Offense will Receive Major Boost with Return of Josiah Deguara in 2021

As the Green Bay Packers look to get over the NFC Championship hump, they'll receive an internal boost on offense in 2021 with the return of Josiah Deguara.

Overall it was another very good season for the Green Bay Packers. They once again finished 13-3, this time claiming the top seed in the NFC and making it to the NFC Championship game as well.

Unfortunately, it didn’t end as we had hoped, and now our sights turn to the offseason, where much of the discussion will center around how this Packers team can improve and hopefully get over that NFC Championship hump.

One major need will be the cornerback position, along with addressing the interior defensive line, as well as an offensive tackle, just to name a few. However, you can bet that getting Aaron Rodgers an additional weapon on offense — or maybe even two — will be on just about everyone’s radar as well—and I agree.

With 10 draft picks and a loaded receiver class once again that is even deeper with high-end talent than a year ago, I fully expect the Packers to take a receiver with one of their selections.

While the addition of a receiver should certainly help — we will see how much — Green Bay will already be getting a big boost on offense next season without making any external additions, and that is because Josiah Deguara will be returning.

Just like the two picks before him in 2020, many were left scratching their heads at the Deguara selection in last year’s draft. Taking an H-back in Round 3 was considered by many in the draft world a wasted resource. And for some teams, that may be the case—but not in Matt LaFleur’s offense.

LaFleur strives for that “illusion of complexity,” as he calls it, and with the offense taking a major step forward in Year 2 of his system, we saw what that means on a weekly basis with pre-snap motion, play-action, and similar play designs.

For those wondering, LaFleur describes the "illusion of complexity" as this:

“We want to have like plays, meaning, plays that start out looking the same that are different. We also want to create what we call an ‘illusion of complexity,’ meaning we’re going to run the same concepts, but how many different ways can we run them?” LaFleur said via Packers Wire. “Whether it’s out of 11 personnel, 12 personnel, 13 personnel, just to make it a little more difficult for the defense.”

With Deguara’s versatility, he plays a key role in helping the Packers' offense achieve this by keeping defenses off-balance and guessing while not only creating for himself but his teammates as well. Coming out of Cincinnati, Deguara was a willing blocker and a good one at that; he's a polished route runner and has reliable hands. Not to mention that LaFleur can line him up anywhere in the formation. 

“I just think the versatility he showed as a player,” LaFleur told Packers Wire when asked about why he thought Deguara would be a good fit as an H-back or tight end. “You could definitely see his ability to run routes. We just thought he’d be a good movable piece whether we have him in the backfield or on the line of scrimmage, or you could even put him in some positions where he’s pretty much a wide receiver. We just like the versatility he brings.”

So to put a bow on what I just said, Deguara can block, he's a receiving threat, and he can be moved around to help facilitate the "illusion of complexity."

Although we, unfortunately, didn't see much of Deguara last season as he missed Weeks 2 and 3 and then tore his ACL in Week 4, during that small sample size against the Vikings where he played 24 offensive snaps, we saw why LaFleur had to have him in this Green Bay Packers' offense.

That versatility that I mentioned was on full display as Deguara lined up 16 snaps in the backfield, five snaps in-line, with another three from the slot. And he had quite the debut as a blocker as well, making several key plays, including this one here where he took out two Vikings players:

In Ben Fennell's weekly article for The Athletic, he points out that LaFleur set Deguara up for success with many of his blocks by allowing him to work in space where his athleticism and strength can take over. While Pro Football Focus' grades are not everything by any means, they are a good measuring stick for who is performing well and who isn't. And while it was an incredibly small sample size, Deguara was the seventh highest-graded run-blocking tight end after his debut in Minnesota. 

Then in the passing game against the Vikings, the stat sheet, which included two targets, one reception, and 12 yards, didn't tell the whole story from that game--it rarely does. Again Ben points out that LaFleur designed a number of plays to get Deguara the ball in space or on a defensive mismatch where he can make a play with the ball in his hands. And a few of these opportunities were potential downfield targets.

 

Getting Deguara back for the 2021 season isn't the "flashy" addition that many are going to want to see, and this isn't to suggest that the Green Bay Packers won't add another receiver or two; as I said, I believe they will. 

