The outlook calls for gloom and a lot of doom.
In the wake of the Aaron Rodgers trade, odds-makers expect the Green Bay Packers to finish last in the NFC North.
Our guess is that this is nonsense.
Certainly, the Packers will play one of the smallest teams in the league. And yes, moving from Rodgers to Jordan Love is going to have some hiccups.
Still, there’s a lot to like about Green Bay in 2023. In fact, there are three reasons why the Packers will be a playoff team this season.
1. Jordan Love Can Play
This is the most important variable for Green Bay’s season.
But the guess here is that Love will play well and justify management’s decision to move on from Rodgers.
Love just finished his third year as a backup, the same length Rodgers has been sitting behind Brett Favre. And the Packers believe in love today the same way they believed in Rodgers in 2008.
The odds of Love developing into a Hall of Fame-level quarterback, as Rodgers did, is unlikely. But Green Bay believes Love can become an elite player and wants to see first-hand what a 2020 first-round pick can do.
“Well…he can throw the ball, No. 1, which you have to do in the NFL,” Packers veteran quarterback coach Tom Clements said of Love. “He’s athletic, he can move, he buys time, he’s smart and he generally makes good decisions. And at this point he just needs to play and work on information processing, making quick decisions, and then getting it to the right person. But he has all the qualities you look for in a man.” to be successful.”
Rodgers skipped the majority of the 2022 Green Bay offseason, giving Love ample opportunity to work with the No. 1 offense. Love showed huge improvement over his first two seasons during those practices—and then shone when his number was called last year.
During the 40-33 loss at Philadelphia on November 27, Rodgers left the game with a rib injury early in the fourth quarter. Enter Love who went 6 of 9 for 113 yards, had a quarterback rating of 146.8 and led the Packers to 10 points on his drive.
Ironically, Love’s breakout performance came nearly 15 years to the day Rodgers showed the players he could be their heir apparent to Favre with a memorable performance in Dallas.
Love played in four games in 2022 and finished the year 14-of-21 for 195 yards with one TD, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 112.2.
It took a while, but that was the kind of player General Manager Brian Gutkunst envisioned when he traded four spots in the 2020 draft to get Love.
“I think as the players get older, he goes into all the decisions you make,” Gutkunst said of Loew. “We took him on for a reason in 2020, he’s been progressing really well, and it was great to see him take the leap that he did last year.”
2. Defensive dominance?
Defensive Players Coordinator Joe Barry is in the hottest seat. And if Barry can’t pull it off this season, his days as coordinator are probably over.
The Packers have a high eight NFL first round draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. And Barry should get more out of that unit than he has so far.
Barry’s defense was respectable in 2021, but it slumped last year and he finished 17y In both total defense and scoring defence. This level of mediocrity was a major reason the Packers finished 8-9 and missed the postseason.
“I think if you go back and really criticize last year, the contradictions were the things that really brought us together,” Barry said. “We played well at times. We didn’t play well at times. That’s what you can’t do in this league.”
The good news is that Green Bay has made strides in the last month of the season.
After 13 weeks, the Packers are ranked 30thy In rushing defense, 18y in total defense and were allowing 23.2 points a game. Over the last four games, Green Bay has allowed 17.3 points per game and has improved to 26y against range and 17y in full defense.
The Packers have an elite trio of cornerbacks, a pair of inside linebackers, and a talented group of pass attackers once Rashaan Gary returns, and the athleticism is up front.
It’s a leap of faith betting on Barry, who was a below-par defensive coordinator at Detroit, Washington and now Green Bay. But there is a lot of talent that makes this player a top 10 defenseman. And if that happens, the Packers will be one of the NFL’s surprise teams in 2023.
3. Charmin-soft table
Green Bay has a third-place schedule after its disappointing 2022 season. The last time the Packers had a third-place schedule was in 2019 when they went 13-3, winning the division and making it to the NFC Championship Game.
Obviously, this is a long shot for the 2023 Packers. But the schedule is very manageable and should give the young Green Bay roster a chance to grow.
Only six of the Packers’ 17 games will come against teams that made it to the postseason last year. Only two teams—defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City and the New York Giants—have ever won playoff games.
Green Bay won’t face a 2022 playoff team (Minnesota) until Week 8, giving Love and his youth time to develop. All in all, the Packers’ foes went 137-151-1 last year, with a . 476 winning percentage.
Odds makers continue to give the Packers a slim chance of success in 2023. But the NFC North is still mediocre, Green Bay still has many elite players and these Packers relish the chance to prove people wrong.
“I love it. I’m used to it, being an underdog or a sleeper, personally, so it’s a situation I like to be in,” said Aaron-Jones. “Nobody ever sees you coming. Everyone feels good when they think of you or don’t think you’re capable. When you prove people wrong, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.”
“I think that’s what we’re going to do this year – prove a lot of people wrong. We’re not worried about anyone’s opinions. We know what’s going to be written in there or where they’re going to pick us to finish. All that matters is that we go to battle every day, trusting those guys in the locker room.” The clothes and the scoreboard will tell the rest at the end of the day.”