Revamped Offensive Line Holds the Key to the Packers Offense

The Green Bay Packers had the NFL’s top scoring offense in 2020, averaging nearly 32-points per game. This year, 10 of the 11 starters are returning so it appears all the ingredients are there for another strong season where the team should be near the top of the league in points scored.

All the starting skill position players are back. Quarterback and reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers is back and has another chip on his shoulder as he tries to prove his critics wrong again. The Packers have a Pro Bowl running back in Aaron Jones, arguably the league’s top wide receiver in Davante Adams and a tight end who deserved to go to the Pro Bowl last year in Robert Tonyan.

The biggest unknown facing the offense heading into the 2021 campaign is the offensive line. Center Corey Linsley is the only starter who is not returning. All Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari will miss at least the first six games of the season as he completes his rehab from the season-ending knee injury he suffered in December.

As a result of Linsley’s departure and Bakhtiari’s absence, the coaching staff has juggled the lineup and two rookies will be starters in Week 1 as the Packers head to Jacksonville to face the New Orleans Saints.

The biggest change is that Pro Bowl left guard Elgton Jenkins will be moved to left tackle until Bakhtiari is ready to return. Jenkins is a versatile player who can play effectively anywhere along the offensive line. He will be tasked with protecting Rodgers’ blind side early in the season. Expect opposing defenses to put Jenkins to the test with stunts, blitzes and other maneuvers designed to create confusion and pressure. The move to tackle will be a chance for Jenkins to audition there and see if his long term future is at tackle or if he should stay on the interior of the line.

With Jenkins moving to tackle, Lucas Patrick, who played right guard last year after Lane Taylor was lost for the season in Week 1, will be moved to left guard. Patrick is tough and strong. He has graded out as a better run blocker than pass blocker. He will need to do a consistent job of protecting Rodgers and should help the team run effectively to the left side. The Packers know what Patrick can do and hope his experience and tenacity pay off.

With Linsley now with the Chargers, the Packers selected Josh Myers out of Ohio State in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Myers will be responsible for calling the signals for the offensive line, no easy task for a rookie. He has a great attitude and is eager to learn, but in the preseason, he did make his share of rookie mistakes. The Packers are counting on Myers to provide consistency as he adjusts to the NFL game.

Royce Newman won the starting job at right guard, giving the Packers two rookie starters in the middle of the offensive line. Newman had a strong training camp and graded out as the Packers top offensive lineman in the preseason according to Pro Football Focus.

Newman is a better run blocker than pass blocker at this stage of his career although he didn’t allow a pressure in preseason. Of course, except for the first half against Buffalo, he wasn’t facing starting defensive linemen often in the preseason either.

Newman is adept at blocking in space and getting to the second level on screens and sweeps. He still needs some work on hand placement in pass protection but does appear to be improving in this area.

Veteran Billy Turner returns at right tackle. Turner is versatile, smart and a leader in the Green Bay locker room. He can play either tackle or guard although he is better suited to playing the right side than the left as the Packers found out in the NFC Championship Game against Tampa Bay last January. Turner is a solid starter who adds experience, leadership and cohesiveness to the offensive line.

The key to keeping the offense performing at a high level is to keep Rodgers healthy and to give him enough time to work his magic. Obviously, opening holes for the running game is also critical in this offense.

Can this group hold down the fort until Bakhtiari returns? Are the two rookies ready to start in the NFL? Is Patrick the answer at left guard? These are some of the biggest questions facing the Packers offense before the start of the 2021 campaign.

If the revamped offensive line continues to play well this season, there is no reason the offense shouldn’t continue to be one of the league’s best. But if they struggle and falter, the Packers offense may regress and that will be reflected in the team’s record at the end of the season.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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9 points

Comments (35)

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

September 04, 2021 at 12:19 pm

The good news is this Rook group got some work in during the preseason. I would have liked our starting offensive line to have played together by the last preseason game and executed together either with Rodgers or Love for a quarter to get in sync. I expect our offense to misfire early in the first game and get it together by the half. We will see growing pains. We should concentrate on the run game first and get some nerves out of the way and build some confidence. Not sure how many games to sync. I'm still more worried about the secondary and not picking up a starting CB.....the most obvious weakness by far.

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GilMartin's picture

September 04, 2021 at 01:06 pm

I agree CB is a concern and I wrote about it on Thursday. The entire league is sort of out of sync these days in Week 1 the way teams around the league handle the preseason. I agree it will take a little time, but I am confident the offensive line will get the job done. Thank for the comment, PhantomII.

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Coldworld's picture

September 04, 2021 at 01:12 pm

On the other hand, there are now 2 practice weeks after the last preseason for the starters to work together. I suppose teams may see that as closer to adequate time to learn to work together.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 04, 2021 at 12:47 pm

I have confidence that Packers coaches will prepare OL for the chalange. What public saw was basic O & D. We do not know what they did behind closed doors. I doubt that they were stayed with basic D or basic O. Also, I believe that final roster is not composed only based on preseason games, but mostly what players did behind closed doors.

I remember well extreme level of panic when Brian Bulaga went down to injury (as Packers primary LT) and only back up was 4th round guy. I also remember how many of you complaining on the TT choice of him, because he is at the best 6th rounder. Today that guy is Pro Bowl player and the best LT in NFL.

We do not need Meyers & Newman to play at Pro Bowl level. They have to be just very good and evetything will be OK.

Do not panic...

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GilMartin's picture

September 04, 2021 at 01:09 pm

Totally agree there's no need to panic. They may need a game or two to really get into a rhythm, but I like both Myers and Newman and I am confident in Jenkins at LT. Thanks for the comment croatpackfan.

7 points
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Jaqu’eau's picture

September 04, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Intelligently written article. The points raised about the OL are really the only things potentially stopping the offense from explosive scoring besides numerous and significant injuries.

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GilMartin's picture

September 04, 2021 at 01:10 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Jaqu'eau. If the O-line plays well, the offense should be explosive again this year. Thanks for commenting.

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MadMan's picture

September 04, 2021 at 12:57 pm

I look for the offense to score over 40 pts this game. Defense will do the job. Only worry for me is special teams. Getting a new punter may help.
Got tickets to the game yesterday online. Plenty left. My chance to see Aaron Rodgers once before he’s no longer a Packer. Hope to see some Cheeseheads there.

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GilMartin's picture

September 04, 2021 at 01:11 pm

Love the optimism MadMan but 40 points a game is a high order. Last year, the Packers led the league with just under 32 points a game. I'd love to see it though. Special teams is always a concern with this team. Enjoy the game in Jacksonville. I have a hunch there will be more Packers fans there than Saints fans. Thanks for commenting.

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MadMan's picture

September 04, 2021 at 07:44 pm

Thanks Gil. I haven’t been to a Packers game since Favres last year. When they moved the game to Jacksonville I had to come up from South Florida to see it. Tickets were reasonable, but not as cheap as when the Jaguars play there.
I think the offense had too many weapons that even if one guy gets hurt there are just too many to cover whereas the defense not so much. GPG.

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Coldworld's picture

September 04, 2021 at 01:22 pm

We haven’t really seen either our starting D lineup or what Barry’s D will look like in reality. We’ve seen vanilla exacerbated by a focus on testing players for evaluation. Let’s see what it looks like in a schemed game against starters and how he adapts within games before we conclude that it is good, bad or adequate.

As far as ST goes, now we should have all our ST guys identified and available and Drayton has 2 weeks to hone them as a unit with defined roles and personnel consistency. Moreover, there are players on the roster that appear to be primarily there for STs. There really shouldn’t be any excuses for not being at least average by the first game for him or his unit.

