Packers Banged Up OL Faces Stout Rams Defensive Front

The Green Bay Packers banged up offensive line unit will face a very tough test this week against a dominant Rams' defensive front.

Of the Green Bay Packers preferred five starters along the offensive line, they will be without three of them on Sunday. Of course, David Bakhtiari is still sidelined, Elgton Jenkins is out for the season, and we do not know when Josh Myers will return.
 
This means the offensive line on Sunday will be made up of Yosh Nijman, Jon Runyan, Lucas Patrick, Royce Newman, and Billy Turner.
 
Nijman has held up fairly well in his four appearances, allowing two sacks and five pressures, according to PFF, although he certainly did receive some help from the Green Bay tight ends along the way. Nijman is capable, but he needs to be accounted for by LaFleur.
 
Runyan, Patrick, and Newman have all had solid performances this season -- certainly more good than bad -- but each has also taken their lumps as well, particularly Newman and Patrick. 
 
While PFF's grading system is far from the be-all-end-all, it can be helpful in illustrating how well -- or poorly -- a player has performed. At guard, Newman's overall grade ranks 81st out of 83 eligible players, and Patrick ranks 28th out of 40 eligible centers. 
 
“Every week you look at your opponent and who they have, what you’re going against, not only schematically but from a personnel perspective, as well,” LaFleur said via SI. “And any time you’re playing a team like the L.A. Rams that has multiple, dynamic pieces on their defensive line, it presents some challenges and it definitely influences how you gameplan and the things that you’re going to ask your players to do.”
 
Then, of course, at right tackle is Billy Turner, who has been one of the unsung heroes on offense this season. Turner has once again provided the Green Bay Packers with stability and reliability at a key position.
 
This season, there was one other game where these five players were the preferred starters, and that came in Week 5 against Cincinnati. The offensive line unit would allow two sacks and nine pressures that game, while Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon would rush for 133 yards on  22 carries. 
 
Now, the Bengals' defensive front is certainly no pushover by any means -- that's a good unit -- but going up against Aaron Donald and the LA Rams defensive front is an entirely new challenge. 
 
Donald has been his same dominant self this season, logging 42 pressures, the fourth-most among interior defensive linemen, and he's also PFF's highest-graded interior defender. But also joining him in wreaking havoc is Greg Gaines, who has been effective against both the run and pass and is PFF's ninth-highest graded interior defender.
 
“He certainly was hurting last year, there's no doubt about it, and he's a guy that you can't rest for one second when you're going up against him,” LaFleur said via SI. “You better know where he's aligned on every play and you’ve got to make sure that you're putting your players in the best position possible to go against him. As dominant as he is in the pass game, he's equally as dominant in the run game, and I think that's what makes him so special. He plays a lot of snaps, his effort is relentless, he is a guy that just can completely take over a football game.”
 
At edge rusher is Leonard Floyd, whose 37 pressures is the 15th most among that position group, while Von Miller's 30 pressures are tied for 29th. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo has also been effective this season in a limited capacity, grading out very well. 
 
Other defenders to know include A'Shawn Robinson -- a very effective run defender -- Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Terrell Lewis. 
 
As a unit, the LA Rams pass-rush ranks third by PFF, second by ESPN's pass-rush win rate metric; they're seventh in total pressures and fifth in yards per carry allowed with just 4.0. To put it simply, they've been dominant. 
 
Ultimately, the Green Bay Packers offensive line is going to have to play well, but there are ways that LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers can provide them with some help. It won't be easy, but leaning on the run game and allowing the offensive line to be the aggressor is a must. If the Packers become one-dimensional, pass-heavy, and the Rams can pin their ears back, this game very likely will not end well.
 
As we've seen in the past, LaFleur can also use the tight ends to throw some chips and help block. Getting the ball out of Rodgers' hands quickly will be required, as will utilizing play-action, boots, and motion. It's worth pointing out that in several key categories, including completion percentage, yards per attempt, and passer rating, Rodgers has been one of the worst quarterbacks this season when under pressure. Green Bay has to avoid putting him in those situations at all costs.
 
However, even with the help that can be provided upfront, there are still going to be plenty of times when the Green Bay offensive linemen will be on an island and need to win thier matchup or create those running lanes. 
 
Football has changed a lot over the years, but in the end, games are still won and lost in the trenches. And in order for the Green Bay Packers to come away with the win, their patchwork offensive line is going to have to hold up against a very, very good defensive front led by the game's best.

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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5 points

Comments (36)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
jh9's picture

November 26, 2021 at 12:44 pm

With all the injuries the Packers have, the Rams should be favored. They’re not. This is a “pick ‘em” game and will probably go down to the wire.

