No, it’s not mostly because of Aaron Rodgers.
No, it’s not mostly because of Aaron Jones and the running backs.
Not it’s not mostly because of Davante Adams and the wide receivers.
The Green Bay Packers, as good as their entire offensive unit has been this year, has been as solid as one could have hoped for one focal reason – their offensive line.
Going from left to right, David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Corey Linsley, Lucas Patrick, and Billy Turner have formed one of the best starting OL units in the entire league, with both Bakhtiari and Turner teaming up to be two of the top-ranked offensive linemen in terms of pass block win rates as a tackle.
Their 95 percent win-rate is simply incredible, and they are the second teammate duo on the list (Cleveland’s Jack Conklin and rookie Jedrick Wills are each at 94 percent), showcasing that while Bakhtiari is the big name, Turner has come a very long ways from being mentioned as a likely cap cut this upcoming offseason to an irreplaceable member of the team’s offensive line moving forward.
What is even more impressive than that is that all five starting OL members rank in the top-10 in their positions of the Pass Block Win Rate, according to ESPN.
Besides the aforementioned Turner and Bakhtiari’s ranks (Turner is ranked #1 and Bakhtiari at #3 even though they have the same overall percentage), Linsley is the 3rd-best center, Patrick is ninth among all guards, and Jenkins is close behind at 10th overall for all guards.
While injuries have derailed certain points of the season for both Baktiari and now Linsley, the depth that this position group has been exactly what has helped keep this team afloat.
Former Detroit Lions tackle Rick Wagner is a starting-caliber OT, even though he is on the bottom half of that group, and he is a great veteran presence that can step in and fill up snaps at either tackle slot. Michigan rookie Jon Runyan Jr. looks to be the steal of the draft so far for the Packers, as the sixth-round selection is the next man up on the interior of the line, and he looks to be in line to get his first career start against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13 due to Linsley’s MCL injury suffered in the team’s Week 12 victory over the Chicago Bears.
For Linsley, all tests show that he will not be out for the remainder of the year, but he will miss close to a month’s worth of time, so an early postseason return looks to be in the cards, most likely forcing HC Matt LaFleur to shuffle the OL cards yet again, which should end up with Jenkins taking over at center and plugging Runyan in as the starting left guard.
Both Linsley and Patrick missed practice on Wednesday, a bit of a worrisome sight for this line, which would most likely give tackle Yosh Njiman his first extended look. With Njiman on the field, that would most likely kick Turner inside from right tackle to right guard with Njiman starting at RT.
If that were to happen, then the line of Bakhtiari – Runyan – Jenkins – Turner – Njiman would end up being the unit that Green Bay rolls out on Sunday against the Eagles, something that may force the hand of LaFleur to conjure up a quicker gameplan.
But the biggest surprise this year has been the positional flexibility of Jenkins, who not only put together an All-Pro caliber year in his rookie season, but followed that up with the same dominant performance in his sophomore campaign, all the while being asked to lead the offensive line and switch positions as injuries occurred.
In years past, this unit has been the pitfall of this team, as it was unable to string together consistent performances and keep Rodgers healthy and clean, something that goes a long way to letting him run the offense at a superb level. Even with injuries popping up as the season winds down, this unit has been the biggest reason why they are winning the NFC North division, why Adams, Jones, and Rodgers have all been having great seasons, and why this team has been so consistent.
As long as these guys keep that up, then the offense should be able to function as usual – something this team needs to help bail out their defense.뿓뿓뿓
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