The Green Bay Packers are returning some of their biggest player makers in 2022. The majority of the roster that saw the Packers win 13 games for the third season in a row will look to help Green Bay finally get over the hump and into the Super Bowl. However, in order for that to happen, there are a few players who had down seasons in 2021 that must improve this year. Davante Adams is a huge loss, and it will take multiple players to replace his production. Additionally, special teams and defense have several players in need of an improved 2022 season. Here, I highlight one player from each facet of the team whose improvement in 2022 will be vital to the Packers’ success.
Related: ESPN releases projections for Packers rookie Christian Watson
Offense: Wide Receiver Amari Rodgers
There was a great deal of hype surrounding Amari Rodgers when the Green Bay Packers drafted him in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. His father was Randall Cobb’s position coach at Tennessee and expectations were set that Rodgers would be the next Cobb. That did not turn out to be the case, however, and Rodgers struggled in 2021.
As a rookie, Amari Rodgers did not see much playing time in the Packers offense. Davante Adams, Maquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, and Randall Cobb all saw the majority of the snaps. However, Rodgers struggled to even find playing time over Malik Taylor and Juwann Winfree. All told, he had just four receptions and 45 yards on eight targets in 2021. His advanced stats make those meager numbers look even worse. Rodgers dropped one pass, but since he was only targeted eight times it gave him a drop percentage of 12.5%. Packers quarterbacks had just a 27.5 passer rating when targeting Rodgers, too.
Amari Rodgers also started off the season as one of the Packers’ kick returners. This, too, was an area in which he struggled. While Green Bay has numerous options at kick returner, Rodgers can help his case in OTA’s and training camp by showing improvement in this facet of the game as well.
With Davante Adams and MVS gone, there are roles open for Packers wide receivers. While Green Bay drafted three new wide receivers and signed Sammy Watkins (who is not at OTA’s), the door is open for Amari Rodgers to make his mark on the offense. A much improved 2022 would soften the blow of losing Adams and MVS and ensure the Packers offense remains among the NFL’s best.
Defense: Shemar Jean-Charles
Shemar Jean-Charles was a fifth round pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 2021 NFL Draft. Like Amari Rodgers, he found himself sitting behind some real stars at his position. Jaire Alexander is widely considered to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Eric Stokes, the Packers’ first round pick last season, also played extremely well. However, SJC did not play well enough for the Packers to rely heavily on him when Alexander went down with a shoulder injury. His lack of production is part of what led Green Bay to acquire Rasul Douglas. While that moved certainly panned out for the Packers, SJC taking a big leap in 2022 will be vital to the defense.
Last season, Shemar Jean-Charles played just 37 defensive snaps all season (4% of the team’s defensive plays). In his limited playing time, he was targeted six times and gave up a reception on each one. Quarterbacks had a 115.3 passer rating when targeting SJC, who gave up 70 receiving yards.
While the trio of Alexander, Stokes, and Douglas are among the best in the NFL, the depth behind them is questionable at best. Shemar Jean-Charles will get a chance to prove himself and can work himself into the defense more often with big improvements. As a senior at Appalachian State in 2020, he led the country with 17 pass deflections. He CAN play. The question is whether or not he can make his game transfer to the NFL.
Related: Packers wide receiver switching to cornerback
Special Teams: Mason Crosby
Mason Crosby is one of two remaining Packers players remaining from the team’s last Super Bowl win. Throughout his long career, he has become the team’s all-time scoring leader and provided fans with multiple memorable moments. However, last season was certainly a down year for the veteran kicker.
Related: Mason Crosby can break two records in 2022
Overall, Mason Crosby made just 25 of the 34 field goals that he attempted. His 73.5% accuracy was the second lowest of his career. From 20-29 yards, though, Crosby remained automatic going nine for nine in his attempts. Outside of that range, though, the Packers’ kicker struggled. He was 9/13 from 30-39 yards, 4/8 from 40-49 yards, and (amazingly) 3/4 from 50+ yards.
There were several factors that affected Crosby’s performance, though. From a new place holder and a poor long snapper to horrible blocking on his kicks, there was a lot going against Crosby last season (besides the wind). This year, Crosby has already begun developing chemistry with new punter (and place holder) Pat O’Donnell. Rich Bisaccia is the new special teams coordinator, and there is much improvement expected.,
Mason Crosby does not have a very long career ahead of him, but 2022 should (and needs to) be better.
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