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Packers Need Lane Taylor and Corey Linsley to Take Big Steps Forward

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Packers Need Lane Taylor and Corey Linsley to Take Big Steps Forward

There is no question that the Green Bay Packers are undergoing some changes on their offensive line as three of the top six players at the start of the 2016 training camp, are no longer on the roster.

The departures of Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, as well as J.C. Tretter have been well documented. But the big question is have the Packers done enough to replace them?

After turning in a solid first season as a starter, it seems that Lane Taylor is at least adequate at left guard. And with Lang now gone, suddenly, he becomes the best guard left on the roster.

Who would have thought that a year ago at this time?

Certainly, Green Bay is hoping Jahri Evans presence will smooth things over at right guard. He’s a veteran that actually played decently last season for the Saints. If he can stay healthy, he can at least get in the way.

But the real key to success for the Packers offensive line, in my opinion, is the continued development of Corey Linsley and Taylor.

Green Bay is set at tackle. There are two good starters and some solid backups with potential. But the interior offensive line, has many more question marks.

Linsley started 16 games as a rookie in 2014 and burst on the scene. Then, followed it up with 13 starts in 2015 and nine last season. Last season, again, he did a good job, but he wasn’t as reliable as he once was. He got beat more often and wasn't the rock-solid run blocker he used to be. 

However, I have no doubt, if healthy, he will lock down the starting center job once and for all next season. It's what needs to happen. His contract is set to expire and if he can play at at least an above average level, it could hide some things at right guard.

Same with Taylor. If he takes a step back, that creates another problem. Sometimes players keep ascending, sometimes they fall backwards. With Taylor, it’s hard to say. Last year, he was the weak link, now he is being counted on to be one of the strengths inside. That's a big jump -- backup -- to key starter in one year. 

I can’t see him being a Pro Bowler, but I think he could be a solid starter for years to come. Hopefully, he can be as consistent as he was a year ago, while also improving his pass blocking.

The point though is this, if Taylor and Linsley both play well next season, Green Bay will have a solid player at two of three interior spots. With two solid tackles, the Packers should be able to effectively hide an average or below average interior player.

Obviously, it will be great if Evans wins the job and turns in a solid year. Green Bay can then try to find a long-term solution next offseason. But, even if Evans or whoever starts at right guard isn’t great or even good, as long as all the guys around him are, Green Bay should be able to manage.

And if that’s the case, the offensive line as a whole, shouldn’t be a problem in 2017.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Somedumbname's picture

I have confidence in our starting o line. I think Linsley will continue to improve and think he will do just fine if healthy. I just hope he can stay healthy.

dobber's picture

Bingo. Right now this OL is one injury away from "Don Barclay -- Starting C".

That should scare us.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

It does. A lot.

Chris Peterson's picture

Yea dude that freaks me out. He is a sack waiting to happen. Honestly, I thought it was a mistake to bring him back. I don't think he is an NFL caliber player. I think he should be cut from the roster and out of the league. That's my honest opinion.

CJ Bauckham's picture

Out of the league? Nah. Slap a bow on him and ship him to da Bears

DThomas's picture

Not much substance in this article. No idea what Chris is talking about regarding Linsley not being reliable last season once he returned. "I have no doubt he will lock down the starting center job once and for all next season." Yeah, since they let Tetter walk and he's the only starting-quality OC on the roster I'm pretty sure he'll be starting.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I didn't see any performance concerns about Linsley in this article--just Taylor.

The only real concern with Linsley is health.

DesertPackFan's picture

I don't see any real performance issues w/ Taylor either, to be honest. He preformed very well last year didn't he? He wasn't all pro or Sitton, but he was a starting quality OG.

I think w/ Bahktiare and Bulaga at OT, Taylor and Evans at OG and Linsley at C, the Packers have a quality OL. One of the better OL in the NFL.

The issues aren't w/ Taylor or Linsley, its with the quality of depth behind the starters. They need to uncover a versatile OL who can play decent at any position, a la Tretter. And they need to develop an OG to take over for Evans next season.

Otherwise the OL is in really good shape. Its just the depth they should have any concerns about.

dobber's picture

"The point though is this, if Taylor and Linsley both play well next season, Green Bay will have a solid player at two of three interior spots. With two solid tackles, the Packers should be able to effectively hide an average or below average interior player."

The fear is that--with Lang on the right side--this is how they hid Taylor last year. If Evans and Taylor are both sub-replacement level players in 2017? You can run, but you can't hide.

slit's picture

The article should read - "Packers need Lane Taylor and Corey Linsley to stay healthy". Linsley is already a good player, & Taylor surprised most last year. If both can maintain their level of play, & stay on the field, the Packers should be in good shape. If there are multiple injuries on the Oline, Rodgers better put those running shoes on.

