During the Matt LaFleur era, the Green Bay Packers have had the best offensive line in the league. However, injuries and two key losses may cause this unit to take a step back.
How Good Will the Packers Line be in 2022?
Heading into the 2021 season, spirits were high regarding the Packers' offensive line. They spent 2019 and 2020 sitting atop ESPN's Pass Block Win Rate (PBWR) and Run Block Win Rate (RBWR) rankings. David Bakhtiari was expected to return at some point during the season, and they'd continue to wear the crown of best o-line in the NFL.
Now, heading into the 2022 season, we still don't know Bakhtiari's injury status, and we've lost two key pieces from last season - Lucas Patrick and Billy Turner. In addition, the Packers do everything swingman, Elgton Jenkins, is also returning from a torn ACL. That's a lot more questions to answer this season than last season.
The Packers' offensive line had seen a bit of a drop in every category across the board from 2020 to 2021. Their Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt (NYA/A, which takes yards lost due to sacks into consideration) dropped from 8.9 to 8, sacks jumped from 21 to 33, and Sack Percentage rose from 3.8% to 5.3% in 2021. So a little bit worse everywhere, and the Packers gave up 12 more sacks. Not good, and we can expect it to be worse in the 2022 season if Jenkins and Bakhtiari don't bounce back from serious knee injuries.
There is a silver lining to all this - despite all the injuries experienced last season, the Packers still finished fifth in ESPN's PBWR and fourth in RBWR. Clearly, the Packers' offensive line coach, Luke Butkus, and offensive coordinator, Adam Stenavich, can handle any issues thrown at them. Green Bay develops linemen as well as any team in the league, and they always throw at least some late-round draft capital at the offensive line.
The Packers could get off to a rocky start if they have to fill both the tackle spots in 2022 for any amount of time. But if only Bakhtiari is still out, then Yosh Nijman can fill in admirably at right or left tackle. In addition, I expect all three interior guys, Jon Runyan, Josh Myers, and Royce Newman, to make a decent leap forward with a whole offseason to gel together.
The Packers' coaching staff has proved they can make a cohesive unit while juggling injuries midseason, an entire offseason should work wonders for Green Bay's o-line. As a result, the Packers' offensive line will end 2022 better than they ended 2021, even if there are some questions heading into the season.