The 2022 Green Bay Packers are entering a new era of offense. Over the offseason, OC Nathaniel Hackett departed for a job as head coach of the Denver Broncos. QB coach Luke Getsy has taken a new role as offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. Davante Adams, once the linchpin of Matt LaFleur’s system, is gone. Aaron Rodgers targeted Adams at least 125 times in each of the last three seasons. No other receiver surpassed 70 targets in that period. Exacerbating the loss, yet another major target departed in free agency. Marquez Valdes-Scantling recorded 56, 63, and 55 targets in 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively. In all three seasons he was a top-4 target for Rodgers.
Taken together, the loss of Adams and MVS means that around 170+ targets have left town. Obviously, the Packers offense will need to significantly evolve – in the absence of multiple key coaches, no less – to counteract these losses. Rookie WRs Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs will provide part of that answer, as will Green Bay’s veteran core of Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Mercedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, and newly-signed Sammy Watkins. Running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon could take on a significant increase in workload. Other players like Josiah Deguara, Malik Taylor, and Juwann Winfree may have to step up to help out. At this point, it is impossible to predict exactly what form these contributions will take. However, we can discuss what a good showing from the offense would would look like. I believe that a successful season from the Packers offense would consist of at least three components.
Part One: Avoid Turnovers
Throughout the Matt LaFleur era, Green Bay has been fantastic at mitigating turnovers on offense. They finished second-best in the league in 2019 with 13 turnovers, had a league-best 11 in 2020, and tied for first in 2021, recording 13 again. Aaron Rodgers’ aptitude for keeping the ball out of harms’ way deserves a great deal of credit for that. Still, that may not be enough in 2022.
With the injection of new talent – the rookie WRs, in particular – comes new uncertainty. While Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are dynamic, talented weapons, there will still be a period of adjustment as they enter the NFL. Miscommunication on routes could lead to interceptions. The nerves brought on by a new level of competition may hurt the rookies’ ball security, leading to fumbles. Given the new variables in Green Bay’s 2022 offense, avoiding turnovers will be a critical part of a successful season.
Part Two: A Balanced Offense
One way to keep rookie mistakes from impacting the offense? Put the ball in the dependable hands of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Arguably, the Packers offense has been at its best when the run-pass split has been closest to equal. In 2019, Green Bay threw the ball 573 times and ran it 411 times (a pass rate of about 56%). In 2021, they recorded 593 passing attempts and 446 rushing attempts (55% pass rate). However, in 2020 – LaFleur’s most successful offensive year – the Packers passed 526 times while recording 443 rushes.
This split was the most balanced of LaFleur’s tenure – a pass rate of 53%. The run-pass split wasn’t the only reason the 2020 offense excelled – the passing game was highly efficient, and the offense had fantastic 3rd down and red zone conversion rates, to name a few other factors. Still, devoting more touches to Jones and Dillon can ease the pressure on Green Bay’s new offensive pieces and could give the offense a better chance of staying on schedule.
Part 3: Place Within the League’s Top Ten In PPG and Yds/Game
Finishing within the top ten seems like an obvious indicator for success. Arguably, that is the goal every year. Still, considering all the new pieces and uncertainty around the 2022 Packers, I believe a top ten finish in PPG and yards per game would be the ultimate indicator of a successful season.
In 2019 – the worst offense of Matt LaFleur’s tenure – the Packers ranked 15th in points/game and 18th in yards/game. In 2020, they finished 1st in points/game and 5th in yards/game. Finally, in 2021, they placed in between those two extremes, ranking 10th in points/game and 10th in yards/game. A similar finish in 2022 – at or within the top ten – would be ideal.
The statistical markers for a top-ten finish have varied from year to year as offensive production fluctuated leaguewide. However, over the last three years the tenth-best offense has never finished with worse than 25 PPG and 365 yads/game. It is fair to say that, if Green Bay can meet or surpass these markers, they will have exceeded expectations.
Ultimately, the goal for the 2022 Packers offense is to put the team in position to win the Super Bowl. However, with new faces in the locker room and on the coaching staff, the offense may be more limited than it has been in previous years. Aaron Rodgers and Co. are unlikely to burn the league down as they did in 2020. If they are able to avoid high turnover numbers, maintain close-to-symmetrical offensive splits, and record top-ten-caliber stats, then I believe that they will be in an excellent position to make a deep postseason run – especially if the defense lives up to its own lofty expectations.
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