MarkinMadison's picture

I think the article undervalues the Evans signing. He may not be the same player he was five years ago, but there is no real reason to think he won't be better than Lane Taylor was last year. And Taylor wasn't bad.

As far as a solution for next year goes, this is a team that has done extremely well developing offensive linemen from the bottom of the draft. I used to argue that you had to use a first rounder to get a quality LT prospect. Then Bakhtiari killed that notion. Amichia and Pankey are both well regarded prospects. Either could develop for the 2018 season. Let Campen do his thing.

Chris Peterson's picture

I agree with you. I think Evans is going to be solid. I am just worried about health and things like that. But if he is healthy, I think he will be a solid 16-game starter. He can at least pass protect ok and that's the biggest thing. I do trust in the coaching staff for development and we will see what happens. I just meant if they have four quality players, RG will be less of a concern.

Since '61's picture

I don't think that either Linsley or Taylor need to take big steps. They just need to play consistently, like they did last season. They both played well enough to get the job done. The Packers were 8-0 with 2 playoff wins with both of them starting. As for Linsley nailing down the starting center position, hasn't he been the starting center since 2014? Yes he has missed some games with injuries but he is still the starter. Is there a concern that Barclay could beat him out? I don't think so. It seems like we are creating OL problems that we don't have. Let's hope it stays that way and everyone remains healthy. Not sure what the point of this article was. Thanks, Since '61

Worztik's picture

Well said Since'61... it was just putting down the thoughts he was having at that moment in time. I don't think any of us give enough credit to those MEN that play center! Think about making line calls and protections, remembering the snap count, audibles, blitzes and providing a great exchange with the QB, while anticipating receiving a FOREARM SHIVER as soon as you move the ball! Just sayin' TK...

Chris Peterson's picture

I guess the point I was trying to make is that if Taylor and Linsley both take steps forward, not quite in the category of Lang or Sitton, but at least into the class of a pretty good starting player (right now I'd consider them both average), then the Packers wont have as much worry along the offensive line. I guess I didn't make it as clear as I should have lol. I just meant that it would be nice to four position they felt really, really good about in terms of having a long-term established starter. If all they need to do is find one guard, whether its for this year or for the next few years, I don't think that's a super tall order.

DesertPackFan's picture

I think they are both good starters. Better than decent IMO. The questions aren't with starters, its more about the depth. They need to find a versatile OL who can play any position and be decent, particularly inside at OG and C.

They also need to identify the starting OG for next year to replace Evans.

The starters are all good players on their own and even better as a group.

Bert's picture

Quality depth on the O'Line is a big concern, This is the NFL and we WILL have injuries. Our lack of proven quality depth in the interior of the line could be an issue if and when the injuries happen.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I have Linsley as a low red chip, that is, a red minus. I have Taylor as a low green player, not quite NFL average.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

To me its about one injury away from what could be a real mess. If they are all healthy I think they will do well, if not duck and toss.

Since '61's picture

I think that with the Jahri Evans signing we have solidified our Guard position. If there is a weak spot at this point it is at Center due to the loss of Tretter and Lang who could both backup at Center. It looks like our current backups for Linsley will be Barclay (Yikes!!!) and/or Amichia if he can learn the position in time. I am a little surprised that TT did not draft a Center or sign an FA center. Of course that could still happen when players are cut. I'm not aware if any of the UDFAs that he has signed are Centers or not. If yes, maybe he will be good enough to earn a roster spot or a spot on the PS. We'll see. None of this matters until we get to Week 1 and the roster is set. Thanks, Since '61

Chris Peterson's picture

Linsley was good last year I am just saying he got beat more in 2016. McGinn said that in his reports and I saw it with my eyes. I thought he was at a Pro Bowl level in 2014. Last year, Tretter was the starting center and would have been all year if he never had gotten hurt. And what I mean by locking down the job is GB thinking he is good enough to get a new deal. I think he has something to prove and I think Taylor does too. He was solid last year. But he wasn't Lang or Sitton. I think there is still a question about whether either player is a long term answer. I think we will find out this season. Hopefully they both are. They are both on that track, but we can't know for sure until they start playing football.

DesertPackFan's picture

When comparing any OG to Sitton and Lang (2 All Pro OG) almost any player will look solid at best. Lets compare them to the rest of the league. I have no concerns about either Taylor or Linsley. Both are starting quality OL on almost any NFL team.

