As most Packer fans tend to resort to the pessimistic stance on the OLine I figured that it was worthwhile to brighten some perspectives.
Hair today, good tomorrow
Tauscher wears look as one of the elite
By ROB REISCHEL
Special to Packer Plus
Posted: Aug. 18, 2005
Green Bay - The hair flows well past his shoulders, an untamed mess that would make any stylist cringe.
"We give him a lot of crap about his hair," teammate Kevin Barry said.
His body shape draws plenty of chuckles, too, not only from foes throughout the NFL, but by the man who drafted him, as well.
"Everybody always does the same thing: they underestimate him," teammate Mike Flanagan said. "Everybody always does, no matter who you play because of the way he looks."
They can snicker at his hair and poke fun of his body. But as Green Bay Packers right tackle Mark Tauscher begins his sixth season, he's without question become an elite player at his position.
Now, Tauscher isn't just laughing last, he's laughing best.
"Tauscher, to me, is a great football player," Packers offensive line coach Larry Beightol said. "I know a lot of people don't look at it that way, but they don't coach him. They don't see him day-in and day-out like I do.
"What he brings to the table, he is a competitive guy, he's very smart, he's bright, he loves football, he loves the Packers, he loves playing in the state of Wisconsin. You couldn't ask for anymore. Every year, he comes in and plays with a lot of passion."
And seems to play better and better.
Pro Bowl berths are typically given to the league's left tackles. But any discussion of the top right tackles in football today has to include Tauscher's name.
Cincinnati's Willie Anderson has been the benchmark at the position for a decade now. And Carolina third-year pro Jordan Gross is a star in the making who's versatile enough to play either side. But Tauscher must be mentioned in the same breath, whether he wants to hear it or not.
"I mean, I know who plays where and I know what guys do," he said. "But I'm not caught up in all that stuff. I've got enough to worry about."
Like stopping some of the game's top pass-rushers, something few did better in 2004 than Tauscher. New York Giants all-pro Michael Strahan, arguably the game's top defensive end, was rendered null and void by Tauscher. St. Louis standout Leonard Little couldn't muster a single pressure and Philadelphia's Jevon Kearse didn't even have a tackle.
Afterward, they all must have been wondering how?
"Tausch isn't the prototype, but Tausch has been one of our most consistent guys for years and he's gotten better and better," said Flanagan, Green Bay's center. "Very rarely is he ever beaten on anything. He's assignment pure all the time, doesn't have mental errors. He's smart as hell. And he knows who to get, how to get 'em and keeps getting better and better every year."
Tauscher has the feet of a ballerina and the quick and powerful hands necessary to stymie speed-rushers. He's also a powerful run-blocker who's helped Green Bay rank third and 10th in rushing offense the past two seasons.
But Tauscher isn't where he is today because of rare physical gifts. Hardly.
Tauscher never thought his future would include the NFL, and he nearly gave up his final year of eligibility at the University of Wisconsin to focus on graduate school. And after Ron Wolf picked Tauscher in the seventh round of the 2000 draft, he referred to him as the "Pillsbury Doughboy."
Today, though, Tauscher has developed into a fantastic technician and Wolf lists him among the best draft picks he ever made. Considering that group includes the likes of Dorsey Levens, Mark Chmura, Antonio Freeman, Mark Brunell and Adam Timmerman, that's pretty heady company.
And most agree Tauscher is what he is today for two main reasons: work ethic and intelligence.
"I've always had it in my mind that I've never been talented enough to slough off," he said. "I know what I need to do to get ready for a season and I know if I don't give 100%, I'm going to get beat. When you continue to do that, it just becomes natural. There's going to be times I get beat. That happens. I just never want it to happen from a lack of effort."
Tauscher fought long and hard to return to form after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament in 2002. And the 28-year-old Tauscher isn't about to let up now, not when he's entering the prime of is career.
Tauscher's down five pounds to 315. But he wins most of his battles with hard word, film study and smarts.
Tauscher, a two-time Academic all-Big Ten section who earned his master's degree in educational administration in 2003, easily qualifies as one of the Packers' smartest players. He recently began work in a pre-doctorate program and spent five weeks this past off-season in England. There, he taught part of an American Studies class at Dulwich College and researched the re-election campaigns of two British Parliament members.
"He's a really smart guy," said Barry, who backs Tauscher up at right tackle. "He knows what to do and goes out and does it."
This year, Tauscher's role will change a bit. Oh sure, he'll still be asked to quiet stud pass rushers like New Orleans' Charles Grant and Carolina's Julius Peppers.
But after Green Bay lost guards Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle - two of its best leaders - to free agency this off-season, Tauscher, Flanagan and left tackle Chad Clifton are being asked to pick up that slack.
"He, Flanagan and Cliffy they're showing that leadership," Beightol said. "I told them that we don't have the same guys here, so we have to have better communication. They have to be willing to communicate and do things so that these guys can understand what we're trying to get done and how we're doing it. And it's working out fine."
The fact things have worked out so well for Tauscher still probably baffles those same NFL scouts who trashed him before the 2000 draft.
But five years later, he's an anchor on the right side and the ultimate example of how looks can be deceiving.
"You have to have a lot of confidence in yourself and I think I have that," Tauscher said. "And I want to have a great year. As a lineman, there's not a lot of things you can pinpoint when it comes to individual goals. I want to keep the penalties down to a minimum, do all the things that you can to make yourself successful.
"I'm going to work hard and I just want to be consistent. I want to be a better player than I've been in the past and that's why I'm out here trying to improve."
And that's no laughing matter.
You must be logged in to see this image or video!
You must be logged in to see this image or video!