Green Bay will be putting forward a team without Davante Adams leading their receiving core for the first time in years, and we should expect this offense to move the ball in different ways this coming season. Week 1 we will get our first extended look at this offense with Rodgers & Co. on the field together, and it can be expected that there will be some notable differences in their game plan compared to the rest of the Lafleur era.
The most obvious change that must be made to Green Bay’s formula for success is replacing Davante Adams. While I believe that cannot be done in full, I do believe that Green Bay will be able to replicate his production. Everybody has seen the statistic that Rodgers has hardly lost without Adams over the last 4 years, and while you can expect that to change, it does go to show that the back to back MVP can perform without his star receiver. To get a good look at what Green Bay will be looking to do this week while they have no true #1 wide receiver, we can look back at last year’s game against the, at the time, undefeated Arizona Cardinals. In that game when Adams, Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling were all out, Lafleur looked to create easy throws for Rodgers that involved getting the ball out quick to guys who are schemed open. The game plan involved getting the ball to several guys, and moving up field with quick screen plays and short routes outside the hashes. Expect the Packers to gravitate towards short throws against the Vikings this week, spreading the field and working up 10-15 play drives. With Lazard as the wideout likely facing the most targets, it will be interesting to see if the Packers elect to utilize him as an X receiver or not. Green Bay was one of the first teams putting their #1 guy in the slot, and with the monster season Cooper Kupp had last year, you expect them to continue to do so. Lazard, standing at 6’5, fits the big slot archetype that could take over the league in the coming years as we have seen it be widely successful. The short game is something Rodgers does so well, and it will be fascinating to see how he uses his guys like Lazard and the pleasant surprise from training camp in Romeo Doubs.
The Packers this week will likely be relying on their running backs heavily to get ahead of the sticks and keep the game in their control. With the passing attack being spread and quick as mentioned previously, they will need to have a potent rushing attack so as to keep the defense from utilizing a light box. It has been stated that Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will be used in tandem as a 1A and 1A duo, so we can expect double digit touches to each back this week. Aaron Jones is an efficient runner who has been used in the passing game heavily by Rodgers since he broke out, so his screen work and check down availability will be vital to the offense’s success. Dillon is widely regarded as one of the better backups in the league, and his emergence towards the end of last season will likely allow him to accrue more than 1000 yards from scrimmage this year. The dynamic backfield duo are both capable pass catchers as well, and it will be intriguing to see if they share time on the field. 2 running back sets with a pair of Jones and Dillon could become a 2022 Packers staple with success on Sunday, and seeing how their time together on the field will be extremely fun to watch. We can expect Dillon to take a more fullback-like positioning in the backfield with Jones as a tailback, allowing for all kinds of play action and fakes that will open up those receivers for quick gains.
On defense, a Green Bay team that played around 25% of their snaps in 6 defensive back formations last year and nearly 50% the year before could be looking to move to a more traditional 2 inside linebacker set with the addition of rookie Quay Walker. Walker is a speedy linebacker who can keep up with running backs, providing the team a second linebacker who will not cause matchup issues that can be rolled out next to De’vondre Campbell. With Green Bay’s secondary having a strong safety duo and Alexander, along with promising rookie Stokes and breakout veteran Rasul Douglas, they have 5 very strong defensive backs that can be trusted on the back half. With their depth and strong starting 11, it’s likely that they will load the box and get bigger guys on the field. The Vikings, boasting Dalvin Cook as their premier running back, have historically shredded the Green Bay front 7 and could run into problems if the Packers are now going to be more equipped to handle the run. The defense has struggled most often with rush defense in past years, so Quay Walker’s speed and portability make him a useful tool in modernizing and strengthening the defense. These new sets available to the team could catapult them into a top 3 or 5 defense conversation, as it will round them out as a complete unit and allow them to match up with anybody.
Green Bay’s offense will be eating no matter what happens, as they are led by 4 time MVP Aaron Rodgers and one of the most successful young coaches in the NFL. Week one versus Minnesota will likely give us an idea how the Packers will be playing football for the following 17 weeks, and any football fan should be interested in seeing how they will approach the Vikings this week. With limitless possibilities, it’s hard to know how they will play their cards until 3:25 this Sunday, but these possibilities are all exciting.