Also Linsley would have been the starter all last year if it weren't for injury. Just like Tretter lost the starting job due to his injury opening the door for Linsley in the previous year, Linsley's injury opened the door for Tretter for much of last year.

The depth is what needs to be proven and finding a starter among Murphy, Amecia and Lukas Patrick, to replace Evans.

dobber's picture

"Tretter lost the starting job due to his injury opening the door for Linsley in the previous year, Linsley's injury opened the door for Tretter for much of last year."

The Packers will have Linsley's injury to thank for the quality of the compensatory pick they're getting for Tretter. That 8-week audition made him a lot of money and the Packers richer in terms of draft capital.

croatpackfan's picture

Hey, people, just read that Steelers cut tight end Ladarius Green and swallow 3.5 mil of dead money. I remeber some bad words for TT last year FA when lot of you argued that it would be better to sign Ladarius Green than Jared Cook. Now, experts I think Packers was lucky didn't they?

Nick Perry's picture

I was one who wanted the Packers to sign Green, just like I wanted to see them sign Trevathan or Barwin this year, it's called being a fan Croat. I don't think there's really anybody on here other than maybe a very few who actually believe they're an "Expert". I mean at the end of the day I don't have any illusions I could be a better GM than TT or ANY GM in the NFL. Well, maybe better than some of the GM's the Browns have hired! : )

croatpackfan's picture

I know, Nick. But it is not about wishes, it is about calling names. YOu and I were discussing issue before, and, as I remember Itold you than and I'm telling you now, it is not about you. It is about people who used the decission to call for change at GM place. I know that you have your reserves regarding TT, but I trust (from experience here) that you'll talk positive about any man from Packers (TT, MM, DC etc) when they do something obviously good.
OK, except when you think that subordinate runs the show and TT is just listening them (EW talked with TT and TT suddenly change his mind!?).
No hard feelings. This comment was about how little we know about players who are available and at what price and other conditions.
Maybe I am making mistake in my believe that TT wants the best for Packers. And he has all or most of necessary informations regarding players. When I see something I do not like, what happened I'm trying to find reason why he or somebody else do things as they did. Not just to claim that TT (or somebody else) is wrong.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

As an off the cuff notion, Croat, I'd bet that people who criticize TT are more likely to be small business owners or risk-takers in general like I am. I am not risk taker so much, but I am wired to think that I can "do it better than the other guy." I like to think that I am prudent about this attitude, but I am far more willing due to my temperament to criticize TT, or in my case, nitpick him, since I realize that I don't know as much as he does about football.

Nick Perry's picture

Understood Croat, no hard feelings at all. We'll all have differences of opinions from time to time and that's one of the things I enjoys the most and long as it's respectful in which case you always are.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Green failed his physical. He only played in 6 games for 140 snaps in 2016, but he was highly productive in those snaps with 18 reception s, 304 yards (73 yards less than Cook), and a whopping 16.9 yard average. His cap # was just $2.4M, so Pitt more or less got their money's worth in 2016. But they have to eat $3.5M in dead money, and that's a hit.

Had Green matched Cook's 341 snaps, Green would have produced 43 receptions for 742 yds compared to Cook's 30 recs and 377 yds. Green was over twice as productive as Cook. Ankle surgery landed Green on the PUP, and then a concussion ended his season.

His injury history was a concern, and those who wanted to pass on Green for that reason were correct. Pitt spent $6M total, and lost that bet. I've wanted a good TE for a while now, preferably one that can block AND catch passes. I can't find what I wrote about Green. I found this:
Thegreatreynoldo says: March 17, 2016 at 12:33 am(edit) I give TT a pass on Bennett as well. Intra-divisional trades are rare. Frankly, I do not think I would have pulled the trigger on giving up a 4th plus paying Bennett in return for Bennett and a 6th. I'd only sign Cook for cheap, maybe $3 million AAV.

croatpackfan's picture

"Obviously, it will be great if Evans wins the job and turns in a solid year. Green Bay can then try to find a long-term solution next offseason."

I prefer that, lets say, Kyle Murphy win the job for the RG and turns that to superb year. If that happened Packers have no needs to try to find a long term solution. They will already have it...

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

This ^^^^

Chris Peterson's picture

Dude you are right on there. Lol. Schooled me on that one. Can't disagree on that.

PatrickGB's picture

I too saw a dropoff from Lindsay. His shotgun snaps were short and he did not have the same drive off the snap. Perhaps due to injury and rust. Besides he had a new guy next to him.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

yes, having healthy hamstrings that you have confidence in probably helps with exploding after the snap. Got no answer for some of the funky shotgun snaps.

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