Packers fans are emotional. Myself included! One week it’s time to move on from Aaron Rodgers and the next the team is a shoo-in for the super bowl. Once problems last more than a few weeks, the whole fandom is fit to be tied. Over the first month of the season, all-pro guard Elgton Jenkins has been subpar at best playing tackle and Packers fans en masse decided this week that with David Bakhtiari back to playing left tackle, Jenkins should move back to guard. Should he? Let’s go over the situation.
What’s going on?
Jenkins’ PFF pass blocking grade is 51.2. It is the 61st best grade among qualifying tackles so far this season. No one, Jenkins included, thinks that performance is good enough. It has led to Rodgers getting pressured at an unusually high rate in multiple games and can be blamed for drive killing sacks.
Now that David Bakhtiari will likely fully take over at left tackle, fans and reporters alike are calling for Jenkins to move back to guard and allow Yosh Nijman to start at right tackle. Nijman filled in well for Bakhtiari this year and last at left tackle.
This ain’t Madden
The key point in the equation is that Nijman would be better than Jenkins at right tackle (there’s also a hope that Jenkins would be better at guard than Royce Newman, who he would be replacing). Nijman was certainly not a disaster at left tackle, but I don’t but that he’s an automatic improvement over the (all-pro) Jenkins.
First, if you look at total PFF grade (inb4 PFF sucks or PFF grades aren’t everything, they’re what I have to argue with), Jenkins’ grade this season is 68.7 and Nijman’s is 68.6. Jenkins has been far better run blocking than Yosh and Yosh has been far better pass blocking. As you know, the team is moving toward a run-based offense. Even many of the passes on the offense are so-called run solutions or RPOs.
Next, Yosh has never played right tackle. You’re taking a tackle who has played basically average this season and putting him on the opposite side and expecting him to keep up that level of play.
Prior to Bakhtiari’s return, much of the fandom was excited about the possibility that Bobby Tonyan could get out on more routes without having to first offer chip help to Yosh. Do we really think that situation is going to be better with Nijman playing a totally new position?
The other question is which side does Jenkins move to? Does he push Jon Runyan jr. out of the position where he has matured into one of the best pass blocker in the league? Making him try to learn to block on the opposite side? Or does he take over Royce Newman’s spot on the right, next to an inferior tackle (relative to Bakhtiari on the left side) and still on the opposite side from where he’s played most of his career.
He’s Elgton Jenkins
In the end, I think Packers fans need to chill out for a little while. Jenkins tore his ACL less than a year ago and is playing a new position. There are going to be rough patches and we’re just in the middle of one right now.
Jenkins has thrived at three different positions (left guard, center, and left tackle). He’s made the all-pro team and will be paid as one of the premier tackles in the league fairly soon. Tackle is a more important position than guard and the Packers would likely be limiting their long-term success by not letting him go through the rough patch and come out of the other side as, still, one of the best offensive linemen in the game.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.
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