Packers Annual Checkup: Josh Sitton
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.
Josh Sitton, starting left guard
Season stats: 17 games (all starts at left guard; played 100 percent of total offensive snaps), one sack allowed, eight QB hurries allowed, six penalties
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: 36.1 (ranked No. 1 out of Packers’ 23 qualified offensive players; ranked No. 2 out of all NFL offensive guards)
Best game: Week 17 win at Chicago (played all 78 offensive snaps), zero QB hurries allowed, zero sacks allowed, zero penalties; 4.2 PFF rating
Worst game: Week 1 loss at San Francisco (played all 63 offensive snaps), three QB hurries allowed, zero sacks allowed, three penalties; minus-4.5 PFF rating
Expectations at the start of the season: High
Expectations were … Exceeded
Looking live: Josh Sitton was one of the biggest reasons for coach Mike McCarthy deciding during the 2013 offseason to switch the right side of the offensive line over to the left side. Sitton had already proven to be one of the NFL’s best guards, and it made sense to McCarthy to get him (along with Bryan Bulaga in the original plan) playing on the side usually reserved for each team’s best linemen. "Those two (Sitton and Bulaga) are our most accomplished and experienced players," McCarthy said in May 2013. "Just going back to the old-school theory of how you structure your offensive line, we wanted to put those guys on the left side." Sitton wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea at first, though. "It kind of screws with your mind a little bit being on different sides, different than what you’re used to seeing," Sitton said May 21. "Seeing things from one side and different angles, and certain protections, you’re used to seeing the back of this side. It messes with your head a little bit, but after a few weeks I’m sure it’ll be just fine." Offensive line coach James Campen insisted that the move was "only difficult if you make it difficult," but he added that there was a process involved with muscle memory that needed to be worked on. Sitton was ranked at No. 11 on FOXSportsWisconsin.com’s pre-training camp "Most Important Packers in 2013" series, noting how much Green Bay would be counting on him to continue his dominance on the offensive line.
Upon further review: Sitton has been a consistently great player since 2009, but 2013 was arguably his best all-around season yet. He started off on a bad note in Week 1 (had three penalties in the first half — two for holding, one for illegal use of hands), which could perhaps be attributed to playing his new position in a real game for the first time against a great 49ers defense. But from the second game of the season on, Sitton was phenomenal. He wasn’t named to the Pro Bowl, likely because of the Packers’ below-average season with an 8-7-1 record, but he clearly should have been playing in Hawaii. He was a second-team All-Pro selection, finishing behind first-team selections Louis Vasquez (Denver Broncos) and Evan Mathis (Philadelphia Eagles), though Sitton was just as good as both of them. It was the first time in Sitton’s career that he was a part of the All-Pro team in any category though, so it was still a great accomplishment for him. Also not to be taken for granted is that Sitton was Green Bay’s only player to be on the field for every single snap offensive snap. Of course, what some may remember most about Sitton in 2013, especially those in Detroit, is when he called the Lions "a bunch of dirtbags or scumbags" and added that then-head coach Jim Schwartz is "a d***." Sitton can certainly be unfiltered at times.
Overall 2013 grade: A
Status for 2014: One-hundred percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster to begin the 2014 season. Sitton has three years remaining on the five-year, $33.75 million contract extension that he signed in 2011. With an annual cap number that doesn’t exceed $7 million in any of the upcoming seasons between 2014 and 2016, Sitton’s contract is very reasonable. He’ll turn 28 years old this offseason, which means he should definitely be in Green Bay through at least his 30th birthday — and very likely beyond that if he continues playing close to his current level. Going into the 2014 season already having had a full year next to David Bakhtiari will help Sitton, too. Plus, any concerns that Sitton had a year ago at this time about playing left guard are long gone. There are no signs whatsoever that Sitton won’t once again be among the NFL’s best guards next season.
Next: Running back James Starks
Follow Paul Imig on Twitter