With the offseason here, it’s time to take a look back at the season that was for the Green Bay Packers. To do so, I will be going position by position through the roster, taking a look at what went right and what went wrong. Up first are the quarterbacks.
What went right for the Packers’ quarterbacks
– It certainly wasn’t the best season from Aaron Rodgers — more on that shortly — but he was still very efficient when opponents blitzed him. He finished the season completing over 66% of those passes at 7.4 yards per attempt with nine touchdowns. If I was an opposing defense, I wouldn’t blitz; rather, I’d do what the Rams did, which is sit back in cover-2 and force Rodgers to be patient.
– Rodgers’ called Christian Watson’s initial touchdown grab against the Cowboys the turning point in the season for the rookie receiver. From that point on, Rodgers and Watson’s rapport continued to develop. In those final eight games, Watson would catch 31 passes (or 61%) at nearly 17 yards per catch with seven touchdowns. To put it simply, Watson’s emergence was game-changing, as it affected how defenses defended the Packers. If Rodgers is back in 2023, the rapport and trust that was built between these two will be important for the offense’s continued success.
– I’ve talked about it often, but the run game was the catalyst for the offense’s ability to put up points this season — the two went hand in hand — and credit to Rodgers for embracing that. There were a number of games, especially beyond Week 9, when the offense started to put up points more regularly, where the Packers had a relatively balanced run-pass mix.
– Goodness, did Jordan Love look really good in his appearance against Philadelphia, or what? There was a newfound confidence that we hadn’t seen from his previous appearances. He was confident, went through his progression, his footwork followed his eyes, which helped with his accuracy, and he was letting it rip—there was zero hesitation.
– Rodgers fought through several injuries this season, and clearly, things were not going well for him or the team. At 4-8, it could have been very easy for him to take some time off in order to heal, but again, credit to him and his competitiveness. It nearly led to the Packers making an improbable playoff appearance.
What went wrong for the Packers’ quarterbacks
– Unfortunately, there was more bad than good this season. For starters, when the offenses needed the passing game to come through, it simply wasn’t good enough. As I mentioned, the run game was the catalyst to Green Bay’s offensive success, but there were instances against Detroit and Tennessee, for example, where the run game was bottled up, and they needed the passing game to shoulder the workload, but for various reasons, it just wasn’t able to. The overall ineffectiveness of the passing game also resulted in issues on third downs and in the red zone, where opponents dared Green Bay to throw the ball.
– In short, it was a down season for Rodgers. He didn’t have a single 300-yard game. It was the first time in his career since becoming a starter that he didn’t eclipse 4,000 passing yards (excluding seasons with injuries). He also had 12 interceptions, and his 6.8 yards per attempt was the second-lowest of his career, according to PFF ($$). Without Davante Adams, Rodgers and his new contract were supposed to elevate this offense, but he was unable to do so with any consistency.
– I 100% get why the Packers didn’t want to start Jordan Love while they were still in playoff contention. I mean, they almost did pull off what felt at one point nearly impossible. But they ended up in a lose-lose situation, not having made the playoffs while also not getting an extended look at Love.
– For much of the year, it felt like there was a disconnect between Rodgers and Matt LaFleur–especially during that five-game losing streak. The offense that we saw in the early to middle portion of the season was lacking motion and bunch sets while playing with a lot more four and five-wide sets. Some of the core LaFleur principals had taken a back seat. With Rodgers as the quarterback, he is always going to have some degree of autonomy at the line of scrimmage and say in the playbook, but things seemed very out of whack, and the pendulum had swung too far in one direction.
– The inability to connect on the deep ball prior to Week 10 certainly wasn’t only a Rodgers issue, but the fact that this offense was missing this element made things very difficult as opposing defenses would shrink the field, making moving the ball on the ground or via the quick passing game all the more challenging. Forcing the ball downfield in some situations didn’t help things either.
– Rodgers still made some Aaron Rodgers-esque throws this season, but if there’s one area where his age might be showing, it’s in his mobility. He just wasn’t able to extend plays and buy time like he used to.