Through the first five weeks of the 2022 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers sit tied for second with the Chicago Bears in the NFC North with a 3-2 record.
Although the season is still young, there are some alarming traits that this year’s Packers have, that if not fixed soon, could be a detriment to this team’s success later down the road.
Let’s take a look at what is ailing this Packers team thus far this season.
Packers lack commitment to the run game
If your team has a running back room that consists of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, there is no reason why they shouldn’t combine for at least 25 touches a game.
So far, Jones is averaging a league-high 6.4 yards per carry among all running backs across the NFL, yet he is ranked 19th for rushing attempts. Playing at such a high level should warrant more touches throughout the duration of a game, but for some reason the Packers will eventually abandon the run game during close games.
For instance, this past weekend when the Packers faced the New York Giants in London, the Packers were winning 17-3 and managed to let the Giants come back into the game because they lost control of time of possession.
It seemed like every time the Packers offense went out onto the field during the second half, Aaron Rodgers decided to play hero ball and throw deep balls, but they never worked and led to quick three-and-outs.
The biggest problem with the abandonment of the run game came at the end of the Packers’ best second-half drive late in the fourth quarter.
Down 27-20, the Packers had the ball on third-and-two at the Giants seven-yard line, needing only two yards to convert a first down and keep the drive alive. Instead of using the elite running back tandem of Jones and Dillon to pick up two yards in two plays, Rodgers threw two incompletions.
Jones was asked about the final two play calls postgame, and he did not seem thrilled about the play calling late in the game:
“I’d put my money on giving me or AJ two downs to get two yards,” Jones said. “I’d put my money on it.”
The Packers decided to pass back to back, resulting in the ball being tipped at the line of scrimmage by the Giants both times.
If the Packers want long-term success this year, putting the ball in the air is not the recipe. They need to turn the ball to their backfield and let Jones and Dillon work their magic.
Joe Barry and Packers defense does not adjust to adversity
When you look at the Packers defense, it is loaded with All-Pro and Pro Bowl-level players like Jaire Alexander, De’Vondre Campbell, Rashan Gary, and Kenny Clark, to name a few.
Yet with all this talent, they have not put together four quarters of elite play as a unit. It could be the zone-heavy scheme not being effective enough late in games when opposing teams start to finds the weak spots, or it could be the fact that they’re getting outplayed by opposing offenses.
Regardless, something has to be done.
Two weeks in a row, the Packers have played sub-par offenses — the New England Patriots with a third-string quarterback, and the Giants with Daniel Jones, who suffered an ankle injury the week prior.
In these situations, the defense should have no excuse but to execute and help complement the offense. It’s been the opposite.
During Sunday’s game, once the Giants started to go into the Wildcat formation (playing running back Saquon Barkley at quarterback), the defense could not adjust.
We also saw this lack of adjustment week one against the Minnesota Vikings, where Justin Jefferson had his best game in his career. Joe Barry has shown time and time again that he is unwilling to change his scheme during the game to help put his defense in a better position to make game-changing plays.
If something doesn’t click between Barry and the defense, the locker room may start to fall apart.
Alexander was asked about his feelings post game and did not hold back:
“I ain’t worried, but if we lose next week, then I’ll be worried,” Alexander said, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.
Having comments such as these in week five is a recipe for disaster, and if something isn’t changed within the coming weeks, we could see some issues brew on the Packers’ defensive side of the ball.