The Green Bay Packers offense has struggled this season. They are presently 28th in the NFL in yards gained per game. They are 24th in both rushing yards per game and passing yards per game. In other words, the offense isn’t doing anything particularly well. One reason for that has been the disappointing performance of the Packers offensive line.
The coaching staff needs to do something about this for several reasons. The most important is so the team can get a fair look at quarterback Jordan Love and determine if he is the long-term answer at quarterback. They also need to figure out which players along the offensive line fit into the team’s plans long term, and which do not.
The Only Player on the Packers Offensive Line Playing Well
Of the five players starting on the Packers offensive line, the only one playing well is right tackle Zach Tom. The second-year man out of Wake Forest is blocking well for the run and doing a good job of protecting the quarterback.
Tom started all six games for the Packers at right tackle. His versatility gives the Packers many options along the line. The coaching staff knows Tom can play any of the five positions along the line and play them well.
In the loss to the Broncos, Tom moved to center for four plays when Josh Myers was shaken up. Tom also saw extensive reps at center during the preseason as the Packers tried to find the best combination of players to start along the line.
Struggles at Left Tackle
The Packers planned to have David Bakhtiari at left tackle this season but the former All Pro played only one game before being shut down for the season due to his knee injury. Bakhtiari had to undergo two more surgical procedures to his knee with the hope that he can resume playing in 2024.
Second-year man Rasheed Walker took over when Bakhtiari went down. After playing well in his first start, the Penn State product has struggled. His run blocking has been well below average, and it has hampered the running game.
Walker’s pass blocking has been inconsistent. He is particularly vulnerable to inside moves which means the pass rusher has the most direct route to the quarterback.
The Packers hope Walker can get back on track. He has the tools but lacks confidence right now. Walker’s inconsistency at protecting Love’s blindside makes it even more difficult to truly evaluate the young quarterback’s potential.
A Former Pro Bowl Guard Having a Disappointing Season
The Packers were confident that left guard Elgton Jenkins would continue to play at a Pro Bowl level this season. The Mississippi State alum earned Pro Bowl honors in 2020 and 2022. He missed half the 2021 season due to a season-ending knee injury.
But this season, Jenkins has missed two games due to injury and hasn’t played up to his usual high standards when he was in the lineup.
Jenkins’ run blocking has fallen off from very good to average at best. His pass protection has also fallen off in recent weeks although injuries may be a reason for his struggles. In four games this season, Jenkins has permitted six pressures and six hurries with five of them coming in the last two games.
The Packers Other Guard Has Also Regressed This Season
Starting right guard Jon Runyan has also struggled this season. In the last two seasons, he was a very good pass blocker, but he has allowed 10 pressures and six hurries in six games.
His run blocking has never been a strength, but he has regressed in that area as well this season.
The Center Hasn’t Helped the Packers Offensive Line
Center Josh Myers has been solid at pass blocking but his run blocking has fallen off and it was never strong to begin with.
Myers has struggled to prevent defenders from penetrating and getting behind the line of scrimmage to disrupt plays. He has also committed some untimely penalties.
The biggest concern about the second-round pick out of Ohio State is his lack of improvement in his third straight season.
Options for the Packers Offensive Line
Matt LaFleur has often said he wants the best five offensive linemen on the field but right now, it doesn’t look like he has that.
The versatility of Tom and Jenkins gives the Packers options. Runyan can also play center as well as both guard positions. While these give the coaching staff options, they also want to have as much continuity along the offensive line as possible.
They also have Yosh Nijman who has started 21 games in his career and who can play both left and right tackle. Thus far, he’s been better on the right side.
The coaching staff must put the best five players on the field to get the running game clicking. This will also give Love more protection to throw the football.
Unless the Packers can get a fair evaluation of Love, the 2023 season will be largely wasted. Changes along the offensive line should come sooner rather than later.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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