3 burning questions Packers must answer entering 2022 season
By David Ruiz
The smell of regular season football is in the air for the Green Bay Packers as September begins 18 weeks of hard-nosed, disciplined football.
Once again, the proverbial Super Bowl “window” is open for the Packers in 2023, but after season after season of falling short, is this finally the year Vince Lombardi returns home?
Every season presents its individual, unique challenges for all 32 NFL teams looking to sit atop the mountain in February, and that uncertainty rings loudly in Green Bay. The winds are blowing in a different direction at Lambeau Field following a three-game preseason that gave us some insight into what to expect, but, perhaps, not the entire picture.
Everyone likes an underdog story in the NFL and while the Packers aren’t blossoming from a team that hasn’t seen regular-season success, they’re still looking for sustained post-season success.
Will the Packers’ offense look drastically different post-Davante Adams?
The shock of trading Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders and losing the value of a premium wide receiver is still in full effect for the Packers. Until we see an Aaron Rodgers-led offense on the field for 60 minutes, it’s hard to pinpoint what the 2022 offense will look like.
The saving grace?
The Packers went a perfect 7-0 in games without Adams since 2019. So, the easy answer is to say the Packers will be fine. And perhaps, they will be. But the difference between losing Adams for a couple of games a season to not having him at all will tell another story.
The drafting of Romeo Doubs — who became a preseason fan-favorite, and Christian Watson looks great on paper but needs to be seen in real action this season to see what they really can do.
Outside of two rookie presences, there will be familiarity for Rodgers everywhere else you look. Being thrust into the No. 1 spot will be Allen Lazard, followed by long-time favorite Randall Cobb, star tight end in the making, Robert Tonyan, and a pair of brute running backs in Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.
The back-to-back reigning league MVP will have an offense that’s poised to take huge steps this season. Addition by subtraction gives and it takes, however, the identity of this offense should take shape rather quickly.
Do the Packers boast a Super Bowl-winning defense?
Looking back at their loss against the San Francisco 49ers, you could blame anyone but the Packers’ defense for the reason they lost. In chilly, home-field conditions, the Packers’ defense gave up a total of six points.
This is equally impressive given that this 49ers team throughout the years has just had its way with the Packers both away and at home.
Once the season ended, and amidst an off-season full of will-he-or-won’t-he return drama of Rodgers, there was concern that GM Brian Gutekunst wouldn’t be able to retain everyone.
The Packers had a defense full of playmakers that looked like would never suit up together again. However, it started by parting ways with Za’Darius Smith — a tough pill to swallow but in an era where injured players cannot contribute, the writing was on the wall for Smith.
Quite possibly the defensive steal of the season with De’Vondre Campbell becoming a crucial member of this defense — looked like it’d be a one-year wonder. But play style and results do not lie and the Packers knew they had something special in Campbell after offering a five-year, $50 million contract.
And they struck gold again after solidifying the defense by keeping Rasul Douglas — whose game-winning interception against the then-undefeated Arizona Cardinals and pick-six of Los Angeles Rams QB Matt Stafford immediately showcased his lock-down spot.
You can focus on any area of this defense and see playmakers salivating at the mouth to take this team to the Super Bowl. They’ll once again have plenty of offenses to defend — including trips to Tampa Bay and Buffalo — but if you’re only giving up six points when it matters, that’s a Super Bowl-caliber defense.
Matt LaFleur needs to keep this Packers team on the gas pedal
There have been one too many times where LaFleur had concluded post-game pressers by taking the blame for a loss. Rightfully so, given he is one of the many faces of this Packers team.
Despite this, LaFleur has multiple 13-win seasons, two trips to the NFC Championship Game, and is constantly snubbed for Coach of the Year.
LaFleur may be heading into an equally tough season given this Packers team is seaming with talent but continues to die on the hill that is the NFC playoffs. No coach is perfect and when you suffer enough heartbreaking losses as he has, there will be those who question if he’s the right man for the job.
There’s no such evidence that either Matt Murdock or Jennifer Walters could argue against LaFleur in 2022, but amongst the many storylines this season will throw at us, LaFleur needs to be a beacon.
LaFleur has had his fingerprint on the NFC for a long time now. It’s time to dominate it. You can’t have Bruce Arians getting Tom Brady for one season and winning the Super Bowl. Nor can you let fellow frenemy Sean McVay also win the Super Bowl after acquiring Matthew Stafford.
The psyche of football is a fragile one that requires more mental fortitude than you and I could ever comprehend.
The start of the regular season is right around the corner, folks.