The 2020 season for the Green Bay Packers is now over, albeit far too soon, and now we have an entire offseason to think back about all of the ‘what-ifs’ and what could have gone differently for this team. With the unfounded speculation surrounding QB Aaron Rodgers and the rest of his time in Green Bay ramping up, there are far more important aspects to be looking at until the upcoming draft in April.
There are certain members of this team that stepped up when needed the most, and there were players that failed to live up to expectations and let the team down – thankfully, the positive side of that will focused on here.
Below are three ‘unsung heroes’ from this team for this past season, players that stepped up and made a bigger impact than some may have expected.
The undrafted rookie UCLA linebacker was a much-needed addition for Green Bay this offseason, as their LB core was needing to replace Blake Martinez and his high-tackle outputs.
Barnes was a preseason hero, showing out in reps, both on the practice field and in preseason play. He turned heads with his nose for making plays, always seeming to be by the football, and his strong play continued into the regular season.
Holding a starting spot for the vast majority of the season, Barnes overcame some injuries, including brandishing a burly club during both postseason games, and he showed a ton of grit for a rookie. Being on a rookie deal is going to be great for the low cap space that GB projects to have, and Barnes has carved out a solid role for himself moving forward as a starter, hopefully alongside Kamal Martin.
Robert Tonyan – TE
The man that finally got his last name pronounced correctly (think Funyans), tight end Robert Tonyan experienced a huge breakout this season as a focal part of the Packer offense. Turning a small-output 2019 season into a huge breakout 2020 season is exactly what Rodgers needed, as he was able to go to Tonyan time and time again.
His sure hands and consistent physicality was contagious, as he always looked to inflict a hit after he caught the ball and never took things for granted out on the field. Putting up double-digit TDs this season cemented himself as the TE1 on this team, which will hopefully cross a big need for the offense off the needs list for this offseason.
Pairing Tonyan with a hopefully-healthy version of Jace Sternberger next season would be a solid 1-2 punch for the Packers, who will most likely then be on the hunt for a third TE option, most likely one that is known for his blocking to replace Marcedes Lewis, who may very well retire or go elsewhere.
Billy Turner – G/T
Seen as a likely cap casualty during this upcoming offseason, offensive lineman Billy Turner had an outstanding year manning multiple positions across the Green Bay line. Sliding from guard to tackle, inside to outside, the former Broncos OL was a key piece in one of the best OL units in the league.
With Turner stepping up, Green Bay was able to move him around to where they needed the most help, which more often than not ended up being at either tackle position. When stalwart LT David Bakhtiari was lost for the rest of the season around the holidays, Turner slid back over to the left side and held down Rodgers’ backside, a role that he had filled earlier in the year as well when Bakhtiari was forced to miss some time.
Going from being pushed out to being a candidate for an extension is surely a whirlwind of emotions, yet Turner’s ascension to that level helped keep unproven guys, like rookie Jon Runyan Jr., from having to come into pressure-cooker situations, giving Rodgers more confidence in his line and not having to change up the play style to have to get the ball out quicker.
Even though Turner got abused by Jason Pierre-Paul and other members of the Tampa Bay defensive line in the Championship Game, everyone on that line experienced the same thing, so that brief blemish on Turner’s record for this season is not enough to ruin his full season of work.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