We’ve been concerned about the Packers’ special teams all year. Other than the Kansas City game where Crosby missed two FGs, the special teams haven’t hurt us. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the game.

-5 points
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PhantomII's picture

November 26, 2021 at 10:41 pm

Wow. Pretty sure our ST missed a FG and xtra point last weeks Vikings game. We lost by 3 points. So yea, they have officially cost us a game....But they had a lot of help in other areas as well that did not produce when they could have.

5 points
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CWolf's picture

November 27, 2021 at 03:09 am

They missed a FG, but no extra point (missed extra point was by the Vikings). That's not to say I feel confident in ST. At all.

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gpt999's picture

November 26, 2021 at 01:34 pm

This is truly a scary game for the Pack given all their injuries and Rodgers on the hobble! If Jones can come back, maybe we have a chance? But I agree that LAs front is a daunting task! If ever there was a time for GB to back to the formula they used in the Cardinal game, this would be the time - assuming Jones can go? Outside of play action, Rodgers will not have a lot of time for receivers to get open...

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CWolf's picture

November 27, 2021 at 03:18 am

Even if Jones can't play, I'd like to see the formula they used in the Cardinal game. Provided they can, against that defensive front...

Edit: Actually, that formula is probably easier to execute against the Rams than anything that involves long developing pass routes.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

November 27, 2021 at 09:13 am

I don’t know that I’m keen to see Jones back. Of course I have no idea how significant his injury was, but those take some time to become fully stable and risk is higher until it does.

For me, the biggest issue is whether we can disrupt Stafford consistently enough, more so even than the O line. Even if Gary does play, he’s going to be hampered. Someone other than Clark and Preston is going to have to step up to a degree that is completely unexpected I fear and those two have to excel.

On O, run early and hard regardless of yardage, tire their lighter line and make them keep a heavier box and otherwise get the ball out early until play action can bite. To me, it’s not so much Nijman but whether Runyon/Patrick/Newman can play as a unit consistently without one or more getting bamboozled.

3 points
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SwedeBayPacker's picture

November 26, 2021 at 01:58 pm

Can we beat the Rams with a skeleton crew? My heart says yes, my brain says go pack go.

But seriously, we're deep in the fondue right now.

8 points
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Since'61's picture

November 26, 2021 at 04:37 pm

It's going to be cold so run the ball, set up the quick play action passing game. Take what the defense gives us. Moves the chains. We cannot be running plays that take long to develop against the Rams front four. If Jones is ready to go that can be a huge difference for our offense even if we just put him motion and force the defense to account for him. Also Cobb can be a key for us in this game. He has always been good at getting open for the quick passes and he has great hands.

On defense if Gary is ready to go he can at least generate pressure on Stafford and force some mistakes. Our safeties need to show up in this game and prevent the big plays that were allowed against the Vikings. Additionally Stokes and Douglas will hopefully return to their pre-Vikiing game form.

If we don't stop ourselves with penalties and we run our offense as we did against the Vikings for the last 2 1/2 quarters against the Vikings we should be OK.

Our FG unit needs to be effective this week. We can't be missing FGs in what will likely be a game decided by who has the ball last. GPG! Thanks, Since '61

8 points
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Coldworld's picture

November 26, 2021 at 06:04 pm

I agree with your emphasis on the run game. Run the ball hard into that line. Tire them and force a heavy box.

5 points
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SanLobo's picture

November 26, 2021 at 06:35 pm

Agree…I’d love to see the occasional two back set as well.

7 points
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PatrickGB's picture

November 27, 2021 at 10:56 am

Or even an H-Back.

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porupack's picture

November 26, 2021 at 07:54 pm

I agree, S61. But I am good with GB being conservative with Gary, and Jones. Lot of season ahead, and those guys are needed after the bye and post season. Rams look pretty formidable, and I don't see how GB wins it. But any good team can be beat. Raiders whooped the cowboys, because they came out fired up and played with a determination. Rams are beatable. Plenty of underdog examples this year. I'll pick the pack, dunno the score, but pack wins. Crosby does well.

3 points
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Minniman's picture

November 26, 2021 at 11:31 pm

To your point Porupack, Stafford's starting to get questions asked of him in LA. He's rattle-able. If the Pack can get pressure on him then they'll give their banged up corners a chance too.

2 points
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Bure9620's picture

November 27, 2021 at 06:07 am

The Rams have looked anything but formidable lately. But this will be a tough game.

