Let’s say the 2022 season for the Green Bay Packers was a poker game. The team entered the season with a full stack of chips, even going as far as to borrow off a few lines of credit that they maybe should have stayed away from. But wanting to play at the no-limit table with the big boys, they wrote a check they’d worry about in the future.
After a really bad first hand, the team rebounded by adding to its chip total with a little bit of luck to cover up for some not-so-stellar play. With their chests just starting to get puffed out, the Packers could not catch a break, losing six straight hands, each one taking more chips from the pile than the hand before. An impressive rebound hand helped build up an artificial sense of hope. But Green Bay is down to its final chip, needing a miracle to make it through the evening alive, hoping that the same cards that put them in this hole will be enough to dig them out.
That’s what this season has come down to: a hope and a prayer that there’s some way the team can run the table after giving very little indication that this is possible. There have been several impactful losses from the starting roster who we won’t see again this season (Rashan Gary and Eric Stokes). There are also some injured players that we may see later (Romeo Doubs and De’Vondre Campbell), but it feels like too little too late.
With 11 games of perspective now, it feels more likely than not that this was going to be the end result. The losses sustained over the past few seasons — most notably but not limited to Davante Adams — necessitated a counterbalance of the infamous draft-and-develop mantra. But whether or not the development has fallen short or simply happened slower than needed has left a gaping hole — maybe a few of them — in the organization.
The biggest impediment between the Packers and another run of success is no secret. The unprecedented 30-year run Green Bay has been on has been built on the right arms of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, but all unprecedentedly good things must come to an end. The slip in play from the MVP has led the chorus of those wanting to see Jordan Love growing louder with each loss.
As exciting as some of those young pieces are, the most important one is Love. The longer he sits on the bench, the less information the organization has as they decide what to do next year. The transition of power here is the most important endeavor that Brian Gutekunst will likely ever oversee professionally. Getting Rodgers to re-sign in the offseason seemed like the Packers were approaching some clarity. A 4-7 record filled with costly interceptions and missed throws has opened that question all the way back up.
It’s not just Rodgers; other veterans like David Bakhtiari, Mason Crosby, Randall Cobb, and Adrian Amos were supposed to maintain their level of excellence. Green Bay deserves credit for incorporating veterans like these into the depth chart as long and as well as they have, but that group leaves very little to be excited about in the future.
Sitting at the poker table, the Packers have had great cards for the majority of the past decade. They’ve been poised to win but knocked out by a bad draw on fifth street (the Seattle Seahawks in 2014), and in other years their opponent’s hand blows Green Bay’s out of the water (pretty much any time they play the San Francisco 49ers). Green Bay has tried to win the game with the same cards for a long time now. The reality this season is that their hand isn’t quite what they thought it was going to be. Perhaps shuffling things up would provide more hope for the future.