Will Packers’ Zach Tom Save Christmas?

He’s giving a holiday gift to fans

Admit it: If the Packers use a top 15 pick on an offensive lineman, it’ll be like your secret Santa re-gifting you his undies. 

Packers fans will gasp in dismay at general manager Brian Gutekunst for not drafting a bookend, high-flying, dynamic wide receiver to play opposite Christian Watson:

But rookie offensive tackle Zach Tom may be saving the holidays!

General manager Brian Gutekunst yesterday called Tom’s heroics filling in for injured All Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari really impressive.

Tom showed quick feet on the edge. In pass protection, he shuffled low to the ground so his man couldn’t get around him.

In short yardage, like the 3rd and 1 on the first possession, he got his pad level low and helped the Packers burrow for a first down. On multiple plays, Tom quickly got to the second level of the defense, pancaking linebackers.

He seemed to know when to pass of a defender to his help. Once, he even absorbed two pass rushers, keeping them both at bay with hand jabs and twinkle toes.

What Tom lacks in weight he gains in power by pumping his legs like pistons. Power comes from thighs, and his never stop until the whistle.

On a long run by AJ Dillon, Tom executed a beautiful combo block on the edge, quickly passing one defender on to his teammate before stoning the inside linebacker. On Watson’s touchdown catch, there was Tom pumping his pistons and securing what quarterback Aaron Rodgers called an ideal pocket.

Nobody is fitting Tom for his Hall of Fame jacket just yet. He was going less against the old "Monsters of the Midway" and more against the "Riders of the Bike Lane." He was matched against rookie defensive end Dominque Robinson, who has a paltry 47.5 rating from Pro Football Focus. When Robinson couldn’t get a whiff against Tom, the Bears tried veteran Al-Quadin Muhammad, who did zilch other than one bull rush that hurried Rodgers into an incompletion.

We'll see if Tom holds up against better pash rushers from the Dolphins and Vikings. 

But Tom should get partial credit for the deep pass interference play to Watson. It took time for the play to develop, and Tom set up a wall to Rodgers’ left to allow him to throw it.

On Dillon’s touchdown run to the left, Vince Lombardi himself would have adored the “seal here” Tom executed so Dillon could run the play “into the alley” –or really, into the outside alley to the left. Not only that, Tom followed Dillon into the end zone. He hustled through every play.

Yesterday, Gutekunst said he loved how Bakhtiari has performed when healthy, noted star left tackles “don’t grow on trees,” and sounded like a guy who isn’t ready to part with his luxury golf cart. In the past, Gutekunst has raved about offensive guard Elgton Jenkins, and stated he’d love to keep his gem of a draft pick around next year on a new deal. Whether the Packers can afford to keep both stud blockers is anyone’s guess but, at the very least, Tom gives them coverage in 2023 if they can’t.

And, he's helping keep them in the playoff hunt--at least for the moment--this season. 

Either way, the Packers may get Grinchy and pick an offensive lineman with their first rounder anyway. But, if they don’t, it may be at least in part because of the play of Tom.

Because, as Linus from Peanuts would say, “I never thought it was a bad little offensive line. Maybe it just needed a little Zach Tom.”

__________________________

Chris Hollenback worked for the Packers in 1998-1999, he has written for Packers.com and other media outlets, he's much shorter than Derrick Mayes and Brett Favre nicknamed him Chris "To-hell-en-back." Follow him on twitter at @CHollenback

9 points

Comments (29)

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

December 06, 2022 at 06:25 pm

Zach Tom has been one of our best 5 since the preseason. Why they had Tom and Nijman on the bench while playing the overmatched Royce Newman and Jake Hanson is still mind boggling. I question the competency of whoever is making the personnel decisions. There have been other obvious personnel mistakes.

16 points
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JohnnyLogan's picture

December 07, 2022 at 03:02 am

Prime example, Dean Lowry. How he plays ahead of Wyatt is an indictment of the coaching staff. Watch any game as the opposing team runs through or over him. What do the coaches say in the room when watching the game film?... "Nice job, Dean, you almost stayed on your feet on that one."

