Packers Face Tough Choices Once Bakhtiari Returns to the Lineup

The Green Bay Packers officially activated All Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari from the PUP list this week. The team is still not sure when Bakhtiari will return to game action. He is presently listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks at Lambeau Field. But once number 69 is back at left tackle, the coaching staff has important decisions to make about the offensive line.

The Packers have a very versatile group of offensive linemen on their roster. Elgton Jenkins can play all five positions along the line. Billy Turner can play anywhere but at center. Lucas Patrick can play center or either guard position while Ben Braden can play either tackle or guard.

The versatility gives the team multiple options as far as which five players should be in the starting lineup and where they should play.

The one position that would be set in stone once Bakhtiari returns is left tackle. Bakhtiari will start there once he’s healthy enough to play. After that, it gets a little more complicated.

The biggest issue is where do they play Elgton Jenkins. He’s done a good job at left tackle but where do the Packers move him now? They can put him back at left guard which would give the team one of the best left sides of an offensive line in the league if not the best. However, they can also move Jenkins to center until Josh Myers returns to the lineup from his knee injury. Or they can move Jenkins to right tackle and move Turner to right guard. That may allow the Packers to put their best five offensive linemen on the field at once although Turner plays tackle better than guard.

If they keep Turner at right tackle and return Jenkins to left guard, the team still will have to choose who would start at right guard. Rookie Royce Newman has started there since Week 1 but he’s been very inconsistent. After a decent start, the former University of Mississippi star’s play has fallen off in recent weeks and he has struggled especially against stunts and on blitz pickups. Do they continue to start Newman there because of his potential upside or do they bench him for now and allow him to learn a bit from the sidelines?

If Newman stays at right guard, the Packers will have to sit Jon Runyan, Jr. who has been starting at left guard since Week 2. Runyan has graded out higher than Newman and the second-year man out of Michigan has been more consistent over the course of the season. Of course, the Pack could also move Runyan to right guard and sit Newman, but would Runyan be as effective on the right side where he would have to do everything almost like a mirror image of the way he’s been doing it all season?

Entering Week 10, Runyan is ranked in the top half of all graded guards according to Pro Football Focus while Newman is near the bottom of the rankings.

If Jenkins isn’t moved to center, the most likely scenario would be having Patrick continue to play there until Myers returns from his knee injury. Patrick has done a solid job overall at the position. The team has yet to announce how far away Myers is from being ready to play again. Myers is currently grading out slightly better than Patrick at center according to PFF.

Head coach Matt LaFleur and offensive line coach Adam Stenavich have some tough decisions to make. If they try to send out the best five overall players, they could force some of them to play out of position or on a different side of the field than they have been accustomed to. If they don’t start their top five, they may not be maximizing the talent on the field.

Here is the most likely lineup once Bakhtiari returns:

LT David Bakhtiari

LG Elgton Jenkins

C Lucas Patrick

RG Jon Runyan Jr.

RT Billy Turner

This lineup allows for the most continuity overall with the only change being Runyan switching to the right side at guard.

Another alternative would be this:

LT David Bakhtiari

LG Jon Runyan Jr.

C Lucas Patrick

RG Billy Turner

RT Elgton Jenkins

This puts the two best linemen at tackle, which is considered a premium position, but has Jenkins and Turner not playing at their best positions on the field.

The third alternative is:

LT David Bakhtiari

LG Jon Runyan Jr

C Elgton Jenkins

RG Royce Newman

RT Billy Turner

This lineup has Jenkins in the middle to help solidify the struggling Newman.

There are several other variations that are possible and additional injuries could complicate things even more, but the ultimate decision may go a long way towards determining how effective the Packers offense is in the second half of the season and in the postseason.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

NFL Categories: 
5 points

Comments (26)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
dobber's picture

November 13, 2021 at 12:30 pm

"Head coach Matt LaFleur and offensive line coach Adam Stenavich have some tough decisions to make. "

I don't believe for a second that the Packers don't already know what they're going to do when Bakh is ready to play. That's assuming at least the status quo regarding availability.

10 points
10
0
GilMartin's picture

November 13, 2021 at 12:54 pm

I agree, Dobber, they know what they're going to do, barring injury, as you said. But what do you think that should be?

0 points
0
0
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

November 16, 2021 at 07:16 am

The Packers offensive line has four obvious weak points and three of the four will be resolved leading into the Viking game as long as Bakhtiari starts. They have four areas they can improve their offensive line and the two most obvious weak points are Newman and Patrick.

