When the Packers offense is playing well, most of the conversation concerns the star “skill position” players. Everybody talks about how outstanding Aaron Rodgers is playing or what a difference maker Davante Adams is or how Aaron Jones is one of the game’s elite running backs.
But rarely does the conversation turn to the players that make all that possible: the offensive linemen. Without stellar play by the line, Rodgers doesn’t have time to throw the football downfield and the receivers don’t have time to get open. Without the offensive line, the holes aren’t there for Jones and Jamaal Williams to run through.
Head coach Matt LaFleur had high praise for his offensive line through four games. “All season long, I’ve felt like our offensive line — no matter what combination has been in there — all those guys have done their job and done it at a high level.”
Thus far, the Packers offensive line is playing at an extremely high level and should be considered the best or near the best in football. Here is a look at what has made the offensive line so successful thus far this season:
1. LT David Bakhtiari
Bakhtiari remains an elite left tackle and is presently grading out as the best in the league at his position.
There are few tackles in the game today who are better pass blockers than Bakhtiari and his consistent excellence gives the Rodgers the time he needs to get the ball downfield without getting harried by oncoming pass rushers.
Watching Bakhtiari on film also shows that he is a strong run blocker. In fact, his run blocking grade is nearly as high as his pass blocking marks. This versatility helps make Bakhtiari a Pro Bowl talent.
Bakhtiari is also a favorite in the locker room and his sense of humor always keeps his teammates lose and ready to play.
His contract is up after this year and Bakhtiari will turn 30 next September. Will the Packers make a rare exception and sign their starting left tackle to a new deal after he turns 30? They should as Bakhtiari shows no signs of slowing down or breaking down physically.
2. LG Elgton Jenkins
Jenkins had an outstanding rookie season and didn’t allow a sack all year in 2019. His run blocking was strong also and he easily qualified for the NFL’s All-Rookie Team. He has been a valuable player for the Packers this season as well.
Jenkins started Week 1 at right tackle but injuries quickly had him back at his traditional left guard spot. His pass blocking has remained excellent but he got off to a slow start run blocking. In the last two games, he has started to regain his previous form and that is a good sign for the Packers.
There is little doubt Jenkins should be a standout on the Packers offensive line for years to come.
3. C Corey Linsley
Like Bakhtiari, Linsley is in his contract year and he will turn 30 before the start of the 2021 season. The big question is, will the Packers break with their past practice and re-sign Linsley to a new deal?
Linsley is certainly doing all he can to make the choice difficult for GM Brian Gutekunst. While the former Ohio State star has always been a consistently good center for the Packers, he is off to the best start of his career in 2020.
Linsley has been playing at an extremely high level in both pass blocking and run blocking and has been extremely helpful at both opening holes and getting to the second level to block LBs and DBs.
In addition to his strong performances this season, Linsley calls the signals for the offensive linemen and provides the team with strong leadership in the locker room as well.
4. RG Lucas Patrick
The 27-year-old Patrick has been a versatile performer for the Packers this season. He has started all four games and has already played some at left guard, right guard and center.
Patrick has struggled at times in pass protection but has graded out well overall.
The coaching staff loves the versatility and attitude that Patrick brings to the game. He is very tough and a true team player.
5. RT Billy Turner
Last season, Turner played right guard and many considered him the weak link the Packers offensive line. This season, after struggling with injuries early, Turner has taken over the right tackle position and played well there during the last two games.
Turner can play nearly anywhere on the offensive line and he has a great attitude that rubs off on his teammates. His play this year has been steady and solid at the right tackle position which helps the Packers as they try to replace the departed Bryan Bulaga.
6. The Depth
The Packers depth has already been tested along the line and it has come through. Before being injured, right guard Lane Taylor was off to a good start although he suffered a season-ending injury early in the season for the second straight year.
Rick Wagner has played well when asked to fill in at right tackle and when he replaced Marcedes Lewis as the blocking tight end against the Falcons. He has had to play through injuries suffered in training camp but has responded well when he’s been out on the field.
Rookie Jon Runyan also done a good job of filling in at guard during the first two games when injuries hit the team mid-game. Runyan more than held his own out there in the 23 snaps he played on offense and has also been part of the Packers special teams units in the first four games.
Overall, the Packers offensive line has done a great job in the first four games this season and it’s a big reason the Pack is off to a record pace on offense this season. Most of the time, you don’t hear about offensive linemen unless they make a mistake, but this unit has gotten the job done very well and deserves the glory that goes along with the offense’s outstanding play as much as Rodgers, Adams or Jones.
If the Packers offensive line continues to play well this season, the Pack should remain a contender all season.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
Click here for more great Packers coverage
Visit my Web site for all things Gil Martin