After Bumpy 2019, Billy Turner Provides Versatility & Stability to OL

It was a bumpy first season with the Green Bay Packers for Billy Turner, but in 2020 and looking ahead to 2021, he provides versatility and needed stability to offensive line. 

It was around this time a year ago now that I was writing an article stating that 2020 was a make-or-break year for Billy Turner with the Green Bay Packers. And by “make or break,” I meant that it could be his last.

Turner was signed during the 2019 offseason to a lucrative four-year - $28 million deal. If I had to summarize his play that season as the Packers' right guard in only a few words, I would choose ‘below average.’ It wasn’t all bad by any means; there were good performances, but he didn’t live up to that contract he received either.

According to PFF, Turner allowed nine sacks and 52 pressures that year over 764 pass-blocking snaps. For reference, on the other end of the performance spectrum, rookie Elgton Jenkins allowed no sacks and 24 pressures at left guard in 694 pass-blocking snaps.

And out of the 63 guards who appeared in at least 50 percent of their team’s total snaps that season, Turner ranked 58th in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency metric—which measures pressures allowed on a per snap basis and is weighted more heavily towards sacks.

It wasn’t only PFF who was down on Turner but Andy Herman of Packer Report, who goes through and grades every snap a player takes over the course of a season, also had similar results. On Andy’s scale, 0 is considered average, and by the end of the season, Turner’s cumulative grade was -5.85. Again, for more context, the next lowest graded offensive lineman on the team was Bryan Bulaga at +1.85.

So because of his play in 2019, but also because Green Bay could have saved $4.5 million this offseason by cutting Turner, are why I ended up writing the article that I did. A similar performance from him in 2020 would have made Turner a real cut candidate.

However, as we all know, that isn’t how things played out. Turner was very good last season, and he did so while taking a majority of his snaps as a tackle—a position that I wasn’t exactly enthused about him playing at. Once again, there is another article out there on the internet where I voiced my concerns about his abilities as a tackle, especially after we saw him struggle at guard.

But to my absolute delight, Turner proved me very wrong. Including the playoffs, Turner would take 363 snaps at left tackle, 244 at right guard, and 423 at right tackle, allowing four sacks and 30 pressures—with two of those sacks and four of those pressures coming in the NFC Championship Game where he admittedly struggled.

By ESPN’s pass-blocking win rate metric, which measures how often an offensive lineman can hold his block for at least 2.5 seconds, Turner ranked first among all eligible tackles.

“I think Billy has done a tremendous job all season long no matter where he’s played: right tackle, right guard, left tackle,” Head Coach Matt LaFleur said via Packers News. “You know, he’s got the right mindset, the right attitude. He comes to work every day ready to go. He’s a true pro.”

As this Green Bay Packers offensive line unit dealt with injuries, Turner’s ability to play multiple positions, transition from one to the other with relative ease, and his high level of play provided this unit with some much-needed stability, and he was a key cog in what ended up being the best offensive line in football.

Of course, it’s not only Turner who deserves credit for the overall success but every offensive lineman and the coaching staff as well. When most teams deal with as many injuries and the shuffling that took place last year along the offensive line, the unit’s level of play is typically going to fall off—but that wasn’t the case for the Packers. For the most part, they were just as good regardless of the offensive line combination.

On several occasions, Matt LaFleur has discussed the importance of putting the best five offensive linemen on the field, and when a team has someone like Turner who can play both guard and tackle effectively, it affords the coaching staff quite a bit of flexibility as they don’t have to be as concerned about fitting a player into a specific role. And flexibility, regardless of where it comes from, is something that every team desires.

Looking ahead to the 2021 season, as there was last summer, there are some unknowns about what this offensive line will look like Week 1. Will David Bakhtiari be available? Where will Elgton Jenkins play? Who will be the starting guards?

Whatever ends up happening, Turner will be there to help provide that stability — an underrated aspect of offensive line play — regardless of what position he’s asked to play. And if he needs to move around, well, that’s fine too.

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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. 
 

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8 points

Comments (18)

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Turophile's picture

June 19, 2021 at 07:27 am

Turner being able to lock down RT has given the Packers versatility across the line.

It means Elgton Jenkins can slide over to LT until Bakhtiari comes back. We have Myers who certainly has the talent to hold down the center position.

