Packers Offensive Line Holds the Key to a Better Offensive Performance vs Bucs

The Green Bay Packers can erase the memory their worst performance of the 2020 season when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday. One key to the Packers success on Sunday will be the play of the offensive line.

This is not to place the blame for the loss in Tampa Bay solely on the offensive line since the team was outplayed in nearly every facet of the game. Still, there are things the Packers o-line can do to help fix the problems they had in the first game and help the offense perform like it did throughout the rest of the season when they led the NFL in points scored.

In the first meeting between the teams back in Week 6, the offensive line played its worst game of the season. The Bucs front seven overwhelmed the Green Bay offensive line, shutting down the Packers running game, pressuring Aaron Rodgers and disrupting the offensive game plan Matt LaFleur wanted to implement.

The Packers offensive line suffered a setback during the game when starting left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered an injury that kept him out of the rest of the game. The Packers placed Rick Wagner at left tackle to fill the gap. Wagner had a mixed performance trying to block the speedy left side of the Bucs defensive front seven as he is better suited to playing right tackle. Lucas Patrick and Corey Linsley also had their worst performances of the season and were beaten badly on several plays where the defender was through the hole before Patrick or Linsley even had a chance to block him.

The result was that the Packers offense struggled to protect Aaron Rodgers and the offensive line allowed five total sacks in the game.

The Packers offensive line has now lost Bakhtiari for the season due to a knee injury suffered in practice before the season finale. However, they have made changes and gotten stellar play across the board with Billy Turner providing strong play since taking over at left tackle and Wagner playing well at right tackle. Elgton Jenkins earned Pro Bowl honors at left guard and did a superb job taking on Aaron Donald in the win over the Rams last week while center Corey Linsley has been a standout at center and was named All Pro for his outstanding play this season. Patrick has done a good job at right guard with his shaky performance in Week 6 against the Bucs being an exception to his consistent play this season.

The offensive line’s poor play in the first meeting also hurt the Packers running game. Green Bay attempted to run wide early in the game but the speed of the Bucs linebackers, especially Lavonte David and Devin White, kept Aaron Jones from getting to the edge.

On Sunday, the Packers need to run the ball more inside than outside. The cold weather plus the ability of all three running backs (Jones, Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon) to run inside will make that more essential than ever.

By shutting down the Packers running game in Week 6, the Bucs also forced the Packers into a lot of third and long situations. The Packers were just 7-of-17 on third down conversions (41.2 percent), well behind their season average of 49.4 percent which was second in the league.

One big reason for that was the Bucs defense forced the Packers into a lot of third-and-long situations in the first meeting. Of the 17 third down chances the Packers had in this game the average yards needed was nearly seven yards. When you combine third and long situations with the fact that the Bucs had a healthy lead in the game, it allowed the Tampa Bay pass rushers to tee off on Rodgers and ignore the Packers running game. The result was five sacks in the game. The Packers only permitted 21 sacks all season.

The present offensive line has more cohesiveness than they did in Week 6 and they are more comfortable in their roles. Throughout the season, the offensive line has demonstrated it has depth and versatility. They will certainly have a challenge on their hands with the Bucs strong and quick front seven which may even get defensive tackle Vita Vea back in the lineup on Sunday. Vea missed the first meeting between the two teams.

The Packers offensive line is talented and confident and they have every reason to be. If they can perform to their usual standards, the Green Bay offense should get a lot more than the 10 points they struggled to score in Week 6 in Tampa.

Look for Matt LaFleur to adjust his game plan to allow for quicker releases on pass plays and more inside runs with Jones, Williams and Dillon. Like last week, these shorter passes and inside runs can be used to set the Packers up for some big plays downfield either on the ground or through the air.

One thing is for certain, if the offensive line plays well, the offense will be a lot more productive than they were in the first meeting between these two teams and that should make for a very different football game than we saw in Week 6.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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8 points

Comments (24)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
packerbackerjim's picture

January 21, 2021 at 12:27 pm

To me, the LOS is where the game will be decided. It’s where almost all games are.

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Coldworld's picture

January 21, 2021 at 01:23 pm

Agree, both on offense and defense

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GilMartin's picture

January 22, 2021 at 04:58 pm

Absolutely

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Packers2020's picture

January 21, 2021 at 02:17 pm

And turnovers, packerbackerjim.

