What is Packers’ Identity After Season’s First Month?

The events of the past offseason ensured that the Packers’ identity was going to change in 2022. The departure of Davante Adams, then doubling down on defensive players in the first round of the draft were the most notable of moves. And with many new faces on both sides of the ball, it was always going to take time for fans to see just how the pieces were going to fit together. And at the conclusion of the first month of the season, we’re beginning to see just what this iteration of the Packers is going to be.

Offensively, the Packers personnel has forced the Packers to look very differently than any other Aaron Rodgers led unit. Injuries on the offensive line, as well as a lot of new faces on the perimeter have changed the way the Packers attack a defense. Through 3 games, Rodgers has attempted on 9 passes over 20 yards. That ties him with Cooper Rush and Davis Mills for 22nd in the league. And his average depth of target of 5.6 yards is by far the lowest of his career. For reference, in the previous 3 years under Matt LaFleur Rodgers has averaged 8.1, 8.4, and 9.2 yards.

With that said, the Packers have still been one of the more efficient offenses in the league. They rank 9th in offensive DVOA, and in large part this has been because of their success on early downs. They have been near the top of the NFL at turning their first or second down plays into first downs or TD. They have Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon to thank for that. They have formed one of the most prolific tandems in the league. They’ve combined for 72 rushing attempts for 355 yards, good for just under 5 yards per carry. Jones himself has averaged 6.5 yards per carry.

This methodical approach works in large part because the Packers don’t beat themselves. They have the most turnover averse quarterback in league history, and are also one of the least penalized teams in the league. They are currently 4th in the NFL in penalties per game, a statistic they also finished 2021 as #1 in the NFL. This also does wonders for the other side of the ball.

The Packers have been one of the best teams in the league in terms of time of possession. This has also led to the Packers defense only facing an average of 54 plays per game, good for 3rd in the NFL. This is partially because of their efficient offense. But the Packers defense also deserves credit. They have been the #1 team in the NFL on third down. They have allowed their opponents to convert 3rd downs only 22.6% of the time. This is a massive improvement over a season ago, where they finished 24th in the league.

We’ve known Joe Barry’s scheme is predicated on preventing big plays, and forcing teams to drive the length of the field. And with the success they’ve had on third down, you aren’t seeing many long drives against them. They also showed an encouraging performance against Tampa in their tackling. They finished 2021 as one of the best tackling teams in the league. But through the first two weeks they had 20 missed tackles as a team. Sunday against Tampa Bay, they had only two.

What has really tied it all together for Green Bay though, is their success on special teams. Yes you read that correctly. So far in 2022, punter Pat O’Donnell has 9 punts inside of the 20 yard line – good for 2nd in the NFL. He’s also 5th in net punting average at 45.1 yards. Time and time again the Packers have been able to pin their opponents deep. This adds pressure for the opposing offenses, and plays into the strengths of the Packers defense.

Far too often throughout Rodgers’ career, the Packers offense has had to shoulder the load. But 2022 has seen a seismic shift. The Packers offense may not be the record setting juggernaut that it was earlier in his career. But with all three phases working together, they don’t need it to be. This formula gives the Packers a chance every single week, and is capable of taking them deep into the postseason.

——————

Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.

——————

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *