Continuing my series of asking other writers who covered the new Chargers players, today we have Owen Riese from 24/7’s Packer Report. Owen has a phenomenal eye for offensive line evaluation and has probably watched for Bryan Bulaga film than 99% football fans out there. He’s also currently an Offensive Graduate Assistant working with the offensive line at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
I hope you guys enjoy the conversation and maybe learn a thing or two about your newest right tackle!
1.) For those who haven’t watched a ton of Packers games, what can you tell us about the kind of player the Chargers are getting in Bryan Bulaga?
Bryan Bulaga is one of the most steady, underrated, underappreciated offensive linemen and likely players in the NFL. He’s a blue collar, typical Iowa offensive lineman who does his job and does it well. One of the better pass protecting tackles in the league, and very capable in the run game. Overall, one of the best right tackles in the NFL.
2.) Many think Bulaga has had trouble with injuries throughout his career and that obviously scares Charger fans. What is your take on his injury history and should the Chargers truly be worried about it?
I think that the injury concerns are legitimate, but I think it’s a risk you need to take given the lack of quality offensive linemen in the league and the priority that’s put on pass protection in today’s NFL. He started all 16 games last season, and while he seems to get dinged a time or two throughout the season, when he plays he’s among the best in the league.
3.) In your opinion, does the addition of offensive line coach James Campen, along with Bulaga, mean the Chargers could be switching up their run game? I.e, More zone concepts/less Power?
I would agree with that. During the McCarthy era while Campen was in Green Bay, they’re primarily a zone team. I don’t know as intimately how Anthony Lynn runs his offense, but Campen has had a majority of his experience as an offensive line coach over the last decade or so as a major zone team.
4.) What kind of personality would you say the Chargers are getting in Bulaga? What type of presence will he bring to the locker room and his position group?
It’s certainly not a loud one. Bulaga is very much in the mold of the offensive lineman who goes about his business and does it well, but he’s not an outwardly vocal leader or someone you’re going to get many sound bites from. However I do believe he’s a strong locker room presence who demands the respect of his teammates, something he’s earned throughout his career.
5. Will Packers fans miss Bulaga? Why or why not?
I’m of the belief that most Packers fans undervalue or don’t appreciate enough how good Bulaga has been, or the importance of a strong offensive line. I’m of the belief that they found a cheaper, lesser replacement in Rick Wagner from the Lions, but it’s to be seen if the money they saved will be worth it. I think as time passes, Packer fans will be more appreciative of how good Bulaga was when he was on the field, for as long as he was a Packer.
6.) What are his strengths? Weaknesses?
I can tell you one of the biggest strengths of his game is in pass protection, so having someone to block Maxx Crosby and Von Miller will be a sight for sore eyes for Chargers fans. He’s one of the best pass blocking right tackles in the league. He’s had trouble against some of the elite rushers in the league, a la Khalil Mack, but that was usually a result of Green Bay asking him to block on an island for entire games. Everyone is going to get got at times. I’d say his main weakness is and has been his injury history - it’s tough to dispute and truthfully, the best ability is availability.
7.) What is your favorite memory that involves Bulaga?
There are a couple. 1. is obviously his Sunday Night Football video introduction, where rather than “Bryan Bulaga, Iowa” - it sounds more like “Bron Bloga, Owwa”, to which has given me many laughs throughout his tenure in Green Bay. I think the other was when the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010, and on the field afterwards, Bulaga was seen on the field with his wife/girlfriend, who is rather attractive, and I remember thinking how awesome it was that an offensive lineman had a hot wife/girlfriend. Everyone can dream, right?