6 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

December 07, 2022 at 06:08 pm

Why play your One Pick? Slaton is also being suppressed.

2 points
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Gary Fritzmeier's picture

December 06, 2022 at 07:03 pm

Wouldn't it be nice to have another great left tackle. From Sitton to Bakhtiari to Tom!

3 points
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Curt's picture

December 06, 2022 at 07:59 pm

Josh Sitton was a guard - not tackle...

6 points
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Curt's picture

December 06, 2022 at 07:59 pm

Josh Sitton was a guard - not tackle...

3 points
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Curt's picture

December 06, 2022 at 07:59 pm

sorry - browser hung up and then posted all four comments - the same!

2 points
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Curt's picture

December 06, 2022 at 07:59 pm

Josh Sitton was a guard - not tackle...

3 points
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BirdDogUni's picture

December 06, 2022 at 10:18 pm

I heard you the first 4 times... ;P

2 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 07, 2022 at 07:32 am

what position did Josh Sitton play?

3 points
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BirdDogUni's picture

December 07, 2022 at 09:18 pm

LG almost exclusively. He did sub at RT and LT a few times, but he was a Guard for sure.

0 points
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PackyCheese500's picture

December 06, 2022 at 07:17 pm

I think OT Peter Skoronski is definitely a candidate for the Packers to pick. There is some debate over whether he would fit best at Tackle or Guard at the pro level. He is far and away the highest graded pass blocker in the nation, and his grandfather, Bob Skoronski, played as a Tackle for the Packers and won championships with them. It would be a nice story.

Leonard Floyd of the Rams should be a nice challenge for Tom. I definitely think that he could become the Packers' next great 4th round Left Tackle. It would benefit him to spend some time in the weight room this offseason, though. His 5-position versatility certainly helps.

11 points
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MooPack's picture

December 06, 2022 at 08:04 pm

I like Skoronski a lot, but not as a Tackle. He has really short arms at 32 1/2. Short arms aren’t a complete knock against a guy, but those are very short. Especially for a Tackle. Hard to keep the better pass rushers off your body unless you have very good technique. I think he’ll be a Guard. Still would be a good pick as he has definitely played very well. Just not worth a top 10 pick where he has of now been projected. IMO. He would make a great story for the Packers.

[edit] Zach Tom has 33 1/2 arms. Bryan Bulaga had 33 1/4 arms. Both just above the 33 threshold. Bulaga had a good career as RT, but could at times get bull rushed, especially later in his career. Going against longer armed strong Edge rushers gave him trouble. So Ski I’d put at Guard.

2 points
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BirdDogUni's picture

December 07, 2022 at 09:32 pm

I darn sure wouldn't draft Skoronski in the 1st round this year. In fact, if I were GM and Quentin Johnston were available when I was on the clock, I'd draft him to play opposite Christian Watson. He's going to be a beast too.

One of TT and Gutey's biggest mistakes was not having enough weapons for 4 & 12. I would not make the same mistake.

In fact, I'm hoping we have a good shot at a TE in the second round too. Can't wait till the combine to find out how fast they all run in shorts. ; )

Moot point though, because Gutey will draft an OLBer and Safety.

1 points
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dobber's picture

December 06, 2022 at 07:23 pm

"Yesterday, Gutekunst said he loved how Bakhtiari has performed when healthy, noted star left tackles “don’t grow on trees,” and sounded like a guy who isn’t ready to part with his luxury golf cart."

Also sounds like a guy establishing a price for a commodity he knows he's going to have to part with.

12 points
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Leatherhead's picture

December 07, 2022 at 05:45 pm

There is no point in talking down your own assets in public.

By my calculations, we trim $17 million by trading Bakhtiari. If the goal is 9 good vets on the offensive line, IMO , we’d be better off resigning Jenkins and Nijman. Myers, Runyan, Tom make a decent top 5, but we still need to add beef to this unit. We can’t rely on Rhyan, Newman, Walker , Jones and Hanson all getting better and staying healthy.

When you see an offensive line just pushing people around it’s pretty impressive.

0 points
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chanvova's picture

December 06, 2022 at 08:48 pm

he's much shorter than Derrick Mayes and Brett Favre nicknamed him Chris "To-hell-en-back."

