Cory's Corner: The Do Anything OL

The offensive line has gone above and beyond the call of duty. 

Arguably, the most underappreciated position in all of sports is the offensive line. 

The only time anyone notices the offensive line is when someone does something wrong.

But it is Green Bay's impressive offensive line that has set the table for a realistic Super Bowl run. Aaron Rodgers was hit as threw only one time this season and sacked 20 times. And according to ProFootballReference.com., Rodgers was pressured 14.2 percent per dropback — the lowest number in the NFL. Rodgers also enjoyed getting an average of 2.4 seconds per dropback which was a credit to the offensive line for maintaining blocks and for Rodgers for getting the ball out quick. 

However, the offensive line wasn't just solid this year. That unit also redefined the word versatility as coach Matt LaFleur used six different offensive line starting combinations this season. Elgton Jenkins played right tackle, left guard and center and Billy Turner manned right tackle, right guard and left tackle. There are five starting offensive line positions, but the Packers used eight different players that dutifully played Musical Chairs. 

"The unsung heroes of the squad (are) those seven linemen, eight linemen who've played a lot for us, make all of our jobs easier," said Rodgers entering Week 14.

He's right. And I would bet that when Rodgers wins his third MVP following the season, he's going to reward that crew that has not only kept his backside clean this year, but has also been one of the best run blocking units in the NFC. Remember when the 49ers ran all over the field against the Packers in the 2019 NFC Championship Game? LaFleur has brought that same physcial mindset to Green Bay. Jamaal Williams is averaging 2.5 yards before contact and Aaron Jones is averaging 2.4. Those are very lofty numbers, seeing as how Derrick Henry is only seeing 1.9 yards before he gets hit.

"It's awesome to know that you've got multiple people that can go in there and get the job done," said LaFleur after the Week 16 demolishing of the Titans. "I would say the versatility of our line alone is a huge luxury. I know for myself personally, I've never been a part of a team that has that much versatility on the offensive line, where you can move guys from guard to tackle, or from guard to tackle to center. It's just pretty impressive."

Another impressive thing is that David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley were both named to the Associated Press All-Pro first team on Friday. It's the first time that a Packers center has been an all-pro since Jim Ringo in 1963 and Bakhtiari has been an all-pro since 2016. Both of those guys are uber talented, but it also speaks volumes about the job that Adam Stenavich is doing as the offensive line coach. This is his first NFL gig as the lead man of the offensive line and he's doing a remarkable job. I still remember chatting with the left tackle at Notre Dame Stadium after his Michigan Wolverines were upset by the Irish in 2004 and I left very impressed by how mature and smart he was. Many may have questioned LaFleur for hiring someone that barely had any NFL experience, but Stenavich has proven that he along with his offensive line can roll with the punches.

This unit is the personification of team — they all rely on each other — and even though Bakhtiari will not be available for the playoffs, I don't doubt for a second that this crew will get it done. 

 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (13)

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NickPerry's picture

January 09, 2021 at 07:19 am

I remember reading on more than one site once MLF started putting his staff together after being hired, he'd have a hard time putting a quality staff together due to his inexperience. There were 3 coaches when they were named to the staff that I had really bought into that theory. They were Stenavich, Justin Outten, and Shawn Mennenga.

I was dead wrong as were the writers of those articles about MLF coaching staff. Stenavich has done an outstanding job juggling lines almost weekly, and what Outten has helped do to turn Big Bob into a Pro Bowl worthy TE and now even the progress of Daffaney is just as impressive.

I'm more than happy to admit being wrong, especially when it's anything negative about the Packers I've bought into. NOW if I could just be wrong about Mennenga...

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Nordom's picture

January 09, 2021 at 09:18 am

If I recall correctly, Mennenga was not his first choice for special teams coordinator, but management wouldn't pay the higher rate of the guy he wanted, Darren Rizzi, who instead was hired by the Saints. Saints had the #3-ranked special teams last year, and the #5-ranked this year; Packers 18th last year, 25th this year. In short, a big middle finger to the guy who said no to Rizzi because of another milllion a year or whatever - amazingly shortsighted and cheap.

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NickPerry's picture

January 09, 2021 at 12:08 pm

Yup, and that still ticks me off.

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Stroh's picture

January 10, 2021 at 07:52 pm

That other ST coordinator had a family in Florida he wanted to be close to. I don't think the money was much of a factor. It was about being close to his wife and kids.

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mnbadger's picture

January 09, 2021 at 07:22 am

An offensive line is like a chain, defined by the weakest link, this unit was GRADE 100 top to bottom. Thanks for recognizing OL coaches. I too was concerned about the lack of NFL experience. Fear not. Cory you may want to double check the line "Aaron Rodgers was only hurried 10 times this season and sacked just four times" I'm not sure what the final numbers were, but he went down 5 times vs the bucs. Looking forward to beating brady/bucs next week. GPG

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CoryJennerjohn's picture

January 09, 2021 at 12:17 pm

Thanks. Looked at the wrong column.

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porupack's picture

January 09, 2021 at 09:59 am

Great post Cory, and its awesome to see this position group emerge as a foundational strength of the offense. Just a couple years ago, there was little depth as Bulaga was having challenges staying healthy and available and draft pick Spriggs never developed. Now, the versatility is probably unprecedented and may re-define scouting and Oline management in the future. Shall we key in that old tag-line of the packers under Thompson; draft-and-develop? It seems Packers should again be highlighted in their strategy to identify mid- round talent, and develop into above average players.

Not to be critical, but a fair amount of Oline success is directly related to release time. I've still been a bit skeptical and still think Oline is a bit over-rated. GB has benefitted from opponents missing some key pass rushers due to covid or injury. However, erasing KMack and the other cubs after the Carolina kitties started to convince me .

Seems the run game is a more accurate determiner of Oline quality, and your stat on the interval from snap to hit was pretty potent indicator. I had my doubts, as it seems packers RBs got stonewalled too many times in between some big runs. I admit, its my impression....so am glad for your stat.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 10, 2021 at 03:59 am

It is a useful stat, but it is the average rather than the median. Both numbers would give a really good indication of the OL's run blocking ability.

Your eye test is accurate in my opinion. The Packers break some long runs which improves their YAC number but get stoned a little too much. The cutback ability of Jones really improves the line's numbers.

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gkarl's picture

January 09, 2021 at 10:18 am

It seems to me that putting together a coaching staff is a little like building your roster. You have some rookies that no one knows about and some veterans that you know what your getting. Sometimes like the draft you find rookies that really help your team and some that bust, just as you need to occasionally move on from veteran players or coaches.

We just need to rely on the FO and MLF to be making the correct decisions for players and coaches. So far so good IMHO.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 09, 2021 at 10:00 pm

Hmmmmm... ROOKIES..... umumumum... :-)

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Leatherhead's picture

January 09, 2021 at 10:38 am

Take a great QB, add an offensive line that can keep him protected and open holes for the RBs, and you have a 30ppg offense. Even with bargains at the skill positions.

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PatrickGB's picture

January 09, 2021 at 11:01 am

One problem with a season stat is that it may not reflect the current lineup. I am glad for this seasons performance yet think that the starting line for the first game of the season was the best one. I think that the line that included Bak and Taylor would have been even better. Superior coaching has kept us more than competitive.

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raedwallaceee's picture

January 09, 2021 at 11:54 am

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