MVP QB. Top RB Duo. Young/Unproven WRs. A defense with the most talent and both short and long term investment in 20+ years. These are the subject lines of almost every article out there, but none of these are the position group that will propel the Green Bay Packers in 2022. That would be the new and improved Packers offensive line.
It is underrated how much worse the Green Bay offensive line was in 2021 than 2020. The Packers O-line was ranked 2nd by PFF in 2020 and 14th in 2021. And that 14th was partially thanks to the offensive play-calling that helped the backup linemen out. The Packers lost three starters between the beginning of 2020 and the end of 2021. In that group was Two All-Pros and one All-Pro snub (you’ll get yours Jenkins). Between playoffs and regular season, that’s (more or less) 18 missed games by David Bakhtiari (LT), 10 by Elgton Jenkins (LG/LT), and 11 by our All-Pro Corey Linsley replacement Josh Myers (C).
Offensive line cost the Packers games last year and made many others harder than they should have been. They are the reason our offensive numbers took such a hit last year (1st in points scored to 10th). The Packers and Rodgers had to warp their game-plans to flex around what our line could handle. According to ESPN, the Packers yards per carry went from 4.8 in 2020 to 4.3 in 2021. That is a very large difference over the course of a season and a massive hit to an offense that relies on the run to set up the pass.
I do not mean to slander the efforts of our replacement O-linemen or the wizardry of our coaching staff. Most teams would have completely fallen off just with losing two starters (see the Browns). But this line is going to look and play a LOT different in 2022.
While we don’t know exactly how the Packers mid-season line will look, we can take a few guesses:
Left Tackle will go from our third string to All-Pro Bakhtiari.
Left Guard will either be standout third-year Jon Runyan or Elgton Jenkins.
Center will be Josh Myers. Rookie Zach Tom may push him, but don’t expect him to take the starting gig.
Right Guard will be a battle. Especially if Jenkins goes to LG, expect to see Jon Runyan, second-year man and former starter Royce Newman, as well as rookies Zach Tom and Sean Rhyan all having a dog in the fight.
Right Tackle will either be Jenkins or a battle between Yosh Nijman and rookies Rasheed Walker and Seah Rhyan.
(Personally, give me: Bakhtiari – Runyan – Myers – Rhyan/Tom – Jenkins)
Yes, this still shows some question marks, but having questions because of competition are the kind of questions a team wants to have. Nothing brings out the best in a player than the possibility of losing their starting job or place on the roster. We are going to get the best out of this group.
The Packers are going to once again have top-5 offensive line with even stronger depth than they have had before. Their playbook is going to open up. Jones and Dillon are going to run like stallions and Rodgers is… well, he’s going to be Aaron freaking Rodgers.
Then, we win.
PJ is an Ohio native who was fortunate enough to be born into the green and gold family through his father who grew up in Green Bay. He now resides in NYC where he is an avid fan and fantasy football player. You can follow him on twitter at @PJsPack_.