After Bakhtiari's return, the most likely starters on the line seem to be Bakhtiari (LT), Jenkins (LG), Myers (C), and Turner at RT. The remaining position (RG) is going to be a competition between several backups, winner take all. I'm guessing the victor is Stepaniak or Runyan, though Patrick is pretty experienced now.

I didn't think much of the two O linemen taken later in the draft (Newman and Van Lanen), but I'd be happy to be proved wrong. there are still guys like Nijman on the roster who could step up at OT. No question that the Packers have invested plenty in the O line recently.

All in all, I'd say the line is healthy, now and in the future. Competition will allow the best backups to move towards being starters, if Turner is replaced in a couple of years.

After Aaron Rodgers is gone (whenever that is) , the line, at least as things look now, looks set to provide good protection to whoever is under center...................and a good line is key for new QBs to prosper.

6 points
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Leatherhead's picture

June 18, 2021 at 07:11 am

He was good in 2019, too,, but once a narrative gets started ……….

He took more snaps than anybody on one of the best lines in the league. How that gets boiled down to “below average” is a mystery to me.

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Coldworld's picture

June 18, 2021 at 08:12 am

I remember Denver friends telling me Denver personnel saw him as a tackle in the making and that was why they wanted to keep him. The narrative was that T better suited his natural traits than G, despite a need to develop and settle. Certainly seems that way.

We will see, but another good season forces a big extension or moving on I suspect. With all the O line prospects that we have brought in, it just looks like we must have that in mind. Bakh, Jenkins and Meyers aren’t going anywhere so that’s a lot of competition for just Patrick’s spot.

1 points
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HarryHodag's picture

June 18, 2021 at 09:42 am

Remember the old statement: "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics".

Modern sports people assume all the nerds sitting around crunching largely meaningless numbers somehow have a greater insight than the average fan with a good pair of eyes.

When there is a hole for Aaron Jones to run through on the right side of the line the center, guard and tackle have done their job. When the quarterback isn't hurried or sacked, the line has done their job.

When the Packers win, the line has done their job.

The only numbers that really count are on the scoreboard at the end of the fourth quarter. The rest of it is mental masturbation.

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

June 18, 2021 at 10:29 pm

Marshall Newhouse got a lot of snaps, too. Performance is what counts. He could not hold down LT when it mattered, filling for Bhaktiari.

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Guam's picture

June 18, 2021 at 07:25 am

Even if Turner plays well in 2021, I wonder if he will be with the team in 2022? The Packers are seriously over the 2022 cap at this point (signed contracts versus projected cap) and will have to cut some under contract veterans to make the cap limit. Trading Rodgers would go a long way toward resolving that problem, but absent that solution guys like Turner and Lowery may have to be cut regardless of their level of play. Given the number of young (cheap) O-linemen on the team, Turner might be vulnerable.

9 points
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dobber's picture

June 18, 2021 at 08:21 am

I think your comment and analysis regarding the slew of T/G they've brought in are on the mark, Guam. Even with Turner's restructure and voidable years, the $4+M they save against the cap by trading or releasing him before 2022 might be something they need to take advantage of.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 18, 2021 at 10:31 pm

Or draft another guy with a high pick in '22. No big deal.

1 points
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greengold's picture

June 18, 2021 at 07:49 am

Great piece, Paul. I think it opens a window into Gutekunst’ thinking with regards to this huge push in acquiring OL over the past two years.

Remarkable, really, looking at Billy Turner and Elgton Jenkins, and how their versatility has provided stability to make the O work. That model of taking the very best, AND most versatile players makes a lot of sense in today’s game.

Gutey must look at Bak going down last year as an alarm going off. He had not secured the depth necessary at LT on his roster, and it likely lost him a Super Bowl. Versatility was key in both the Turner signing and the Jenkins selection, and that has kept us competitive week in, week out. Looks like he’s kept that in mind in collections players to fight it out on the roster.

Royce Newman
Cole Van Lanen
Jon Dietzen
Coy Cronk
Simon Stepaniak
Jon Runyan
Ben Braden

All of these players new additions over the last two years who offer varying degrees of experience at both OT and OG. All of them battling to be part of what likely will be 9 roster positions altogether.

Good competition assembled there. I’m really wondering if Lucas Patrick survives the 53 this year. Love the guy, but his cap savings may factor heavily, tipping that scale.

