The Packers have options to change and improve the offensive line

Royce Newman has been the weakest link on the line

Matt LaFleur always says that he tries to put the five best offensive linemen on the field and adjust the lineup accordingly. But that's not what has happened through six weeks this season — and that's one the big reasons why the Packers have a disappointing 3-3 record this season.

Right guard Royce Newman, particularly, has been a weak link for the unit who used to be a strength for this offense. During the 27-10 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, LaFleur decided to bench Newman right before halftime, but the decision was to put Jake Hanson in. The idea, according to the head coach, was to "give us a little spark."

That didn't happen, though. Hanson got injured, and Newman was back in the lineup to start the second half. But the Green Bay Packers have other options to rebuild the offensive line throughout the season. After the game, LaFleur mentioned "everything is on the table" in order to improve the line, so it's fair to think it includes changing the lineup. And there are several options.

Tom at RG
The first and obvious choice would be the simplest one: replacing Royce Newman with Zach Tom. The fourth-round rookie hasn't played at right guard in the NFL so far, but he proved during preseason he is able to play in the right side (where he played at RT) and also to move inside (where he had experience at LG). He has the highest ceiling among the current backups, and this lineup would allow the Packers to keep Elgton Jenkins as the right tackle, where they think Jenkins could be the best long-term option.

Tom at LG, Runyan at LG
If the Packers don't feel comfortable putting Zach Tom at right guard because he hasn't play there, maybe a solution would put Tom where he played in the preseason, at left guard. In this case, Jon Runyan would be moved to right guard. Runyan has been the most solid lineman for the Packers this season, so there's definitely a risk involved. But Runyan is a smart and effective player, therefore the upside is real.

Jenkins at guard, Nijman at RT
If the Packers want to play their two best offensive linemen at the positions where they play best and complete the rest of the line accordingly, David Bakhtiari would play at left tackle and Elgton Jenkins would move back to left guard, a position in which he was a Pro Bowler in 2020. In this scenario, Yosh Nijman would be the best option to play right tackle if he was able to make a transition from the left side — in the full games and stretches where he played at LT, Nijman has been really good in pass protection. Zach Tom  would also be an alternative, if the Packers don't like Nijman on the right side. Jon Runyan would have to move to right guard in this case as well.

More than just making changes, the Packers are at a point of their season where thinking about the following years is also important. Therefore, it makes sense to test and give younger players more snaps. Even if the team might not be good enough to win in 2022, Green Bay has to take advantage of the games to plan for the future.

Photo: Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK
 

-----------------------------

Wendell Ferreira covers the Green Bay Packers for Zone Coverage and Cheesehead TV. He is a Brazilian journalist with over a decade of experience covering the NFL, soccer, NBA, and MMA. Follow him on twitter at @wendellfp  

NFL Categories: 
3 points

Comments (61)

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

October 17, 2022 at 11:10 am

Juggle the minimum.

What isn't said here is that if they don't trust Nijman to make the transition to RT, who says that Bakhtiari couldn't do it? Yes, he's being paid a fortune, but this levee is hemorrhaging and they need to do something to shore it up. In the end, it's best if Bakh returns to elite (or at least high-end) LT play because they have so many more options at the end of the season with how to handle him and his fat contract, but he's a pro and this team can't leave any stones unturned.

5 points
5
0
Guam's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:43 pm

Nijman played some RT at Virginia Tech so the position would not be entirely new to him and I would be very surprised if he couldn't make the transition given how well he played at LT. I think Jenkins is still recovering from his ACL and would be better suited at guard right now where his lateral movement would not be tested as strenuously. Since Jenkins has been playing with his right hand in the dirt for this season, I suspect his move to RG would be easier than to LG.

Bahk, Runyon, Myers, Jenkins, Nijman puts the best five on the field. And leaves us very little depth since Tom, Rhyan and Walker are rookies and Newman and Hanson are very suspect. Pray for no injuries.......

4 points
4
0
jlc1's picture

October 17, 2022 at 03:19 pm

not unlike asking Matthews to move inside. That worked ok I think.

