GREEN BAY – Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur reviewed the 2022 season during a 30-minute news conference with Green Bay media on Monday. Here are five things we learned.
1. Packers don't expect many changes to coaching staff.
Green Bay is still going through its post-season evaluations, but LaFleur said he anticipates having most of his staff back in 2023, including defensive coordinator Joe Barry.
The Packers finished top 10 in the NFL in pass defense (197.0 yards per game, sixth), third-down defense (37.6%, sixth) and interceptions (17, tied for fourth).
As a whole, Green Bay was 17th in both total defense (336.5 yards per game) and scoring defense (21.8 points per game).
"It's my intention to try and have everybody back," LaFleur said. "I think continuity is a big part of having success in this league. And when you feel good about the people, you've got to work to improve, and we've got to challenge each other. I think there's going to be a lot of projects that we're going to do in this offseason that maybe we haven't done as good a job of in the past couple of seasons, in studying other teams and the trends throughout the course of the league."
The Packers' defense went through a rough patch after Rashan Gary was lost for the season in Week 9 against Detroit but rebounded during the final month, including a three-game December stretch in which Green Bay allowed just nine second-half points (Chicago, LA Rams and Miami).
LaFleur acknowledged there could be changes if any assistants receive other NFL opportunities. Last year, Nathaniel Hackett (Denver), Luke Getsy (Chicago), Justin Outten (Denver) and Kevin Koger (LA Chargers) left for promotions elsewhere.
2. LaFleur will talk with Aaron Rodgers soon.
LaFleur didn't want to dive too much into the future of the Packers' four-time MVP quarterback but said he plans on "getting together sometime this week" with Rodgers.
The 39-year-old quarterback completed 350 of 542 passes (64.6%) for 3,695 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions (91.0 passer rating) while playing through a broken thumb sustained in Week 5.
Offensively, the Packers finished 14th in scoring (21.8 ppg), 17th in total yards (337.9 ypg) and 12th in turnover differential (plus-2). The biggest issue Green Bay encountered this season was its production in the red zone (51.9%, 24th) and goal-to-go (50%, 32nd).
"I think there were a lot of variables in play this year. I really do," LaFleur said. "Sure, are there some things that (Rodgers) could've done better? Absolutely. Just like there are some things that I know I could've done better.
"You can go right down the line to every coach, to every player and there were a lot of new pieces in there and sometimes it takes a little bit longer than others, and certainly we've got to have some great conversations in regards to where we go with our scheme and what it is we're going to do."
3. LaFleur liked what he saw from David Bakhtiari.
The five-time All-Pro left tackle returned to form in 2022 after putting three surgeries in the span of 18 months behind him.
Bakhtiari missed the first two games and a start against Washington in Week 7 due to his knee and three December contests after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.
However, Bakhtiari made it back for the Packers' final two games at Lambeau Field, playing 597 snaps over 11 starts this season.
When asked Monday if he'd seen enough from Bakhtiari to want him back as Green Bay's left tackle, LaFleur replied in the affirmative.
"Yes, I do," LaFleur said. "I thought that once we got him back out there on a consistent basis, once we learned how to best practice him, once he learned how to do that for himself, I thought he played at a pretty high level."
During the Packers' final open locker room Monday morning, the 31-year-old Bakhtiari said he was looking forward to a surgery-free offseason.
4. The arrow is pointing up for Rich Bisaccia's special teams.
Special teams made a significant turnaround under Bisaccia, who was hired last February to get the wayward unit back on track.
Bisaccia brought long-time assistants Byron Storer and Micheal Spurlock with him to Green Bay, while the Packers signed two of Bisaccia's special-teams stalwarts from the Raiders, Keisean Nixon and Dallin Leavitt.
Nixon led the NFL in kickoff return average (28.4 yards per return) and brought back the Packers' first kickoff for a touchdown in more than a decade with his 105-yard return against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17.
Veteran Mason Crosby also bounced back with an 86.2% conversion rate on field goals, while the kickoff and punt coverage units made considerable improvement.
"I think absolutely it's going the right way," said LaFleur of Green Bay's special teams under Bisaccia. "He is extremely sound and detailed in what we are trying to get done. I thought you saw improvement. You saw a lot of young players improve throughout the course of the season. I think as a team, in terms of that phase of the game, we are definitely trending in the right direction."
5. LaFleur vows to be a more disciplined team in 2023.
The Packers' head coach opened his news conference by addressing the situation Sunday that resulted in rookie linebacker Quay Walker being disqualified for pushing a member of the Lions' training staff.
LaFleur said he'll "never defend the action, but I'll defend the person," and commended Walker for owning his actions and apologizing both privately to the trainer and publicly in the locker room Monday.
Moving forward, LaFleur emphatically stated that such incidents "will never happen here again" and that the Packers will stress players keeping their emotions in check when the team reconvenes in the spring.
"The extracurricular stuff cannot happen and our guys are well aware of that," LaFleur said. "There's going to obviously be a huge emphasis I would say going into next season about how we handle ourselves. Because ultimately it not only looks bad, obviously, but it hurts the team and we can't have it."