2 points
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mnbadger's picture

November 26, 2021 at 06:12 pm

This week's pick is being submitted by my heart, not my brain. Pack 30-24. GPG!

PS - my brain says goats 31-10.

4 points
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CheesyTex's picture

November 26, 2021 at 08:50 pm

Yes, just too many key injuries -- on both sides of the ball, but...

Maybe we will see a lot of Deguara and Dafney at H-Back and just pound away to 30-24 win. GPG!

2 points
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packer132's picture

November 26, 2021 at 07:19 pm

I think this games is decided by the better coach. Evenly matched teams despite the Packers injuries, playing in cold Green Bay. Can Lafleur outwit McVay? Run the ball, manage the clock, and keep Green Bay's offense on the field. Packers 27-24.

2 points
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Fabio's picture

November 27, 2021 at 01:26 am

I don't understand how you can evaluate equal teams despite injuries .....
I think that also in this match it will be decisive if we can use a lot of chronometers and keep the D out ....
So it will be essential to have a good game plan, but sometimes this may not be enough (if the quality of the opponents is too superior ...)
We cross our fingers (and every other part of the body LOL)
GPG

3 points
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packer132's picture

November 28, 2021 at 08:49 am

The teams are even, thus the 1 1/2 point spread. Injuries are a part of the game, and every team has some. Ten games had a point spread of 3 1/2 or less this week. I would call those games even, where a couple of plays or turnovers decides the winner. Rodgers is the better QB while Donald and the Rams defense is better. If Rams were so much better, they would be favored by 7 or 8 points. The game should come down to the last couple of minutes, and I hope for a Packer win.

1 points
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Crankbait's picture

November 27, 2021 at 04:59 am

Absolutely. MLF needs to be more patient and disciplined. Way too predictable with play calling. You cannot just go straight at the Rams line.
Rogers is going to have to really be on his game and read them.

0 points
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canadapacker's picture

November 26, 2021 at 07:50 pm

As mentionned Donald was hurt last time as was Kupp - So it is a different team - dont know if Miller will be up to speed - but I expect big trouble by our Oline. Also dont think that Adams will be a great target as they will probably cover him with Ramsey - and that will be a tough match up. Hopefully we can get MVS running but they will need to hit him quickly - I like the idea of getting their D moving sideways with swing passes and the use of Cobb on those in place of Jones ( if he doesnt start - sit him please we need him fully healthy). But all in all - we need to do what we did against the Vikes - just play well and hope to get a chance to win it late. Besides we all know that Stafford likes to throw the ball to the other team.

3 points
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Starrbrite's picture

November 27, 2021 at 01:12 am

I don’t loathe the Rams as I a do a few teams. When I think of the Rams, I remember Roman Gabriel, the Fearsome Foursome, the old blue and white uniforms, and I also liked Kurt Warner—-but it ends there.
I dislike the Rams now mostly because I see their ownership, much like the Yankees, attempting to finance the pursuit of a SB by grabbing every high priced free agent on the market—-maybe Von Miller and Odell will slip on a banana while stepping off the bus at Lambeau.

0 points
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Crankbait's picture

November 27, 2021 at 05:01 am

Yes, Roman Gabriel. That's back when the Packers had the Road Runner.... Travis Williams!

1 points
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mnbadger's picture

November 28, 2021 at 08:36 am

did we all forget about Deacon Jones? Played before sacks were a stat, but he was one of the best pre-Lawrence Taylor. GPG

1 points
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HawkPacker's picture

November 27, 2021 at 11:28 am

Starrbrite, I beg to differ. They are not at all like the Yankees.

Every NFL team has the same Cap. So if they can still keep under the Cap, then fine go ahead and sign anyone. The Packers is the same under Gutey as we want to win......now!

2 points
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Starrbrite's picture

November 27, 2021 at 03:01 pm

Yes—I expected that rebuttal…and maybe you’re right; the cap makes all things equal. But, as one so-called NFL expert once wrote, “the cap is a myth”. In any case, I hope it backfires on the Rams.

0 points
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HawkPacker's picture

November 28, 2021 at 08:33 am

Well there are certain ways to get around the CAP in the near term but can hurt you in the future.

BTW, I am a Yankee fan~;-)

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NickPerry's picture

November 27, 2021 at 05:51 am

"As a unit, the LA Rams pass-rush ranks third by PFF, second by ESPN's pass-rush win rate metric; they're seventh in total pressures and fifth in yards per carry allowed with just 4.0. To put it simply, they've been dominant. "

"Rodgers has been one of the worst quarterbacks this season when under pressure. Green Bay has to avoid putting him in those situations at all costs."