6 points
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dobber's picture

June 18, 2021 at 08:28 am

" All of them battling to be part of what likely will be 9 roster positions altogether."

With the number of picks invested in OL positions recently, I wouldn't be surprised if they keep 10 and still try to sneak a player or two to the PS.

I'm not a Lucas Patrick fan, myself, but he's proven he's an NFL G and the versatility he grants in terms of building game day rosters (due to his ability to play all 3 IOL positions) is hard to overlook given how small his contract is. He's someone, if the Packers find suitable younger players they want to keep, who might get dealt in the last weeks of camp, and there might be quite a few buyers.

3 points
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greengold's picture

June 18, 2021 at 10:50 am

I agree with you on them possibly keeping 10 players there, and Lucas Patrick does come in with great value for what he brings at OG and OC. I just think there will be a number of surprise cuts made throughout the roster to land near that total cap savings in the $5M range, like TGR had mentioned. Patrick might be one of them.

Patrick is one of only two players on our roster in this "gray area of retention" with a high net over $1M, an -estimated- net cap savings of $1.25M, should he be released. The other being Chandon Sullivan who provides an estimated $1.41M net cap savings if released.

Others TGR listed (as a refresher) who I feel are in this gray area where they could stick, or just as easily be cut due to the new depth provided:
Jackson $608K net savings
Lancaster $322K
Burks $220K
Kaufusi $200K
Redmond $200K
Summers $125K
Hollman $125K

Altogether, with every one of the players mentioned above, should they not be retained, the Packers net cap savings would be in the neighborhood of (as the net saving figures were estimates) $4.46M. The player replacing any of those above were projections TGR provided as net totals based on reasoned replacement figures, so the savings could wind up being a little more or less than that estimated total. Pretty easy to see just how tight the Packers are here, and how these possible cuts loom large for the team.

That is what has me thinking Lucas Patrick has an uphill battle, not just in his performance alone this TC. They've got other avenues to massage this, where Patrick could still find a spot on this roster. It just looks highly probable he finds himself the odd man out.

(TGR, correct me if I'm wrong. That's how I understood the figures from the table you provided in one of your recent articles. The players that I listed are just those I think might be fighting that uphill battle when factoring in their cap savings.)

Let's say Patrick, Sulivan and Lancaster all make the final 53. The remaining players, should they be cut, would net less than $1.5M in cap savings. Far off from the Packers likely goal of $5M. Real surprise cuts, as others have mentioned in this thread, like Billy Turner, could net significantly more savings.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 18, 2021 at 10:33 pm

Where's last years flavor of the week, Nijman?

1 points
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PatrickGB's picture

June 18, 2021 at 08:08 am

I was among those who thought that Turner was an overpriced and underwhelming guard. Yet he is definitely an above average tackle on this team. Maybe it came from better coaching and scheme. But I was happy to see the improvement. Yet I can’t see the team keeping him next year. Somebody else will pay $ for him.

6 points
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dobber's picture

June 18, 2021 at 08:37 am

Fit means a lot. Right coaching staff, right system, right time.

3 points
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Turophile's picture

June 18, 2021 at 12:05 pm

As Dobber said, right time, right system...........and good coaching. The line has been doing really well as a unit, even when injury bitten.

OL coach Adam Stenavich and assistant Luke Butkus deserve props for carrying on the good work (since 2019) of their predecessors. Stenavich was promoted to run game coordinator as well, this year.

3 points
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mnbadger's picture

June 18, 2021 at 12:22 pm

I for one was overly critical of BT after 2019. He always seemed a step too slow or too late or too weak. I regularly jumped his butt. 2020 proved that I don't know much. He was equally valuable last year to Jenkins or Bakh. I apologize mr Turner. I wish you well in the future. My hope for GPG is that we have enough depth that we can trade him to a team in need of late help. Maybe for another DT or good ILB? GPG!

5 points
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TXCHEESE's picture

June 18, 2021 at 04:25 pm

It would be shocking if Turner were to be let go. Not only a pretty good player, but a very good leader as well. I would suspect if the Packers need to find some cap room, an extension would be a more likely option.

2 points
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Dragon5's picture

June 20, 2021 at 06:02 pm

Like Bahk and the departed Linsley, odds favor Turner grading out poorly in '21 due to poor performance, injury, and/or both during his enemy year.

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