But after briefly seeing Deguara in 2020, we can't forget how important he is to this offense even if his experience in it is limited. He is tailormade for what LaFleur wants to run, and he's going to be a key cog in the coming years, bolstering both the running and passing games here in Green Bay. 

“I love Josiah,” LaFleur said after the draft. “He is extremely versatile. The thing he brings to our offense is, we can be in the same personnel grouping, and we can line him up on the line of scrimmage or in a wing alignment or in the backfield. I think that adds stress on the defense. When you watch Josiah, you see such a gritty, tough player.”

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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 (46)

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Demon's picture

February 05, 2021 at 11:13 am

Thats a pretty aggressive prediction for a guy who played a game and a half as a rookie, then suffered a season ending knee injury. I hope the Packers get a big contribution from Deguara. But i wouldnt bet the farm on it.

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CoachDino's picture

February 06, 2021 at 04:25 am

I agree that with so few games under his built, expectations should remain guarded.

When he did play it seemed he was executing the assignments, HB Plays / Role, to a level not seen here before. Seemed add another dimension that helped in both the run and pass. (I saw this theme in the article)

IMHO - Jace and Tonyan are WR, threaten the seam, mismatch types of TEs. JD was drafted specifically to be that hybrid H-Back piece. JD supposedly isn't big enough to be a big time in-line blocker or a fast/mismatch big time rec threat (Doesn't mean he can't become one)

To me just being able to employ those plays is what I take stock in.

I see the WR position the same way. By that I mean they need to obtain a certain hybrid WR/RB/Slot type. Once again when they could run those jets sweeps to him or spread him out in the slot. W/O Tyler to run those they never seemed to work as well or as often.

We always talk about adjustments. Having these type of players increases a teams viable options to combat a defense (or offense for that matter).

First though for offense needs is an OT that can start on the right side. Then WR/RB later. Getting JD,Jace and Bach back will be a huge help in itself. Tough to beat the very best teams w/o. Injuries Impact must be taken into account when making personnel moves.

Does your team get better overall when available resources used on O or D side of the ball.

Other than OT in the first Round I wouldn't spend a pick for a O guy in Rd 1.

CB (outside and Slot) Hybrid safety/ILB, pass rush (Dline or Edge)

All that said you might just end up taking someone else due to value. (Love)

We need to get over the "run stuffer" IDL. The Packers showed they can stop the run with who they have by the end of the year. They did it by holding many of the Top RB and Rushing teams in check.

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Ernesto's picture

February 05, 2021 at 11:27 am

We have some pretty good TE's now. I think Sternberger can be a good one too if he can get over the injury bug. Tonyan was very good but we may not be able to keep him?

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KenEllis's picture

February 05, 2021 at 02:11 pm

I guess it is Duckies and bunnies time for those who write about the Pack.

Not only is 1.5 NFL games played/ACL recovery Deguara gonna provide the offense a "major boost," but the Pack won't miss Aaron Jones all that much, Patirck or someone else will step in for Linsley without missing a beat, Bak will be back better than ever from his (December 2020) ACL tear, etc., etc.

And, of course, the 2020 1st and 4th round Jordan Love selection will continue to pay huge dividends in 2021 just like it did last season.

So nice to see the sun shining and the flowers blooming in NE Wisconsin so early in the year.

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egbertsouse's picture

February 05, 2021 at 02:28 pm

You forgot unicorns. Any good Packer fan knows they exist, especially right before the draft.

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stockholder's picture

February 05, 2021 at 11:28 am

I say he gets let go in three years. I'll take Tonyan and Jace all day.

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Coldworld's picture

February 05, 2021 at 05:39 pm

Any chance you will go with him? That would be worth an up vote.

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Demon's picture

February 05, 2021 at 07:48 pm

Evidently you didnt see the comments from jersey Al the day he was reading HPD the riot act. I believe the premise of his conversation was no more personal attacks i can copy paste and post it for you if you need.

