The Green Bay Packers have endured a disappointing 2022 season. The team started the year with what they felt were legitimate Super Bowl aspirations but now, they have lost five straight games and are 3-6 as they pass the halfway mark of the season.
While the Packers are still mathematically alive for a playoff berth, their difficult schedule and poor level of play make that extremely unlikely. The Packers would need to finish the season 6-2 and get some help if they are to even have a slight chance of qualifying for the playoffs. After failing to play well against the Lions, it’s unlikely they can go on a run of six or seven wins against opponents that include the Cowboys, Eagles, Rams, Titans and Vikings.
While the playoffs are a long shot, that doesn’t mean there still aren’t important things the Packers can get done during the rest of this season that can help the franchise.
Here is a look at five things the Packers should look to accomplish for the rest of the 2022 NFL season:
- Develop Their Rookie Receivers
The Packers selected three wide receivers in this year’s NFL draft and one last year. While injuries have slowed the development of Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs will miss the next few weeks with a high ankle sprain, the Packers should do everything they can to get their young receivers on the field and get them as many reps as possible once they’re healthy.
That means more playing time for Samori Toure, Amari Rodgers and when they can play again, Watson and Doubs.
Yes, these players will be inconsistent and yes, they will make their share of rookie mistakes, but at this point, the Packers are better off seeing what these players can do. They will learn more by playing then they will by watching.
At this point, giving extensive playing time to veterans like Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb over the young receivers doesn’t help the team in the long run as it’s unlikely either of those veterans are a part of the team’s future.
Over the second half the season, the Packers need to see what their young receivers can do.
- Figure Out the Defensive System They Want to Run
The Packers defense has played well overall this season although they have had some late-game breakdowns and inconsistent play. What most people hoped would be an elite unit is now just good.
The Packers have the remaining eight games of the season to figure out what kind of defense suits them best. They should not go back to the overly passive system defensive coordinator Joe Barry was playing earlier in the season which allowed too many easy gains at critical times.
Head coach Matt LaFleur and Barry need to work together to figure out what kind of defense this team should best play to maximize the talent they have on the field and then play it for the rest of the season.
If it doesn’t work, Barry may not be back in 2023.
- Get Rookies and Young Players More Involved
As we get later in the season, the Packers need to get more of their young players action and it’s not just the wide receiver group.
The season-ending injury to Rashan Gary will give more chances to rookie Kingsley Enagbare, Jonathan Garvin and probably La’Darius Hamilton.
The Packers will want to see where Kylin Hill is as he returns from his knee injury and he should get some reps on offense down the stretch.
First round pick Devonte Wyatt is slowly getting some more playing time on defense but down the stretch, he should be playing a lot more just so he can acclimate to playing in the NFL.
Other young players like Shemar Jean-Charles, Isaiah McDuffie, Sean Rhyan, Tariq Carpenter and Zach Tom and T.J. Slaton should all be getting more action down the stretch to see what they can do.
- Play Jordan Love At Some Point
The Packers must decide this offseason whether to pick up the fifth-year option on Jordan Love. Love has shown flashes of ability in limited regular season action during his first three seasons but he’s also been very inconsistent.
Once the team is officially eliminated from playoff contention, they should give Love at least two or three starts to close out the season. If Aaron Rodgers can’t handle that then he needs to play so well that it becomes a non-issue.
By playing Love, they won’t risk unnecessary injury to Rodgers and will get a chance to see what they have the former Utah State star. If Love plays well, the team should start to plan to build around him. If not, they know it’s time to look for a new heir apparent.
Rodgers’ future is uncertain. Is this his last season in the NFL? Will he retire at the end of this season? Will he demand a trade out of Green Bay or want to come back determined to go out on a better note than this disappointing season?
Starting Rodgers in the last few games of the season accomplishes little for the team in the short term or long term.
- Go Back to the Matt LaFleur Offense
If the Packers start Love late in the season it will be easier to go back to the offense LaFleur prefers to run. The coach prefers pre-snap motion, having the quarterback under center, running more RPOs, using the tight ends more and scheming receivers open. Rodgers prefers the shotgun, less pre-snap motion and having receivers win one-on-one downfield.
Thus far this season, the hybrid of the Rodgers and LaFleur offenses has not worked consistently and the tension between the two is making things harder for the young receivers and really the entire roster.
If Rodgers sits for a few games late in the season, LaFleur should install his offense and let Love run it. If the team plays better, there’s a reason for optimism and a reason for LaFleur to insist on using his system more.
LaFleur has never been able to fully install the offense he wanted to install and now it’s time for him to see how it looks on the field.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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