On Monday, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur stated that the plan at left tackle on Sunday was to give left tackle David Bakhtiari two series before Yosh Nijman entered the game to spell him. In Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in Bakhtiari’s season debut, Bakhtiari and Nijman rotated every series throughout the game. Per LaFleur, Bakhtiari said, “I’m going,” at halftime, which led to the coaching staff ending the rotation mid-game. In the Packers’ 73 offensive snaps on Sunday, Bakhtiari played 70 of them while Nijman played just three.
If Bakhtiari is ready to go the distance in regular season games, it brings up the question of if Nijman is one of the best five linemen on Green Bay’s roster. Nijman started eight games in 2021 as Elgton Jenkins’ replacement with Bakhtiari out at left tackle. This season, Nijman started the first two games of the year at left tackle before rotating with Bakhtiari over the last two weeks. Jenkins, who has had more success at left tackle and guard in his career, has been starting over at right tackle since he returned to the lineup in Week 2.
Sneak peak for tomorrow's article: Best (and worst) offensive tackles in pass protection so far. pic.twitter.com/VZPpsyHzYP— Timo Riske (@PFF_Moo) October 3, 2022
According to Pro Football Focus, Jenkins, who might be playing out of position, has been one of the six worst tackles in the league in terms of the quality of his pass protection among qualifiers. While Jenkins has been asked to play high-difficulty assignments as the Packers haven’t been helping their edges much with chips from tight ends or running backs, Nijman has been able to play above-average football, per PFF, while being on the higher end of the assignment difficulty scale, too. Bakhtiari, with less than two full games under his belt, was a non-qualifier in the study.
LaFleur later said in the press conference that the team has “a lot of confidence in Yosh,” a line which he has repeated over recent weeks. He also had this to say when reporters’ gears started turning on Nijman:
Reporter: Does [Nijman] need to play right tackle for you guys to get your best five on the field?
LaFleur: I think potentially. That is something we have definitely talked about. We’ll do the best job we can, in terms of repping these guys throughout the course of the week and practice. That’s definitely been something we’ve talked about and haven’t made a decision on that yet.
It’s certainly something to think about if Nijman is no longer needed at left tackle. Jenkins, the former Pro Bowler, could kick into a more comfortable position at right guard, replacing current starting right guard Royce Newman. Last week, offensive coordinator and former offensive line coach Adam Stenavich stated that the team was not content with Newman’s play at right guard. Newman started at right tackle throughout the preseason and in Week 1 until Jenkins was healthy until to play, meaning he has practiced the position he is asked to start at in a limited capacity this year, despite starting 16 games at right guard with inconsistent results in 2021 as a rookie.