Green Bay Packers: Additions of Ervin & Veldheer have Huge Impacts

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 12: Tyler Ervin #32 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the ball during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 12, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 12: Tyler Ervin #32 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the ball during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 12, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The mid-season additions of Tyler Ervin and Jared Veldheer have provided the Green Bay Packers with two huge boosts when they really needed it.

Just as everyone predicted over the summer – I kid – the Green Bay Packers will be playing in the NFC Championship game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Along with finishing 13-3 during the regular season, this is a point that very few expected them to be at, and a big reason for their success is because of the additions made to this roster.

In recent years this was a Packers’ squad that was void of talent at key positions, but GM Brian Gutekunst began quickly overhauling this roster in the offseason and the results speak for themselves.

When thinking of Green Bay’s key additions this season, naturally, it is Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, and Elgton Jenkins who probably come to mind first. And as they should.

However, while those players, and others, have certainly played huge roles in the turn around of this Packers team, it was two inconspicuous mid-season signings that have given this team an unexpected boost.

Of course, I’m talking about Tyler Ervin and Jared Veldheer.

Tyler Ervin provides spark to special teams and offense

Before Ervin’s arrival to Titletown, this wasn’t just a bad punt return team in Green Bay, but they were on a historically bad pace having totaled -8 return yards through the first 13 weeks of the season. I don’t feel the need to go into much detail on those issues since the “-8” total really says it all and while we are at it, their kick return team was nothing to write home about either.

But right off the bat, Ervin was the catalyst in turning those units around. During his debut against the Washington Redskins, he would total 51 punt return yards at 12.8 yards per return. And I assume most Packer fans were in as much shock as I was given that I didn’t remember what a good punt return even looked like.

Overall, Ervin is averaging 9.6 yards per punt return as a Packer, which would rank as the fourth best in the NFL if he had enough attempts. And not to be forgotten, he also has a kick return average of 26.7 yards. What was once a serious liability for the Green Bay Packers, is now a borderline weapon, thanks to Ervin.

Although initially his primary duties consisted of being the return man, in the last three games Ervin has become a bigger factor in the offense as well.

Since the Minnesota game, he has two receptions for 11 yards and could very well have a touchdown to his name off of a sluggo route against Detroit had he not been overthrown. Not to mention that he also has 35 rushing yards on just three carries and in the divisional round, it looked like he was about to break a big one before being tripped up.

In the NFC Championship game, not only do the San Francisco 49ers have to worry about Ervin as a return man, but they also have to prep for him as an offensive weapon under Matt LaFleur.

Jared Veldheer off the bench, potentially saves season

The tackle position is one of the premier positions in the NFL and the Green Bay Packers have been fortunate to have had two of the best protecting Aaron Rodgers for a number of years now.

We all know the caliber of player that David Bakhtiari is and Bryan Bulaga is very good in his own right as well, however, we also know that he is likely going to miss some time each season. And while Alex Light has grown during his time in the NFL, he still isn’t ready to be full-time starter as we’ve seen this season.

Light has had 97 pass-blocking attempts in 2019, most of  which occurred against Philadelphia and San Francisco when filling in for Bulaga, and he would allow 10 pressures in his limited opportunities. That certainly won’t get it done against very good defensive fronts like the Eagles and Niners have.

So it’s no coincidence that just a few days after the 49ers game, the Green Bay Packers claimed Jared Velheer off waivers. Veldheer had previously been retired after having been in the league since 2010 and in his short time with the Packers, he has already made a huge impact.

In Week 17 against Detroit with a first-round bye on the line, Veldheer had to come in for Bulaga who left with a concussion. Then just this past Sunday against Seattle, with Bulaga fighting the flu, Veldheer got his first start as a Packer and did not disappoint.

Over those two games with 58 pass-blocking attempts, Veldheer hasn’t allowed a single sack, quarterback hit, a hurry, or been flagged. Quite impressive given that he was retired about six weeks ago.

In fact, I’ll even say that I’m not sure the Packers are in their current position without Veldheer. Would Light have played well enough to allow them to comeback and secure the bye in Detroit? Could he have handled Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of the Seattle pass-rush? I’m not certain that he could have and who knows how that would have impacted those games?

Next. Initial Thoughts on NFC Championship Game. dark

Fortunately, we won’t ever have to find out the answer to those questions but one thing I do know, is that both Tyler Ervin and Jared Veldheer have provided huge boosts this season and their impacts will not go unnoticed. And on that same note, once again, well done Brian Gutekunst.