5 Things to be Excited about from Packers Disappointing 2022 Season

Nov 17, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (9) warms up before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (9) warms up before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

After having a glimmer of hope that the Green Bay Packers may have found something following a come-from-behind win over Dallas, any sort of playoff hopes that may have still existed, were dashed on Thursday night as the continued realization that this just isn’t a good football team became a reality once again.

Although the Packers are not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention yet, that feels like it’s just a formality at this time. Without question, this will go down as one of the more disappointing seasons in some time, and depending on how this offseason plays out, it could be the turning point in what is the end of a very successful era of football in Green Bay.

There are certainly times when one has to squint harder than others to find something good, but more often than not, there are always some positives — even if they’re small — that can be gleaned from even the most disappointing of seasons. I did my best to find five of them as something that we can hang our hats on at this point in the season.

Aaron Jones playmaking for the Packers

Prior to the Tennessee Titans game, Aaron Rodgers told reporters that the only consistency that the Packers offense has had this season has come out of the backfield. Basically, pick a category, and Aaron Jones ranks among the best at the running back position this season.

His 771 yards are the sixth most, and he’s tied for seventh in yards per rush at 5.4. While elusive, forcing the fifth-most missed tackles with 44, Jones is a hard runner as well, totaling 478 yards after contact, which is good for the eighth most per PFF ($$). Jones also has 49 targets — the third-most on the team — totaling 248 receiving yards with three touchdowns.

You get the idea. More often than not, when this Green Bay Packers offense does find some success, Jones is the likely catalyst. Unfortunately, there have been a few games where Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers seem to forget about him.

The Packers have the ability to move on from Jones in the offseason in favor of cap space, and while there is the whole ‘don’t spend a lot of money on running backs’ thing, from a pure football perspective, moving on from your most consistent playmaker while having an offense that severely lacking juice probably isn’t a prudent move to make. It will be interesting to see how this plays out once the season is over.

The emergence of Christian Watson

Injuries derailed the early portion of Christian Watson’s season, and I also do wonder if the time he missed over the summer contributed to his smaller role at the beginning of the year, where he was primarily used in a Tyler Ervin-like role. However, over the last two games, Watson’s confidence has exploded, and it’s showing on the field.

On a few occasions, Rodgers has referenced the over-the-shoulder catch against Dallas as the turning point for Watson’s confidence, as it was eerily similar to the drop he had in Week 1. Over the last two games, Watson has caught eight of 14 passes, five of which went for touchdowns, while averaging an impressive 19.3 yards per catch.

Watson’s field tilting speed makes him difficult to keep up with vertically, as well as on crossing routes when he can get a free release. Four of his five touchdown receptions have come on those two routes. But in addition to the home run ability, Watson’s presence can benefit the rest of the offense by forcing the defense to play with better spacing, thus creating more opportunities in the run game and for other pass catchers underneath.

The play of David Bakhtiari

From game to game, or even series to series sometimes, we do not know if David Bakhtiari is going to be available. However, when he has been, Bakhtiari has still been playing at an extremely high level, which wasn’t a given after missing roughly 18 months of action. In 251 pass-blocking snaps, Bakhtiari has allowed just eight pressures and no sacks this season. Among offensive tackles, he ranks tied for fifth in PFF’s pass-blocking grade and 16th in run-blocking grade.

While it would come with a massive dead cap hit of $23.1 million in 2023, the Packers could move on from Bakhtiari in the offseason and save $5.9 million in cap space. Part of that decision will be whether or not to pick up a $9.5 million roster bonus. With that said, if — and that may be a big if — the Packers are confident in Bakhtiari’s health moving forward, keeping him seems like the easy decision.

Yosh Nijman’s consistency

Sticking with the offensive line, Yosh Nijman has taken a big step forward in his second year as a starter and has provided some much-needed stability to the Packers’ offensive line at both left and right tackle as they deal with injuries.

According to ESPN’s pass blocking and run blocking win rate metrics, Nijman ranks first among offensive tackles in pass protection and second as a run blocker. Added confidence and experience have been the catalysts behind his success in 2022.

"“I have a lot more confidence,” said Nijman when asked about the difference between 2021 and this season. “Anxiety levels are out the window. (I’m) Really confident in my techniques and what I’m doing now. I would say that’s the biggest difference, the experience, and playing a lot of snaps with Aaron (Rodgers).”"

Not fully knowing whether or not Bakhtiari will be back in 2023, and with Elgton Jenkins looking like he is staying put at guard, the Packers have some uncertainty at tackle heading into the offseason. But one thing we do know is that Nijman will be a part of those future plans at the position.

Quay Walker continues to progress

As should have been expected, Quay Walker’s rookie season has come with some ups and downs–especially against the run. However, since the Buffalo game, things have begun to really click for him, and that culminated with his best performance of the season against Tennessee.

As was the hope when the Packers drafted him, Walker has been able to do a little bit of everything for this defense. He held two Titans pass catchers to only six total yards in coverage. We saw Walker utilized as a blitzer along with playing 17 snaps as a traditional edge rusher. He also had what was easily his best game as a run defender, from run fits to chasing down Derrick Henry when he got outside of the tackle box.

Overall, Walker led the defense in tackles with 10, including no misses, and he also had the most stops on the team as well. If you want something to be excited about beyond 2022, the potential that both Walker and Watson possess fits that criteria.