At the moment all we see is the roster and we haven’t seen most of that, certainly not playing as a unit. The O is similar enough to have some confidence, but for the other 2 phases we really have to wait and see what shows up in Jacksonville.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 04, 2021 at 01:43 pm

I wonder if the offense will scare the other teams with the threat of the pass only to gash them with the run. If the current strength of the line is run blocking and with the extra TE/H back lining up, then opposing teams will have to back off a bit in the pass rush/blitz because of runs and screens. I see the demise of the five seconds of pass blocking while Rodgers waits for his WR to get open.

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NickPerry's picture

September 05, 2021 at 08:05 am

I agree PatrickGB, I hope we see the demise of 5 seconds of pass blocking, at least to some degree. IF that is the case then Rodgers is playing within the confines of the MLF offense.

Now I don't want to totally remove Rodgers waiting for a WR to break free because some pretty special moments have happened when Rodgers holds the ball. BUT, I trust this offense and scheme to get players open and when Rodgers plays within the scheme, Rodgers has unbelievable numbers and this offense scores boatloads of points.

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stockholder's picture

September 04, 2021 at 03:17 pm

This is the first I heard Newman won the start at RG. What you wrote makes me nervous. Everyone is out of their natural position. I believe it will demoralize this offense. Two Rookies together may just take the heat off Jenkins. But Rodgers can't be happy about this at all. On Paper; The stone Wall looks like a Dike with a Leak in it. No way will any veteran be stopped by a rookie. I just believe the packers are taking to much for granted.

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Crankbait's picture

September 04, 2021 at 07:07 pm

In the last 10 years they have taken very much for granted when it comes to the trenches.

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Oppy's picture

September 05, 2021 at 07:54 am

If we did everything that it took to make Rodgers happy we'd have a team comprised of his aging friends who might not deserve to be on an NFL roster instead of a young, competitive team winning their spots based on talent and skill.

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jhtobias's picture

September 04, 2021 at 03:50 pm

Awesome and happy for Elgton Especially.. If the man can show he is a capable starting left tackle than he will become a very rich man and will most likely be perceived as the most versatile offensive lineman in the league by far .

Meyers is the key agreed he has the communication responsibilities and dealing with Rodgers good luck young man prove that grump chap ass Rodgers wrong .. Not a Rodgers hater just know he will demand perfection

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Swisch's picture

September 04, 2021 at 04:22 pm

Let's hope the starting line is able to get in sync with only practices (against our own mediocre defense) instead of working together in preseason games.
I'm skeptical about the practices being just as good, but could be way wrong.
With Linsley gone, we have a new signal caller at center in Myers (as a rookie) to call out blocking assignments. Bakh is out for maybe half the season, so Jenkins moves to left tackle from guard. We have another rookie at guard, and a new starter at the other guard. So just one starter from last season in the same position?
It seems like preseason game could have been a good way of getting these guys in rhythm. Those games would seem to have much less chaos and much less savagery than the regular season games.
Rodgers may do well to get the ball out especially quick until the line proves itself in protection on a regular basis.
I genuinely hope it all works out to the good of the Packers. If I'm right, then may it be without injury. Better yet, this is one of those times I'd be glad to be wrong.
If the Packers hum on offense and score several touchdowns on the 12th, we can laugh and laugh in good-natured ribbing and hearty camaraderie at my misguided concerns.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 04, 2021 at 08:16 pm

Linsley called the blocking assignments as a rookie, I don't see the panic.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 05, 2021 at 07:38 am

Linsley came from a Power 5 conference team and played in a lot of games on the big stage, He was prepared to step into the NFL and hold his own, not like...

Never mind...

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croatpackfan's picture

September 05, 2021 at 10:45 am

As Meyers comes. He was replacing Cory, as I remember correctly...

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dobber's picture

September 05, 2021 at 06:34 am

Granted, the whole unit didn't play PS snaps together, but Myers, Patrick, and Newman played a pretty substantial number of snaps together across 3 games. I wouldn't disagree that Jenkins and Turner might have been too valuable to risk in those games.

