We’ve quickly reached the point in the off-season where the high drama of free agency is long past and the anticipation and prognostication of draft day has come and gone. As Packers fans we largely know what the 2022 roster will look like barring any bargain-basement additions or surprise training camp cullings.
So, what do we do now?
The NFL releases the official 2022 schedule tomorrow evening, so we can all quickly run down the list and check off which games the Packers will win (all of them) and which they will lose (definitely none).
But instead of going through that fun exercise, I’m going to operate under the assumption that the Packers are headed to the ‘Bowl no matter who they play in the regular season.
…and I don’t think it will be Aaron Rodgers right arm that takes them there.
Obviously, Rodgers staying healthy and productive during his 18th NFL season is and always will be important to the success of the Packers. That goes without saying.
I’m also not suggesting that Rodgers doesn’t have the ability to take over a game any longer. He certainly does until further notice.
But, what if the time has arrived where the offense is no longer the dominant unit on the team?
What if the Packers were the ones flipping the script and winning playoff games by forcing turnovers, hunting QBs and wreaking havoc on defense?
I think we could be primed for a very special defensive performance in 2022 and beyond.
Aaron Rodgers will never be a “game-manager” type quarterback, but think about how much easier his job is with a defense that can not only be above average but a major asset.
Rodgers will have plenty on his plate with a slate of new pass catchers, and a likely re-tooled offense to accommodate them. The less he has to be concerned about maximizing each possession or if he’s going to be getting the ball back, the better.
Perhaps it’s just how the board fell, but Brian Gutekunst’s selections of two potentially impactful defenders in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft speaks volumes about the direction this team may be heading.
The Packers now feature either bonafide Pro-Bowlers, All-Pros or young, athletic freaks at every level of the defense.
While painful, I feel like the Packers loss to the 49ers in the playoffs was a preview of how good this defense could be or maybe even better with a little injury luck and the infusion of rookie talent.
On paper it’s very tough to pinpoint a weakness for the defensive unit.
Brian Gutekunst did an excellent job bolstering the defensive line unit between signing Jarran Reed and drafting Devante Wyatt out of Georgia.
The pass rush group is one that gives me slight pause in that the production of Za’Darius Smith will not be easily replaced.
I guess the counter to that is Smith only played in the first and final games of the season and the Packers defense largely didn’t miss him.
Brian Gutekunst spoke glowingly about the depth in the pass rush room, specifically mentioning Randy Ramsey as a player that he has high expectations for. Ramsey, however spent the entire 2021 season on IR.
Gutekunst was also able to snag Kingsley ‘JJ’ Enagbare, a near consensus top-100 talent out of South Carolina, with the Packers fifth round selection.
The inside linebacker corps has probably as much talent as I’ve seen in my 32 years on earth, with the resigning of De’Vondre Campbell, the selection of Georgia’s Quay Walker with the 22nd overall pick and the familiar but flawed duo of Krys Barnes and Ty Summers.
The inside linebacker group went from much maligned afterthought to now potentially a great strength in the span of about 6 months. You love to see it.
The Packers will once again field a secondary dripping with talent.
The starting safety duo of Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage will be back and hopefully better than ever, but depth behind them is perilously thin.
The cornerback group features the best 1-2-3 punch in the NFL. I said it.
If Jaire Alexander plays a full slate of games I’m just really not sure where opposing quarterbacks plan to place the football.
2nd year man Eric Stokes will hope to continue refining his technique to match his freak speed and athleticism.
Journeyman-no-more, Rasul Douglas returns to do what he does best. Come up big when it’s crunch time and take the ball the other way.
If the Packers can keep guys off the trainers table and in the starting lineup I think this could easily be the most potent defense since the Packers last Super Bowl run.
What’s really scary to think about is that this team has a degree of balance to it that we haven’t ever seen in recent history. No glaring weaknesses on either side of the ball.
Or maybe we should shore up special teams too before we count our Lombardi’s?
You can follow Adam on twitter at @adamjcarlson28.