The Green Bay Packers finished 8-9 in 2022 and missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2018 season. Matt LaFleur’s started 3-1, slogged through a 1-7 midseason stretch and finished 4-1, but the final loss – in Week 18 at Lambeau Field to the Detroit Lions – eliminated the Packers.
What went wrong? It’s never just one thing for a disappointing football team.
Here are the top reasons why the Packers missed the playoffs in 2022:
Defense failed against top teams
The highly touted Packers defense just wasn’t good enough against the top teams. Over eight games against playoff teams, the Packers gave up 24.3 points per game, including four games giving up 27 or more (finished 1-3 in those games). Despite massive investment in Joe Barry’s group, the Packers ended the year ranked 17th in points and 28th in yards per play. An evolving offense needed the defense to lead the way, especially early, but the Packers got lit up by Justin Jefferson and the Vikings in the opener and were exposed far too often during the 1-7 stretch.
Inconsistent scoring offense
The Packers were 7-1 when scoring at least 24 points and 1-8 when scoring 22 or fewer in 2022. The inconsistency hurt, especially early on. By the time the Packers were 4-8, Green Bay had scored 20 or more points in back-to-back games only once (Weeks 4-5), and even those two games produced a split (win over Patriots, loss to Giants). The killer blow: Matt LaFleur’s team scored 25 total points in two losses to the Lions, who finished 28th in points allowed in 2022. In a must-win game at Lambeau Field in Week 18, the Packers managed to score only 16.
The Packers offense finished the regular season ranked 17th on third down (39.5 percent), 28th on fourth down (38.7 percent) and 24th in the red zone (51.9). It’s really hard to win in the NFL when extending drives is a challenge, the risks taken on fourth down don’t pay off and trips inside the 20-yard line don’t consistently result in seven points. Poor situational play on offense killed the Packers in losses to the Vikings, Giants, Jets, Commanders, Titans and both games against the Lions.
Aaron Rodgers wasn't an elevator
Aaron Rodgers has covered up more than a few problems and elevated more than a few teams over his Hall of Fame career. The 39-year-old just couldn’t do it in 2022. He lost his All-Pro receiver, dealt with a shuffling offensive line, broke his thumb, threw to an underwhelming skill position group and lacked the consistent greatness of his back-to-back MVP seasons. It all factored into one of Rodgers’ worst statistical seasons. He threw 12 interceptions, averaged 6.8 yards per attempt and had a passer rating of 91.1. The Packers lacked the talent and coaching to make up for Rodgers not playing at an immortal level.
Home and division woes
The Packers were 5-3 at home (one loss in London) and 3-3 against the NFC North in 2022. Over the first three seasons under Matt LaFleur, the Packers were 24-4 at Lambeau Field and 16-2 against the division. How’s this for unordinary? Green Bay lost three home games to non-playoff teams and was swept by the Lions. During the Aaron Rodgers era, the Packers have usually paved the playoff road each year by winning most games at home and most games against the division.
Three-game October losing streak
Sure, the Packers lost five-straight games, but the three-game losing streak to kick it off especially hurt. The Packers gave up a 20-10 lead and lost to the Giants in London, got run over by the Jets at Lambeau Field and then gave up a 14-3 lead and lost to the Commanders. Over a three-game stretch against quarterbacks Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson and Taylor Heinicke, the Packers gave up 77 total points, including 54 in the second half. This was the haunting string of losses as the Packers tried to claw their way back into the playoff hunt late.
Unfortunate Christian Watson injuries
Would the Packers have finished 8-9 if rookie Christian Watson had opened training camp healthy and avoided all the injuries he dealt with during the first two months of the season? It seems unlikely, given how impactful Watson was to the offense over the final two months. The offense could have been better early and possibly more consistent late had Watson been the go-to guy right away. His numbers over the final eight games extrapolated over a 17-game schedule equal out to 66 catches, 1,111 yards and 17 total touchdowns. Watson played 121 total snaps between Weeks 1-9 and 386 between Weeks 10-18.
Keisean Nixon's (too) late emergence
Another hypothetical: What if Keisean Nixon, the newly minted first-team All-Pro kickoff returner, had been the team’s primary punt and kickoff returner all season? That job first belonged to Amari Rodgers, who fumbled five times – creating a few devastating turnovers – before he was released and Nixon got a turn. While Watson jolted the offense to life, Nixon sparked the special teams and became a legitimate game-breaking weapon as a returner. The first half of the season featured a lot of wasted opportunities – and avoidable mistakes – in the return game while Nixon sat on the bench.