2022: The Season of Spreadin' The Wealth For The Packers

This season will be unlike any other season on offense under Matt LaFleur. 

This season will be unlike one that we have seen in some time for the Green Bay Packers. Yes, the Bears will still suck, the Vikings’ horn will continue to be the most annoying “prop” in the NFL — maybe even across all levels of football – and the Lions, well, will continue to be the Lions. But your Green Bay Packers? Things will look different on the offensive side of the ball. 

For the first time in quite some time, the Packers will be without a premier No.1 wide receiver. Most recently, they went from Jordy Nelson, who accumulated nearly 8,000 receiving yards and 69 touchdowns in nine seasons, to Davante Adams, a two-time All-Pro wide receiver now with the Oakland Raiders who recorded over 8,000 receiving yards – including roughly 1,500 receiving yards in 2021 – and 73 touchdowns in eight seasons. No slight to this year’s No. 1 wide receiver Allen Lazard, but he is not the same caliber as Jordy or Davante. And because of that, the haters, of which there are many, believe that the Packers are going to take a massive step back offensively. In the words of Lee Corso, though, not so fast, my friend. 

As I am sure you have heard/read before, the Packers were 7-0 under head coach Matt LaFleur in games in which Adams missed, averaging roughly 32 points per game. Aaron Rodgers also had a ridiculous 19-to-1 TD:INT ratio.  Will the Packers go undefeated this season without Adams donning the green and gold? Anything is possible, according to Kevin Garnett, but I reckon they will not. However, the loss of Adams will force Rodgers to spread the ball around, which he is accustomed to in games that Adams was sidelined, and the Packers have the weapons to accommodate that.

In fact, during those seven games, the team had four different players lead the team in receiving yards (running back Aaron Jones three times, Lazard twice, MVS once, and Big Bob Tonyan once). Moreover, in 2019, the Packers had three players with at least three receptions vs. Dallas; four players with at least three receptions vs. Detroit; five players with at least three receptions vs. Oakland (now Las Vegas); and four players with at least three receptions vs. Kansas City. In addition, the team had three players with at least three receptions vs. New Orleans and four players with at least three receptions vs. Atlanta in 2020, and had four players with at least three receptions vs. Arizona in 2021. 

Entering the 2022 season, the Packers arguably have the best running back duo in the entire NFL (at worst, it is top 3), and AJ Dillon’s emergence on the ground last season, in which he ran for 803 yards on 187 carries (4.3 yards/carry) with five touchdowns, should open up the offense in the sense of allowing LaFleur & Co. to heavily utilize Jones in the passing game even more than in prior years. The UTEP product is tied for second with Saints running back Alvin Kamara for most receiving touchdowns (11) among running backs since 2019. 

While I mentioned at the top that Lazard is not of the same caliber as Nelson or Adams, that does not mean that he is some slouch, as the fifth-year wide receiver posted career highs in targets (60), receptions (40), yards (513), and touchdowns (8) in 2021. Expect Lazard’s efficiency to continue to rise. 

Slot maestro Randall Cobb will most definitely miss some games due to injury throughout the season, having not played a full season since 2015, but he should be ole reliable when he does, in fact, play as he was fourth on the team in receiving touchdowns with four in 2021. Newcomer Sammy Watkins has impressed Rodgers in training camp and, therefore, seems to have gained the trust of the reigning MVP, which is definitely a step in the right direction for Watkins' potential this season. After a disappointing rookie year, how will Amari Rodgers factor in? As shown in the preseason, he can be utilized both in the pass game and run game as a weapon (to what extent remains to be seen).

And of course, I cannot forget about rookie wide receivers, Romeo Doubs, whom the people are calling the second-coming of Jerry Rice, and Christian “They Didn’t Trade Up For Fun” Watson. Not only did Doubs impress on the practice field throughout training camp, he impressed in preseason games, too, leading the team in receiving touchdowns (2). Last, but certainly not least, is Tonyan – the X-factor among the offensive playmakers. Tonyan had a down year last year – no need to sugar coat it – in the games he played, but if he can be as productive as he was in 2020 (11 touchdowns) or even close to, then the offense will be more than fine. 

Will there be growing pains? Absolutely. The unit as whole is far from a finished product, which may be evident in Week 1 if Lazard is unable to go. (Lazard did not practice on Thursday and Friday.) Nevertheless, the 2022 season will be the season of spreadin’ the wealth. Buckle up, and let the games begin. 

__________________________

Rex is a lifelong Packers fan but was sick of the cold, so he moved to the heart of Cowboys country. Follow him on Twitter (@Sheild92) and Instagram (@rex.sheild). 

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4 points

Comments (26)

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porupack's picture

September 09, 2022 at 01:17 pm

Good article. So all of the offseason was about personnel from free agency, the cap management, the draft, trading deadlines, and the cutdown to the 53. All that was fine for filling 8 months. A lot of banter by non-experts on second guessing every personnel move or non-move. The real stuff comes now, how do the coaches prepare and strategize the game to maximize the chess pieces. That is when this site will heat up with meaningful topics of assessment of the packer coaches for what they lay down on the field for 60 minutes. I hope you're right....that the ball gets spread around, and this team executes at will and keeps opposing defenses guessing. I suspect Doubs and Watson will put up good numbers for rookies. Let's just hope they can convert the 3rd downs though and keep the chains moving. Good numbers doesn't mean much if too many drives stall.

