Those looking at the team the Green Bay Packers will field in 2023 tend to bring up a lot of doubt and general pessimism. And, yeah, there are holes in some key areas. Doubt is a reasonable vibe to pick up from a team that has a 24-year-old new starting quarterback with limited field experience and a pass-catching crew that, in many cases, is less experienced than him. There are other question marks as well.
However, there are also plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the 2023 Packers. And those causes for happy thoughts and good feelings are rooted in the old school core of the team, which appears to be as solid as ever.
First and foremost, the team has an elite-level ground game that can carry the offense for long stretches and, more importantly, take some of the pressure off new quarterback Jordan Love as he works his first full season as THE man.
Aaron Jones ranks among the very best running backs in the league and has been consistently good since breaking into the NFL in 2017, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Last season, he ran for 1,121 yards, which made him 10th in the league in rushing yards. He did this, though, with fewer rush attempts than any other running back in the top 10. When it came to Yards Per Carry, Jones was second in the NFL with 5.3, behind only Khalil Herbert of the Chicago Bears.
Hand in hand with the stats, it’s clear that the Packers do much better when they’re able to get the ball to Jones more often. Former Packers QB Aaron Rodgers even noted this reality last season when he told media, “We gotta get Aaron Jones the ball more. When he touches the ball, good things happen. He breaks tackles – he’s probably our most elusive guy with the football in his hands.”
Behind Jones, there’s AJ Dillon, who ran for 770 yards last season. Realistically, Dillon is good enough to be the main ball carrier on many teams this coming season.
Backing up the running backs and the incoming Love, is a talented and versatile offensive line that comes into the 2023 campaign healthy and led by field-ready veteran David Bakhtiari.
On defense, there’s also plenty reason for optimism.
After inconsistent play throughout the first half of the season, defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s crew got itself together and finished strong. The strength of the defense was almost enough to nab a playoff slot for the Packers.
This season, the defense is looking to pick up where it left off. They’ll be doing so with the knowledge that Rashan Gary, one of the league’s top edge rushers, should be back from injury early in the season. Cornerback Eric Stokes could also be back to help the secondary. First round draft pick Lukas Van Ness should also help with the pass rush this season.
All in all, there’s a lot of talent on the Packers’ defense and, as the year ended, it looked as though they had figured out how to get everything to work as it should.
So, there’s reason to be optimistic about this coming season, even with some very notable question marks floating about. With things pretty solid in the old school areas of the game– rushing, defense, offensive line– there’s a solid base on which to build. And if Jordan Love can excel in his role as field leader of the offense, well, things could get even better.