Three games into the 2019 season and the Green Bay Packers are 3-0.
Most of the credit is publicly going to the defense, specifically the new free agent signings. The defense does deserve a lion’s share of the credit and the new guys are worthy of ample praise. But we believe the two offensive tackles, the same two men who’ve anchored this o-line since 2013, are actually the Packers’ most valuable players after three wins.
Green Bay’s offense hasn’t been particularly dangerous through the first three games of the season, but they’ve scored enough to win. Two of the biggest reasons why are the left and right tackles: David Bahktiari and Bryan Bulaga. Thank goodness GM Brian Gutekunst decided to bring back Bulaga for 2019. Of all of the free agent moves and trades he made, this might have been his best decision. Crazy to say, but it may be true.
No team in the league features such a strong duo at the offensive tackle position. So not only are these two guys team MVPs (so far… there’s still months left to play), they’re actually the best duo in the NFL.
Bahktiari, 28, is one of the leaders of this team. For our money, he’s the best player at his position in the NFL. He protects Rodgers’ blind side and has a chance at finding an eternal home in Canton someday (would I bet on it? Eh, maybe). He’s been named First-Team All Pro before and is likely to garner that designation again by this season’s end. His confidence is through the roof.
Bulaga, 30, has battled injuries throughout his career, but remains one of the most reliable players on the team. He just does his job. Although, that might be selling him a little short. Since the middle point of last season, there might not be a better offensive lineman in the league, Bahktiari included. Amazingly, Bulaga has never even been invited to a Pro Bowl, and although that doesn’t really matter, we’re hoping that changes this year.
Corey Linsley, the team’s center, recently told packers.com, “They played their tails off, as I think they’ve played their tails off the past two games before that” referencing his offensive tackles. Linsley is one of the smartest guys on the team, so I’d trust his assessment over just about anyone’s. Head Coach Matt LaFleur also gave praise for the two men following the game against Denver.
Both “Bahk” and Bulaga have played 100% of the Packers’ snaps heading into Week 4. That consistency is huge as this team continues to adapt to this new offense.
The reason we believe the offensive tackles are the MVPs so far is because of who the Packers have played.
Heading into the 2019 season if you asked a handful of NFL experts to name the top five defensive fronts, with the best edge rushers in the league, there’s a good chance the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos all would have been included in those top fives.
Those are the three opponents the Packers have taken on, unscathed, through three weeks. Could any other combination of offensive tackles have survived this start to the season? That is what makes them the best current duo in the league.
Aaron Rodgers’ health is obviously the biggest priority for this team and these two men are working their asses off to keep him upright through the first three contests.
He’s not only been mostly upright, he’s smiling more than he has in years.
The Bears threw out a fired-up Khalil Mack, one of the best players in the league, with Leonard Floyd on the other side. While Akiem Hicks remains one of their most dangerous pass rushers.
While Rodgers was sacked five times in that road game, he would admit he probably held onto the ball too long on multiple occasions. Mack, after saying sacking Aaron Rodgers was his “favorite thing” about the Packers-Bears rivalry, was held off the stat sheet, in terms of sacks, on the day.
In Week 2, the Packers faced the Vikings and their incredible up-front duo of Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen. Throw in Anthony Barr, and the associated PTSD for all involved, and there was a recipe for disaster. The Vikings defense certainly loves to hit Rodgers and they know how to do it.
It was an emotional night as Bart Starr was honored at halftime in the first game at Lambeau since his passing. No one knew what was going to happen.
Even so, Rodgers hit the ground with the ball in his hands just twice all game in another huge NFC North win.
The following week the Packers are were tasked with slowing down Von Miller and Bradley Chubb and the rest of the Denver Broncos. The offensive tackle duo of “Bahk” and Bulaga were up to the challenge as well.
Rodgers remarked after the Week 3 victory that his jersey was as clean as it had ever been. He was not sacked in the game, a rarity in the Rodgers Era.
The two of them are getting better by the game, which makes sense as the Packers offense is learning more and more how to play inside this new offense.
The Packers are 3-0, and although the defense hasn’t allowed 20 points on the season yet, it’s arguably more incredible that they’ve survived such a litany of edge rushers.
Although maybe having this improved defense, with edge rushers like Za’Darius and Preston Smith, as well as Rashan Gary, has made these tackles even better. Perhaps lining up against these guys every day in practice has made these offensive tackles even more dominant. That’s another feather in Gutekunst’s cap for rebuilding this team on the fly.
Rodgers is healthy and the offensive line is showing the world that it can run the ball in spurts, but protect their quarterback for entire games. In today’s NFL, that’s everything. And Packers fans know this better than most. Just look at how injuries to No. 12 derailed the last two seasons. Bahktiari and Bulaga seem hellbent on not letting that happen again in 2019.
Would the Packers be 3-0 without the free agents added to their defense? Well no, probably not. But the team certainly wouldn’t be 3-0 if their two offensive tackles weren’t combining forces to become the best offensive tackle-duo in the NFL.
And that’s exactly what we believe Bahktiari and Bulaga to be, the best offensive tackle-duo in the league. If this defense can continue to dominate and these two men can continue to play at an elite level as this new offense continues to find itself, the Lombardi Trophy is the limit for this squad.
And that’s not entirely hyperbolic.
This led us to wonder, is this current offensive tackle-duo the best in Packers history?