The Green Bay Packers are dealing with a multitude of injuries as they prepare to take on the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving this week. At 4-6, Green Bay has perhaps too much ground to make up to catch Detroit (8-2) at the top of the NFC North. However, the Packers are also currently the first team out of the NFC Playoff picture, meaning that a few unexpected wins down the stretch could land them a spot in the postseason.
Of course, a great deal needs to go right in order for that to happen. Mistakes need to be fixed and the young offense needs to continue to improve. That being said, the Packers have two tough games in a row (at Detroit and home against the Kansas City Chiefs) before a five-game stretch of very beatable opponents to end the year:
- at New York Giants (3-8)
- vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6)
- at Carolina Panthers (1-9)
- at Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
- vs Chicago Bears (3-8)
The Vikings at 6-5 are currently holding the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC. If Green Bay can put together a good run of wins, stealing one against Detroit or Kansas City and beating the other teams they are “supposed to beat,” they may have a real chance of making the postseason.
While that may be a pipe dream in the minds of many, the reality is that it is a possibility. However, if the Packers are truly serious about putting their best players on the field, they need to make one drastic change on offense.
The Green Bay Packers Should Start Sean Rhyan Instead of Jon Runyan Jr.
The debate over who should start and play more at left tackle, Rasheed Walker or Yosh Nijman, is a fair debate. However, both players have played well at times and have struggled at other times. In short, the coaches need to get a feel for how each is performing on any given week and determine playing time on the fly. Clearly, the left tackle position is one that is going to get a good long look from the front office during the offseason.
But when it comes to fielding the best five offensive lineman, there is one player who is glaringly worse than the rest of his compatriots on the line: Jon Runyan Jr. If the Packers were serious about really playing their best five, they would insert 2022 third round pick Sean Rhyan into the starting lineup at right guard.
Just how bad has Runyan been? While PFF grades are not perfect, in this case they do accurately show how bad Runyan has been compared to the rest of the starting linemen:
|PFF Pass Blocking Grade
|PFF Run Blocking Grade
|Jon Runyan Jr.
As one can see, Runyan is the lowest-graded Packers starting lineman in both pass blocking and run blocking. Now, aside from Tom, the entire offensive line has struggled at run blocking; but Runyan has been by far the worst.
What Would Make Sean Rhyan a Better Option for the Green Bay Packers?
To get right to the point, Sean Rhyan’s PFF run blocking grade of 63.4 is the second-best among Packers’ offensive lineman who have played this year. In other words, he would be an immediate upgrade in the run game, which is something the Packers desperately need with both Aaron Jones and Emanuel Wilson out with injuries.
For some reason, Rhyan has not gotten many snaps this season. In fact, he has only been on the field for two offensive drives. However, the Packers scored touchdowns on both of those drives:
the packers run game on sean rhyans TWO drives this year…
•2 scoring touchdown drives
start this man thursday. pic.twitter.com/9S3qveIXnu
— RELA 𝕏 (@itzzSKL) November 21, 2023
According to PFF, of the 21 plays that Rhyan has been in for this year, 15 of them have been running plays. His pass blocking grade is miniscule, but he has had just six opportunities. In other words, he has had too few pass blocking snaps to really get an idea of how good or bad he may be. He has, however, shown that he is one of the best run blockers on the team while Runyan is one of the worst.
In a season that had no real expectations other than evaluating young talent, what do the Packers have to lose in starting a second-year pick with plenty of promise over a struggling player in the last year of his rookie deal? At worst, Rhyan doesn’t work out against Detroit and the Packers plug Runyan back in. At best, Rhyan sparks the offensive line and helps improve the rushing attack.
This really shouldn’t be a question: Sean Rhyan needs to start.