A Productive Jace Sternberger is a Must for the Packers Offense

For the 2020 Green Bay Packers' offense to unlock their full potential, a productive Jace Sternberger is a must. 

Other than Jared Cook's second half of the 2016 season, it's been since the days of Jermichael Finley that the Green Bay Packers have had consistent production from the tight end position. However, to their credit, it isn't for lack of trying. 
 
In recent years, we've seen the Packers try to solve this issue with free agency. There was the aforementioned Cook signing, the addition of Martellus Bennett, and of course, Jimmy Graham. But as we all know, none of them panned out as hoped.
 
So in last year's draft, GM Brian Gutekunst spent a top-100 pick on Jace Sternberger to hopefully be the remedy, and as we look ahead to the 2020 season, a productive Jace Sternberger isn't just a need, it's a must for this offense. 
 
Unfortunately, last year got off to a bumpy start for the rookie tight end as he was sidelined until Week 10 with an injury. Upon his return, Sternberger was primarily used as a blocker, which is a role that he was effective in, and that is certainly a good sign as it's a vital part of the tight end's responsibilities in the Matt LaFleur offense. 
 
In the passing game, Sternberger was targeted just one time during the regular season. However, if you go back and watch those games he played in, there were a few instances in which he was wide open, but Aaron Rodgers was looking in a different direction. 
 
Yet once again, another very encouraging sign from Sternberger. 
 
In the playoffs, he would log his first catch against Seattle in the NFC Divisional Round and then his first NFL touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers the following week. 
 
As we all know, the Packers passing attack in 2019 was inconsistent and overall underwhelming, even with Davante Adams. Now with the news that Devin Funchess has decided to opt-out of the upcoming season, minus Geronimo Allison and Jimmy Graham - both of whom were quite ineffective - Green Bay will mostly have the same pass-catching personnel that they did a year ago. 
 
This is a significant concern for many within the fan base, and it means that internal development is going to be crucial to their success. While I believe Allen Lazard can make a jump, Marquez Valdes-Scantling will bounce back, and the return of Equanimeous St. Brown will provide a boost, there is also no guarantee that either of those things happens and there are some fairly realistic scenarios where the opposite could take place for any one of those players. 
 
Although Sternberger's success is not guaranteed either, of this young group of pass-catchers that the Packers have, the player who can make the biggest impact and play a key role in getting Green Bay over that Super Bowl hump is Jace. 
 
As the offense continues to become more of what LaFleur envisions, the tight end is going to play a much more significant role in Green Bay than what it has in years. And with Sternberger's ability to line up in the backfield, inline, in the slot, or even out wide, he can be a real "matchup problem" as Gutey put it back in January (via Packers Wire):
 
“The flexibility he gives us. Obviously, he has a lot of speed, he can stretch the seam, he’s a matchup problem for linebackers and safeties. Matt put him in the backfield, moved him around a little bit,” Gutey said. “Jace can be one of those guys, as he develops, he can play a lot of different places and be a matchup problem. Excited for him, excited that he gained a little bit of confidence at the end of the season that will hopefully be a push going into next year.”
 
With Sternberger's versatility, speed, and presence in the passing game, he allows LaFleur to run multiple plays - run or pass - from various formations with the same personnel and give this offense that "illusion of complexity" as LaFleur puts. Or it's also known as unpredictability. 
 
This not only makes Sternberger successful but Rodgers and the rest of his playmakers as well. And in turn, the entire Packers' offense. 
 
While in the past under Mike McCarthy, the Green Bay offense could still be elite without significant contributions from the tight end position, that just isn't the case anymore. Sternberger is one of the primary keys to unlocking the full potential of this offense, and for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, a productive Jace Sternberger is a must. 

---------------------

Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

2 points

Comments (8)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Bearmeat's picture

August 03, 2020 at 01:04 pm

Yep. Sternberger, one WR (preferably two) not named Adams, and at least one guy (again preferably two) on the right side of a the OL must step up for the offense to be productive this year. 3 unproven step ups at starter is a LOT to ask

+ REPLY
4 points
5
1
Mcdaws's picture

August 03, 2020 at 03:33 pm

If they can make the jumps we will be solid and look like geniuses

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Bearmeat's picture

August 03, 2020 at 07:25 pm

If is two very large letters, my friend. IF I were 6'4", 250, could squat a pickup truck and run a 4.5 40 yard dash, I'd be a rich man.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Ferrari-Driver's picture

August 03, 2020 at 01:30 pm

I do expect Sternberger to have a solid year for the Packers.
I often hear commentators speak in glowing terms when they mention Finley. I never thought so highly of Finley; he dropped so many crucial throws during games and was anything but an asset in the clubhouse. However, I do agree on Jared Cook who was productive during his time here and we made a mistake to let him get away.

+ REPLY
9 points
9
0
Bear's picture

August 03, 2020 at 02:06 pm

Agree with you on Finley. For a guy who averaged 3 catches a game and 39 yards and 3 touchdowns per year people speak of him like he was great.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
gkarl's picture

August 03, 2020 at 02:14 pm

I would say a productive season for Sternberger would be 45-50 catches, 600-700 yards and 6-8 TD receptions assuming 16 games. Don't know that's a must for the offense but I think MLF would take that.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
PeteK's picture

August 03, 2020 at 06:49 pm

6-8 TDs would be very good ,plus the added advantage of improved blocking. Then again a wooden Indian would be an improvement over Graham( I guess I'm showing my age with that term).

+ REPLY
0 points
2
2
splitpea1's picture

August 03, 2020 at 08:08 pm

A well-titled article--and I would add, "Especially in the red zone". We definitely need another reliable weapon to emerge down here to take the heat off Adams and A. Jones.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.