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Tundraboy's picture

February 05, 2021 at 11:45 am

It was a great year in many ways, but I will always have that nagging feeling from what could have been. What if we played Dillon more after Jones went down,what if we converted on one of the interceptions that we followed with a 3 and out.?What if Tramon was in on the infamous lapse at the end of the first half?

Lessons learned I hope but that was a tough pill to swallow. Shades of 2014 self inflicted mistakes. Time to move on GPG

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Leatherhead's picture

February 05, 2021 at 12:00 pm

DeGuara will have to stay healthy and earn time on the field. Tonyan is going to be TE #1, Lewis will be #2 if he returns. Sternberger and Deguara will battle it out for #3. Considering the TE group only gets targeted --TARGETED---about six times a game, I'm fine with that.

The author is yet another person obsessed with WRs, and throwing the ball. He "expects" the Packers to draft a WR because another WR will help. That's always the answer, another WR. Sheesh.

We throw about 33 times a game. About 10 or 11 of those go to the guy who makes all the money, Davante Adams. Six go to the TE (I'd personally like that number to be higher) Another 6 or 7 go to the RBs. The remaining ATTEMPTs (fewer than 10) are split among MSV, Lazard, and EQ. They need help handling 10targets? Hell, if you targeted MSV 10 times a game and he caught half of them at 20 yards a clip (his current average) he have 100 yards a game.

But no, we need....we EXPECT..."help" at a position that clearly doesn't need any. We're fine there. Obsess on something else.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

I'm also not sure we'll get an OT. Gutekunst's brief history suggests it might be a versatile interior lineman. Either way, I'd be pretty surprised if we didn't take an offensive lineman in the Top 100. IF we could get another Jenkins-type, that'd be awesome.

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scullyitsme's picture

February 05, 2021 at 12:22 pm

Think it might be possible that the number of balls thrown to “other” receivers might have something to do with their talent level and being open? Nah....can’t be. I like tonyan but wouldnt you rather see the ball in Jefferson, clay pool, Higgins, shenaults, aiyuks hands( just to name a few, too many names to remember this year) I sure would, and that’s taking nothing away from big bob.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 05, 2021 at 04:32 pm

You are right Scully. We should throw more to better and better receivers. That’s the answer. For 10 years, we put Rodgers on the field with Jennings and Jordy and James Jones and Cobb and Adams. We’ve been a top passing offense. We were the #1 Offense in 2011, 2014, and 2020. Every season Rodgers stays healthy, we make the playoffs.

Zero Super Bowl appearances. In our most recent loss, we threw 48 passes. Enough? We managed like 350 yards and three passing TDs. Enough?

Let’s keep doing more of what doesn’t work. Let’s put a bigger and bigger load on Rodgers to throw more.

I’m sorry, but that is 180 degrees opposite of what I believe the Packers should be doing. I think we should protect Rodgers by running more and fortifying the line. Get Dillon some help. Keep good, healthy guys on the line. Grinding out wins isn’t flashy, but it works.

I’ll leave you with this: The Packers have won 4 Super Bowls, and each time it involved a HOF QB and a top defense.

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Demon's picture

February 05, 2021 at 05:28 pm

But,but,but you kept saying the Packer D was good enough. And you also said that Pettine wasnt going anywhere. Now youre saying the D isnt good enough? A new D coordinator on the way? Why is that? Maybe as many of us said, the D wasnt good enough and Pettine was more part of the problem than the solution.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 05, 2021 at 09:58 pm

The Packers are first and foremost an offensive team. Minus the Jones fumble and subsequent TD, the defense gave up 24 points and got three takeaways. Playing at home, with the league’s best offense, that should have been good enough, but it wasn’t.

So I’m saying the same thing now I said then, that the defense was above average.

The change of DC.....time will tell. There’s no guarantee we’ll be a Top 5 defense or even better than the last two years. I hope we are, and we could be, especially with most everyone returning, and maybe some gooD additions.

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scullyitsme's picture

February 06, 2021 at 03:28 pm

Yes, we all know you want to drag us back to the 60’s. You’ve been saying the exact same thing for years now. I’ll leave you with this... the same thing I leave you with every year.l also. Look who’s playing in the Super Bowl. Year after year. After year, after year. Passing games and great qbs, very few Exceptions

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Demon's picture

February 05, 2021 at 01:47 pm

But no, we need....we EXPECT..."help" at a position that clearly doesn't need any. We're fine there. Obsess on something else.