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Cubbygold's picture

September 09, 2022 at 01:39 pm

I'd add to the 'real stuff' - Rodgers changing his mid-game approach and sitting with the young receivers on the sideline and helping them slow the game down. This team isn't ready to win a superbowl, they need to grow into their potential, and Rodgers coaching abilities are going to be more important than ever.

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Rarescope's picture

September 09, 2022 at 11:23 pm

“This team isn't ready to win a Super Bowl”

And they don’t need to be for a good four months yet so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Just beat the Vikings on Sunday.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 09, 2022 at 02:02 pm

Right on porupack!

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Cubbygold's picture

September 09, 2022 at 01:36 pm

Hmm...

A stout defense that keeps the team in the game, even on an off night...

An experienced HOF QB...

An offense that changes the game plan week to week to exploit the opponents weakness while infuriating fantasy football owners everywhere...

Sounds a lot like what we watched out of some team out east for about 15 years...

Let's just hope this translates to post-season success too.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 09, 2022 at 03:47 pm

Every Super Bowl we've ever won had a top defense and a HOF QB.

I've detailed our record in LaFleur's tenure in games where we held our opponents to 24 or less, Including playoffs, we've had around 54 games and in about 2/3 of them we've held the opponent to 24 or less and we've gone like 34-2 in those games.

One of the losses was at KC, when Rodgers did not play. The other loss was in the playoffs against SF when we only scored 10 points. Our defense played one of the best games I've seen our defense play in quite a while, and we've added to it quite a bit. Reed, Walker, Wyatt. We get Alexander back healthy.

This is a defense that should keep most opponents under 24, and probably half of them to 17 or less. Even good offensive teams should have trouble hitting 30 on us.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

September 09, 2022 at 05:00 pm

I like this take. That team out east seemed to always have one or even two successful running backs that were effective receivers as well. And no name receivers. Hmmm.

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NickPerry's picture

September 10, 2022 at 03:07 am

"Sounds a lot like what we watched out of some team out east for about 15 years..."

It certainly does, and I think this defense could be even better than any defense Belichck fielded during a season the Patriots won a SB.

My hope is MLF has learned from his mistakes in the past. I believe in MLF to be able to come up with a winning game plan every week regardless of the opponent. The Packers don't need a WR who catches 120 balls for 1400 yards and 15 TDs. They need like 3 guys to catch 50 balls for 600 or 700 yards and 5 or 6 TDs. Dillon and Jones can do the rest.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 10, 2022 at 07:52 am

I really hope to see some maturation from MLF.

He needs to be more fluid in his in-game strategies.

Sticking to the game plan in the first half shows confidence, not modifying it if the first half didn't work so well is a sign of stubbornness and will hurt this team. More decisiveness at the time when it will allow the team to defeat the defensive strategies would be a step in the right direction.

GPG

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egbertsouse's picture

September 09, 2022 at 02:13 pm

I think that chunk plays and locking into one guy he “trusts” are in Rodger’s DNA. He might spread the ball when they are winning easily against bad teams but when they get behind or in pressure situations, the old leopard will show his spots.

I hope everyone else is right but I’ll believe it when I see it.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 09, 2022 at 04:44 pm

Looks like Lazard (the guy AR is most likely to lock in on) won't play. That will force Rodgers to spread the ball. It is probably a good thing that Lazard won't play against Minnie.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 09, 2022 at 06:36 pm

I think Watkins is going to do a real good job for us. This is what we signed him for. Along with Cobb, we can keep veterans on the field instead of raw rookies starting their first pro game in a hostile bird-killer of a stadium.

But obviously, this really opens the door for the youngsters. They're going to get more snaps than otherwise, and probably more targets, too. I am interested in seeing if the older guys in the Purple secondary can keep up with our youngsters. A short pass, followed by a broken tackle, is a real possibility with the receivers we have.

The Viking Secondary: Old Corner Peterson, Packer castoff, Old Safety Harris, a couple of guys who were still years away from getting laid when Rodgers won his first MVP. It brings the phrase "low-hanging fruit" to mind. I would assume that they'll play Peterson on Watkins and try to guard Watson and Doubs with Sullivan and Dantzler. I like both ends of that matchup. Dantzler is a taller, skinnier corner who is not real big at 190 lbs. I'd run at him.

Remember, Lazard or no Lazard, half the offense is through the RB. If we get 160 yards of offense from that spot, and a TD or two, we're going to be fine.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 10, 2022 at 07:54 am

TGR - I wouldn't quite go thaaaaat far in terms of not having Lazard on the field...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 10, 2022 at 09:35 am

I was trying to be facetious but I guess I didn't go far enough. Probably should have added that the Packers should hold out Watkins, Lazard and Cobb to force AR to throw to the young guys and to spread it around, thereby obviously making GB's offense better.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 10, 2022 at 03:21 pm

Now I'm with ya!

