Packers were destined for disappointment

An all too familiar feeling – another Green Bay Packers’ season ending in a gut-wrenching loss. Except this time, it wasn’t in the playoffs.

In a win and you’re in scenario, the Packers were eliminated from playoff contention by the Detroit Lions in Sunday’s night regular-season finale. All the work (and luck) that went into a four-game win streak over the last month was all for naught, as this team resorted back to the same error-ridden football. It was the perfect ending for a team that was never meant to be great.

“The same things that hurt us all year hurt us tonight,” Aaron Rodgers said after throwing for 205 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

Green Bay’s quarterback didn’t play well against the 32nd-ranked defense. Nor did he play up to his standard for most of the season.

Rodgers’ 2022 campaign featured plenty of lowlights. His 3,695 passing yards were his lowest as a starting quarterback, even though he started in all 17 games. Rodgers also finished with career lows in passer rating and quarterback rating. Couple that with his most interceptions since 2008, and Green Bay didn’t get the same quarterback they were hoping for.

“The answer is yes,” Rodgers responded when asked if he still has it at age 39.

On occasion, Rodgers would make a play accustomed to a four-time MVP, but as the season wore on, it became clear that Rodgers couldn’t be the main cog for the offense. At least, not without Davante Adams.

“There was hope in certain things that were going to fill that void, but ultimately, that didn’t happen,” he said.

Wide receiver Christian Watson came on late in the season but was still a rookie. Allen Lazard is a great blocker with the receiving skills and production of a WR3. As harsh as it may seem, those two were never going to replace Adams.

One would think a focused run game would help make up the difference. Green Bay finished fifth in rushing DVOA but had only 10 more rushing attempts than in 2021 with Adams. And when it mattered most, the run game went stagnant. Against Detroit, the Packers averaged 3.7 yards per carry, and Aaron Jones led the team with 40 yards.

Moving into the red zone, Green Packers finished 24th in red zone efficiency at almost 52 percent. On Sunday, they had two opportunities inside the 20, and only one ended in a touchdown. Situational football was never this offense’s strong suit, as they were also 17th in the league on third down.

Moving onto Green Bay’s defense, Joe Barry’s unit held up its end of the bargain for the most part.

When the offense failed to convert a fourth and one on their own 30, the defense held the Lions to a field goal. Jared Goff had been averaging 295 passing yards over the last six games with 14 touchdowns to zero interceptions. His night ended with 224 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions.

For the last four games, turnovers have been this defense’s calling card. Unfortunately, it served as a cover-up for other underlying issues. The 2022 Packers defense finished 20th in DVOA, 17th in total defense, and 18th in scoring. Given all the talent he had to work with, the biggest indictment against Barry was his failure to construct a top-15 unit.

That said, they did hold Detroit to just 20 points yet failed to get off the field in key situations. The Lions converted two fourth downs in the fourth quarter  – on their 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to go up 20-16 and another on the final drive that allowed them to run out the clock.

In the end, Green Bay’s offense never got going, and in the biggest game of the season, scored just 16 points and tallied 291 yards of offense against the NFL’s worst defense. Meanwhile, the defense shriveled in the big moment and never lived up to the expectations set at the start of the season.

As we look back, were the playoffs within reason? Sure. The Super Bowl? Absolutely not.

This Packers team would have met its inevitable doom against the 49ers in the wild-card round. But instead of moving forward with another playoff letdown, they decided to get it out of the way early.

Now, it’s time to reflect on a disappointing season and move into an offseason where a ton of important questions need to be answered.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire