How the Packers can overcome the loss of David Bakhtiari

Green Bay Packers, David Bakhtiari (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, David Bakhtiari (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

How the Packers can overcome the loss of star LT David Bakhtiari.

It was all going too well. The Green Bay Packers have won five straight, lead the NFC, and have the opportunity to secure home-field advantage with a victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Not to mention, the team is coming off its most complete performance of the year and seemed to be getting healthier ahead of the playoffs.

Then, in the final hours of 2020 (or for me in the UK, the opening minutes of 2021), NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Packers star left tackle David Bakhtiari is out for the rest of the season due to a torn ACL.

Bakhtiari is a future Hall-of-Famer. The league’s best pass protector. Now he’s done for the rest of the season and, in all likelihood, the start of the 2021 season too.

This is about as bad as it could get for the Packers. Outside of losing Aaron Rodgers for the year, a season-ending injury to Bakhtiari would be among the worst-case scenarios for this team ahead of the playoffs.

Replacing Bakhtiari is impossible. The Packers can forget about that.

However, given the play of the offensive line this season, they are certainly ready to make do for the remainder of the year and continue to play at a high level.

Green Bay has already played three games without Bakhtiari this season. In those games, the offense averaged over 30 points and allowed just two sacks. They were 2-1. In the only loss, against the Minnesota Vikings, it wasn’t the play of the offensive line to blame.

The run defense gave up 173 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The offensive line played well with Rodgers sacked just once, while he threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns.

How Matt LaFleur decides to line up along the offensive line will be interesting. Who replaces Bakhtiari on the left side?

Does Elgton Jenkins slide to left tackle? Billy Turner? Rick Wagner, if healthy? All three options could work.

Even without Bakhtiari in the lineup, the Packers’ offensive line is still loaded with talent.

ESPN’s pass block and run block win rate stats highlight the strength of the Packers’ offensive line.

Turner leads all tackles in the NFL for PBWR. Jenkins and Lucas Patrick rank inside the top 10 among guards. Corey Linsley is fifth among centers, and he also leads his position in RBWR.

Jenkins made the Pro Bowl this season. Linsley should have, too.

This offensive line has played great football throughout the season, despite the fact injuries have caused them to regularly change the starting five.

Losing Bakhtiari isn’t good for this offense. He’s a superstar at a premium position and was putting together another All-Pro season.

However, if there’s one team in the NFL that can overcome this, it’s the Packers.