0 points
0
0
Lare's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:14 am

I think the best move they can make on the OL is moving Stenavich back to OL Coach.

14 points
14
0
KKB's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:45 am

absoluitely!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bench Newman and move Steno (at least temporarily) .. Butkus is not getting it done alone

4 points
4
0
Fubared's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:14 am

LeFleur is in a bind in that he cannot assume Bak can go the whole game so he is letting him have plays off and to do that he must have Jenkins on the outside to move someone in to spell bak.

-4 points
1
5
jannes bjornson's picture

October 17, 2022 at 12:20 pm

Add to this story the fact these guys are not practicing together during the week. Not in sync.

4 points
5
1
gpt999's picture

October 17, 2022 at 02:16 pm

No disrespect intended InFu but saying this just gives MLF just another excuse to keep the status quo. Jenkins was awful on the outside and frankly, we need him inside to shore up the guards and center.

2 points
2
0
PackfanNY's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:19 am

We also shouldn’t ignore the obvious “communication” issues. The TV clearly showed the Jets stunt and Newman and Jenkins fail to block anyone while the D lineman on the Jets crashed into our backfield. You can’t blame Newman alone. This happened several times during the game.

17 points
17
0
mnbadger's picture

October 17, 2022 at 12:58 pm

thank you. From what I saw yesterday, Runyan and Meyers played well, the others, not at all. GPG!

-3 points
1
4
dblbogey's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:10 pm

Bakh played pretty well. Runyan, usually solid, played poorly, and if I could see a year ago that Newman was garbage, why can't our coaches seem to figure that out after 20+ games of total incompetence? Then when MLF gets desperate, he puts in Jake Hanson? As an upgrade? You've got a proven talent in Yosh, and Zach Tom clearly outperformed Newman in preseason, yet they sit on the bench? yosh can handle RT. Jenkins is an average right tackle but an all pro guard, so where would a logical person play Jenkins?

2 points
2
0
ArlenWilliams's picture

October 18, 2022 at 02:44 am

All the more reason to move Jenkins back to LG where he's proven.

1 points
1
0
stockholder's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:20 am

I'm not for testing anyone. This is the NFL. And we drafted two OL high for back-Up!
Just because a guy can play LT or help out. ( Based on Competition.) Doesn't mean he is the answer.
Jenkins is a LG. He can't move fast enough. ( when the opposing DE lines up wide. ) And Newman won't cover his butt inside.
Newman is a substitute. He's had his shot and Hanson is No Guard. Most Guards have short Arms. Keep that in mind! And while Patrick could. He wasn't the answer, and got the hell out of Green Bay.
Nijman needs to be the future at LT. And while he may lack punch. He has the athleticism to play it.
So lets just stop playing around with the Guards. Jenkins is the LG. And Runyan should be part of the rotation on the right. (Based on the Competition.) So that leaves RT. If the RG can play. RT shouldn't be a problem. Forget the front runner. The guy with the longest arms must play it. And if he needs help. Use the TE.

11 points
14
3
Coldworld's picture

October 17, 2022 at 12:34 pm

Walker is something of a wild card in this. How do they view him? He’s a RT who had health and technical issues last year, that caused him to drop precipitously. Then he came in to preseason and played well, largely cold and looked good technically. Is he ready to play or back up? He’s a much more prototypical candidate than Tom at RT.

Personally I’d now move Nijman and train Tom as the backup to Bakh in games. That would move Jenkins to RG. No point in moving Runyon. Caleb Jones is off with an unspecified illness, so he’s out of the picture. The complication is that if Hanson is out, then Tom will presumably have to be back up C unless they would use Jenkins, which reopens who plays G and whether we can use Nijman at RT. I wouldn’t be shocked if they added an interior player if Hanson is out for a while.

1 points
1
0
stockholder's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:10 pm

Walker has the long arms. Yes -he's a long shot. I'd go wire really! No to Jenkins at RG. He played to All-pro standards at LG. I'd still move Tonyan as he had his troubles too this Sunday. And Tom was projected at C by PFF per draft time. He's was considered to short in comparison to others @LT. . It didn't mean he couldn't play it in a pinch.

