Will Packers Injuries be a Problem Moving Forward in 2021?

The Packers are off to a 5-1 start and on the surface, all is coming up roses. However, they have been without four of the seven players who made the Pro Bowl last season. Tackle David Bakhtiari will be sidelined at least another week. Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith and cornerback Jaire Alexander could be lost for the season, and guard Elgton Jenkins missed three games but returned to the lineup against the Bears.

After a relatively lackluster performance in their 25-22 win over the Bengals, head coach Matt LaFluer apologized, but there was no need to. The kind of effort the Packers put out showed the kind of toughness needed for the playoffs.  The Packers rebounded to take down the Bears, 24-14, but the big question is whether or not the Packers will be healthy enough come playoff time.

This year’s team is very similar to the 2010 and 2016 squads which had to overcome a slew of injuries. In 2010, the Packers still won their last two games and three road playoff games on their way to a Super Bowl win over the Steelers, where they were without star receiver Donald Driver and defender Charles Woodson.

Six years later, the Packers were off to a 4-6 start and then Rodgers boldly predicted the team would win out. Six weeks later, the Packers were 10-6 and playoff bound.  They advance to the NFC Championship game before falling to the Atlanta Falcons and MVP Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. The Packers' Jordy Nelson played with broken rib, Davante Adams had a sprained ankle and Ty Montgomery left with injury.

Forward to this season and the Packers seem to be built to withstand the injuries. One of the deepest teams in the league, Yosh Nijman has played well at left tackle despite practically no meaningful NFL game experience. Jon Runyan was looked to gradually make his way into action, but was inserted when Lucas Patrick went down.  In turn, when Patrick returned to health, he was called upon to step in for Josh Meyers. Eric Stokes has been another player forced into action and he’s done a nice job as the top cornerback.

The outlook and NFL odds  for the rest of the season are largely dependent on the health of the team.  The good news is that Jenkins has returned, Bakhtiari is practicing again and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling is likely to be back in the next week or two.

On the defensive side of the ball there are considerably more problems. In order to have the kind of defense to take down championship-caliber teams, they must have a top pass rush to protect the secondary. Without the Smiths, who is the player to step up?  Perhaps it will be newly-acquired Whitney Mercilus. The coverage has been adequate without Kevin King and Alexander in the lineup, but their depth will be tested.

The Packers can’t afford to try to win shootouts against the likes of Arizona, Los Angeles, and Tampa Bay.  No matter how good Aaron Rodgers is, the Packers defense must be solid enough to make stops in critical situations come playoff time.

 

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4 points

Comments (13)

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NickPerry's picture

October 23, 2021 at 03:47 am

The Alexander injury has me the most concerned. IMO the Packers could have a tough time against the likes of Arizona and Tamps Bay, teams built much like the 2010 Packers on offense except with more of a running game. BOTH of those teams can trot out 3 or 4 WR's who would really test the Packers defense.

The NFL did the Packers ZERO favors with this schedule. 6 of the Packers first 9 games have been / are on the road, and how they do these next 6 games especially will be crucial in determining who plays where in the Playoffs. IF and its a big IF, the Packers can go 4-2 or even 5-1 before the bye, and then get Alexander back by the bye week at the LATEST and possibly Z Smith shortly after, then we're talking. Just NO MORE injuries please!

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Houndog's picture

October 23, 2021 at 05:55 am

I have to agree with Nick,
I can't see the Packers keeping up with high-powered offenses as things stand. The D hasn't been all that dependable and the injuries aren't helping with that matter. We need good play from the D-Backs and that's kind of a waiting game right now due to injuries. Lowry has looked good recently and hopefully that will continue, and if Mercilus is revitalized as we're all hoping that would be awesome, imagine having him and the Smith Bros on the field at the same time. Someone stepping up to play alongside DeAndre Campbell would do a lot, Jaylon Smith, Kris Barnes, somebody Please! However, it is a new defense, with a new coordinator, and I think I've seen a few little improvements weekly, I'm hoping that continues.
The offense has been a bit sluggish at times, and without MVS the receiver corps has been kinda' mediocre with Lazard and Tonyan seeming to disappear at times. Having Cobb back is great but things need to open up for the others if we're to keep up with the big dogs. Nothing needs to be said about Adams, without him we'd be lost.

