The Packers went into Soldier Field and came out owning yet another win and sole possession of first place in the NFC North. Green Bay hasn’t put together a complete game yet in 2021, but they are showing grit and the ability to win in different ways. It’s also impressive to see the defense start to gel. It’s clear that players are thinking less and reacting more. In week seven they get a scrappy team in the 2-4 Washington Football Team. To push the Packers win streak to six games this week they will need big performances from these key players:
Each week, the Packers are seeing more and more of what they were expecting from former 12th overall pick Rashan Gary. While the sacks haven’t started coming, he is causing consistent pressure as well as being a highly effective run defender. Against the Bears, Gary lived in the backfield; credited with 5 pressures and was also a continued force against the run. He will need to take another huge step forward in Week 7, with Preston Smith nursing multiple injuries and is very uncertain to play Sunday. Against Charles Leno Jr, Gary should be able to take advantage and consistently harass WFT QB Taylor Heinicke and force him into some poor throws.
Packer fans have watched the rapid maturity of rookie Eric Stokes this season. Each week he looks more at home on an NFL field. His rookie mistakes are growing further apart and his comfort in Joe Barry’s defense is becoming apparent. He is sticky in coverage and is also a surprisingly sure tackle after the catch. After the loss of both Jaire Alexander and Kevin King to injuries, the Packers Defense needed Eric Stokes to produce fast, and produce he has. This week he has one of his biggest challenges to date in WFT receiver Terry McLaurin. McLaurin is an extremely polished route runner, which is a huge challenge for any rookie, as well as great hands and deceptive speed. It’s safe to assume that Stokes will get first crack at slowing McLaurin down, which if he can, will go a long way towards securing win number 6.
Packers Offensive Line
What might be the most surprising storyline of the season is how well the Packers offensive line has not only withstood but thrived despite multiple injuries across their starting 5. They have yet to have all-pro Tackle David Bakhtiari for a single snap. While that might change in the somewhat near future, it’s been shocking and impressive to see how well both Elgton Jenkins and Yosh Nijman filled the role. Right Tackle Billy Turner is quietly having his best season. Additionally, the interior of the line has been a revolving door, with players in and out of the lineup. This hasn’t caused complete chaos on offense. While they have obviously made adjustments to their offense, they are still averaging 24 points a game. That includes the 3-point outlier in week one. That speaks to the incredible job
This week, the offensive line has one of their biggest tests so far in the talented WFT defensive line. Highlighted by rising star Chase Young, every position on their defensive line has talent and can get after Aaron Rodgers. The Packers offense must be ready for a hungry team ready to set the tone and get their 2021 season back on track at Lambeau. If the Packers can get through week 7 with their patchwork line, reinforcements could be on the way in Bakhtiari.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.