Those two points really caught my eye. Perhaps the fact I'm one of the BIGGEST homers on this site clouds my vision, but until reading that about Rams pass rush as a team, I wasn't really worried. Now I have been concerned what might happen when Donald lines up directly across from Newman or Patrick, but Dillon has been pretty good in pass protection this year AND those two will just have to play their best games of the season. They HAVE to, both in the pass and the run game.

BUT... My second point addresses both points and at the end of the day is the BEST way for Rodgers to protect himself and the this offense... PLAY WITHIN THE SYSTEM! I have no doubt if rodgers plays within the system, gets the ball out in 2.5 seconds or less, the Packers can have a lot of success against this defense. NOTHING drives me nuts more than Rodgers holding onto the damn ball when he could have taken his first or second read for a smaller gain.

The Packers win this game I think that 1st round bye is there for the taking, especially when you look at the remaining schedules of the other top 4 or 5 teams. Lose it and you can almost certainly kiss any chance of it goodbye.

5 points
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Bure9620's picture

November 27, 2021 at 06:11 am

The run fixes everything. Run the ball right at Von Miller. Right at him. That is how you slow a pass rush.

5 points
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NickPerry's picture

November 27, 2021 at 08:36 am

Man o man do I hear you Bure... Hopefully MLF and Rodgers remember that too. They can't get away from it too soon this week and I hope we see TONS or pre-snap motion this week too. When I see motion, touch passes as the RB or WR runs in front of Rodgers, or even that option run last week (LOVED THAT ONE) and the Packers are running the ball, it normally goes well for the offense.

IF Newman, Patrick, and JRJ aren't liabilities this week against Donald, I think Dillon balls out. BUT they can't allow Donald to take over the game.

I think we see the Defense we saw 3 out of the last 4 weeks, or at least a closer version of it than what we saw last week.

0 points
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Coldworld's picture

November 27, 2021 at 09:21 am

For this D to function, we need Stafford to be flustered early and often. I’m not seeing the horses to do that consistently. One armed OLBs aren’t typically very effective, even if Gary plays. We saw what happens last week if a QB has plenty of time and decent receivers. Of course, making some interceptions without penalty intercession will help, but scoring will be harder this week I think.

1 points
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barutanseijin's picture

November 27, 2021 at 07:35 pm

I dunno. Stafford seemed to have enough time in the Niners game, but just made bad throws.

0 points
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Johnblood27's picture

November 27, 2021 at 08:58 am

Run it off tackle. Keep Dillon away from the big guys in the middle and let him truck the OLB and DB. That will wear the rams defense down, the big guys from pursuing and the LB and DB from the physical punishment.

On defense bring pressure up the middle with Clark and campbell in the A gaps with Preston or Keke looping in behind them. They will end up in Staffords face and lap. Keep the OLB on contain and clean up duty.

That oughta do it, my work here is done! GPG!

3 points
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ImaPayne's picture

November 29, 2021 at 12:57 pm

Congrats to the Rams for at "least" acknowledging to themselve they needed to add expertise to this team and they went out and got it. Unfortunaltely Miller is a shadow of himself and didnt do diddly to help this team yesterday. Wow the money they are spending on this group is crazy.

-3 points
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Packerlifer's picture

November 28, 2021 at 01:47 pm

LT Yosh Nijman 6-7,324 LG John Runyan 6-4,313, C Lucas Patrick 6-3,313. RG Royce Newman 6-5,306, RT Billy Turner 6-5,313. The Packers still have some pretty big, strong guys up front who are pros in the NFL. As big as their opponents on the other side of the line. Losing 2 all-pros and a potential third is tough but this is an area where the depth can cover.

If they were playing on the road on artificial turf in an indoor stadium where the noise is a factor it might be tougher but they're at home, on real grass outdoors. No reason these guys can't be road graders for a 250 lb fullback and protect a HOF qb, provided he doesn't hold the ball too long.

LaFleur and Hackett have to have a game plan and in-game coaching that works but the job o-line coach and run game coordinator Adam Stenavich does with this unit this week will be key.

0 points
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ImaPayne's picture

November 29, 2021 at 12:54 pm

Wow did I over estimate the Rams Pass Rush. How much are they paying these guys? I got Donald figured out, he waits until one of his guys opens a crack and he sneeks through it getting the sack and all the credit.
Our O line fed them their breakfast, lunch and Dinner yesterday. What a great effort and game clinching performance.
I had to laugh when he leaned against one of our O linemen and he looked down at Donald like, you aint big enough pal.

-1 points
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