1 points
1
0
T7Steve's picture

October 17, 2022 at 12:36 pm

The longest arms are the ones on IR right now. You prob don't want to get me started on Caleb Jones right now. I think he's close to coming back isn't he? CW would know.

1 points
1
0
Coldworld's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:18 pm

I don’t know because I don’t know what his illness is. They don’t release that information. He could be back soon or who knows.

0 points
0
0
dblbogey's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:13 pm

Brian Bulaga had short arms. I don't think arm length much matters.

2 points
2
0
Packerpasty's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:28 am

Sadly there is no viable option for changes the coaching staff mid season...and probably not next season so more of the same coming up, Rodgers is getting old and slow, MLF refuses to play his most dynamic offensive weapon in Jones so it is what it is and will be...

2 points
3
1
gpt999's picture

October 17, 2022 at 02:21 pm

I disagree. The case for not making coaching changes mid season is an old wives tale told by scared, risk averse football management. This team is in freefall presently and needs better coaching immediately. If it means a few weeks getting used to, so be it. Frankly, can the OLine and offense look much worse than against the Jets?

0 points
1
1
MooPack's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:35 am

Lock down the left side of the line. Bakh at LT and Jenkins at LG. All-pro players at those positions, even if they may not be 100%. Lock it down. Should no longer have to worry about half the line. Myers is the C. Not really another option other than Zach Tom should be his backup. I think Myers issues is having to cover for Runyan, at times, and Newman all the time. With Jenkins on his left it will minimize the stunt issues they are having on at least the left side. Runyan at RG. Nijim at RT. TE help on the Right. If Nijim struggles, and I don’t think he will, then try Walker or Jones. Any line combo with Newman and/or Hanson on it is doing this team a disservice. Seriously, it can’t get much worse. There is virtually nothing to lose.

11 points
11.5
0.5
KKB's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:47 am

AMEN to that !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

0 points
0
0
coolhand's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:37 am

Hanson is even worse than Newman, so what was he thinking? Jenkins is struggling at RT, so why not move EJ back to LG, Runyan to RG or put in Thom, and try either Walker or Jones at RT? We also have Rhyan but it seemed he was not that good in the PS.

0 points
1
1
croatpackfan's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:45 am

I believe Rhyan is on 53.

0 points
0
0
Coldworld's picture

October 17, 2022 at 12:37 pm

He is, but Jones is in the non football injury list and thus not.

1 points
1
0
croatpackfan's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:42 am

If the problem is Bakh, I'm for try of young guys at RT. Walker or Jones. I do not think that in this moment, despite very good techic, Tom would be good solution. Because he lacks weight. There are some very good bull rushers that can go through light opponent.

3 points
3
0
701Packer's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:45 am

Bak-Jenkins-Myers-Runyan-Anybody.

If they can't get a cohesive "best-5", then fix the four that you can take care of (LT thru RG), then play any of Yosh, Tom, Walker, whoever at RT. At least then you isolate the problem to only RT, then chip or whatever to help on the right side.

This is assuming Runyan can move over to RG without major issue...

5 points
5
0
dobber's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:10 pm

I think you're right in that we need to be careful not to assume that Runyan to RG is a winner. Yes, RG is regarded as a low-priority OL position, but Jenkins has been playing and practicing on the right side since his return. His handedness has already flipped...asking Runyan to change at this stage only makes sense based on how much experience he has there. I would put Jenkins at RG if you've got a viable RT candidate...otherwise it's likely that whole right side is a mess for several weeks.

2 points
2
0
701Packer's picture

October 17, 2022 at 02:17 pm

That would be fine too. As long as Jenkins and Runyan are your guards, I think you solve 4/5ths of the line, rather than there being problems through the whole line.

0 points
0
0
LLCHESTY's picture

October 18, 2022 at 02:32 am

Runyan has been as bad run blocking as Newman has been pass blocking.

0 points
0
0
LLCHESTY's picture

October 18, 2022 at 02:32 am

Runyan has been as bad run blocking as Newman has been pass blocking.