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GilMartin's picture

January 22, 2021 at 05:53 pm

Always a key. I think if the Packers are even or better in the turnover department they win the game.

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GilMartin's picture

January 22, 2021 at 04:53 pm

It's always key. If you control the line of scrimmage, you control the game. Thanks for the comment, packerbackerjim.

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splitpea1's picture

January 21, 2021 at 12:46 pm

I would add that patience with the running game throughout is also important. Hopefully we'll have our full complement of backs available (Dillon has been limited in practice) to hammer TB inside. It's still not going to be easy, as even Kamara had difficulty finding his way through in the second half in the divisional playoffs. So maybe the best approach for the running game is distribute the ball evenly between the three backs, and try to get the ball to Jones more via the pass, hopefully well-spaced from or beyond the LBs. We'll also have Lazard this time, so that will be a big bonus for blocking and receiving.

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GilMartin's picture

January 22, 2021 at 05:57 pm

Lazard will definitely be a boost to the run blocking as will Big Dog. I agree, running inside is vital, the speed of the Bucs LBs will make it tough to run wide. Thanks for the comment, splitpea1.

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frankthefork's picture

January 21, 2021 at 12:48 pm

You are right on Gil, thanks. PBJ is right also...it's on the LOS. Tampa has fast beasts in the front seven; but with a cold slick field, that should or could slow the NFL's best front seven from getting to and rattling AR12. The packers have to win in all phases including getting the turnovers, first downs and totally dominate the clock by running. Short passes between the numbers will serve us well when the Buc's blitz. A nail bitter for sure GB 28 TB 24 (previously stated GB28-TB27) changed due to weather and fan energy...GPG!

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GilMartin's picture

January 22, 2021 at 07:04 pm

I like your prediction, frankthefork. This will be a close game but I think the Packers will find a way to win it. Thanks for the comment, always good to hear from you.

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Dragon5's picture

January 21, 2021 at 01:15 pm

I have expressed my metaphysical concern with our OL leading up to this point for a year now; I hope this unit can finish the task in the final remains of this RAT year before even more oppositional energy arrives. Given the OX year takes over Feb 12th, odds are tough sledding for next season. Considering Bahk, Turner, Linsley all enter their enemy year in 3 weeks, not to mention the franchise does as well having been founded in a GOAT year in 1919. Only one team in the Super Bowl era has ever overcome this enigma: the '75 Steelers. The Packers did accomplish this feat during the pre-Super Bowl era with a championship in 1961, so there is hope. They won in the '96 RAT year, and lost in their enemy '97 OX year as 14 point FAVORITES vs Denver. Jenkins and Stepaniak are now in injury prone 7 years. Linsley, Taylor, Njiman are free agents and Gute hopefully does not make the same mistake with Linsley as he already has with Bahk; It would be wise to let Linsley go in the wake of his enemy year and further address OL depth in the draft and free agency. I hope the likes of Hanson, Runyan Jr, and Stepaniak are next-man-up ready.

The 2020 Saints are a great example of how oppositional energy can derail a talented team's season. RAT enemy is the HORSE. Saints franchise, QBs Brees & Hill all HORSES. Michael Thomas misses over half the season severely impacting the effectiveness of their quarterbacks and subsequently their offensive output. The Detroit Lions, the only other HORSE year founded franchise had its worst year since...drumroll...since the last RAT year in 2008 when they were a perfect 0-16!

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Demon's picture

January 21, 2021 at 03:49 pm

Did you read that on the placemat of the china buffet? Seriously, does anyone believe this crap?

Why not throw the bones on the floor for a prediction? Or consult Dionne Warwicks psychic friends hotline? This isnt even laughable. Just annoying CRAP!

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Dragon5's picture

January 21, 2021 at 05:25 pm

Still can't acknowledge other forms of analysis that you find uncomfortable I see. Yet you still can not resist the temptation to not only read my posts, but berate them. For your sake, I am not a frequent poster, but when I do, I usually have something important to present. I am the ONLY person on this site that has warned about Bahktiari during the past year. Perhaps you missed my Dec 3rd post that then Covid infected BAL, fresh off of losing 4 of their last 5 games, would run the table to finish out the regular season? Dec 18th I pointed out the 7 life paths of the 2020 RB class likely to be injury prone...Clyde Edwards Helaire suffered his ankle injury two days later vs Saints and Dillon a quad a month later. I used to get a 50% R.O.I. between straight up NFL picks, fantasy league, and fantasy playoff challenge. Since incorporating astrology and numerology, that has handsomely swelled to 452% last year and assuming Green Bay and KC make the Super Bowl, I will max out at 393% this year. Point being, these methods are REAL and THEY WORK.

