Three Reasons Why the Green Bay Packers Aren't Starting Over in 2023
Now that quarterback Aaron Rodgers has officially been traded to the New York Jets, a new era is starting in Green Bay. For some, the change at quarterback is signaling a rebuild year in 2023. I am not one of the people who believes that.
I'm not saying the team won't have its struggles but there are three big reasons why the Packers aren't starting over from scratch even without their former 4-time MVP.
First, Jordan Love isn't a rookie. While he may not have played much since the Packers drafted him in 2023, fans shouldn't dismiss the experience he has gained in practices. This includes practicing with the starters throughout much of the regular season last year because of Rodgers' thumb injury. This isn't unlike Rodgers, who sat behind Brett Favre for three years before getting his chance. Rodgers only played in 7 games during his first three seasons, attempting 59 passes. Love has played in 10 games and has attempted 83 passes. And unlike Rodgers when Favre was traded in 2008, Love has one start under his belt.
Obviously, Love still has a lot to learn but at least on paper, he isn't any worse off than Rodgers was when he was in the same situation 15 years ago.
Second, the team has offensive playmakers. This starts with proven and talented running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, a tandem that likely will be the focal point of the offense, at least early on, taking pressure off of Love. The team lacks depth at wide receiver. However, Christian Watson was developing into the team's number one while Romeo Doubs has reminded some of the Packers coaches of former star receiver Davante Adams. They, along with Jones, have been working to build chemistry with Love in the offseason and should, at least in theory, improve with a second training camp. The Packers will likely be able to pick up some affordable veteran receivers after the draft to help supplement that position.
I am also going to lump the offensive line in this category, which has been a team strength for years with a mix of veteran players, like David Bakhtiari and developing but talented younger players. It doesn't matter who you have as a quarterback if your offensive line can't keep them upright.
Third, the defense is better than it played last season. The jury is still out on defensive coordinator Joe Barry after an up-and-down 2022 season. However, I don't think the defense was as bad as some fans might think. If anything, it was that side of the ball that kept the Packers competitive when the offense struggled (and that was often). Pass rusher Rashan Gary should be returning from a knee injury and most of the defensive core are returning. If their second-year players like Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt step up and fill the gaps left by some departing veterans there's no reason to believe they won't be able to give Love a fighting chance.
As I said and as was the case when Rodgers took over, there might be some rough patches and fans should probably not expect a Super Bowl run. However, if Love plays better than Rodgers did in what was arguably his worst season and some of the young guys improve, I think the team might surprise some people.