Even if everything goes right, the odds are very much against the Packers making the playoffs this season. Even if they haven’t overtly accepted that fact at this point, sooner or later (probably sooner) it will be out of their hands.
But there’s still a lot of football yet to be played. What do we watch the rest of the way? Here’s what our writers will be looking at over the final month or so of the regular season.
Rcon14: Christian Watson’s continued development and a Romeo Doubs return
Few things really matter for the Packers at this point. Their defense is floating about until their coordinator gets fired. Their quarterback is almost certainly not going to be around for the next good Packers team. The two players that have a chance to matter on the next Packers team are the rookie receiver duo of Watson and Doubs. Watson has looked very good since returning from his hamstring issue. Doubs has struggled mightily with drops and fumbles, but he had been getting open. Spending the last few games of the season shoring those issues up at least gives the Packers something to build on for 2023+.
Paul Noonan: Rudy Ford
Rudy Ford is a former 6th round pick special teams ace, and prior to this season, “just a guy.” Rudy Ford is also an elite athlete:
Who happens to be PFF’s #2 overall rated safety at the moment, out of 88 qualifiers. Adrian Amos ranks 72nd while Darnell Savage is 85th. While this can all be attributed to a small sample size performance for the time being, the fact of the matter is that Ford’s 246 defensive snaps do qualify for the leaderboard, and that by the end of the season, we should have a perfectly respectable sample size. This level of excellence is unlikely to continue, but occasionally late round elite athletes break through, and I wonder if we may have one here.
Justis Mosqueda: Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare getting better every week
Enagbare has arguably been the best Packers defender over the last three-week stretch and has progressive gotten better throughout the season. He was originally projected as a Day 2 selection in the 2022 that general manager Brian Gutekunst was able to steal in the fifth round.
In all likelihood, star pass-rusher Rashan Gary’s going to miss part of the 2023 season with his ACL tear recovery. If the Packers do decide to keep this team around for next year to push for another playoff run, Enagbare is going to have to be the guy for a month or two next season. I want to feel comfortable with him and Preston Smith being enough while Gary is out.
Tex Western: TJ Slaton and Devonte Wyatt
Can we please get more snaps for the young defensive linemen on this team? Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed clearly aren’t the future for the Packers’ line and they don’t really appear to be effective in the present either. Meanwhile, Slaton has continued to flash and Wyatt remains an unknown, having yet to play more than 20 snaps in a game.
This team needs to see if Slaton can be a reliable full-time (or nearly full-time) player on the nose and if Wyatt can show signs of development to close out his rookie year like Kenny Clark did late in 2016. Continuing to let ineffective contract-year veterans eat up more snaps than the young players would be malpractice by the coaching staff.
Jon Meerdink: Jonathan Ford
The Packers took Jonathan Ford in the seventh round this spring, stashed him on the 53-man roster, and haven’t even gone through the trouble of activating him for a game yet this year. I understand wanting to prioritize keeping your draft picks, but they’ve given him what amounts to a redshirt year in a season where they could desperately use another warm body on the defensive line.
I don’t have high hopes, but I do want to see him play. Just do something, anything, to justify carrying him for an entire season without putting him in a game to this point.