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

September 09, 2022 at 05:04 pm

That’s never been as true as it was recently with Davante though. He spread it around nicely for much of his career, even to guys like Ruvell Martin. In those days he had multiple guys he trusted, so let’s hope the young guys get there quickly. MVS was pretty successful as a rookie and I think Doubs and Watson are more talented.

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Oppy's picture

September 09, 2022 at 11:40 pm

"In those days he had multiple guys he trusted" is the key to this phrase.

The change from back 'in those days' isn't the players around Rodgers, the change is Rodgers.

Somewhere around 2014-2016, Rodgers quit trusting the talent around him and started becoming overly risk adverse.

Everything this season relies on Rodgers trusting his team mates to do their job.

The difference between "that team out east" for 15 years and the Packers in terms of winning championships is the team out east had a QB who trusted his team mates to win games, and didn't have an inflated sense that he was doing it all on his own.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 09, 2022 at 03:25 pm

I have been thinking about Aaron Rodgers and his philosophy on what he likes in an offense. He came into the league being taught the WCO. Under MM he had receivers who would get open by skill as much as by schemes. He developed an offense within the offense. That was due to a mutual understanding between him and his receivers. Yet he has the skill to be accurate and decisive. His hatred of interceptions often causes him to forgo a pass that other QB’s would attempt. We have all heard about the “trust” factor in his decision making. This year, Matt’s schemes and new receivers are going to stress that habit. Not having the comfort of a rock steady line won’t help. Gone are the days when he could hold onto the ball for five or six seconds while he waited for someone to get open. I believe that if Rodgers can begin to embrace scheme and the receivers grow into their roles then we can win a lot of games. However, if not, then it will be a long season for the passing game and we end up relying on the run game and the defense to hang in there. I am already hearing that kind of talk from many circles.

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TarynsEyes's picture

September 09, 2022 at 03:50 pm

"The only thing that remains the same, is everything changes."

Rodgers finds it hard to grasp this. We'll find out Sunday.

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Oppy's picture

September 09, 2022 at 11:48 pm

Rodgers ego will never allow this team to rely on the run game.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 10, 2022 at 07:58 am

If only AR can adapt to the complete MLF offense and if only Patrick had a paragraph key on his computer keyboard... Thats a tough read my man...

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PatrickGB's picture

September 10, 2022 at 01:43 pm

You are right! It’s a bad habit. I could blame it on my iPad and my inability to type but really, that’s a fault of mine.

Thanks for the feedback!

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Johnblood27's picture

September 10, 2022 at 03:18 pm

Good thoughts Patrick, thanks to you.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 10, 2022 at 09:40 am

Yeah, IDK. Given GB usually had an iffy defense, throwing interceptions equals extra possessions for the opponent and thus extra points over and above just a field goal.

I wonder what GB's record is when AR throws an INT? I wonder what it is when he throws 2 INTs?

Of course, AR could just throw a jump ball 50 yards downfield instead of taking a sack, again considering our punting prowess. I don't have Data!

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Oppy's picture

September 10, 2022 at 01:24 pm

I don't think we're talking about asking Rodgers to throw a 50/50 jump ball deep instead of taking a sack.

When I talk about Rodgers not throwing balls other NFL QB's throw, I'm talking about a ten yard crossing route on 3rd and 8 where the WR has a half step on the trailing defender. This is a ball where you lead the WR- put the ball out in front of him where he can get it but the DB can't reach it- at chest height and allow the WR to make the play. Rodgers won't throw that ball unless it's Davante Adams. If it's not, he ignores the WR and looks elsewhere or throws it away. If he DOES throw that ball to anyone besides Adams, he throws it below knee level which makes it almost impossible to catch.

Why does he do this? I can only assume it's because he doesn't trust the WR to make the catch. Clearly, Rodgers has the technical tools to place the football where it needs to be. He doesn't trust the WR, so he either doesn't throw the ball or he throws a very low ball so if the WR doesn't catch it, it hits the dirt. He doesn't trust the WR to catch the ball, and he's fearful the ball then sails deep to a safety for an INT.

These are the types of throws that other NFL QB's make to extend drives. These are the types of tighter coverage throws that when made, commentators talk about how "when you have half a step on a defender in the NFL, that's considered open", or they mention "the WR looked like he was under tight coverage, but the QB threw him open".

Rodgers has better tools to make these types of everyday throws that other QBs regularly make, and he generally refuses to make them unless it's his preferred target (Adams, Nelson, at one time, Cobb, etc).

This is why I have said in the past that Rodgers does less with the talent around him than other top tier QBs in the league.

He legitimately has trust issues. I could be mistaken on the WR I'm attributing this to, but I believe it was Davante Adams himself who once told a beat reporter that Rodgers is a gifted QB, but he needs to remember that the WRs are gifted, too, and he needs to give them opportunities to make plays.

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Oppy's picture

September 10, 2022 at 01:25 pm

After that long winded rant.. I can't speak for what Patrick means I guess. but for me, I'm not talking about wild desperation throws.

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