If Aaron Rodgers isn’t the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback in 2021, their offense will look a lot different. Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, is an offensive coordinator’s dream. Even at 37 years of age, there isn’t a pass that Rodgers can’t make. Arm strength, playmaking ability inside or outside the pocket, and leadership, there isn’t anything Rodgers can’t do. That is why head coach and offensive play-caller Matt LaFleur “wants Rodgers back in the worst way” in 2021. But even with LaFleur’s desire to have him back, it might not be enough for him to return. If that comes to fruition, it will be up to second-year quarterback Jordan Love to lead LaFleur’s offense. If Love is in charge of the Packers offense, expect some changes, changes that LaFleur is hoping will aid in his young quarterback’s maturation. One of those changes could be the emphasis on utilizing the Green Bay Packers tight ends more in the passing game.
Jordan Love Might Lean Heavily on the Packers Tight Ends
LaFleur isn’t the only person that is hoping that Rodgers returns in 2021. Green Bay’s best chance of getting to the Super Bowl is with having Rodgers under center. That is why current Packers players, LaFleur’s coaching staff, and Packers fans are hoping he returns. However, if he doesn’t, it will be up to LaFleur to put together an offense that will put his young quarterback in the best spot to succeed. It won’t be an easy task, since Rodgers has carried this organization on his back for so long, but it will be one that LaFleur will need to do.
The Packers offense has the benefit of having a sound rushing attack. Running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon should be featured a lot if Love is the Packers starting quarterback in 2021. LaFleur has shown that he likes having a good ground game. A sound-rushing attack also opens up the play-action attack. That would be a major benefit for a young inexperienced quarterback.
But a good rushing attack isn’t the only thing that would help out Love. Presenting Love with a safety net in the passing game would also benefit him. That is where the Packers tight ends come into play. Tight ends who can create space, get open, and be depended on are great weapons for young quarterbacks. If Love is the Packers signal-caller, expect to see a lot of the Packers tight ends in their passing attack in 2021.
Robert Tonyan Looking to Show That 2020 Wasn’t A Fluke
When you are talking about the Packers tight ends, Robert Tonyan is the first name to come to mind. The former high school quarterback and Indiana State wide receiver had a career season in 2020. Tonyan, or better known to some as “Big Bob”, became a favorite target of Rodgers in 2020. He hauled in 52 passes for 586 yards with an eyepopping 11 touchdown receptions.
Even with being the biggest playmaker from the Packers tight ends group, he does face some questions in 2021. Even before the Rodgers-Packers drama, many wondered if he could duplicate that type of production for the second year in a row. The prospect was tough, but it is even tougher now. The chances of him sustaining his success was higher if Rodgers was at the helm. But if it is Love, a quarterback that has never taken a snap in the NFL, as the starter, it will be even more difficult.
It has been beaten into our heads that Tonyan works out with San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle. Tonyan will have to show that some of Kittle has rubbed off on him. No matter who Kittle’s quarterback has been, he has been productive. Tonyan will need to show that he can be a productive target for Love. If he can, it will go a long way for Love in his first season. If not, many will wonder if Tonyan is just another Packers tight end/wide receiver who was only productive with Rodgers as their quarterback.
Packers Backup Tight Ends Will Help
Joining Tonyan on the top of the Packers tight ends depth chart is veteran Marcedes Lewis. Lewis will be entering his 16th season in the NFL. Lewis isn’t the threat in the passing game as he once was, catching just 10 passes for 107 yards in 2020, but his leadership could be crucial for Love in 2021. He is still an incredible blocker, and his experience is something that could help out the young signal-caller.
Marcedes Lewis back in Green Bay…
— Eli Berkovits (@BookOfEli_NFL) March 24, 2021
One Packers tight end that won’t be available for Love at the start of 2021 is Jace Sternberger. He has been suspended for two games after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. His suspension is just another item you can add to Sternberger’s disappointing career so far. General manager Brian Gutekunst spent a third-round pick on Sternberger in 2019. Since then, he has dealt with injuries, issues with drops, and lack of production. Last season he caught 12 passes for just 114 yards with just one receiving touchdown. If he doesn’t start to show something, he will be added to the list of Gutekunst picks that have failed.
Sternberger still has a chance to show he is a capable option at tight end. Lewis, the top backup to Tonyan, isn’t going to be a weapon in the passing game. Having a second tight end who is a pass-catching option would help out Love. But it is very questionable that Sternberger is that player.
H-Backs on the Roster
Another Packers tight end that Gutekunst picked in the third round is Josiah Deguara. The Packers thought Deguara would be a perfect fit for their new h-back role. Unfortunately, the rookie didn’t get much of a chance to prove himself in 2020. He played in just two games in 2020, before a knee injury forced him out of action. While some believe his one good block last season “gave a lot of promise”, he still is a major question mark.
Josiah Deguara picking up the 7-10 split pic.twitter.com/I8TO111UlI
— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) September 16, 2020
While Dominique Dafney only caught just two passes last season, he did show “true promise”. Dafney filled in for the role that was expected to be filled by Deguara. He lined up in the backfield as well as on the line. He also became a key component of Green Bay’s special teams unit.
Because Deguara was a third-round selection by Gutekunst, he will be given every chance to win the h-back role. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see Dafney come away with the starting job. He showed he is more than capable of holding it down and also helping on the special teams unit.
Questions Facing Packers Tight Ends
A good receiving tight end is a young quarterback’s best friend. Robert Tonyan could very well be that person if Jordan Love is the starting quarterback. However, like with the rest of the Packers tight ends, it isn’t a slam dunk.
The Packers tight ends have a lot of questions and they won’t be answered until they take the field this fall. If Rodgers returns, the answers will come quickly. If it is Love, well, you will just have to sit back and watch.
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