In the future, should you vehemently disagree with another Packer fan's P.O.V. have the maturity to ignore them.

Thanks,

Dragon5

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Demon's picture

January 21, 2021 at 05:50 pm

Im hopeful one day when you give up on this annoying CRAP, move out of your parents basement, discover women and lose your virginity. You will realize how annoying that CRAP is.

I better beware, Im sure you are likely an amateur warlock too.

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Dragon5's picture

January 21, 2021 at 06:19 pm

Nope, married father of two who owns his own home. Keep digging your own grave--you're good at it.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 21, 2021 at 06:18 pm

Fire, Air, Water, Earth affect the OX predictions. Otherwise the topic becomes mundane.

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calabasa's picture

January 21, 2021 at 01:18 pm

Hey CH TV team- love you guys and everything you do, and happy you’re monetizing your content. I have to say the mobile experience is getting marginalized by the ads and CHTV banner; I end up with about 35% usable screen space for the content. When I try to close the lower ad, either it crashes the app or doesn’t close.

Just my 2 cents. Keep it up!

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PhantomII's picture

January 21, 2021 at 02:13 pm

There is a pretty good clip with Silverstein and Butler going over the week 6 game in Tampa. The OL were poor at picking up the Blitz and could have used a couple slide techniques to slow or stop it. The interesting thing is there were a lot of pass plays that were open for huge gains if only we get our rush protections right. I'm sure we have visited this issue in film recently and have seen what we needed to do and have the calls better figured out for this team and will get it done. Our OL is working together well and are a much better and efficient unit now. My prediction is we run it up the gut a lot and have a lot of motion and Rodgers picks apart the secondary on these Blitzes this time around. Defensively, we stop the run and on 3rd down our CB's are up on WR's in tight coverage and the pass rush gets home. GPG.....Packers 31-17

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gkarl's picture

January 21, 2021 at 03:11 pm

I'm confident in the OL and that they will play much better than the first game. That said I expect the offense to able to both run and pass effectively and score enough points to win the game. I'm also confident the DL play will be much better this time around. Plenty of pressure on TB12, slow the run down, create some TO's. Looking forward to having TB watch the GBP compete for the SB on their home field.

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Malihamala's picture

January 21, 2021 at 07:20 pm

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Tundraboy's picture

January 21, 2021 at 09:58 pm

Take it right to them. Run to daylight using every weapon. I want Tampa to remember we are the Green Bay Packers again.

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ReaganRulz's picture

January 22, 2021 at 07:14 am

Their running backs have looked pretty decent recently. Fournette and Jones. They run hard, break tackles and have the ability to catch the short passes. And this may work well in cold weather too. TB will look to use them a lot to open up the passing game for Brady. And keep our O off the field. This is another obvious one that Pettine needs to have a good game plan for.

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PatrickGB's picture

January 22, 2021 at 11:52 am

Of all the possible teams to meet in the playoffs I feared the Buccaneers the most. The Rams defense was, in my opinion, overrated. The Tampa defense is underrated. Vita is back and their inside linebackers are scary good. Our offensive line is more athletic than powerful. Our run game is effective because our pass game is scary good. All Tampa has to do is stop our predicted run up the middle and we will see a whole lot of third and longs. Last year third and long was difficult to overcome. The weather cuts both ways and those long bombs are going to be harder to complete. I don’t see any scheme defeating them by itself. It’s going to be all about execution. Adams will get his yards because he is superior to their DB’s but I don’t see our run game getting much traction. The Packers will play better than last time but I am unsure if it will be enough to win.

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ImaPayne's picture

January 24, 2021 at 06:40 pm

Ya Batiari was missed but the fact is the Pack needed to go to their short pass plan and not give any team the chance to get to Rodgers. They did this but way to late in the game. By then the bucs knew what was going on and adjusted to stop the short runs and passes and never feared the long pas.

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