Green Bay's 2022 season came down to Aaron Rodgers' ability, or lack thereof, to make the most of a declining situation. The Packers traded Davante Adams in the offseason and let their biggest free agents, Za'Darius Smith and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, walk. There was also a mass exodus in their coaching ranks with multiple names heading for bigger jobs. Try as he might, Rodgers was unable to keep the train on the tracks. The Packers fell to 4-8 through a dozen games with only one victory by more than a field goal. Until Christian Watson broke out in the second half of the season, Green Bay had no spark on offense and relied entirely on their defense to keep games close. Watson's uncanny ability to break big plays fueled an offensive resurgence late in the year, but it was all for nothing when Week 18 rolled around. For the first time since 2017, the Lions swept Green Bay, bouncing them from the playoff race in the process.
Key Offensive Stats
- Points per game: 21.8 (14th)
- EPA per play: 0.02 (11th)
- Dropback EPA per play: 0.04 (16th)
- Passing yards per game: 213.6 (17th)
- Rush EPA per play: -0.01 (9th)
- Rush yards per game: 124.3 (15th)
At his best, Rodgers is able to make it through large chunks of a season without throwing a single interception. This is while throwing touchdowns at a rate that laps most other quarterbacks. That magic was nowhere to be found in 2022. Coming off four consecutive seasons with the lowest interception rate in the league, Rodgers threw 12 picks, one short of a career-high. He also scored at a rate 1.5 percent below his career average. Watson gave the offense a boost in the second half of the season, going for 523 yards and seven scores over his final eight games, but it was hardly enough. The Packers stayed in their shell and ended the year with a negative three percent pass rate over expected. Aaron Jones amassed over 1,500 total yards, but Rodgers didn't top 300 passing yards in a game once.
Key Defensive Stats
- Points per game: 21.8 (17th)
- EPA per play: 0.03 (27th)
- Dropback EPA per play: 0.02 (14th)
- Passing yards per game: 197 (6th)
- Rush EPA per play: 0.04 (31st)
- Rush yards per game: 139.5 (26th)
The strategy of playing balanced and relying on a stalwart defense has its merits in the NFL, but it only works if you can lock down your opponents at all turns. Green Bay had a middle-of-the-road pass defense and a toothless run-stopping unit, nullifying their slow, ground-heavy approach on offense. Jaire Alexander returned to form after missing the bulk of the 2021 season. However, the Packers couldn't offer him any help over the top. Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos both ranked in the bottom 10 in coverage grade among safeties according to Pro Football Focus. That forced Alexander and slot corner Rasul Douglas to do all of the heavy lifting in coverage. With six sacks in eight games, Rashan Gary was en route to a career year. That was until he tore his ACL in Week 9, ending his season.
15th, 45th, 78th, and 116th
Notable Free Agents
WR Allen Lazard, S Adrian Amos, DT Jarran Reed, WR Randall Cobb, K Mason Crosby, and TE Robert Tonyan
LT David Bakhtiari ($5.7 million in savings)
If designated as a post-June 1 cut, the Packers can up their cap savings from releasing Bakhtiari to $17.3 million. They won't have this money until months are free agency meaningfully concludes, but it is an option. Aaron Jones was also a cut candidate despite coming off an elite season, but he and the team agreed to a restructured contract, keeping him in town for 2023.
Savage's fifth-year option locks him into a starting role for 2023, but the Packers could let Amos walk. Coming off a down year at the age of 29, it's possible his best days are behind him.
Watson was a revelation down the stretch last year, but he profiles as an electric secondary receiver and not a target dominator. With Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb hitting free agency, wide receiver is the team's top priority on offense.
If the Packers spend big on receiver, they could possibly push tight end down their list of needs. However, because three of their tight ends are free agents, they have to add some bodies at the position no matter what.
The Packers didn't undergo any notable coaching changes in the offseason, though many fans want to see a new face at the helm on defense. Green Bay's aging talent on defense gets some of the blame for their lackluster performance, though defensive coordinator Joe Berry is undoubtedly on the hot seat heading into 2023.
So I guess the Packers should get this whole Rodgers situation figured out, right? Though it may be painful to ship off a three-time MVP while the team still has a competitive roster, it would be for the best. Rodgers is coming off his worst season ever by a number of key metrics and will be 40 at the end of the year. The Packers are also light on cap space with an average haul of draft picks on the horizon. They don't have an easy path to improving upon their results from 2022. Rodgers alone can't will them to a Super Bowl, but he can set them up for success down the road via a trade. Moving on from one of the best to ever sling allows Green Bay to test out Jordan Love while building for the future and gives Rodgers one more shot at a second Lombardi Trophy.