1 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

December 06, 2022 at 09:12 pm

I became a fan of Tom after watching his college clips. What stood out for me was his quick feet and play intelligence. Yes, he is a little undersized and under- powered - but a good off-season in the weight room can help rectify these deficiencies. If so, then the Packers may have Bakh's replacement for 5+ years. Now, if he is half as mean as Lucy Van Pelt - we may have a truly special player.

5 points
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PackyCheese500's picture

December 06, 2022 at 09:38 pm

I agree. Love the Charlie Brown reference.

2 points
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Swisch's picture

December 06, 2022 at 09:17 pm

A nice article for me as a fan who misses things in the trenches during a game.
I appreciate the progress report on Zach Tom with some examples of his work.
It'll be fun see how the blocking goes in general for the rest of the season -- maybe it's starting to gel -- and how it helps the overall offense of the Packers.

5 points
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PackyCheese500's picture

December 07, 2022 at 06:45 am

Having strong lines (offensive and defensive) are some of the most important ways to win games.

4 points
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T7Steve's picture

December 07, 2022 at 07:42 am

In my opinion, it's the only way you win a game. At least if you don't check that box on O and D there's no reason to look further. Look how we got handled by the Titans and the Eagles. Can't make 3rd or 4th and 1 if your center is pushed back 2 yards after the snap. You can't stop 4th and 1 at the goal line if your D line (or any part of it) is pushed into the end zone.

"Let's see Mr. Barry, why don't we keep trying only 2 down linemen and see if it will start working?" It's like playing prevent as a base defense the whole game.

5 points
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Lphill's picture

December 07, 2022 at 05:34 am

I think tight end is a priority this coming draft first round especially is Mayer is there .

1 points
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BirdDogUni's picture

December 07, 2022 at 09:46 pm

I'm hoping he makes it to our 2nd round pick. Lots of teams have other needs than TE. I guess it depends on the pre-draft process and if he blows up the combine. If it's up to me, I take Quentin Johnston over Mayer 10 out of 10 times.

I'd rather take Darnell Washington in the 3rd... He's huge.

0 points
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barutanseijin's picture

December 07, 2022 at 05:45 am

I’d be happy if they used a high pick on genuine OL talent. The Packer OL has not been good enough vs teams like Seattle, SF & Tampa.

2 points
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T7Steve's picture

December 07, 2022 at 07:49 am

They have to get it set too. Need to be practicing and playing together. Doesn't seem to work to keep experimenting different lineups till week 5. I understand the injuries, but they had totally different lines than even we at CHTV could envision. I didn't see Tom as a tackle however, I'll give them that. There was someone here that had been calling it out though. I can't remember who.

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 07, 2022 at 07:39 am

Tom has ideal measurables for a CENTER, a position he played extensively in college.

I have seen enough of the Meyers experiment at center. Just name Tom the starting center for 2023 and lets begin to rebuild the wall that must protect Love going forward.

I like that Tom held up at LT, but this line needs a dominant, consistent CENTER, and Meyers has not been consistent enough. Hanson and Newman were terrible, but some of the jailbreak in the middle of the line can be placed on Meyers as well. The three IOL need to work as a team and it just isnt gelling with Meyers at C.

IT IS TIME!!!

0 points
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PatrickGB's picture

December 07, 2022 at 08:44 am

I agree about the measurables. It was my thoughts as well. Yet sometimes the player just has the ability regardless of their size. I wonder if the coaches even tried Myers at tackle? In any case the team needed a center when we drafted him.
Tom was drafted in the fourth round after Rhyan. And Rhyan has better measurables. Sometimes it’s just the player and not the size. Bahk looked like a TE when we drafted him.

1 points
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Fubared's picture

December 07, 2022 at 05:45 pm

The Bears are still in a rebuilding mode and that includes the coach learning for his own mistakes and he has made lots of them.
Yes he is seriously missing depth and talent on both sides the ball but their 11 picks and 100 mil to spend will help turn this team around fast.
The Packers are a level about this team and it shows. Next year, who knows. We still have Barry put this team in the basement for next season.

0 points
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