Following the Packers’ 40-14 throttling of the Tennessee Titans, the Packers and their fans were riding high. On Sunday, they take on their older rival, the Chicago Bears. On the line for the Packers is the NFC’s number one seed. For the Bears, a playoff berth. However, the Packers were dealt a demoralizing blow on Thursday afternoon. Pro Bowl left tackle, David Bakhtiari, apparently tore his ACL in practice.
Source: #Packers standout LT David Bakhtiari suffered a season-ending knee injury today in practice. The belief is that he tore his ACL. Just crushing.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 31, 2020
The loss of David Bakhtiari is, obviously, a serious blow to the Packers’ offensive line. After all, he is the best left tackle in the NFL according to multiple grading metrics. The Packers value him so much that they made him the highest paid lineman in NFL history earlier this season. What’s more, Bakhtiari is one of the most beloved figures in Wisconsin sports, not just among Packers fans.
— Matt Ramage (@mattramage) January 1, 2021
The Packers Without Bakhtiari This Year
Obviously, replacing the best left tackle in football is a tall order. However, the Packers have had to play without him before. Earlier this season, Bakhtiari missed three games with a chest injury. In those games, Aaron Rodgers was sacked just two times. In addition, the Packers rushed for an average of 105.3 yards per game while Bakhtiari was sidelined.
What Will the Offensive Line Look Like Without Bakhtiari?
This is what the Packers did when Bakhtiari was out earlier this year:
In three full games without David Bakhtiari from Weeks 7-9 this season, Aaron Rodgers was sacked only twice. None against the Texans, one against the Vikings and one against the 49ers. Billy Turner held firm at left tackle and Rick Wagner came off the bench to play right tackle.
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) January 1, 2021
Going forward, it is widely believed that Elgton Jenkins, also a Pro Bowl offensive lineman, will move from right tackle to left tackle. While Billy Turner held his own at left tackle, the competition the Packers will face in the playoffs is going to be tougher. Jenkins is the better lineman and can play anywhere. In fact, Jenkins has famously played at least one snap at all five offensive line positions this year.
Rick Wagner will likely play right tackle going forward. Billy Turner is a better guard than a tackle, so he will slot in on the strong side along with Wagner. Corey Linsley is back and will play center. Lucas Patrick will fill out the starting five at left guard.
This Is Not the End of the Run
Upon hearing the news, many fans were quick to write off the Super Bowl run. However, as hard as the loss of Bakhtiari is, the Packers still have an excellent offensive line. As mentioned, they allowed just two sacks in three games without him. In the playoffs, the main goal of the line is going to be to allow Aaron Rodgers to have time to dissect defenses.
In addition, it should be noted that when the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI in 1996, they had four different players start at left tackle due to injuries. The Super Bowl XLV winning team also had its fair share of key injuries.
2010 injury list:
They still won the Super Bowl.
Next man up.
— Andy Herman (@AndyHermanNFL) January 1, 2021
The Packers have one of the deepest offensive lines in their recent history. While none are David Bakhtiari’s, they also are not Jason Spriggs’. The defense, also, has been continually improving week after week after week. They finally look like a defense that can win a Super Bowl. Finally, and most importantly, the Packers still have Aaron Rodgers, the front runner for the 2020 MVP. This is still as dangerous a team as any, and they should still be the favorites to come out of the NFC.
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