Green Bay Packers OL Faces Tough Test Against Rams Defensive Front

The Green Bay Packers' offensive line has been the best unit in the NFL this season. But they better come ready to play this weekend as they face a formidable Rams' defensive front. 

This season the Green Bay Packers' offense finished first in points per game and first by Football Outsiders' DVOA metric as well. Of course, there are a number of reasons behind their success, some of which include that it is Year 2 in the Matt LaFleur offense, Aaron Rodgers has returned to MVP form, and not to be overlooked, but the stellar play of the offensive line. 
 
By ESPN's pass-block and run-block win rate metrics, the Packers offensive line finished the regular season ranked first in both categories. They also gave up the second-fewest sacks and the fewest pressures this season. Even more impressive is that they've maintained this level of play while dealing with numerous injuries and movement along the offensive line.
 
The Packers, who are coming off a well-deserved bye after finishing the season 13-3, will have to make their playoff run without David Bakhtiari, who is out for the season. Last week, the unit held up well against a Chicago pass-rush that includes Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Robert Quinn, to name a few players. When it was all said and done, the Packers allowed no sacks and only six pressures. 
 
This week in the NFC Divisional Round, the Green Bay Packers will be up against the Los Angeles Rams, who possess the NFL's top-scoring defense that is led by a very good and quite disruptive defensive front. To put it simply, the offensive line better come ready to play.
 
According to Pro Football Focus, the Rams have totaled 337 pressures this season, which is the third-most in football and their 63 sacks rank first. As a unit, they rank ninth by ESPN's pass-rush win rate metric, and the 3.9 yards per carry they are allowing in the run game ranks as the fourth-fewest. 
 
Of course, we all know Aaron Donald, who at the flip of a switch can wreck any game, but he's not the only player on this defensive front to worry about. Leonard Floyd -- former Bear -- has had a resurgence this season, totaling 10.5 sacks and 52 pressures. Meanwhile, Michael Brockers has five sacks of his own and 30 pressures. Sebastian Joseph-Day and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo are two other names to know as well. It's also worth noting that while Donald did suffer an injury against Seattle, the Rams are "hopeful" that he will play this weekend. Frankly, I'd be shocked if we don't see him out there, but we will have to see what impact -- if any, he is Aaron Donald after all -- the rib injury has on him.
 
This Rams' defensive front also receives some help from the secondary. With Jalen Ramsey essentially taking away one half of the field, it's not always easy for opposing quarterbacks to find an open target, which can lead to them holding onto the ball, and the defensive front then wreaking havoc. 
 
A few ways that the Packers can try to negate this Rams' defensive front is by utilizing the quick passing game, which isn't anything new; they've done this a lot this season. LaFleur can provide Billy Turner or Rick Wagner some additional help on the edge with Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan. 
 
And although it's not easy running against Los Angeles, establishing the run, or at least having the Rams believe that you'll run the ball, will help open things up in the passing game. What the Packers can't do is totally abandon the run game -- which we have seen a few times this season -- and let this pass-rush pin their ears back. 
 
Now, with all of that said, this isn't to say that Green Bay can't handle the Rams' defensive front; they absolutely can. They've been the best offensive line in the NFL all season long, and having an MVP quarterback doesn't hurt either. But they are going to have to be on top of their game this Saturday. 
 
As good as they've been, there have been two instances this season, one against Tampa Bay and the second half against Carolina, where this group struggled, and as a result, the offense just about came to a complete stop. This is a Rams' pass rush that can take a game over and have a similar impact, so the Packers' offensive line needs to be ready to go. 

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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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Comments (40)

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mnbadger's picture

January 11, 2021 at 12:13 pm

it's playoff time, we're going to see the best defenses and offenses remaining. It's one and done and everybody has a chance to run the table. We have to stay hot and healthy. Special teams and special plays for and against will be magnified. Turnovers, penalties, ahhhhh!!
I wouldn't bet on 30+ points from here out. Fortunately we go into this with best offense and a good and improving defense. All the challenges will make the return trip home for Vince's trophy all the more rewarding! Packers 23-19. GPG

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coolhand's picture

January 11, 2021 at 12:19 pm

What is just as important as stopping the Rams' pass rush is stopping their running game and getting and keeping a lead. Make Goff or whoever beat you in the passing game.

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Coldworld's picture

January 11, 2021 at 12:27 pm

This game will, I think, hinge on whether Rodgers has time. That depends not just on the O line, but how we grind their D line down. This should be an occasion where Dillon pounding into them early has value.