0 points
0
0
gpt999's picture

October 17, 2022 at 02:22 pm

And Yosh at RT!

0 points
0
0
TarynsEyes's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:47 am

Rodgers said they need to simplify things (the Offense). Is that because the OL can't understand the protections and blocking schemes, or the skill players don't know the playbook?

I said previously, that talent might not be the issue, but the ability to use that talent in a game productively. The 'wow' plays that had many excited in preseason is showing that inability against a real opponent. The receivers look like they can't shed their own coverage blanket, less the opponent's blanket coverage. The run game should be easing that issue, but it now looks like the run can't help itself, less the pass game.

Defense and SPT's looks no better than any previous version over the years. Individuals will get their stats, but at the expense of the whole, and the Offense failing to sustain drives, the Defense gets weaker. The Jets defense made ours like an above average HS squad or an average at best small college squad.

There's still hope, but that hope is washed away entirely if another egg laid in D.C. even with another ugly win. We may be seeing next week the best this team has to offer and perform.

12 points
13
1
ricky's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:49 am

First, shouldn't the Packers have figured out who was going to play where before the season began? Why is that crucial component of the offense still unsettled six games into the season? Which leads to a second question. Is the promotion of former OL coach Adam Stenavich a double curse? At this point, Luke Butkus seems to have no idea how to coach or motivate his players to maximize their potential. But besides losing an excellent OL coach, Stenavich was promoted to OC. And the offense has been terrible. No rhythm, no sense of there being an overall plan of attack. Just a series of disjointed plays, and any commitment to the run being abandoned. This could well be on Rodgers, but there is plenty of blame to go around. This team is a mess, and they have eleven more games to either right the ship, or sink.

8 points
9
1
Packers1985's picture

October 17, 2022 at 12:39 pm

If they haven't figured out by now i am afraid they never will.

3 points
3
0
mnbadger's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:03 pm

ricky, did you say sink or stink?
Seems like only yesterday the GBPkrs were a darn good team.
Now they sink and stink like a bad turd. GPG!

3 points
3
0
LambeauPlain's picture

October 17, 2022 at 11:49 am

LaFleur has always said he will start the best 5 OL players. I don't believe him anymore.

He better get urgent...he not only needs the right players on the bus...he's got to get them in the right seats. IDK, maybe its Butkus or Steno making the OL decisions.

Watching Newman play on skates all season in pass pro belies his claim of "best 5".

Jenks is really struggling. Yesterday was his worst game in a long time...maybe ever. On almost every pass play, if his man didn't get an actual pressure or sack, they got very close. He gets manhandled backwards a lot. Having Newman next to him is double indemnity for the recovering ACL patient.

And now Myers is now in a couple of games funk and Bakht is not close to his past lockdown LT play.

Whew! The Offense's foundation has huge cracks.

8 points
8
0
RCPackerFan's picture

October 17, 2022 at 12:03 pm

This is what I posted in the Game Balls/Lame Calls article. These are some of my thoughts of what they could do to fix the OL.

First - The easiest fix. The easiest fix is to replace Newman with Tom. Tom deserves a shot and switching those 2 guys alone could be all that it takes.

Second - The moderately easy fix. If they feel like Tom isn't ready, put Yosh at RT and move Jenkins to RG. Jenkins might be playing out of position at RT. He could slide inside and possibly solidify the entire middle of the OL. Yosh had been good at LT. Not sure if he can really move to RT. Maybe they feel like Tom could move to RT and he would be that guy. So they have options.

Third - Blow it up fix. The last time that Bakhtiari played he had Jenkins next to him. They had chemistry. When Bakhtiari and Jenkins were out, Yosh and Runyan played a lot of snaps next to each other. They have built chemistry. Right now there is no chemistry with the players next to each other on the stunts. So this is a big move proposal. Bakhtiari, Jenksin, Myers, Runyan, Yosh. I don't think they make this many big moves. But putting Jenkins next to Bakhtiari gives those guys the level of comfortability to play with each other. Moving Runyan to RG would be a switch footwork wise, but he has comfortability with Yosh next to him. Yosh if he can play RT, has comfortability with Runyan. This in the long term may give them the best OL possible.

