD
Season stats: 18 starts (16 regular season, two postseason); three sacks allowed, 16 QB hurries allowed, seven penalties committed
Best game: Week 2 win over Chicago (one QB hurry allowed, zero sacks allowed, zero penalties committed; season-best 4.9 PFF rating)
Worst game: Week 11 win at Detroit (three QB hurries allowed, one sack allowed, one penalty committed; season-worst minus-3.2 PFF rating)
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: 20.8 (second-best on Packers offense; sixth-best among all NFL guards)
Expectations at the start of the season: Medium
Expectations were … Exceeded
Looking live: Entering his fifth NFL season and fourth as a starter, Sitton was expected to lead the Packers’ offensive line this past season. With new center Jeff Saturday having to learn the offense and three young, relatively inexperienced players filling the other three starting spots, the Packers needed Sitton to consistently perform at the high level he had previously proven was capable. Regardless of how high the Packers’ expectations were for Sitton in 2012, he exceeded them. Unlike in 2011, when he missed two games with a knee injury, Sitton stayed healthy and on the field for every snap this past season. General manager Ted Thompson knew the team had a special player in Sitton and signed him to a six-year, $35 million deal in September 2011. A fourth-round pick in 2008, Sitton is only 26 years old and keeps getting better. He wasn’t originally named to the Pro Bowl (even though he clearly should have been voted in) but eventually got a spot and made the trip to Hawaii.
Upon further review: Sitton is one of the best in the NFL at his position. If the Packers’ entire offensive line performed on a weekly basis as well as Sitton did last season, Aaron Rodgers would rarely have faced pressure and Green Bay’s running game would be much better. Sitton is just that good. During the 2012 season, he was arguably the best pass-blocking right guard in the league. He allowed 16 quarterback hurries in 778 passing plays, meaning Rodgers was pressured in the pocket by the defensive lineman blocked by Sitton only once in every 48 passing plays. ProFootballFocus.com graded Sitton with a 97.9 pass-blocking efficiency, fifth-best among all NFL guards. In the running game, the Packers had their best success on the ground when running between Sitton and the right tackle. Green Bay most frequently ran in that direction (74 times) and produced a 3.9 yards per carry average. It’s obvious why play-calling head coach Mike McCarthy wanted to send the running backs near Sitton. When Sitton engages with a defensive lineman, he rarely lets the opposing player move far from the point of contact. It’s difficult for defensive players to make a tackle when Sitton is dishing out such high-quality blocks. He has a goofy personality in the locker room but is a consummate pro on the field.
Overall 2012 grade: A
Status for 2013: 100 percent chance of being the Packers’ Week 1 starting right guard. Sitton has four years left on his current contract and will be 27 when the 2013 season begins. Green Bay needs to upgrade its offensive line to keep Rodgers better protected and give the running backs more space to operate, but don’t look in Sitton’s direction. He’s been doing his job at a very high level for the past four seasons.
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