It will be interesting to see Adams and Ramsey, particularly if MVS draws attention. That said, is Ramsey v Adams a foregone conclusion and isn’t Alexander a similar problem for a much less varied offense?

I think the wild card is actually Pettine. If we play to harass the QB and take away the run it’s going to be hard on a player with a bad thumb in particular. That should give Rodgers plenty of chances to move the ball. If Pettine goes more conservative, that gives them a chance to keep Rodgers off the field. In this game i also think it greatly increases the Ram’s scoring since it will allow them to advance slowly.

That isn’t to deny that LaFleur had better have come up with a better plan for offense against this D than he had against Tampa. I think he will have. For me, that starts with Dillon and maybe Daffney and making a physical assault up the middle a reality to keep their D line honest and wear it down. If Pettine actually calls to get their O off the field, that strategy will only be more effective.

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CoachDino's picture

January 11, 2021 at 03:43 pm

CW - My Guy - You really think that they are going to move away from Jones and Williams? Even less likely with the pass rush protection assignments with the backs. Don't get me wrong, I do think running the ball is key to keep the Dline as honest as possible. Love the thought of just wearing down teams with a bruising back. That though is most likely in the future 2021/2022.

Stop the run is key, especially with the thumb injury.

Devante will still get open due to his style, not beating ramsey with speed and elite quickness but technique. I really do hope they don't pay attention to MVS. He can light them up. Watching so many games over the weekend you can see how much guys have drops. Makes MVS seem average in drops (almost).

The Line does scare me, I'm not confident in Wagner, Patrick and Turner. Not against top level, though they held up against the Bears, I think this is another level. Donalds Rib injury might of kept him out if it wasn't the playoffs but actually after they shoot it up he should be fine. More of a pain issue than structural I believe.

Just a difference of opinion when it comes to what has the biggest impacts. To me the Players playing well this weekend is much more important than pettine coming up with new wrinkles. Not to say it doesn't matter what he calls but just what has the most impact. I figure that with the bad thumb more coverage might work better due to lessened accuracy and inability to stretch the field. Even then, a good mix is usually best.

As Arod goes the Packers will go.

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Guam's picture

January 11, 2021 at 05:16 pm

The good news is the Pack has Veldheer back as the reserve tackle or even play him (Veldheer played quite a bit for the Colts on Saturday so he is not rusty) and move Patrick to the bench. This move significantly helps the depth on the O-line.

Go Gute Go!

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Coldworld's picture

January 12, 2021 at 08:23 am

I think the lesson from failures against similar offenses is that hard, physical pounding up the middle, a tried and trusted response was lacking in our approach. I don’t see us moving away as such. I see 2 back sets, but this is a D that has had success against speed. We need to force them to respect the power run. Neither Jones nor Williams are that. I would also expect to see Dafney lead blocking. The objective in this strategy is not necessarily to win the game in terms of yards on the ground but to prevent them swarming and tire them. We singularly failed to use that tactic in similar matchups. This time we should.

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Condoriano's picture

January 11, 2021 at 07:22 pm

New user but old reader.I neeeded to create a account to disagree with this part (sorry for the poor english, I´m Brazilian):
"It will be interesting to see Adams and Ramsey, particularly if MVS draws attention."

Adams will eat Ramsey ALIVE! Ramsey never covered a player like Adams.
2 TD at least for the best Wr this year!

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Coldworld's picture

January 12, 2021 at 08:27 am

I have great faith in Adams, but the success of this Offense is that it is used to improve the odds for all weapons. That is a very significant difference from McCarthy, who would just let Adams take in Ramsey. LaFleur will try to tilt the odds further. That’s a very good thing no matter how good Adams is.

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Condoriano's picture

January 12, 2021 at 04:01 pm

The success of Adams depends on him and Aaron F* Rodgers. A pair of great players can´t stop them this year!

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splitpea1's picture

January 11, 2021 at 12:49 pm

Quick passing game--yes! I hope we don't see much of the throwback behavior of holding on to the ball for too long, because it's just asking for trouble. Gotta stay out of third-and-long, and throw the ball away if nothing's happening. That being said, our offense and QB is much more reliable than Seattle's, and I'm excepting a solid, but probably not spectacular effort. It'll be enough to get the job done, because I think we'll get a lift from our defense.

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Coldworld's picture

January 11, 2021 at 01:09 pm

I am leery of a plan that has Rodgers throwing under ten yards constantly. That’s been a failure as a strategy to overcome this problem. We need to be more power run focused and keep them from condensing the area they need to defend. Sometimes that and the quick passing game are in conflict.

