Green Bay’s Midterm Grades: Offense
2020 has been everything but predictable, and that has held true through the first half of the 2020 NFL season.
The Packers are currently tied for the best record in the NFC and have a two-game lead over the Bears in the NFC North. While the Packers may be in line for valedictorian, let’s dive deeper into the grades to see if their offense makes them a real contender.
Aaron Rodgers is putting up stats that rival his 2011 MVP season.
2011: 309.5 yards per games (career high), 3 TDs per game (career high), 122.5 passer rating (career high), 84.5 QBR (2nd highest of career).
2020: 281.6 yards per game (3rd highest of career), 3 TDs per game (ties career high), 117.5 passer rating (2nd highest of career), 87.6 QBR (highest of career).
The BAAAAAAAD man has bounced back from a statistically poor season and has reached his final form in Matt Lafleur’s offense. By getting the ball out of his hand quick and relying on a potent run game, Rodgers looks poised to make a run at MVP.
Rodgers’ dud against the Buccaneers was the only hiccup through the first half of the season, but the performance seems to be an outlier rather than the standard.
Running Backs: A-
Aaron Jones was on pace to match his gaudy 2019 TD numbers, but a lingering calf injury caused him to miss two games. However, the running back room didn’t miss a beat. Jamaal Williams proved to be a more than competent replacement in Jones’ absence, and rookie AJ Dillon showed some flashes as well before receiving a positive COVID test. Bottom line is Jones is a star, and the offense goes to another level with him on the field. But this RB room relies on strength in numbers, and the Packers are certainly at their best when all the RBs are healthy.
Offensive Line: A+
The offensive line has endured numerous injuries, but the next man up mentality is paying dividends. Corey Linsley has been an impenetrable wall in the middle all season. While Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner’s versatility has prevented injuries to David Bakhtiari and Lane Taylor to be detrimental.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, eight different linemen have played least 50 snaps, and the Packers have started four different offensive-line combinations. Even with all the shifting, this unit has kept Rodgers the cleanest he has ever been. Through eight games, Rodgers has only been sacked nine times — 4th fewest in the league. The only times Rodgers has ever been sacked less than 30 times in a season were in 2013 (21) and 2017 (22) — Rodgers only played in nine games in in 2013 and seven games in 2017.
Even with all the shifting pieces, this group has been the catalyst to Green Bay’s offensive success in 2020.
Wide Receivers: B
This one is tricky.
Davante Adams deserves the highest of marks, he is on a torrid pace that may catapult him into one of the best WRs of the era — 50 catches 639 yards 8 TDs in the five games he has played start to finish.
Allen Lazard was also playing really well before suffering an oblique injury that has caused him to miss five games. He had a career-high night in a stellar performance on the national stage against the Saints in week three — the same game he suffered the injury.
However, other than those two, this group has been inconsistent at best. Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown, the promising 2018 draft picks, have suffered from a terrible case of the drops — which has left Packer fans clamoring for the front office to make a move. It won’t take long for Packer fans to remember a similar response to a now-star WR’s early career struggles.
If Lazard and Adams are healthy down the stretch, this WR group has enough talent to make Rodgers’ life easy.
Tight Ends: B
Robert Tonyan’s performance against the Falcons — 6 catches, 98 yards and 3 TDs — got everyone excited about finally having an explosive weapon at TE. However, this 100 yard and multiple TD effort from Tonyan appears to be an outlier. While you can’t expect that kind of effort from Tonyan every week, what we do know is defenses have to respect Tonyan, which leaves room for others to make plays.
Jace Sternberger struggled early in the season with drops, but he has quietly make some big time plays in recent weeks.
Marcedes Lewis, playing as an extra offensive lineman for the most part, has been a weapon in the run game. And Lafleur rewarded Lewis’ hard work in the trenches with an easy TD in week nine.
Matt Lafleur’s offense is averaging 31.6 points per game through eight games — 3rd best in the NFL. Even with injuries to many key contributors this offense continues to keep defenders off balance and put points on the board. This offense has the firepower to reach the promise land.