Just because you believe the Packers do not need help at receiver doesnt mean its not so.

I know im in the minority here, but i have next to no faith in MVS. Any receiver that has a catch rate hovering in the 50% range, with 7 drops, 4 of them being sure TD's is begging to be pushed down the depth chart. Then you add in Lazard and his 7 drops and the fact that ESB cant stay on the field and consistently catch either, many of us feel that another quality receiver would help.

You seem to think that the players the Pack have are good enough. Yes GB did have a great passng offense. Wouldnt it be nice to be able to still win a game if the QB didnt have a perfect game?

If the best player available when GB picks in the draft is a WR i sincerely hope they do pick him. I feel the same about OT,DL and regrettably CB also.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 05, 2021 at 03:45 pm

We were the best passing offense in the league. And the WRs we have are good enough to make that happen. And the QB doesn’t have to be perfect, but he does need to be protected.

Are you under the impression that the 28 wins we have are because the QB is perfect? And the 8 losses are because we need a better WR?

Blocking? Defense? Nope, let’s get another WR. That’s always the answer.

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Demon's picture

February 05, 2021 at 03:58 pm

Obviously you missed the part when i said id be happy with an OT a DL or even CB also.

Our QB had a HOF calibre year this year and it still wasnt enough.

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Philarod's picture

February 05, 2021 at 04:41 pm

True, and he's had 10 or 11 of them in 13 years.
Put it this way: I wouldn't turn down a stud receiver. We have one - I live Davante - but I don't think he'd be considered all that special without Rodgers. If someone who grades out like a Jefferson, Metcalf or Higgins - even Claypool - is available, I'd take him. Otherwise, there are other needs to address.

As far as DeGuara, I hope he's as advertised, but the sample size is tiny.

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Philarod's picture

February 05, 2021 at 04:41 pm

True, and he's had 10 or 11 of them in 13 years.
Put it this way: I wouldn't turn down a stud receiver. We have one - I live Davante - but I don't think he'd be considered all that special without Rodgers. If someone who grades out like a Jefferson, Metcalf or Higgins - even Claypool - is available, I'd take him. Otherwise, there are other needs to address.

As far as DeGuara, I hope he's as advertised, but the sample size is tiny.

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Coldworld's picture

February 05, 2021 at 06:47 pm

You can only have so many WRs on the field at one time and this is not and won’t be the 5 wide team MM once liked. I find it fascinating show many of MMs biggest haters don’t seem to be able to deal with LaFleur’s move to multiple weapons approach.

It will be interesting to see the HB implemented with Deguara’s return and, I think, Dafney’s development. We saw a flash before the former went down and a few things from the latter late. These aren’t really true TBs.

As far as TE goes, I hope Lewis comes back, but I see that we have at least hit a couple of Lewis type prospects under contract. Sternberger remains a question as he has yet to truly break out but more so because of the length of concussion symptoms. Fingers crossed, but I think we will need to bring in depth in case.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 05, 2021 at 03:01 pm

Deguara is a Chris Cooley type guy. Big time playmaker, a football player. Was Bhaktiari not healthy? An knee can be tweaked at any odd moment. Looking forward to Deguara taking charge of the hook zones. He is faster than Tonyan.

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Nate-1980's picture

February 05, 2021 at 05:28 pm

EQ, MVS, and Lazard are world beaters for sure ha.. Yeah a shifty and fast receiver could in no way help the offense ?? Huh ? Especially with Jones probably leaving, it could do no good, you agree with yourself, and that’s about it LH..

