Failure of 2022 Packers Starts and Ends with Coaching

Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur owns the most wins in NFL history for a head coach in the first 3 seasons with a team. LaFleur’s 39 regular season wins (39-10) between 2019-2021 is one ahead of former 49ers coach George Seifert for most wins of all time in this category. While the Packers ended those years with disappointing playoff defeats, it’s incredible that Coach LaFleur never won a COY award given his historic success.

The 2022 Packers, however, have been a catastrophic failure. After losing 27-17 on Thursday night to the Titans, Green Bay fell to 4-7 and saw their playoff chances all but dissipate. In truth, there’s blame to go around everywhere when a team fails to such a seismic degree. The front office, coaches and players are all responsible for the current results.

With all that said, the blame for this season starts and ends with Matt LaFleur. If we sing the praises of Coach when things are great, we must hold him responsible for when things are not. It comes with the territory of being a head coach in the NFL.

When the Packers were 3-1 after Week 4, it was something most Packers fans were pleased about. While they didn’t look overwhelmingly great in those games, the important thing was that they were stacking up wins. They had the remainder of the season to “find their groove” and figure out a more efficient brand of football. With games against the Giants, Jets and Commanders on the horizon, most Packers fans expected the team to be 6-1, or 5-2 at the worst, heading into their Sunday Night showdown in Buffalo.

Instead, they did what they did, losing all 4 of those games and an additional fifth straight loss against Detroit. Analyzing the 5 game losing streak that ultimately derailed the season, I ultimately blame Matt LaFleur for the failure of the 2022 Packers, starting in London against the Giants.

Week 5: Giants at Packers (London)

The Packers held a 20-10 halftime lead against the Giants in Week 5. In the second half, Joe Barry’s defense (who was hand picked by LaFleur to be Defensive Coordinator) couldn’t get off the field, surrendering an opening drive of 11 plays and 7 minutes that led to a Giants field goal to make the score 20-13. That was followed by a 15 play, 91 yard, 8 minute touchdown drive by New York to even the score at 20. The Packers, who had been running the football effectively all game, threw 3 straight incomplete passes on the ensuing drive which lasted a grand total of 26 seconds. The Giants would score another touchdown and ultimately win the game 27-22.

The Week 5 loss in London set the tone for what was to come. The Packers lost this game for two primary reasons in my opinion. Number one and most importantly, they stopped running the football when they needed to keep going. While I can’t sit here and say they 100% would’ve won the game had they kept feeding their backs, I’m confident in saying I’m about 80-85% sure they would’ve come away with a W. Secondly, the defense couldn’t get off the field, time after time after time. Many people blamed Joe Barry’s scheme in this game, who refused to challenge the inept Giants pass catchers at the line of scrimmage, leading to too many easy completions and positive plays for New York. It was a 2nd half meltdown from Coach LaFleur’s group, something we’d see again in the near future.

Week 6: Jets at Packers

The 3-2 Packers had an opportunity to “get right” and back to their winning ways against the young and upcoming Jets at Lambeau Field. To put it bluntly, the Packers were egregiously unprepared and out-coached. Basically, it was a no-show from the entire team, outside of one good half of football from the defense. The Packers literally looked like they would rather be doing anything else besides playing football. That falls SQUARELY on the head coach for failing to properly motivate and prepare his team. LaFleur’s good buddy Robert Saleh, head coach of the Jets, ran circles on the Packers all day.

Week 7: Packers at Commanders

Sitting at 3-3 with an upcoming game in Buffalo, I called this game a must-win at the time. The Packers played better than they had the week before but it was still far from an inspiring performance. We can look at a lot of different things in this game – the receivers dropping passes, Aaron Rodgers missing throws, the defense playing awful situational football, blowing a 14-3 lead, etc. All that being said, the Packers once again abandoned the run in this game, running a grand total of 12 times for 38 yards. Again, this falls on LaFleur. I’m of the belief that if the Packers went into that game saying “we’re running the ball 25-30 times no matter what the result”, that they would’ve flown back home with a win. Instead, Aaron Rodgers and the abysmal pass offense threw it 35 times, ultimately resulting in an ugly, inefficient offensive performance and a big fat L.

Week 8: Packers at Bills

Not much to say here. The Packers were outplayed and outclassed by a much better team. Next.

Week 9: Packers at Lions

This game would ultimately be the dagger for the 2022 Packers. While Aaron Rodgers admittedly played “shitty” as he said in his post game press conference, the Packers refusal to just “run the damn ball” cost them a win. Aaron Rodgers attempted a season high 43 passes when he absolutely didn’t have to. Had the Packers just been normal and leaned on their strengths (running the football to set up the pass), they win. Period. The Lions didn’t even play well in this game. The Packers lost 15-9 against the worst defense in the NFL. Lol. Rock Bottom.

Synopsis of 5 Game Losing Streak

In 3 of the 5 games, I’m about 80-85% convinced that the Packers win against the Giants, Commanders and Lions if they would’ve leaned into their strengths and just run the crap out of the football. I’m 100% confident they would’ve won at least 2 out of 3.

In their Week 6 game against the Jets, they were utterly embarrassed and unprepared to play a game of football. That solely lands at the feet of Matt LaFleur.

Week 8 against the Bills, there’s not much to say. The Bills are much better than the Packers.

Concluding Thoughts

The Packers refusal to be who they should’ve leaned into being since Day 1 of Training Camp has led to 4-7 through 11 games. Like I said in so many words, I believe they’d be 6-5, 7-4 or 8-3 if Coach LaFleur would’ve just kept things going on the ground.

I also believe the teams lack of preparation is something that needs to be microscopically looked at in the offseason. They weren’t ready to play football in Week 1 against the Vikings. They weren’t ready to play football against the Jets. Aaron Rodgers literally said after their Week 8 loss to the Bills that it was the first time all season that it felt like the team was ready to play from an energy standpoint. What?

This “lack of preparation” can be traced back to previous games in other seasons too, which Packers fans know what I’m referencing. Here’s the thing – being a players coach, which LaFleur is, is freaking awesome when a team is winning. Everyone’s happy, everyone plays freely and the vibes are good. Yet when the wins aren’t happening, what happens with a Player’s Coach is lack of direction, lack of identity and lack of leadership. That’s what’s played out in 2022.

Finally, Matt LaFleur is responsible for the hire of his good buddy Joe Barry, the Packers defensive coordinator. The defense is not entirely at fault for the Packers season and it would be irresponsible to say otherwise. However, a unit that had Top 5 aspirations from just about everyone before the season has underwhelmed immensely and both LaFleur and Barry are responsible for it. Whether it’s scheme, focus, preparation or motivation – it’s gone off the rails for the Green Bay defense.

Matt LaFleur is a good coach and I’m happy he’s the coach of the Packers. Hopefully, 2022 will ultimately be a hard learning lesson and allow him to improve as a coach in future years.

——————

Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.

——————

Share

Leave a Reply

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