Packers: Super Bowl dreams come down to offensive line play

Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

When the offensive line dominates, the Green Bay Packers are capable of putting up a lot of points.

We saw this last season when the Packers led the NFL in scoring offense. The team allowed just 21 sacks, tied for second-fewest in the league. According to ESPN, Green Bay led the league in both pass block and run block win rate in 2020.

Offensively, the Packers were unstoppable last season. It’s no surprise, then, that protection up front wasn’t good in the team’s NFC Championship Game defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers was under pressure on 15 of his dropbacks, leading to five sacks. As a result, the offense was inconsistent and finished with 26 points, five short of their opponents.

Since last season, the Packers have faced some significant changes along the offensive line.

Starting center Corey Linsley, who was a first-team All-Pro in 2020, departed in free agency. Another first-team All-Pro, David Bakhtiari, hasn’t played since December 2020. It’s also notable that he wasn’t playing in that NFC title game loss.

Elgton Jenkins, a Pro Bowler at guard who played admirably at tackle in place of Bakhtiari this year, is out for the rest of the season after tearing his ACL. Linsley’s replacement, Josh Myers, remains out due to a knee injury.

Despite all of that, Green Bay’s offensive line has still played well.

The Packers have allowed 23 sacks. While that is more than they allowed all of last year, it’s still a solid record that ranks 12th-best in the league. According to ESPN, they rank seventh in pass block win rate and eighth in run block win rate. Given all of the injuries, this is impressive.

When Rodgers’ pocket has been clean, he’s been dominant. According to Pro Football Focus, when kept clean this season, Rodgers has a league-best passer rating of 120.5.

The Packers won’t get Jenkins back this year, but there’s hope Bakhtiari will make his long-awaited return in time for the playoffs. That will help.

When the offensive line takes control, it’s bad news for the opponent. For the Packers to go a step further than last year, the starting five must be on top of their game when January football arrives.