Fourth - Surprising rookie. Walker has been inactive for most of the games. Which suggests Tom is ahead of him in the pecking order. But if they don't think Tom can play RG or RT. perhaps they turn to another Rookie. Walker at RT. Move Jenkins inside, put Walker at RT. They can always give him help with RB's and TE's chipping.

All I know is that the OL can't have Newman in it anymore. He wasn't the only problem yesterday, but he is the one guy who consistently allows pressure. They have to make a change. If they feel that Jenkins will be fine at RT, then they have to put Tom at RG. If they feel that Jenkins is out of position at RT, then move him inside solidify the interior and put Yosh, Tom or Walker at RT.

3 points
3
0
Coldworld's picture

October 17, 2022 at 12:47 pm

Nijman is a good enough left tackle that I think he’d be no worse than Jenkins at right initially and would improve with reps. I’d just move Jenkins inside to RG. Runyon is struggling too, no need to exacerbate that. To be honest, I’m concerned that Myers is the bridge between them more than most. Myers has struggled in pass pro too. It’s a total mess and I think that speaks to it being as much coaching as anything.

Bakh, Runyon, Myers, Jenkins, Nijman. Start with that. If Hanson is out, Tom may have to be a back up a C or at RG and LT (if they’d use Jenkins at C), Walker will just have to back up Nijman and be prepared to come in if Bakh forces Nijman back. I think they sign a G too if they are not going to play Rhyan under any circumstances.

2 points
2
0
RCPackerFan's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:31 pm

I think Yosh could play RT. I just wonder though if they are questioning it. He has been purely a LT since with GB, and I believe college purely a LT. So I don't know how long it would take for him to be comfortable to move over there. But its worth a shot.
Runyan did struggle yesterday. He gave up his first pressures all year.

The biggest thing to remember is Myers and Runyan are still young guys. And they have shown that they can play. They aren't perfect, but I believe they are improving.

I agree that your line up would be the best way to go. I think Jenkins moving inside solidifies the inside. And they can always help the OT with TE's and RB's if needed.

0 points
0
0
Coldworld's picture

October 17, 2022 at 03:58 pm

He played both, but I think more RT in college, though his technique was all learned here, on the left.

0 points
0
0
T7Steve's picture

October 17, 2022 at 12:56 pm

If EJ moves inside, he has the experience to make the line calls. It might be too much for Meyers right now that all the other teams are looking at the game tape. Whatever they call, when you go to help someone (like Newman was trying to help EJ and JM) you just help when no one's stunting through your hole! Has no one taught this to him? If someone is stunting the other guys have to look out for themselves. Even if you get beat, your body is in the way enough to create another second to get the pass off. One second is a long time.

0 points
0
0
RCPackerFan's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:42 pm

That is a great point as well. Helping make line calls and communication.

One thing I noticed on a few of Newmans helping is that he seemed to bail his area too soon to help someone that didn't need help. It seems simple to stay in your lane, but he definitely didn't do that.

1 points
1
0
SwedeBayPacker's picture

October 17, 2022 at 12:26 pm

MLF: Everything is on the table.

You know, except coaching the team with anything that resembles competence, or ever adjusting a game plan.

8 points
8
0
Coldworld's picture

October 17, 2022 at 12:49 pm

Which was what we said the week before and just tells us that no plan has evolved. They sent in Hanson!! Really?

4 points
4
0
T7Steve's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:14 pm

At least it might have made the Jets scratch their heads. They must have had to look for a guard snap option or something. MLF really shook it up and got a spark.

0 points
0
0
HarryHodag's picture

October 17, 2022 at 02:02 pm

Funny how quickly one forgets it was his coaching that put them through a bunch of winning seasons. I hope your significant other doesn't forget the good things you've done so quickly after things go awry.

-2 points
0
2
SwedeBayPacker's picture

October 17, 2022 at 03:17 pm

That's one way of looking at it.

I'm leaning towards MLF riding the coattails of AR12 and Adams for two years. Now with one in serious decline and the other gone we see the full extent of MLF's capacity as a coach.