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splitpea1's picture

January 11, 2021 at 04:28 pm

They can throw reasonably quick passes on more intermediate routes, also. In the Bucs-WFT game, Brady found the open receivers and hit them without a lot of farting around. I just don't want to see AR standing back there forever (like he sometimes does) as protection breaks down, risking sacks and possible injury.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 11, 2021 at 04:53 pm

Take them deep on play action. Grind them, attack with the hurry up and keep a three back rotation. Tonyan could iso vs the OLB and he needs to beat his guy when blocking the Edge.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 12, 2021 at 01:24 am

Post of the day!

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canadapacker's picture

January 11, 2021 at 02:56 pm

The real key is to stop those receiver screens. Just let Ramsey shadow Adams - if he gets free sometimes good. But otherwise that will mean MVS and Lazard need to do damage - I am also hoping that some wheel routes to Jones to break him loose might spread their D out. What cant happen is for AR to look to Adams all the time and get a sack before he gets to his second read. Out D needs to really focus on Akers because he did Seattle in when the rookie QB was in and if Goff is hurting he wont run much.

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Philarod's picture

January 11, 2021 at 01:22 pm

Strength v Strength ...and can MLF - and company outscheme SMV.

It's easy from my sofa/recliner. A balanced offense. Establish the run game, use play-action, have a Plan B if Davante is contained. More of AJ in the pass game. Take a few downfield shots to stretch the D.

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erikgj's picture

January 11, 2021 at 02:03 pm

What amazes me is that they are both the best passing and running lines. I think Matt's offense and Aarons's play-action skills help as well. I have seen several videos showing how close run and pass formations are pre-snap and "pre-play-action". This has to help. The line is great though and always seems prepared.

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PatrickGB's picture

January 11, 2021 at 08:53 pm

Play actions, role out to the right and pass to Lazard or a TE. Pound the ball until there is a LB on MVS...

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LayingTheLawe's picture

January 11, 2021 at 02:16 pm

No doubt this is a good Rams D. But the Packers have done well on other good defenses. They key is to actually limit their offense and keep this D on the field and wear it down. They are by far the lowest scoring team left in the playoffs and the Packers need to limit them and slowly work on the tough D. No turnovers and make that Ram offense attempt long drives and I think the Packers wear them down.

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Lphill's picture

January 11, 2021 at 02:23 pm

I wouldn't expect much from Donald , torn rib cartilage and cold weather is not a good mix , use the same defense as against the Titans and shut down the run , plus now we have snacks, Packers will pull away in the second half for a comfortable lead.

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CheesyTex's picture

January 11, 2021 at 02:36 pm

Good point about the cold -- don't think it will help Cooper Kupp's knee much either.

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LayingTheLawe's picture

January 11, 2021 at 02:41 pm

I agree. Use the heavy D line formation they used against the Titans. Where that formation can hurt you is if the other team can go into a hurry up and lock that personnel on the field and throw the ball over and over. I don't think the Rams can currently do that with their QB issues so line up heavy and stomp the run.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 11, 2021 at 04:56 pm

A couple of injections for the pain and let the adrenaline flow. Donald will not retreat.

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canadapacker's picture

January 11, 2021 at 08:19 pm

Ya he will get going - just need a few bangs by the running backs etc when he is tied up by the Oline . Just keep banging him until the adrenalin cant keep him going.

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Guam's picture

January 11, 2021 at 04:08 pm

I think the Ram defense is a pretty good matchup for our offense and they know our offense well - McVay runs the same offense and they see in it practice every day. Rodgers can be a difference maker if he has time, but this defense will challenge Rodgers as well as MLF's scheme.

I think the difference in the game will be on the other side of the ball. Our defense needs to stifle a mediocre Rams offense and generate some turnovers and consistently good field position. There are few things that help an offense more than great field position. And our defense knows the Rams offense very well - they see it in practice every day too. And the Rams have Goff, not Rodgers.

Go Pack Go!

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gkarl's picture

January 11, 2021 at 04:32 pm

If we don't turn the ball over I think our offense will outscore the rams offense. Add in no ST gaffs and I think we win a close hard fought game.

