5 Possible offensive line combos for the Packers vs. Washington

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 11: Yosh Nijman #73 of the Green Bay Packers competes against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Packers 23-7. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 11: Yosh Nijman #73 of the Green Bay Packers competes against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Packers 23-7. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

Much of the talk this week has been centered around how this Green Bay Packers offense can improve. While Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers are certainly going to play key roles in that, I’m not sure it matters what they do if the offensive line continues to struggle.

The Packers’ offensive line is coming off a horrid performance against the New York Jets, where Rodgers was pressured 20 times and averaged just 4.7 yards per pass, with the run game averaging only 3.0 yards per rush. LaFleur called that performance the worst from an offensive line unit since he took over as head coach.

Unfortunately, things aren’t going to get any easier for the Packers in the trenches, as they again face one of the best teams in the NFL at getting after the quarterback in the Washington Commanders. Entering Week 7, Washington ranks third in pressure rate and sixth in sacks.

When it comes to addressing the Packers’ offensive line struggles, LaFleur mentioned after the Jets game that everything is on the table. Green Bay also can’t start worrying about what the opponent is going to do until they know that they can execute their own game plan.

So with possible changes coming up front for the Packers, let’s empty the cupboard and look at five possible combinations for Sunday’s game.

David Bakhtiari – Jon Runyan – Josh Myers – Royce Newman – Elgton Jenkins

Given how this combination performed this past Sunday, I’m not sure how the Packers could go into this upcoming game against Washington without making a change. Although their performance against New York was the worst of the year, the Green Bay offensive line, particularly the right side, has struggled all season long.

Royce Newman has not only been bullied at right guard, but he has looked lost at times as well, missing blocks, sliding the wrong way, and miscommunicating. Newman has allowed the fifth most pressures among guards this season per PFF ($$). Jenkins, meanwhile, hasn’t fared all that well at right tackle either. Whether he’s still working his way back into form, the move to the right side hasn’t been as smooth as hoped, or both, he has allowed 12 pressures already and been called for several penalties.

I’m not sure if the other configurations will yield better results, but the Packers have to try something.

David Bakhtiari – Jon Runyan – Josh Myers – Elgton Jenkins – Yosh Nijman

It’s important to note that with Bakhtiari basically playing the entire game this past week, it gives Green Bay the needed flexibility to move Nijman to the right side.

Given his experience at left tackle, Nijman would be the Packers’ next-best option to take over at right tackle. His play this season compared to a season ago has elevated, as he is yet to allow a sack along with just five pressures. Nijman attributes his recent play to his added confidence.

With that said, moving from one side of the offensive line to another is not as simple as plugging a guy in like it’s Madden. If that were the case, I imagine the Packers would have made this move a few weeks ago. However, as former Packers Josh Sitton put it, switching sides on the offensive line is like using the bathroom but with the opposite hand. However, as they did in 2021, the Packers could use tight-end chips to provide Nijman with some help if needed.

As far as Jenkins goes, he has only one NFL snap at right guard, so this still may not be his best position as he, too, navigates a different side of the offensive line. But when it comes to trusting him or Runyan to handle a new position, I’d choose Jenkins.

If the Packers do make the switch, I would guess that this is the most likely option.

David Bakhtiari – Elgton Jenkins – Josh Myers – Jon Runyan – Yosh Nijman

If the Packers go this route, they are looking to solidify the left side of the offensive line as potentially one of the best in football. Bakhtiari looked very good against the Jets while also playing for essentially the entire game. Jenkins, meanwhile, has showcased All-Pro potential at left guard.

The right side could still very much be a weakness in this scenario, as Nijman and Runyan both navigate moves to the opposite side of the offensive line. Even going back to Runyan’s days at Michigan, he rarely lined up at right tackle or right guard.

David Bakhtiari – Jon Runyan – Josh Myers – Elgton Jenkins – Zach Tom

Well, LaFleur did say “everything” was on the table, so we might as well cover all our bases, right? I don’t see a world where the Packers choose Tom over Nijman, but if they are looking for someone perhaps more familiar with right tackle, Tom did spend a good portion of the summer lined up there.

However, the Packers have shown in recent years that they very much prefer experience. Last season’s playoff loss to San Francisco is a prime example of this when Matt LaFleur decided to start Billy Turner at left tackle over Nijman, despite Turner spending most of his career on the right side. On top of that, the Packers under Brian Gutekunst have shown that they prefer to bring rookies along slowly if they have the opportunity to do so.

David Bakhtiari – Zach Tom – Josh Myers – Jon Runyan – Elgton Jenkins

Again, I don’t see this configuration happening, but during training camp, there were reps where the Packers put Tom at left guard instead of Runyan. Perhaps they feel that is where he is at his best. However, Runyan is still thrust into a new position, while Jenkins would still be at right tackle where he has struggled.