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Why the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl window is now closed

NFL: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

A trip to London to face the New York Giants should have been a get-right game for the Green Bay Packers. Facing a team with a depleted offense and a suspect defense, Sunday provided a chance for Aaron Rodgers and Co. to solve their problems. Instead, it might be the game that tells everyone where Green Bay stands.

The Packers had every conceivable advantage in this game. A healthy defense could tee off against an injured Daniel Jones, constantly getting to the hobbled quarterback and forcing him to make bad decisions or take sacks with a decimated receiving corps covered. It also meant Green Bay could focus all its efforts on stopping Saquon Barkley.

Things looked just as favorable for head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense. After a putrid start through the first four games, Green Bay could attack a Giants’ defense missing Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams. Everything was set up for the Packers’ offense to deliver their best performance of the season, carried by a dominant rushing attack with a lethal play-action as the counterpunch.

Related: Green Bay Packers schedule

Instead, a second-half collapse in Sunday’s 27-22 loss perfectly captured why the Green Bay Packers aren’t a Super Bowl contender and why the window for this team to win the Lombardi Trophy is likely closed.

Joe Barry’s passive coaching neutralizes a talented defense

NFL: Pro Bowl-NFC Practice
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Many believed the Green Bay Packers defense was one of the best in the NFL entering the season. With the return of Jaire Alexander, one of the best cornerbacks in football, Green Bay had three high-end cornerbacks it could depend on in coverage. Behind them, Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage created a well-rounded safety that could form one of the best pass defenses in the NFL.

There was a lot more to like about this group. Kenny Clark is one of the interior defensive linemen in the league and Green Bay added Jarran Reed and Devonte Wyatt to provide him with more help. On the edges, Rashan Gary emerged as an outstanding pass rusher and Preston Smith’s track record speaks for itself. Topping it all off, Green Bay has 2021 All-Pro linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and athletic phenom Quay Walker alongside him.

It presents defensive coordinator Joe Barry with more than enough talent and athleticism to deploy a creative and aggressive defense. Instead, the second-year coordinator approaches things like he is working with fill-in starters and aging veterans. Worse yet, the passive approach is coming against depleted offenses and backup quarterbacks.

Facing New England Patriots third-string quarterback Bailey Zappe, the adjustments Barry needed to make seemed obvious. Turn up the heat against the run and send relentless blitzes against the rookie. Instead, Green Bay’s defensive coordinator kept two safeties back and let the Patriots’ offense pick up all the chunks of yards it wanted and it nearly ended in a loss.

It got worse in Week 5. On a Sunday when the Giants played without Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson, Barry’s conservative style was attacked relentlessly by Daniel Jones and Brian Daboll. Playing on an injured ankle, Jones completed 21-of-27 attempts with his first 200-yard game of the year and New York’s offense converted 6-of-11 third-down attempts. The real issue, Barry’s inability to make adjustments at halftime led to the Giants covering 207 yards on their next three drives for 17 unanswered points.

Green Bay has the talent to consistently produce like one of the best defenses in football, but it’s going to waste because of a defensive coordinator who doesn’t seem to realize it. Considering an in-season coaching change won’t happen, the problem won’t be fixed.

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers offenses won’t escape historic woes

NFL: New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers
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Despite the 3-1 record entering Sunday, things looked bleak for the Green Bay Packers offense. Entering Week 5, Green Bay ranked near the bottom of the NFL in major statistical outputs offensively. Far more concerning, the company they found themselves with suggested this team would regress.

PPGPoints per PlayScoring RateAvg. Plays per DriveOffense ANY/A Value
Green Bay Packers’ offense18.8 (21st)0.29 (27th)27.3% (28th)5.7 (21st)60.2 (12th)
Green Bay Packers stats via Pro Football Reference and Team Rankings

None of those statistics are historically bad in their own right. However, as Justis Mosqueda of ACME Packing Company detailed, it put Green Bay in a territory of teams throughout NFL history with minimal success in the playoffs. Green Bay scored only 75 points through its first four games, putting it alongside 72 teams that scored 75 points or fewer in their first four contests in the last decade.

Of that group, the combined record after Week 4 was 74-205-1. While the Packers’ record coming into Sunday suggested they could become an outlier, there’s another issue. Only nine of those teams made the NFL playoffs, with only three of them winning a postseason game. Considering Green Bay is clearly not the 2012 Seattle Seahawks, for the reasons stated with the defense, matching that single outlier isn’t going to happen.

Related: NFL offense rankings

The Week 5 loss also highlighted another problem that either Rodgers or LaFleur can’t or won’t fix. Despite the Giants’ defense begging Green Bay to run the football, it refused to do so for the majority of the game. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon – 19 carries for 98 yards – were extremely productive with their limited workload, but Rodgers and LaFleur put aside what was working.

Green Bay ran the ball three times on its first drive of the second half, stalling at the Giants’ 42-yard line. It finally got the football back with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. With Packers’ defenders gassed on the sideline after being on the field for a 15-play drive, Rodgers tried to play hero ball. All three passes fell incomplete, the Packers punted it to New York and the rest is history.

The same post-game comments will be said following Sunday’s loss that were made after Week 1. LaFleur and Rodgers will talk about wanting to get the running backs more involved. At best, those adjustments last for a week before Rodgers tries to take over any close game even when the ground attack is thriving.

Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t saving the Green Bay Packers. This is a deeply flawed football team with a coaching staff and quarterback that seems unwilling to make the necessary adjustments. The Packers might still make the playoffs in a weaker NFC, but this isn’t a Super Bowl contender. With Green Bay’s cap situation set to be even worse in 2023, the Super Bowl window is effectively closed.

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