The Green Bay Packers fell to the New England Patriots on Saturday night 21-17. The game that ended early after Isaiah Bolton of New England had to be carried off on a cart after colliding with a teammate early in the fourth quarter. There were plenty of bright spots for the Packers in this game but some questions as well. Right now, there is one position in on offense that looks like a big concern for the Packers and that is center. When you take into consideration another issue the team has along the offensive line, the issues at center just get more complicated.
The Packers Potential Starting Center
Third-year man Josh Myers remains the starter on the team’s depth chart, but the Ohio State alum continues to struggle this summer. He has been inconsistent in training camp and played poorly when on the field for the team’s first two preseason games.
On Saturday night against the Patriots, Myers got the offense off to a bad start. He made an errant snap that quarterback Jordan Love couldn’t handle. The Patriots recovered and started their first drive of the game at the Green Bay 18. Five players later, the Packers trailed 7-0 after the Pats scored on a one-yard touchdown run.
According to the coaching staff, Myers mistakenly thought that one of the Patriot players had jumped into the neutral zone and was trying to draw a flag. As a result, he snapped the ball before Love was ready. The snap was also not an accurate one which only compounded the problem. The Patriots had not jumped, they recovered the fumble after a scramble for the ball and the Packers had to come from behind early in the game.
Errant snaps have been a problem for Myers throughout the preseason and training camp. It’s likely a mental block more than a physical issue but it’s something the coaching staff needs to straighten out before the season starts.
Possible Alternatives For the Packers at Center
The Packers coaching staff clearly wants Myers to be their starting center. GM Brian Gutekunst selected him in the second round in 2021 with the 62nd overall pick. It doesn’t help that one selection later the Kansas City Chiefs took center Creed Humphrey who has already gone to a Pro Bowl.
Myers earned a starting job in training camp as a rookie, but injuries interrupted his first NFL season. He appeared in only six games that season which clearly disrupted his progress and his ability to adjust to life in the NFL.
Myers remained healthy in 2022 and started all 17 games, but he was very average on the field. His pass blocking was solid, but his run blocking was below average and overall, he ranked in the bottom third of centers graded by Pro Football Focus who had enough snaps to qualify.
Head coach Matt LaFleur has always said he wants his best five offensive linemen on the field and the organization likes to draft players who are versatile and can play multiple positions to give them additional flexibility in that area.
The problem is, based on his inconsistent play this summer, Myers may not be one of the top five offensive linemen on the team.
LaFleur still believes in Myers potential, but admitted earlier in camp he needs to see more from his potential starting center. “Josh has done a really good job, but we need more consistency,” LaFleur said. “We have complete confidence that he is fully capable of doing that, and we’ve seen that from him.”
Second-year man Zach Tom and starting right guard Jon Runyan Jr., have also taken snaps at center during this summer as has Jake Hanson. Late in yesterday’s game, Cole Schneider also saw action in the middle of the offensive line after Hanson left the game with an injury.
Tom can play all five positions along the offensive line and has shown himself to be one of the team’s top five linemen in training camp. But where should he play for the Packers to field the most talented offensive line possible?
Ideally, if Myers can bounce back and claim the center job, the Packers can move Tom to right tackle with Runyan set to start at right guard.
A Possible Complication
The other issue complicating the situation, however, is the health and availability of starting left tackle David Bakhtiari. The former All Pro will likely miss many practices this year as the team hopes to have him available for as many games as possible. If Bakhtiari’s knee forces him to miss a game, players like Yosh Nijman and second-year man Rasheed Walker are battling for the second-string spot behind him. Or Tom could move to left tackle with either Nijman or Walker filling in on the right side.
There is still one more preseason game and a couple of weeks of training camp for Myers to get his game back on track and claim the starting job outright. The coaching staff is certainly hoping that he will. But until then, the offensive line remains unsettled and has a big question mark right in the middle of the lineup.
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