The New York Jets try to keep their recent winning ways going when they travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers this week. Previewing this matchup, Jon Meerdink of Acme Packing Company was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the 2022 Packers.
Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.
1. The Packers are 3-2 to start the 2022 season, but, at least to an outsider like me, something seems off about the team. They don’t look like the same perennial Super Bowl contender this year, at least in the early going. They are coming off a surprising loss to the New York Giants last week. What are your thoughts as to the state of the Packers? Are you concerned, and if so, what are your specific issues with this team? Or is this just a minor blip in what will end up being the usual superb Packers season?
Things aren’t great right now. The offense is disjointed. The defense is wildly underperforming. The offensive line is erratic. The Packers refuse to stick with anything that’s working on either side of the ball. The issues are many right now!
It does seem like many of the issues are fixable, though. In theory, some tweaks on offense could smooth things out considerably, and David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are only going to get healthier as the season goes on. The young receivers should take some strides, too, and that will hopefully help the passing game along as well.
But on defense, I don’t have a whole lot of confidence things are going to get better. The execution on the field hasn’t been great, but Joe Barry’s scheme has taken a huge step backward in 2022. Every week we’re reminded that he wasn’t Matt LaFleur’s first choice for the job and probably shouldn’t have been considered at all. Things likely won’t be meaningfully better until he’s no longer the defensive coordinator.
2. You can’t talk about the Packers without talking about Aaron Rodgers. How is he adjusting to the loss of his favorite receiver Davante Adams this offseason, and how has the Packers air attack looked in Adams’ absence?
It’s bad! The Packers have no deep game to speak of right now because Rodgers can’t or won’t hit anything beyond 10-15 yards downfield, and without Adams’ ability to create instant separation and bully people after the catch, a lot of their short game has also evaporated. The offensive line being weird hasn’t helped, but right now the passing game is in a really weird place.
3. The Packers seem to be doing something very unusual with star offensive tackle David Bakhtiari. Coming off a serious injury, the Packers are rotating him in and out of the lineup, something you almost never see in the NFL. With offensive linemen, generally you’re in 100% or you’re out. How has the rotation thing been going, how has Bakhtiari and the offensive line been playing, and how long do you think this rotation will last?
I think it’s generally gone okay on the left side, but rotating Bakhtiari has caused issues elsewhere.
The short version of the story is that the right side of the offensive line has been pretty weak. Elgton Jenkins is at right tackle after tearing his ACL last year playing left tackle during Bakhtiari’s extended recovery from his own knee injury, but it’s been a rocky start to the season. On top of that, right guard Royce Newman seems to be getting worked over on a weekly basis. In a perfect world, Yosh Nijman would slot in at right tackle while Jenkins stabilized right guard, but with Nijman trading reps with Bakhtiari on the left side, that’s not an option.
Bakhtiari doesn’t really seem to be a fan of the rotation, so hopefully, it goes away sooner than later. If and when it does, it may fix the right side, too.
4. From an opponents’ standpoint, what has been working against the Packers so far this year on offense and on defense? How would you go about trying to beat this Packers team?
Well, if the Packers are sitting in a 2-high safety look (which they’ve done a lot this season), things are looking pretty good for you! You can either run the ball at an insanely productive clip or you can run crossers and find even more outstanding success. The world is really your oyster.
But seriously, I’d bank on the run game working against the Packers and then bank on some simple stuff in the passing game. The Packers haven’t shown they’ve got the juice to stop any serious attempts to run the ball and haven’t put the bodies on the field necessary to make it happen, either. Consider this: they carried only four defensive lineman on the active roster against Saquon Barkley and the Giants last week. Even if Barkley didn’t exactly dominate, that’s exactly the kind of obvious error the Packers have been making all season long.
5. If you were a betting man, which team would you pick to win this game?
I like the Packers at home, even if they’re coming back from their London trip. I think they’re still ahead of the Jets talent-wise and that should carry the day. But I wouldn’t say I feel great about the pick, and maybe I’m just saying all that out of habit. They always say that if you can’t spot the sucker, it’s you, so maybe I’m the sucker at this point. Vibes are low in Packers country, man!