It’s only been one game, but in the Green Bay Packers’ Week 1 matchup, we saw exactly why Matt LaFleur had to have Josiah Deguara.
“I love Josiah,” is what Green Bay Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur told reporters back in April right after the NFL Draft had concluded.
While many fans and draft analysts were left scratching their heads, wondering why the Packers would take an H-back in Round 3, we would later learn that LaFleur had had his eyes on Josiah Deguara since the beginning of Green Bay’s 2019 season. Even showing the team a film clip of Degura’s hustle as he ran 50+ yards downfield after an interception to make a touchdown-saving tackle.
But in addition to the grit, Deguara gives this offense a skill-set that they didn’t have in 2019, and it’s a rather important one to the LaFleur offense as he fills the Kyle Juszczyk-like role as the H-back.
For those unfamiliar with San Francisco’s Kyle Juszczyk, he does a little bit of everything for that Niners’ offense, wearing many hats, and transitioning from one role to the next with relative ease. While I’m not declaring that Deguara will be as good as Juszczyk – although hopefully, he is – his versatility can bring a similar element to the Packer offense.
At Cincinnati, Deguara was a very good blocker, especially against the run. In the passing game, he was a reliable target, and while he isn’t going to blow anyone away in the passing game, he is also a well-polished route runner. So to put it simply, he can block, he can be a receiving threat, and he can line up anywhere; backfield, inline, slot, out wide, it doesn’t matter.
This is the type of player that LaFleur covets as Deguara helps create the “illusion of complexity” that LaFleur often refers to. Meaning, the offense can run the same concepts but in a variety of ways. So the play may look similar to something that the defense saw earlier in the game, but in fact, it’s different.
Now, I’m guessing that Deguara was not on the radar of many Packer fans entering the draft, I’m not going to pretend that he was on mine. But while many clamored that this team needed more weapons, in this LaFleur offense with his size, speed, athleticism, and muscle, Deguara is a weapon as he’s able to create opportunities for himself and his teammates while giving this Packers’ offense that element of unpredictability.
And although it’s been a very small sample size – just one game – we’ve already seen why LaFleur had to have him.
In 24 offensive snaps against Minnesota, we saw Deguara’s versatility on display as he was lined up in the backfield for 16 plays, in the slot for three, and inline for five. While blocks don’t show up on the stat sheet, Deguara had a heck of a debut in that regard.
As Ben Fennell of The Athletic (subscription required) points out, LaFleur set Deguara up for success by giving him blocking assignments in space where his athleticism and strength can take over. And yes, it’s a very small sample size, especially with missing Week 2, but Deguara’s run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required) of 79.1 is the seventh-best among all tight ends this season.
In the passing game, once again, the stat sheet doesn’t tell the whole story. Deguara was targeted twice with one reception for 12 yards, but as Ben also points out, LaFleur designed several opportunities to get Deguara the ball in space where he can create after the catch as well as downfield.
Much like Aaron Jones at the running back position, this offense is tailormade for Josiah Deguara, and he is going to be a key player in it for the foreseeable future. Once again, yes, he’s only played one game in his NFL career, but this game showed exactly why LaFleur wanted him in this Green Bay Packers’ offense.
It won’t be long, and maybe it’s already happened, but everyone in Packer Nation is going to love Josiah.