Why are the Packers Playing Poorly, But There Still is a Reason for Optimism?

As the 2022 NFL approached, there was little doubt from fans, pundits and betters that the Packers would return to the playoffs for a fourth straight season under Matt LaFleurs’ fourth year as head coach.

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur

However, with back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers at the helm and one of the most talented defenses the Packers have seen since the 2010/2011 Super Bowl-winning season, there was still positivity around Lambeau Field before Week 1 against the Vikings.

Now we come to the end of week 8, and no Packers fan could have foreseen what a mess this team has become.

With four straight losses, the Pack are now three point five games back of the division leaders, the Minnesota Vikings, who seem to be cruising to their first divisional title in 4 years.

So what is the cause for the Packers’ downfall, but why are there still reasons for optimism?

O-Line issues, again:
With the Green Bay Packers, a healthy offensive line all year round is never seemingly possible.

The injury issues in this position have hindered the two best players along the whole of the offensive line.

David Bakhtiari has not played a full season since 2019

David Bakhtiari is still troubled with knee issues after tearing his ACL on New Year’s Eve in 2020, along with Elgton Jenkins, who is suffering the same fate after the same injury in 2021 after superb 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Both have not been able to play all eight games this season, with Bakhtiari missing three games and Jenkins missing two, with both also playing under a snap count.

Therefore, much rotation along the line has had to occur, with many backups having to fill in, struggling under the pressure of elite pass rushers in the NFL.

The pressure Rodgers has come under from poor offensive line play has been huge, with him being sacked 17 times this season through eight games and only had 2.48 seconds to throw the ball.

The line has also affected the running game, with both running backs being in the top 5 in average time behind the line of scrimmage, with Dillion spending 2.6 seconds behind the line and Jones 2.64 seconds.

Dismal defence from Barry:
Before the season started, what Packers fans were most excited about was to see how this defence would play out this season.

After a good showing last season, where old stars like Jaire Alexander and Kenny Clark shone brightly amongst some new ones, with Rasul Douglas and De’Vondre Campbell, the latter making the all-pro team last season after a stunning season.

General manager Brian Gutekunst also used the Packs draft capital to sure up the defense, with both first-round picks spent on Georgia Bulldogs Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt, creating a defense bristling with youth and talent.

But, as always with the Packers, the defense never fulfills heightened expectations.

Returning players like Campbell and Douglas have had their moments this season but have not been at that elite level they were at last season.

The first-round picks from the 2022 draft have also been disappointing, with Wyatt not getting many snaps and Walker showing an ugly, ill-disciplined side to him, which boiled over against the Bills on SNF last night, pushing a coach and leading to his ejection.

Yet again, however, Joe Barry, the defensive coordinator of the Packers, is starting to irritate the Cheeseheads.

Joe Barry coaching in college football at USC

His defence has not been good, unable to stop the run as teams average 4.9 yards per carry and 141.3 yards per game on his defense, a constant problem the Packers have had for years.

Along with this, the passing game has been lousy, with teams averaging 7.2 yards per pass, with the middle of the field almost always wide open for the opponent’s offense.

Because of these issues for the defense, Barry’s schemes have come under question from fans, with many online already calling for his job at the end of week eight.

Reasons for optimism:
A below-par conference:

Perhaps the biggest reason for optimism is because other poor teams that were supposedly contenders surround the Green Bay Packers in the NFC.

Teams like the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the last two super bowl champions, have suffered the same fate as the Packers, with all three teams who were NFC favorites crumbling to 3-5 on the year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady

The Packers are one game behind the seventh seed, held by the 4-4 San Francisco 49ers, so there is an opportunity for the Packers to scrape into the playoffs. 

Aaron Rodgers is not the problem:

Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers

Yes, we can make excuses and reasons for why the level of quarterback play from Aaron Rodgers has dropped following back-to-back MVP seasons.

He is now 38 years of age, soon to be 39 on December 2, with many players not able to perform at that age, let alone to the standard Rodgers has put up year upon year.

Along with this, it is one of the worst receiving corps he has played with during his time in the NFL, with wide receiver Allen Lazard being his leading pass catcher, totalling just 340 yards in the six games he has played.

However, even though his stats are not as high as we are used to seeing from Rodgers, and his deep ball is not what it used o b, he is still playing at a high level to help lead his team to victories.

He has thrown the sixth-highest amount of touchdowns this season among quarterbacks with 13 on the year, and only four interceptions to his name, looking after the football as he has done all his career.

He also ranks in the top 10 in passer rating, with a score of 94.9 through week seven.

This is not what we are used to seeing from Aaron Rodgers, but this does not mean he has dramatically fallen off from his elite level; he is still able to perform at a good level and he is still able to help lead this team to wins.

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