Green Bay Packers

Why Did the Packers Fail Where the Chiefs Succeeded?

Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs made big moves at the wide receiver position this season. And by “big moves,” I mean “got rid of their team’s best wide receiver.”

The Packers parted ways with Davante Adams, who wanted to be closer to his family and catch passes from his college quarterback, Derek Carr, in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Tyreek Hill wanted more guaranteed money than Kansas City was willing to offer and signed with the Miami Dolphins.

The Packers and Chiefs had some of the league’s best offenses in the past few years, but they went down vastly different paths after losing their WR1s. Green Bay’s offense struggled to find a consistent rhythm all season, while KC will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Why did the Chiefs succeed where the Packers failed?

First, let’s look at how these teams fared in 2022.

Kansas City won their division with a 14-3 regular season and made it to the AFC Championship for the fifth-straight season. After narrowly defeating the Cincinnati Bengals, they’ll face the Philadelphia Eagles in Patrick Mahomes‘ third Super Bowl appearance. The Chiefs’ offense was No. 1 by DVOA and second in red-zone scoring, with 70.51%.

Meanwhile, after finishing as the NFC’s No. 1 seed two years in a row, the Packers finished 8-9, good for third in the NFC North. Despite a four-game winning streak that gave them a chance to make the playoffs, Green Bay didn’t end strong. The Green and Gold lost to the Detroit Lions at home, largely thanks to a poor offensive performance. The Packers especially declined in the red-zone scoring, with a 51.85% conversion rate.

Both teams lost their star receiver, and those receivers continued to do well with their new teams. So what’s the difference between the Chiefs and the Packers?

The most obvious difference is that Kansas City has Travis Kelce. It’s easier to soften the blow of losing your top wide receiver when you have the league’s best tight end as your primary target. Kelce finished the season with 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns, leading the league in both categories by a tight end. Meanwhile, Green Bay got very little of their tight-end group.

Green Bay and Kansas City also took different paths to replace their top receiver. The Packers brought in veteran Sammy Watkins, who didn’t last the full season, and drafted three rookie receivers. Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs saw significant playing time, and they relied heavily upon them. While both did well by rookie standards, they still made rookie mistakes and took time to come into their own. Returning wide receiver Allen Lazard led the Packers in yards, with 788, while Watson led the team in receiving touchdowns, with seven.

The Chiefs also took a rookie receiver, Skyy Moore in the second round, but loaded up on free agents. The Chiefs brought in Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster via free agency and later traded for Kadarius Toney. Neither MVS nor Smith-Schuster put up huge WR1 numbers, but they complemented Kelce as No. 2 options.

Green Bay had the better rushing attack, thanks to the tandem of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Still, Kansas City got a lot from rookie running back Isiah Pacheco, and Jerick McKinnon was second on the team in receiving touchdowns, with nine.

There wasn’t a significant difference in offensive line quality. The Packers had PFF’s third-ranked line, while the Chiefs had the fourth.

In terms of quarterback play, there was a massive discrepancy between Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. Mahomes’ 5,240 passing yards and 41 touchdowns to 12 interceptions (adding four more TDs on the ground) carved the path to a probable second MVP. Meanwhile, Rodgers had one of the worst seasons of his career, with 3,695 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions (his most since 2008).

Coaching is where Kansas City took the cake this year. Matt LaFleur is a great head coach, but he’s no Andy Reid. LaFleur lost his top two assistant coaches when Nathaniel Hackett and Luke Getsy took promotions elsewhere, which led to stagnation. Reid kept his right-hand man Eric Bieniemy around and built upon their previous years. Reid’s staff has a stronger head coach and more experienced assistants. Reid was simply able to put his players in a better position to succeed.

Both teams took a different approach to replacing their star wideouts. The Chiefs loaded up on veterans, while the Packers rolled the dice on rookies. But the main reasons Kansas City had a better season than Green Bay lie outside the position group. The Chiefs have Travis Kelce, Mahomes played at an MVP level, and Reid’s coaching kept the team evolving. The Packers lacked an impact tight end, and Rodgers and the offense struggled thanks to this year’s coaching changes and inability to adapt.

While this wasn’t a great season for the Packers, they can start to fix their mistakes this off-season. It’s a copycat league, and Green Bay should be closely studying KC’s approach to fix their broken offense.

Green Bay Packers
Stephen A Smith Thinks Green Bay Has All the Leverage
By Spencer Nelson - Mar 20, 2023
Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love Reportedly Already Planning Offseason Work With Young Stars
By Ethan Thomas - Mar 20, 2023
Green Bay Packers

Jordan Love Can Maximize Josiah Deguara In Ways Rodgers Didn’t

Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers will have a fairly different offense in 2023 — because of the players, obviously, but also because of their characteristics. For example, Jordan […]

Continue Reading