3 points
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porupack's picture

September 04, 2021 at 04:53 pm

Worriers, worry. Coaches coach, and the rest of us enjoy what unfolds (unless it doesn't). That is how the football world spins around its axis.

8 points
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dblbogey's picture

September 04, 2021 at 06:33 pm

double post

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dblbogey's picture

September 04, 2021 at 06:33 pm

Old Chinese proverb?

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flackcatcher's picture

September 05, 2021 at 02:23 pm

Wouldn't be surprised if by the 5-6 game Turner is moved inside and Kelly is in at RT. Packers will want their best and most experienced players on the line. (I expect Jenkins sliding back as soon as Bahk is cleared. That frees up Patrick for OC if necessary)

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Bure9620's picture

September 04, 2021 at 06:48 pm

Just got my tickets for Jacksonville so pumped......I think we have more Packers fans than Saints fans there...

7 points
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MadMan's picture

September 04, 2021 at 07:48 pm

See you there!

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NickPerry's picture

September 05, 2021 at 08:15 am

Good for you Bure9620. I've read several posts from people who have gotten tickets and are going to the game. Have fun and make a LOT of noise...When the Packers are on DEFENSE... LOL.

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Vforrest's picture

September 04, 2021 at 10:24 pm

Good assessment I agree with everything you said. So important everything starts with the line of scrimmage. I think people too often just shrug and think it’s a cliche…”the game is won and lost in the trenches “

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CoachDino's picture

September 05, 2021 at 04:50 am

only 1 returning starter at his position from wk 1 last year thats unheardof. imo great article siting the reasons for optimism balanced with resons for concerns. only time wil tell

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Pack88's picture

September 05, 2021 at 08:21 am

Regarding rookies starting in the NFL - the example of D-Bak filling in for Bulaga worked out pretty well - don't forget TJ Lang started as a rookie and Josh Sitton would have been a rookie starter had not a knee injury late in TC felled him! The point being if you can play in the NFL you can play- draft position be darned and experience is only gained by doing! Although the positions are different remember 4 years ago when highly touted rookie Jason Spriggs arrived in GB and all preseason he looked overwhelmed and no amount of experience changed that! Newman has looked solid like a young TJ Lang and if he has a similar career we will be thrilled he was available in the 4th round! BTW this recent influx of talented young offensive linemen seem to have coincided with the hiring of Milt Hendrickson from the Ravens who was viewed as OL maven and if so this was another excellent hire by Gutekunst!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 06, 2021 at 03:23 am

Fair enough, but don't go overboard. Sitton started two games as a rookie: week 8 and 16. He did get injured and missed the first five weeks. Colledge and Spits started all 16 games. Lang started 3 games as a rookie, but Spitz started the first four games and then went on IR. That left a hole in the OL but Lang didn't get those starts. There are stories about Lang having a fine old time as a rookie, and those stories are probably true since Lang has been one of the people telling that story. Lang started zero games in his second season.

Bahk in round four and Linsley in round five are great examples of your point, though.

2 points
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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 05, 2021 at 09:41 am

I feel the OL line will do a good job. Josh Meyers and Royce Newman earned the starting job for good reason. If run blocking is their strength then by all means give the ball to any of the 3 talented backs and good things will happen. Establish the run and the passing game will fall into place. They don't have to play at Pro Bowl status with the talent in the backfield and at the receiver position. I'm more worried about the ST play than the OL at this point in time. Hopefully Corey Bojorquez can adapt quickly to his new team.

4 points
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SpikeHyzer's picture

September 05, 2021 at 02:12 pm

I was worried last year, and they turned out to be one of the best.
Bak is a big loss right now, but Jenkins is filling his spot and I have faith in the coaches.
Just wish the real starters had more time together.
Let's hope that the veterans continue to do what they have and the young guys elevate their games.

The run game is going to be the foundation for this team, and it will open the passing to even greater heights.

3 points
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