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Detroit Lions Week 9 scouting report: Why the Green Bay Packers are failing

A thorough look at what is going wrong with the Green Bay Packers.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Washington Commanders Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This season has not been fun for the Detroit Lions. Even knowing that they were unlikely to be contenders this season, this 1-6 start has to be considered a huge disappointment for even the most patient of fans.

But, personally speaking, you learn as a Lions fan to take enjoyment in other things when Detroit stinks. Chief among those other pleasures in life is when the Green Bay Packers fail. It may seem petty (it definitely is), but watching a franchise that has seen ridiculous amounts of success over the past 30 years struggle—and seeing an extremely spoiled fanbase finally wallow in self-pity—can be healing to the soul. And this season has been bountiful in that spiritual aloe.

So what the heck is happening in Green Bay, and does that give Detroit a chance at an upset this week? Let’s take a look in our Week 9 scouting report.

Note: Because we’re essentially at the halfway point in the season, I’m no longer going to focus on the team’s offseason. We’re just talking 2022.

2022 Green Bay Packers

2022 season thus far (3-5)

Week 1: Lost to Vikings, 7-23
Week 2: Beat Bears, 27-10
Week 3: Beat Buccaneers, 14-12
Week 4: Beat Patriots, 27-24
Week 5: Lost to Giants, 22-27
Week 6: Lost to Jets, 10-27
Week 7: Lost to Commanders, 21-23
Week 8: Lost to Bills, 17-27

Stats:

  • 26th in points scored (18.1 PPG), 16th in points allowed (21.6 PPG)
  • 13th in overall DVOA
  • 8th in offensive DVOA (12th in pass DVOA, 9th in run DVOA)
  • 22nd in defensive DVOA (9th in pass DVOA, 31st in run DVOA)

Despite relatively good DVOA numbers, this Green Bay Packers team cannot be described in any other way than a pretty huge disappointment.

Let’s start on the defensive side of the ball, where many predicted this Packers team to dominate this year. That obviously hasn’t happened. The main culprit, as it typically has been with this Green Bay defense, is their inability to stop the run. Here’s where the Packers defense ranks in run defense:

  • 29th in rushing yards allowed per game (141.3)
  • 25th in yards per carry allowed (4.9)
  • 30th in rushing expected points added per rush

That said, they remain pretty good in short-yardage situations, ranking seventh with a conversion rate in power situations of just 59 percent (league average is 67%).

When it comes to defending the pass, Green Bay still has a formidable pass rush with players like Kenny Clark, Preston Smith, and (especially) Rashan Gary leading the way. However, coverage has been an issue. Despite solid play from No. 1 cornerback Jaire Alexander, the Packers have just 24 pass breakups on the season (29th) and the play of their safeties has been particularly troublesome. Darnell Savage ranks 82nd out of 87 qualifying safeties in PFF grade and long-time NFC Norther Adrian Amos isn’t much better at 71st.

Offensively speaking, Aaron Rodgers is in the midst of one of his worst career seasons. Here’s a look at his current stats compared to his career average:

Yards per attempt

  • This year: 6.6
  • Career average: 7.7

TD %

  • This year: 4.7
  • Career average: 6.3

INT %

  • This year: 1.5
  • Career average: 1.3

Passer rating

  • This year: 94.5
  • Career average: 94.5

Obviously, Rodgers’ cast of receivers has played a big part in the team’s inability to pass the ball consistently. Not only are they heavily relying on guys like fourth-round rookie Romeo Doubs, but they’ve also been hit by the injury bug at the position. Randall Cobb, Allan Lazard, Sammy Watkins, and Christian Watson have all missed time this season.

Perhaps the biggest note of all is how much Coward Ball Rodgers is playing right now. He ranks dead last in the NFL in average completed air yards, with each completion averaging just 3.9 yards downfield.

That said, the Packers can run the ball. Aaron Jones is currently fourth in the NFL in yards per carry (5.9) and fifth in rushing yards (575). AJ Dillon is a nice change-of-pace back, too, with 355 yards of his own at 4.1 a carry.

Key injuries:

  • IR/PUP/NFI: LB Krys Barnes (IR), WR Randall Cobb (IR)
  • Other injuries: LT David Bakhtiari (knee), LG Elgton Jenkins (knee/foot), WR Allen Lazard (shoulder), WR Christian Watson (concussion), EDGE Preston Smith (shoulder/neck), LB De’Vondre Campbell

Let’s start on the offensive line, where left tackle David Bakhtiari has been dealing with a knee injury all year, but this is the first time he has missed a Wednesday practice since Week 3. Bakhtiari did miss Week 7 with the injury but has played in every game since Week 3. His availability is a toss-up here, and it’s a big deal because even though he hasn’t been 100 percent this year, he still owns the 11th-highest PFF tackle grade in 2022.

Elgton Jenkins is their second-best offensive lineman, and he missed last week against the Buffalo Bills. He did not practice Wednesday, so it’s possible he misses a second-straight game.

At wide receiver, Allen Lazard returned to practice after missing last week, but Christian Watson is in concussion protocol and not likely to play this week. With Randall Cobb on IR, that’ll leave Lazard, Doubs, and Watkins as their top three options this week.

The newest, most impactful injury to this Packers club is 2021 Pro Bowl linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who suffered a knee injury vs. the Bills. He appears unlikely to play. Preston Smith (3.5 sacks) has a new pair of injuries, but with a limited practice on Wednesday, don’t expect him to miss Sunday’s game.

Biggest strength: Offensive line

Despite the injuries, the Packers offense remains bolstered by a really good offensive line. Ranked fifth by PFF, Green Bay’s pass block win rate is 11th in the NFL and they are second in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards in the run game.

Biggest weakness: Run defense

I’ve already gone over how bad the Packers are at defending the run, but it could be even worse this week. Campbell is their best run-defending linebacker and he’s trending toward missing this game. Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Quay Walker is currently holding a 37.5 run defense PFF grade. If D’Andre Swift is truly feeling better (even though he missed Wednesday’s practice), this could be a week he returns to form.

Vegas line for Sunday: Packers by 3.5

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