After watching Jenkins against KC he is definitely not Bakhtiari at LT. By simply having Bakhtiari return at LT it strengthens one position. Moving Jenkins back to LG strengthens the 2nd position. Moving Runyan to RG strengthens the 3rd position. The fourth position that can be improved will be at center once Myers returns. Therefore, this week against the Vikings should Bakhtiari return 3 of the 4 positions can be immediately improved. In fact, if Bakhtiari worked out as hard as it has been suggested he should be bigger, stronger, and quicker than ever before as he has had nearly 11-months post-injury to focus on rehab and strengthening.

With the improved offensive line Dillon should have 20+ carries with the Packers playing a lot of smash mouth football on Sunday.

0 points
0
0
splitpea1's picture

November 13, 2021 at 12:32 pm

The first one is the best one; it keeps Jenkins where's he best suited, and it keeps Newman out of there--"potential upside" can wait as we don't need our QB getting hammered from the interior, right? And running behind Jenkins gives our backs a better chance to succeed.

5 points
6
1
dobber's picture

November 13, 2021 at 12:41 pm

I'm no OL coach, but my marginally-educated eye says the best 5 are Bakh, Runyan, Jenkins, Patrick, and Turner and that Patrick is a better guard than C. Until they get Myers back, it's my guess that's how they'll line up. I also keep buying lottery tickets...so take that all with a grain of salt.

...also just heard that Robert Woods of the Rams tore his ACL in practice this week, which might explain why OBJ landed in LA. Not sure how the timing of all that fits together, but it makes a tidy narrative.

7 points
7
0
GilMartin's picture

November 13, 2021 at 01:15 pm

Certainly the injury would inspire LA to offer OBJ more because the need was greater. Glad the Packers didn't sign him just the same. Thanks dobber.

0 points
0
0
marpag1's picture

November 13, 2021 at 02:49 pm

...also just heard that Robert Woods of the Rams tore his ACL in practice

On the same day that they signed OBJ. If I wanted to be snarky I might say, "Ah, you see what happens to your team when you sign this guy?" But of course I wouldn't say that, would I? ;)

3 points
3
0
Coldworld's picture

November 13, 2021 at 11:50 pm

I believe it was the day after

0 points
0
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 14, 2021 at 03:24 am

Agreed: Bakh, Runyan, Jenkins, Patrick, Turner.

Jenkins has really improved his play to a near-elite level at LT. Jenkins was never more than a good LG. I am not sure if his improvement is due to the position or just maturation as an NFL player. It may be that he is an elite RT and/or every other position. IDK.

Runyan and Turner are playing well so I wouldn't want to mess with either of them, particularly not with Runyan, since he is only in year two.

3 points
3
0
GilMartin's picture

November 13, 2021 at 01:02 pm

Sounds good to me, splitpea1. Thanks as always for commenting.

0 points
0
0
Coldworld's picture

November 13, 2021 at 12:40 pm

The more that I think about it the less sense moving Jenkins to RT and Turner to guard makes. Turner has been good at T, he’s better there than as a G. Jenkins should move to the position with the highest net improvement. For me that’s C of left guard. Personally, I’d go LG: anchor the left side and make the reinsertion of Meyers less disruptive.

For all the love given to Runyon, Newman has distracted from his own errors. Playing C (whomever) has bern tough with those two misreading. Jenkins would give the C one side that he can rely on. Personally, when Meyers comes back, I’d shift Patrick back to RG at this point.

2 points
5
3
GilMartin's picture

November 13, 2021 at 01:04 pm

Interesting Coldworld. I agree I wouldn't move Jenkins to RT, I think Turner is a better tackle than guard. Not sure about Patrick to RG, but it's a possibility. So many choices with all these players who can play multiple positions well. Thanks for the comment.

0 points
0
0
dobber's picture

November 13, 2021 at 03:44 pm

"So many choices with all these players who can play multiple positions well."

Where were they last Sunday?

1 points
1
0
CWolf's picture

November 14, 2021 at 08:41 am

Bakhtiari on PUP, Myers on IR. Are you blaming them?

-1 points
0
1
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

November 16, 2021 at 07:53 am

With Bakhtiari back Jenkins slides into LG pushing Runyan over to RG.

Once Jenkins is re-signed for next year he will be our starting RT as Turner will not be re-signed. At that point, Newman, Runyan, and Patrick if re-signed will fight it out for the two guard positions.

0 points
0
0
Ferrari-Driver's picture

November 13, 2021 at 12:52 pm

Gil, I liked your rundown, but the title "The Packers have hard choices" seems to be a misnomer to me. I think it's great that the team has the versatility and depth to have several options and still field one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

7 points
7
0
GilMartin's picture

November 13, 2021 at 01:05 pm

I understand where you're coming from, Ferrari-Driver. What would your starting five be? Lots of choices because of the versatility. Always good to hear from you, thanks for commenting.