3 points
3
0
Coldworld's picture

October 17, 2022 at 04:05 pm

I’ve been saying these things were a possibility for some time. Now the worst case scenario has come very much to the fore. The results have spoken and the malaise is team wide.

0 points
0
0
jvole's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:31 pm

Could also be that Luke Butkus sucks at his job--Prepping the o-line and evaluating talent. Or maybe he's a sleeper agent sent to destroy the Packers!

3 points
3
0
BruceC1960's picture

October 17, 2022 at 02:49 pm

Knew someone would take this route.

0 points
0
0
T7Steve's picture

October 17, 2022 at 02:58 pm

I was going to take that route earlier in the year when Dick was spouting off but chickened out. Thought I'd jinks us.

0 points
0
0
PearlyBakerBest's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:50 pm

I don’t think anything works if Jenkins stays on the outside. He just doesn’t have the confidence in his knee yet and it has clearly shown in his play. Put him back at his Pro Bowl position and let the chips fall where they may at tackle.

3 points
3
0
PearlyBakerBest's picture

October 17, 2022 at 01:57 pm

Also, I know most here have seen enough to know but, IMO, this is the first real adversity MLF has seen since being hired. I’d like to see how the next handful of weeks go before chanting hang im high.

0 points
0
0
HarryHodag's picture

October 17, 2022 at 02:01 pm

Bahk-LT
Jenkins LG(All-Pro there)
Myers-C
Runyan-RG
Nijman-RT

That might be the best lineup for now. Newman missed some pretty basic pass blocking sets Sunday. He's in his second season so those mistakes are not excusable. I wonder if Myers is holding up inside. Jenkins is a guard, not a tackle.

Hanson: how about a season-ending IR so that situation doesn't come back?

3 points
3
0
gpt999's picture

October 17, 2022 at 02:13 pm

While I thought Joe Barry was a stubborn "lost cause", I feel that the poor GB OLine personnel choices rest squarely on MLF. He is not putting his 5 best OLinemen out there nor is he putting them at the right positions. Jenkins was bad against the Jets and should be back at guard ASAP. Tom should be in at the other guard and Yosh at RT. Period. No discussion.

Anything else is just stubbornness on MLFs part. I am finally losing faith in MLF and anything he has to say. Actions speak louder than words.

0 points
0
0
jlc1's picture

October 17, 2022 at 03:26 pm

All of these comments have some merit if only because they are focusing on the most fundamental problem with this team, the Oline. If that improves to average then the offense starts to find a little more rhythm and things can build from there.
One thing that may turn around on its own is the turnover differential. Hard to predict anything in that area other than the odds maybe say it will. Win the TOs and you have a very good chance to win the game.
But lose the LOS and you have no hope at all. So get the Oline straightened out.

1 points
1
0
brenner's picture

October 17, 2022 at 06:27 pm

A little early in the season yet for the worry about the future talk I think. That said what's to say Jenkins can't play RG if Runyan cant make the switch. Also if Nijman can't play RT then put Tom there. TE help is there if needed for either on the right side anyway.

-1 points
0
1
BAMABADGER's picture

October 17, 2022 at 08:18 pm

Would like to see, Left to Right: Bak, Jenkins, Myers, Tom, Nijman.... Runyan perhaps at RG. Newman and Hanson to be used only if necessary. Also, Adam Stenavich needs to reassert himself over the O-line, Based on results, Luke Butkus is not performing as a O-line coach.

0 points
0
0
Barnacle's picture

October 18, 2022 at 06:38 am

So Bak gets to play one position and we expect other OL to learn several positions?

This “versatility” and resulting high injuries is not the answer.

Connect the dots…….our highest paid and highest rated OL person is not required to play all over the field. But our younger players are expected to play left side, right side, inside, outside, and center. No wonder they are frequently confused and injured.

1 points
1
0
coolhand's picture

October 18, 2022 at 11:15 am

Did MLF put the "best 5" out there against the 49ers back in January? NO! He left Nijman on the bench the entire game and the o line was terrible and never made a change.

0 points
0
0