In 2019 and 2020, the Green Bay Packers reached the NFC Championship game. Last season, they were the number one seed going into the playoffs. But this year, so far, they are 3-6 and have posted a losing streak that runs to five games.
The drop-off in standards has been remarkable, and betting fans looking for the latest sportsbook promos are having to adjust to seeing the Packers in the bottom third of the Super Bowl rankings as sportsbooks react to their poor performances.
The departure of Davante Adams and the poor performance of the wide receiver group in his absence has obviously dominated the talk about the Packers, but it hardly seems fair to blame inexperienced or second-tier players for not being able to make up the difference. The offensive line has also been poor, but much of that is down to injuries and the constant reshuffling of the lineup that this creates. So, if we are looking to pin the blame, we have to seek elsewhere.
It is sometimes too easy to blame head coaches, and Matt LaFleur has a solid resume, but no coach is perfect and this season, it is reasonable for him to take his share of the blame for what is transpiring in Green Bay. Some of the play-calling has been questionable but the main problem seems to be an unwillingness or an inability to adapt to circumstances.
Last season, the Packers didn’t play their starters in the preseason games and were beaten in their opener. This time around? The exact same thing. This, despite the fact that with Adams gone, Green Bay needed to maximize the time that Rodgers spent on the field with his depleted receiver group.
Too often, LaFleur has defaulted to the old game plan – the one in which Rodgers could throw to an elite receiver – rather than adapt and adjust to the opponent. The Packers have shown that they can compete if they take a balanced approach, leaning more on the run game, as they did for much of the game against the Bills. But against the Lions – with their terrible run defense – the Packers fell back on the passing-dominated approach.
In short, LaFleur needs to do better with what he has. The roster may be weaker this time around and it may not even be a playoff-level group any more, but the coach is not giving his players a chance by failing to put them in the best positions for them to show their true abilities.
The narrative around Rodgers and the Packers – that he has had to carry the team without sufficient support from the organization – has been true so often and has persisted so long that it is the default position for many Packers fans who can’t see past his elite-level talent.
This season, though, it is 100% fair to criticize Rodgers, on two counts. Firstly, he didn’t do enough to try to stop Adams from leaving. Note the word ‘try’. Who knows whether it would have made a difference if Rodgers had gone all out to persuade him to stay? All we know for certain is that Adams himself alluded to the fact that the uncertainty over Rodgers’ future at the Packers was a factor in his decision.
Secondly, he is not playing well. Going into the Lions matchup, he had not thrown a three-interception game since 2017, but that came to an end in spectacular fashion. He threw two red-zone interceptions and another just outside the opposition’s 20-yard line and finished with a 53.5 passer rating. So far this season, his rating is 89.0. It hasn’t been this low since his second season in the league, in 2006. Quite simply, he needs to play better football.
Could the Packers have done more to keep Adams? Maybe. They apparently offered to pay him what he wanted, but then they have a history in this area. In fact, doing almost enough financially but just falling short is a consistent pattern with the Packers, and it was on display once again this month.
Ahead of the trade deadline, there was widespread speculation that Green Bay was going to strengthen the roster. It was certainly warranted. And yet, trade deadline day came and went – and nothing happened. Earlier this week, it was revealed that they had ‘almost’ reached a deal for Darren Waller. Almost. Like the coach and the quarterback, the Packers organization as a whole has to up their game or this disastrous 2022 slump could turn into a prolonged decline.