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Crankbait's picture

October 23, 2021 at 06:46 am

Not scoring enough points this year to hang with the big boys.
Special teams still suck bigly but our defense is playing more aggressive ! I like that just wish we had our starters .

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Crankbait's picture

October 23, 2021 at 06:40 am

We have not played an NFL playoff caliber quarterback this season.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

October 23, 2021 at 08:52 am

So?

Everywhere we hear that defense wins championships. Packers have faced several defenses that have top-billing, and won 5 of 6.

So...

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barutanseijin's picture

October 24, 2021 at 07:54 am

What’s an NFL QB? There should be about 60 of them. Or are you saying that some guys who appear to be playing QB in the NFL are either not QBs or not in the NFL?

Interesting.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 23, 2021 at 09:54 am

Without Z and Alexander, we’ll still win the division, but will get absolutely shredded in the playoffs. We have not faced an elite QB yet, something that will be rectified on TNF next Thursday. I expect the defense to get roasted, and this offense has not yet proven capable of scoring 35+ to keep up.

Right now, GB has a very good team with vital missing pieces that keeps it from being a great team. You can’t blow your best shots, and GB has made a habit of doing that for most of ARod’s (and Favre’s) career. 2021 is not the teams best shot. That was 2020.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 23, 2021 at 10:47 am

When I get upset by all the injuries, I tell myself how good the team will look with most of them back later in the season. That’s when it really counts.

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splitpea1's picture

October 23, 2021 at 11:45 am

First off, I don't think the Packers' performance against the Bengals was lackluster (except for special teams, which was obviously dreadful); it was a road win against a good team. We can't be expected to win every game by a wide margin. Keep in the mind that the Bucs and Rams have also lost, and by double digits. Also, Driver and Woodson did play in the first half of the Super Bowl.

In the meantime, win 'em any way you can. I don't particularly enjoy shootout games, but if that's what it takes in a couple of instances....Worry about the playoffs when they come--lotta season left. If we get a couple of those key players back, we'll be that much stronger.

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Nordom's picture

October 23, 2021 at 03:23 pm

I think the field goal debacle probably left a more sour taste in everyone's mouth for the Bengals game than anything else - that was a game we "won" and "lost" several times each in the span of about ten minutes. It was a game I personally expected to lose in a close battle from the outset, but I also expected us to get absolutely walloped by the 49ers as well, and I've been ecstatic both times the team has proved me wrong.

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packer132's picture

October 23, 2021 at 12:54 pm

The NFL is a week by week league, and worry about the next game only. Every team has injuries this time of year and Packers are ranked #21 for players on IR. The defense is getting better each week as the players learn the new scheme and how teammates play certain calls. New players (Mercilus, J Smith, and Douglas) will start to make plays and injured players slowly return on offense (Bakh and MVS). I would love a trade for CB or DL though Packers have no money and it would cost a draft pick. Packers finally made adjustments against the Bears and controlled the clock. The red zone defense needs to get better, and I see a nice home win on Sunday.

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Packers0808's picture

October 23, 2021 at 05:21 pm

This team even banged up as it is does make mistakes often, but being so banged up I believe is better than a lot of people have been giving credit for. The thing is when the better players banged up can and if come back we will be even better which is the good thing to look forward too!

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flackcatcher's picture

October 23, 2021 at 02:50 pm

The only outcome that has me worried, is this team goes into the playoffs a hollow shell of its self. As what happened during the second year of Mike Sherman's tenure as HC vs Atlanta. (What Vick did at Lambeu still gives me nightmares :-) Outside that, in today's football, it's usually the defensive side that gets better in season, as injuries and video on offensive schemes gets processed. And there is the Zebra factor, as game refs adjust their 'calls' as the season goes into playoff mode. Still, this Packer's team while young, is a playoff tested unit, so handling injuries is something that they are used too as a team. We'll just have to wait and see....

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