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Packers In Trouble? Why This Year’s Week 1 Loss Is Different

  • Justin Melo
  • September 12, 2022
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The Green Bay Packers dropped their regular-season opener 23-7 to their NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. Offseason chatter around the Packers centered around a weakened roster that appears susceptible to relinquishing their divisional crown. Sunday’s lackluster showing provided a glimpse into that possibility.

We witnessed several shocking results and breathtaking finishes Sunday. Week 1 is often described as a liar and it was for the Packers last season, who were handily defeated 38-3 by the New Orleans Saints. Those Packers then rounded off seven consecutive victories and eventually claimed the NFC’s one-seed with a 13-4 record. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur will likely attach himself to that turnaround, but these situations don’t feel identical.

An offseason trade that sent Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders left us wondering who would become Aaron Rodgers‘ new go-to receiver. The lack of a clear-cut No. 1 target was clear on Sunday. The league’s reigning MVP, Rodgers finished with an uninspiring stat line of 22-of-34 for 195 passing yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. Rodgers also lost a fumble. The Packers managed just 338 total yards of offense and converted three-of-nine third downs (33.3%). Backup running back A.J. Dillon was Green Bay’s leading receiver, securing four-of-five targets for a mere 46 receiving yards. Nothing screams “lack of weapons” more.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst had ample opportunities to address the Packers’ perceived receiver issues this offseason. The Packers decided to use their two first-round selections on a pair of defensive players in Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt instead. Gutekunst finally attempted to address the issue by trading up for Christian Watson in the second round, but Watson struggled with focus drops throughout training camp and often looked like a small-schooler from North Dakota State that was acclimating to a sizable step up in competition. Watson dropped a would-be 75-yard touchdown on Sunday and finished with just two receptions for 34 yards.

Fellow rookie receiver Romeo Doubs was routinely more impressive than Watson this summer. Doubs was more involved against the Vikings, leading all Packers receivers with five targets. He secured four receptions for 37 yards. It’s an exciting sign that Doubs is ready to contribute. A fourth-round rookie, Doubs is more of a supporting member than a standout difference-maker, however. That’s what the realistic expectation should be, at least. The Packers may continue to ask him to do some heavy lifting.

It’s worth acknowledging the Packers were without several offensive starters on Sunday. No. 1 receiver Allen Lazard was inactive with an ankle injury. Three-time Pro Bowl left tackle David Bakhtiari continues to struggle to overcome a late 2020 ACL injury. Reports have already indicated Bakhtiari’s absence will extend beyond this week. Fellow offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins was also inactive. All three players are crucial to the Packers’ offensive approach.

The Packers’ supporting cast beyond the aforementioned players leaves plenty to be desired on paper and their Week 1 performances hammered those concerns home. Veteran journeyman Sammy Watkins recorded three receptions for 18 yards. Tight end duo Robert Tonyan and Josiah Deguara combined for five receptions. The aging Randall Cobb lacks dynamic abilities at this point. Meanwhile, Adams recorded more receiving yards (141) in his Vegas debut than the Packers’ receivers combined (120). They are who we thought they were.

The Packers didn’t experience a fruitful offseason at the receiver position. It’s a pass-happy league and the Packers may lack the weapons to keep up. Sunday’s performance delivered more questions than answers.

Written By

Justin Melo