Cory's Corner: The OL Is The Secret Sauce

That unit is overcoming adversity and still succeeding. 

Green Bay's offensive line had high expectations coming into this season. 

That crew has easily surpassed expecations by making Packers equipment manager Gordon "Red" Batty's job simple by keeping the grass stains off of Aaron Rodgers' jersey. 

The Packers offensive line will trot out the third different starting lineup this Sunday in New Orleans. Lane Taylor and Elgton Jenkins formed a solid foundation at right guard and right tackle in the season opener in Minneapolis, but a torn ACL suffered by Taylor in that game forced the Packers to shuffle Lucas Patrick from left guard to right guard and Jenkins to slide over to left guard. Now, with back and rib problems, there's a decent chance that Jenkins doesn't play on Sunday. And the offensive line still hasn't had the services of Billy Turner, who won the starting right guard job in camp, but is still coming back from a sprained knee. 

"We're just trying to get our best five our there and unfortunately we've had some injuries so far, nothing we can't handle, and we're just going to keep finding the best combination of guys however it unfolds," said Packers offensive line coach Adam Stenavich. 

That's absolutely remarkable to me. Rodgers has only been hurried four times this season — which is the same amount as Denver backup Jeff Driskel who has only played in one game. According to Stats Perform, Rodgers has been sacked once in 75 passing attempts — which leads the league. 

The offensive line has been chaotic. People have been all over the place and there hasn't been any continuity. But that hasn't stopped the offense from putting on laser light shows for the past two weeks. 

And the reason is that line.

"They're such a tight-knight group and they do a great job of pushing each other to be their best," said Packers coach Matt LaFleur after the season-opening win in Minnesota.

That's what solid depth does, it pushes everyone to be great. They know that they cannot afford to slip because someone will be called upon to fill in. 

Watching Rodgers throw a 45-yard bomb that looks like it dropped from a hot air balloon is a beautiful thing. But the reason that entire play is even being talked about is because that line made it happen. And lest we forget that the running game is averaging an absurd 6.2 yards per carry. Many offensive linemen really love to run block but detest pass protecting. These guys can do it all. 

The mark of true greatness is measured by how a person responds to adversity. The offensive line room has seen plenty of fingernail chewing over the last month, wondering how this unit was going to fit in place, much less protect the best passer in the game. 

The offensive line hasn't just responded, it has turned into the team's anchor. 

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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 (15)

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ShooterMcGee's picture

September 26, 2020 at 07:33 am

While the O-line has been good the lack of QB hits and sacks is on account of Rodgers getting rid of the more quickly. Recall the last few years how often he would scramble around for 5+ seconds then either get sacked, throw the ball away, or scramble for a few yards. All while forgoing throwing to open receivers. This year it is rare to see him hold on to the ball more than 3 seconds. It comes out quickly, on target, and in rhythm. It's beautiful. I am not sure to whom the credit goes for this change, Rodgers, Matt Lafleur, or Jordan Love(tongue in cheek). Certainly it does make the O-line look better, with the statistics to back it up.

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Archie's picture

September 26, 2020 at 09:00 am

I'd wait till late Sunday night before I conclude anything definite about this team. They are looking great but the Vikes and Lions are looking awful. Now comes the first real test. W/o Davontae and w/o Jenkins (maybe). And against a real front 7, a real pass rush and a real secondary. If GB finds a way to win this game, get in line for your SB tix.

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Tarynfor12's picture

September 26, 2020 at 10:16 am

" If GB finds a way to win this game, get in line for your SB tix."

So you don't believe that Sea, TB and SF have no say in the path to the SB. A win against NO and GB is in the SB?

Talk about unhinged doorways and optimism.

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Minniman's picture

September 26, 2020 at 03:05 pm

Love the optimism Archie. I'll be waiting to see how the NO,Falcons, Buccs and Texans stretch goes first.

As a related aside, the NFC West seems to be the hot division this year and the Packers only play the 49ers from it...... and they are completely dinged up.

I'm eying off the 'deep run in the play-offs' kool-aid but not ready for the top-shelf SB run kool-aid just yet.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

September 26, 2020 at 09:26 am

Drafting, coaching, and scheme seem to be working together to make this line look very good through the first 2 games. I always love the “next man up” attitude, and it sounds like that is abundant in the OL room. Hats off to Coach Stenavich...I believe he’s behind a lot of what we’re seeing play out.

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NickPerry's picture

September 26, 2020 at 09:29 am

Sorry but if Jenkins doesn't play that's not the same as losing Taylor, Patrick, or Turner. If you have ANY doubts about that go watch ANY play run by the Packers offensive this year and watch Jenkins. Not only does he not allow Rodgers to be pressured or sacked, but that dude is a road grader. Go watch Jones 75 yard TD run and watch Jenkins. Thank God he's a Packer!

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cheesehead1's picture

September 26, 2020 at 11:25 am

Obviously a big test against the Saints. While we have two good results, I hope we all don’t get too amped up about this start. It’s a long season and some tougher opponents coming up. I think we can beat the Saints if we can run the ball and win the turnover battle. GPG and no injuries.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 26, 2020 at 09:56 pm

That was right through the uprights

0 turnovers, one sack so far this season. If the Saints don’t sack Rodgers then we’ll win.

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Lare's picture

September 26, 2020 at 10:35 am

As it has been for 100 years, the game of football is still won or lost on the LOS.

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Duneslick's picture

September 26, 2020 at 11:09 am

Injuries are mounting up this year unlike last year

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 26, 2020 at 12:01 pm

The moral of this article is that the Packers should think long and hard about discarding Bakh and Linsley in 2021. If AR really is going to get the ball out in under 2.5 seconds on a regular basis, losing an offensive lineman might be more understandable. I am not yet persuaded that AR will continue to do that against better teams with better defenses. I will be keeping an eye on Runyan and Patrick (who has surprised me by being better than I had expected), along with any other young offensive linemen who get some snaps this year.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 26, 2020 at 10:06 pm

I’m not sure how important that dancing bear left tackle is in this offense. In any event, I’d rather spend our first round pick on a tackle than pay Bakhtiari what he’s worth. Even releasing him won’t give us enough money to keep Linsley. Kenny Clark was our priority.

You know the cap, so I’m sure you’ve pondered how we could create more space, but we shouldn’t blow holes in this team just to sign an older offensive lineman. Enjoy Bakhtiari and Linsley this year.

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stockholder's picture

September 26, 2020 at 01:02 pm

Those who cried for Bulaga. The points the last two games said it all! He was not missed and only taken because he fell in the draft. TT drafted Bahk what Round? Became a starter because Bulaga got hurt. Now you think Bahk will be missed.( Let alone spending 15 mil.) I don't.!! Next Linsley. Yes this is the guy that BG should sign. But I'm going to say they draft their next center. So why are these guys playing good. Because their jobs are not safe. Change is coming to the OL. Bank on it.

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Minniman's picture

September 26, 2020 at 03:17 pm

" So why are these guys playing good. Because their jobs are not safe"

Stockholder, to this point, I pointed out on another thread that this coming off-season is going to be a BAD year to be FA. 6 teams will be in negative cap territory (NO maybe $80M in the hole - per Sportrac), so a LOT of good players are going to change teams.

Obviously great players are still going to get paid but the next tier guys will have competition.

While its early days, at this stage it may look like Kevin King shapes up as the "must keep" player for the Packers........ but I've posted before too that the play of the potential replacements currently on the roster will heavily influence the current indispensability of a starter and their retention priority.

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stockholder's picture

September 26, 2020 at 03:35 pm

Off season might be the time to expand.

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