0 points
0
0
PatrickGB's picture

November 13, 2021 at 01:02 pm

Currently the reported weak links on the line are Newman and Patrick. But Patrick plays center. That leaves Newman as the weakest link and Jenkins can play his spot (and any other) and take care of that position. If the team really means that they want the best five out there then that’s the best choice. If Myers comes back then I see Patrick next to the bench and the team plays the same players on the line like they started the season with.

0 points
0
0
GilMartin's picture

November 13, 2021 at 01:07 pm

That makes sense, PatrickGB. You're moving Jenkins to RG then and keeping Runyan at LG. Interesting. Thanks for the comment.

0 points
0
0
Kevin Carpenter's picture

November 13, 2021 at 02:16 pm

If you think there is even a remote possibility that Newman remains on the field, you are mistaken.

1 points
2
1
Vforrest's picture

November 13, 2021 at 03:06 pm

I think they’ve seen enough of him to know…time to sit.

1 points
1
0
marpag1's picture

November 13, 2021 at 02:35 pm

L to R: Bakh, Runyon, Jenkins, Patrick, Turner.

When Myers comes back: Bakh, Jenkins, Myers, Patrick, Turner.

No way would I move Jenkins to RT. It's not that I have doubts about Jenkins, it's that Turner might very well be playing his best football ever, and I don't want to mess with that. Just let Turner be.

This little decision will be nothing compared to the decision that Packers need to make when it comes time to PAY Elgton Jenkins...

7 points
7
0
Leatherhead's picture

November 13, 2021 at 03:05 pm

This is how you build an offensive line.

In a passing league with multimillionaire QBs, you protect his backside with your best guy. That’s Bakhtiari.
Then , you put your next best guy at center, because he handles the ball on every play, calls out blocking assignments, and helps the guards. That’s Jenkins..
Your next best tackle plays RT. That’s Turner.
The best interior guy goes to LG. At the moment, that’s Runyon. If Myers returns, he’ll play center and Jenkins will return to LG
RG is least important . Patrick has started there in two championship games

Based on what I saw from Nijman and Newman, I’d rather have played Nijman at LT and put Newman on the bench a little so his head stops spinning

2 points
4
2
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

November 16, 2021 at 07:50 am

Many wanted Patrick gone this year! Think about his value and what he has provided the team this year. He is simply an average OL but boy has he filled in and helped the team out. What I will say is the Packers have four very good young OL in Runyan, Newman, Jenkins, and Myers. Plus, they have a serviceable interior player in Patrick. All who will only get better and by next year Runyan, Newman, and Myers will be considerably better with a years experience under their belt. All of them are on rookie salaries and cheap. I'd suggest re-signing Patrick and Nijman as quality back-up offensive lineman.

With the cap issues next year a number of Packer players will not be re-signed that should from a talent perspective. I do not know how you would not sign Jenkins. If the team can only keep either Bakhtiari or Jenkins in hindsight it should have been Jenkins. With age, talent, being able to play all positions, and not having a significant injury Jenkins has more value and upside long-term to the team. I'm confidant they will figure figure out a way to sign Jenkins next year but it will be as the teams RT. With the resigning of Jenkins and hopefully Patrick and Nijman Turner will be gone next year. Therefore, the only real question about next years offensive line is who is going to play RT? With the plethora of talented young interior offensive lineman already on the team and a lack of capable players available to play RT I believe it is almost certainty Jenkins will become the teams long-term RT. I do not believe either Nijman, or Cole Van Lanen can provide the starting talent the team needs at RT. Dennis Kelley has been a huge failure, so I do not see him back. Nijman and Van Lanen need more experience and will serve as back-ups assuming they can resign Nijman. Subsequently, my best guess is if they can re-sign Jenkins they will need to pay him Tackle money, which will at RT. The team cannot afford investing a high draft choice on an offensive lineman next year. Barring an ARod and Adams trade and with the likelihood the Smith Brothers, and King are gone they need to invest high draft choices at LB, DL, CB, and WR. With Rodgers being traded the Packers will need another QB as well whether through trade or in draft.

0 points
0
0
Duneslick's picture

November 13, 2021 at 05:00 pm

Nice position to be in. I can remember when there weren't as many good choices as this.

0 points
0
0
wildbill's picture

November 14, 2021 at 11:23 am

Everybody seems upset by our offensive line’s poor showing last game. I think it showed that they were not afraid of our QB. Any line can get overwhelmed in a game. I remember a game in 1962 in which probably the best Lombardi team, and Packers best offensive line, were manhandled and totally dominated. Don’t just look at the final score as we scored two late TDS. RELAX….

1 points
1
0