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Coldworld's picture

February 05, 2021 at 05:53 pm

Be nice to have one and a returner that can stay healthy, but I think likely only to be a situational guy in this offense.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 06, 2021 at 09:07 am

Rondale Moore being mentioned for late first round would give this team a weapon to change the field position in the return game and is fast to the spot as a WR. If you want another blocking WR find one in the 5th, but I would keep Funchess.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 06, 2021 at 01:10 am

Yes, the key to our success is our rookie #5 WR. Then we could pass more and run less.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 05, 2021 at 06:10 pm

Tough but fair LH. I hope the Packers keep all three H/F-Backs on their roster next season. Lafleur has real problems running his scheme without them and the slot/WR ErvIn type. I was shocked at how limited the Packer offensive scheme was playing Tampa at Lambeau. (To be honest the second Tampa game has really soured me on Lafleur as a play caller, and left doubts about his ability as HC)

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Stroh's picture

February 05, 2021 at 07:51 pm

Gutey is from the Wolf/Thompson tree. They value 4 positions and almost always use high draft pick on those positions. OT is among them! With Bahktiari out till probably Nov, and Wagner an injury waiting to happen, its highly likely he will pick an OT early. My guess is that and CB will be his preferred positions to pick in rd 1. Its essential they get an OT.

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blacke00's picture

February 06, 2021 at 08:11 am

The Packers drafted 3 O lineman last year. 1 barely sniffed the field and he apparently played ok by my estimation(what do I know?) the others contributed nothing. These guys had no pre camps and no preseason games to even learn the system under game time conditions( much different than sitting in front of a computer screen).

So these guys are essentially red shirted rookies. If the packers draft a number of O lineman again how will the Packers ever determine what they really have. in the class of 2020? Those would be wasted picks. I don't think the Packers wanted wasted picks. They (the Packers)will give these guys every chance to show the their stuff. Unless there's an absolute stud available at #1 or FA, I don't think OL will or should be a priority.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 06, 2021 at 09:10 am

They should let Runyan try the RT spot.

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ricky's picture

February 05, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Yep. He's the missing piece. SB dynasty coming. Two days from a game the Packers should be playing in, and this is posted? Sorry, but this puts me in a very foul mood.

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mnbadger's picture

February 05, 2021 at 12:17 pm

While I appreciate the optimism, this article sounds too much like the post draft review article, except it includes a couple of sweet videos. I hope he's able to rehab the knee back to near original strength, speed and flexibility. He'll need it to perform all of the roles intended for him. On another note, don't forget about Devin Funchess. If he's a true professional, he took the offseason to heal his body and really get in top shape. With the season in the rear view, think about how many of the mvs, eqstb, malik taylor, etc opportunities would have gone his way. I'm sure that he would have been a huge upgrade over many of the dismal plays or missing plays from them. Of course, if qb1 doesn't "trust" him and only trusts DA, we could have Jerry Rice out there and it wouldn't matter. On to free agency and the draft! And the re-habbing of our injured players. GPG

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Coldworld's picture

February 05, 2021 at 05:57 pm

The nearest parallel is actually Lazard, having those two on the field could be really interesting with speed on the outside and Adams. Funchess would have at least been on the field before EQ, Taylor and Shepherd.

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PF4L's picture

February 05, 2021 at 12:48 pm

DeGuara is a tweener. His most valuable asset in the NFL is blocking.

He's not going to be a needle mover. He's Marcedes Lewis but smaller who could (should) be a halfback.

He is what he is, which has been mostly unavailable. If they drafted him as a true tight end, what does that say about Sternberger. But then again, Sternberger hasn't exactly lit up the NFL since his 3rd round pick in 2019. He has a total of 12 receptions in 2 seasons.

Packer fans...Packer writers....seem really quick to crown players. I mean....to imply this cat is going to help the offense get us over the NFCCG HUMP?....Really?
The offense is fine.....how about a defense that can get a 3 n out in a NFCCG....at home.

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cheesehead1's picture

February 05, 2021 at 01:34 pm

Agree, our D was pathetic in the first half especially on 3rd down. Although the D improved in the second half of the season, IMO it’s not a championship D. We’re getting closer, hopefully our new DC will be a difference maker.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

February 05, 2021 at 06:28 pm

Not to keep beating the same drum, but Deguara and his success will depend a lot on the offensive identity of the Packers in 2021.

If the goal is to have a TE who can line up like a FB or second back when either under center or in pro sets, or to focus on RBs running behind a TE lined up tight, like suggested by the drafting of Dillon, he is a perfect fit and looks like he SHOULD have the tools to succeed.

