Shift to a run-focused offense plays into current roster dynamics

As ecstatic as Packer fans are for their team’s 2020 NFL Draft class, the team set out with a goal to address certain elements of their roster that currently had holes in them. While the fan base saw wide receiver as the largest gap that needed to be addressed, GM Brian Gutekunst and his front office decided to move in different ways to improve the offense, drafting a player at every single main offensive position group, except for receiver.

While they did go out and bring in one undrafted free agent to combine with their current stable of WR’s, the tone has been clearly set by the front office and coaching staff moving forward, in that they are more than willing to rely on a highly-improved defense and change their offensive focus to becoming more run-focused.

Having Aaron Rodgers underneath center will continuously present this team with one of the best to ever do it slinging the ball around, but AR’s health and age are both trending in unfortunate directions, providing an interesting decision that apparently was made without getting approval from the fan base (even though they obviously don’t need it).

The selection of quarterback Jordan Love from Utah State in the first round, after a trade up, is going to be looked at as a make-or-break moment for both Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur. By continuing the trend of not addressing pending issues now and always have an eye to the future, the ramifications that this draft class will have will not fully be felt until three-plus seasons from now, provided Rodgers’ health does not take a nosedive anytime soon.

Building upon their strengths in running back and offensive line talent, GB added a power back in Boston College’s AJ Dillon, who more often than not resembles a cement truck coming downhill with no breaks. Asking a defensive player to handle 247 pounds stacked on a six-foot frame in the trenches or in open space, and Dillon will have an advantage more often than not.

Besides adding a bruiser in Dillon, they brought in a tight end that looks to be destined to become the team’s H-back, and beefed up their offensive line with three additions, all in the sixth round, adding a guard, center, and offensive tackle, all in that order. 

While Josiah Deguara from Cincinnati may not have been on many third-round draft radars, he fits a perfect body type and similar play style that the 49ers role out with their fullback/H-back combo Kyle Juszczyk, who has helped bring back the importance of having a receiving threat from the backfield that can also block and profiles as a fullback. While the position that Deguara plays will need to be finalized in training camps, the thought process lends itself to seeing the type of new role that he will have in his rookie season.

The writing, even though it may not have been noticed by many, has been on the wall for a while that GB would eventually transition their offense into a run-heavy style that focuses on misdirection, zone schemes, and taking the ball out of the hands of the QB and putting it into their stable of RB’s. This draft has easily shown how the team looks to progress forward from here, and it looks to be decently evident that while they are looking to change the offensive tone of the team, they are also looking to build upon the strengths that they have developed over the years to make that transition a bit smoother.

While taking the ball out of the hands of Rodgers does not ultimately sound like the smartest way to carry out an offensive scheme, the fact remains that in the past, when Rodgers has been tasked with carrying the entire offense on his back, elements of his play have suffered, to the point where there were times that having a running game would have done absolute wonders for this team to bring another dimension to the play calling.

The jury is still obviously out on how well this scheme change will work and how it will specifically look, but the fact remains that the coaching staff and front office remain dedicated to transitioning this team into a new offensive look, something that will involve new ventures for the offense all while using the strengths of their offensive line and running backs to make that changeover work.

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Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23

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