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HankScorpio's picture

January 11, 2021 at 06:04 pm

Pressure is the way to defend every QB. Rodgers is more immune to it than most but ultimately, he's no exception.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

January 11, 2021 at 06:28 pm

If LaFleur and Pettine come out with the same defense they played against the Titans and Bears, I think we beat the Rams by 3 TDs. This is a bad Ram offense. Cam Akers is their best offensive threat, as Henry and Montgomery were in the two previous games. We neutralized those backs and can do the same here. Jaire will shut down Woods and Kupp is too banged up to do much damage. Their QB can't really throw long very well. Barnes, Savage, Amos, Gary, Clarke... all playing lights out in this newly devised defense that is built to stop the run first. I Hope LaFleur and Pettine don't revert back to those dime and zone defenses, but given the poor passing game of the Rams, I think it's highly unlikely. On offense, I'm not as afraid of them slowing Adams with their Pro Bowl corner, I believe Rodgers will find ways to get him the ball while using MVS, Tonyan, and EQ, and tossing screens to Jones. Anything can happen, of course, but for some reason, this doesn't seem like that big a challenge. Yeah, win by 3 TDs.

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Condoriano's picture

January 11, 2021 at 07:26 pm

Exactly!!

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

January 11, 2021 at 07:08 pm

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Packer_Fan's picture

January 11, 2021 at 07:40 pm

Wow, Gute signed Veldheer! What a coup. Now the OL has more depth. I always thought Veldheer would be a good signing for depth. And this year showed how depth is important. Good job.

A good point was made how the offense struggled when Rodgers was pressured a lot. LaFleur will have to come up with a backup plan if that happens. In both games that either didn't happen or it took too long to adjust.

Another thing. Veldheer and Snacks signing indicates these guys want a chance at a Super Bowl ring. And they are good adds to help out. Good job Gute!

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Dzehren's picture

January 11, 2021 at 08:53 pm

With Aaron Donald’s torn rib cartilage, how many snaps can AD actually play? I think GB see’s alit of A’Shawn Robinson & more Leonard Floyd on Saturday.

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PatrickGB's picture

January 11, 2021 at 08:57 pm

I can see our defense getting turnovers from inferior passing. Or maybe our special teams can win it...nah.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 12, 2021 at 01:17 am

With all due respect for the Rams defense, especially their line, with this team, we have more than a punchers chance to dominate this game.

And each week we have gotten better, I'm grateful for the opportunity to see just how far this team can take it. I'll worry like I do every game, but it's so much better looking forward each week. Haven't been this confident in a long time., maybe 2014, but even then with McCarthy, you always had doubts and hoped Rodgers would be enough. Of course this year feels much different. Just going to enjoy it. If we go with what works, and we all have a good idea what that entails, and ST doesn't kill us, we can win against anyone. Can't wait til Saturday.!

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The_Justicar's picture

January 12, 2021 at 05:54 am

I think the tight ends play a big part in the passing game for the packers this week.

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Fabio's picture

January 12, 2021 at 05:57 am

I don't think this team is better than the ones we lost in Lambeu with NY or SF so I think the cold is important but not entirely decisive. I think it is much more important, as always, to be able to have the character to overcome the difficulties that surely there will be (I think this year, this team has it). What has been done in the year doesn't matter anymore, it only counts one game at a time and we must be stronger than the opponents whoever they are. I hope with all my heart in an SB. You don't know how much I would like to be there to cheer, but unfortunately it is economically impossible for me .... but my heart is with you. Go Pack Go
Greetings from Italy

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flackcatcher's picture

January 12, 2021 at 06:26 am

Rams offense has been up and down this year. Injuries and a step off on the entire unit this season. Geoff? Is maddeningly inconsistent behind center. He is good, or flat out bad. I saw two games midseason where it seemed he couldn't read the field. Next game he was making throws on the run that were Rodgers like. Talk about driving your OC and HC nuts. Rams defense is as advertised. Good solid unit across the board, with real quickness in the front seven and speed at the boundary. What they did to the Seahawks was brutal. This game will be won at the LOS for the offense who can execute their game plan. Game should favor the Packers, home field week of rest etc. But this Playoff football, and well, strange things (Steelers anyone?) do happen. (Waiting to see how healthy the Rams are...)

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keonduke's picture

January 12, 2021 at 08:31 am

And although it's not easy running against Los Angeles, establishing the run, or at least having the Rams believe that you'll run the ball, will help open things up in the passing game. What the Packers can't do is totally abandon the run game -- which we have seen a few times this season -- and let this pass-rush pin their ears back. - it's worth to be discussed in a discussion board post, get help here https://supreme-thesis.com/articles/buy-discussion-board-post/

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sohankhan's picture

January 15, 2021 at 12:13 am

The Green Bay Packers come out of their bye week and hit the road to visit the Los Angeles Rams, who are the lone undefeated team in the NFL at 7-0. Here's a look at this series - past, present and future.

FOR FREE :https://kotvlive.blogspot.com/NFL/

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davidrawence's picture

January 16, 2021 at 12:12 pm

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