If the goal is to have a wide open arial offense with a run game that just keeps defenses honest, it is TBD where he actually fits in.

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Coldworld's picture

February 05, 2021 at 06:06 pm

Fair point. For me the interesting thing is how important LaFleur seems to see the HB position as being and how excited he was to get a player who played that in college and was not a TE/FB conversion project.

Sadly, we never really saw his vision on the field due to injury, but we did see us roll out a varied and very effective O. If LaFleur can do that without a time he thinks integral, I’m excited to see what it can be with a true HB. Hopefully the injury gods give us that opportunity.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

February 05, 2021 at 06:40 pm

I want nothing more than for Deguara to be successful. I am positively giddy with the possibility of having an offense where Rodgers could consistently throw for under 300yrds a game and it to still be called a POSITIVE (was it Chicago when he put up only 198 and 4 TDS?). For them to be able to consistently get extra men in the box, say "eff it, let's run it anyway" and get positive yards? Those are the kinds of offenses where I could play WR and still generate measurable statistics, and I twisted my ankle, fell over, and nearly threw up the last time I tried doing a 40 with my kids at Titletown.

This only happens if Dillon and Deguara show they were worthy of their draft positions.

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dobber's picture

February 05, 2021 at 06:59 pm

I think we need to ask whose snaps he's going to take? Dafney only played about 10 snaps per game and he's the closest comp physically for Deguara on the roster. If he diversifies the offense and makes it better, great. But how much better will it get?

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Leatherhead's picture

February 06, 2021 at 12:51 pm

Yes, dobber, that’s an excellent question. Whose snaps ?

We run 60-65 plays a game with about 55/45 split. That’s about 33 passes a game.

About 10 or more go to Adams. About 6 to the RB and 6 to the TE. The remaining 10 or so go to MSV,Lazard, and EQ. So let’s say we throw 3 more passes a game to Deguara, or any body else. Who gets less?

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Dtrsi's picture

February 05, 2021 at 07:51 pm

I am thinking the hope is that Deguara can be something like Kyle Juszczyk. I am sure most fans felt he was nothing special at first also.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 06, 2021 at 09:11 am

More Dafney's role as a FB.

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Dtrsi's picture

February 06, 2021 at 11:09 am

Dafney really has no set role moving forward. He has 2 catches with 1 nice TD, he is not any kind of real chess piece. Deguara has potential to create complexity like LaFleur talks about.

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GatorJason's picture

February 06, 2021 at 09:55 am

I hereby dub thee "GI Joe Deguara" because his tight fro and full beard remind me of my old "GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip" action figure. GI Joe was a bad ass and I think Josiah will be one too for the Packers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=VvNN9blrZY8

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GatorJason's picture

February 06, 2021 at 05:15 pm

Dupe

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Since'61's picture

February 06, 2021 at 10:39 am

The return of a healthy Deguara will help our offense. However, if we lose A. Jones to free agency, a likely scenario, we will need to replace his production. Dillon and Williams, if retained, will provide some of that. But the offense will need another playmaker besides Adams.

To me that means another legit WR threat. Why? Because when we get into 3rd and long against defenses like the Bucs the whole stadium knows we’re going to Adams. They double him and pressure Rodgers and we end up with a sack or a throwaway. That needs to change. We need a WR with good hands, who runs good routes and can get open.
MVS is not that guy unless he is running a go route and even then there is a 50% chance he is going to drop the ball.

MVS is a good #4 guy who you can bring in on 2nd and short, run play action and hit him deep. Then if he drops the pass you still have 3rd and maybe 4th down to make a first. If he does catch the pass you probably have a TD.

Even if we retain Jones we still need a #2 WR as I described above because we will still have games where our ground game is stymied or if we get into a shootout with an opponent.

We have no idea what our defense will be like with a new DC, not to mention that our players will need to learn the schemes next season. So, I believe that if we lose Jones and the defense is a big ??? let’s load up the weapons and the protection on offense and hope that we get a DC who can get the defense off the field on 3rd and long.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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