The Green Bay Packers offense didn’t match the dominance it showed in 2021 but still was one of the better units in the NFL despite a rash of injuries along the offensive line. The offense featured the league MVP in Aaron Rodgers and All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams who has since been traded to the Raiders.
The offensive line injuries caught up to the Packers in their playoff loss to the 49ers with both David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins unavailable. The makeshift offensive line failed to protect Rodgers adequately and the Pack scored only 10 points in the game.
The Packers finished the 2021 campaign ranked 10th in the league in yards gained and points scored. The rushing attack ranked 18th in the league in yards gained while the pass defense was 8th.
The Packers will have a new offensive coordinator in Adam Stenavich but Matt LaFleur will continue to call the plays.
Here is a look at the five biggest questions facing the Green Bay Packers defense as we finish up OTAs:
- Will the Receivers Be Good Enough?
Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling will play elsewhere in 2022 so the Packers have lost two of their top three wide receivers from a year ago. Adams was the best receiver in the league while MVS added the element of speed and was a deep threat defenses had to respect.
Returning are veterans Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb along with second-year man Amari Rodgers. The Packers also signed free agent Sammy Watkins and drafted three players in Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure. Veterans Juwann Winfree and Malik Taylor are also back to fight for jobs.
There is no clear-cut, proven number one receiver and it will be important that at least two or three players step forward, gain Rodgers’ trust and become reliable targets for the Packers this season. How quickly the rookies will be able to contribute is also part of the equation.
- Who Will Win the Jobs Along the Offensive Line?
There is a lot of talent and depth along the offensive line even with the departure of Billy Turner and Lucas Patrick. For the second consecutive year, the Packers added three offensive linemen in the draft to compete for roster spots.
But there are questions. David Bakhtiari played half of one game last season and still hasn’t returned to practice as he recovers from a knee injury suffered before the 2020 season finale. Elgton Jenkins also suffered a knee injury in November and probably won’t be ready to start the 2022 season on time.
Jon Runyan Jr. and Royce Newman are the incumbent starters at guard while second year man Josh Myers returns at center.
If Bakhtiari is healthy, he will start at left tackle. Yosh Nijman is the favorite to win the right tackle job at least until Jenkins is ready to return to action.
Rookies Sean Rhyan, Zach Tom and Rasheed Walker will also fight for playing time with Rhyan and Tom able to play both guard and tackle depending on how quickly they adjust to life in the NFL.
Offensive lines need time to gel and require continuity so sorting things out in training camp will be important.
Hopefully, the line will have fewer injuries than it did a year ago when three starters missed more than half the season.
- When Will Injured Players Return?
The Packers are hopeful Bakhtiari will be ready to start the season on time and Jenkins is likely to be ready by mid-season.
Tight end Robert Tonyan also suffered a season-ending knee injury and continued to work out with the rehab group during OTAs. It is unclear when he’ll be ready to return to the lineup. The Packers can use his ability to catch passes downfield. No other tight end on the roster can match Tonyan’s ability when he’s healthy.
Second-year running back Kylin Hill suffered a knee injury in the same game as Tonyan. He continues to rehab as well. Hill was the team’s third running back and primary kick returner before getting injured. The team is still not certain when Hill will be ready to return to the lineup.
Getting these players healthy and ready to play will be a big boost for the Packers.
- Will Aaron Rodgers Continue to Play at an Elite Level?
Aaron Rodgers is coming off back-to-back MVP seasons but the former Cal star will turn 39 in December and Father Time is a tough opponent.
The Packers need Rodgers to continue to play at a high level. He doesn’t have to be league MVP again (although three straight would be very impressive), but another strong season is an important part of the team’s potential success.
If Rodgers’ play falls off significantly, the offense will have to make substantial adjustments in order to remain a consistent force.
- How Will the Offense Look Different?
The offense will have to make adjustments without Adams to rely on. LaFleur has already indicated he may use more formations with both Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon on the field together.
Rodgers will also have to spread the ball around between his receivers now that his favorite target is playing in Las Vegas. It is also more likely that LaFleur will have to scheme more of his receivers open which he has been able to do in the past when Adams wasn’t able to play.
Each year in the NFL is different and the Packers offense will have to make some changes to the offense this year to compensate for the changes in the lineup.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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