The Green Bay Packers are at a crossroads. After finishing the 2022 NFL season 8-9 and missing the Playoffs, there are drastic changes that need to be made. If these changes fail or are not made and the team fails to improve or gets worse, there will be turnover and not just among the players. The 2023 NFL offseason and upcoming regular season could be the turning point or launching point for several careers. If improvement does not occur, some coaches and executives could find themselves looking for employment elsewhere.
#1. Green Bay Packers Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry
We won’t sit here and pretend like the Green Bay Packers’ offense didn’t struggle last season either. That being said, the offense was working with a wide receiver room full of rookies. The defense was vastly made up of returning players and veterans (Quay Walker being an exception). With so many players that returned in 2022 from 2021, one would have thought the defense would have played better.
There were regressions all across the board on defense except for Jaire Alexander who made the Pro Bowl. Besides him, nearly every defensive starter saw a dip in their production in 2022 when compared to 2021. For whatever reason, Barry refused to give Devonte Wyatt playing time despite his good play in limited snaps. Instead, he opted to give Dean Lowry the snaps despite his poor play week in and week out.
Is it any coincidence that Darnell Savage’s production dropped off massively when Joe Barry took over as defensive coordinator? Perhaps it is, but Savage was played out of position for most of last season.
In short, the decision making has been terrible on defense, and a failure to improve in 2023 could lead to Barry’s dismissal.
#2. Green Bay Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur
How can we be sitting here discussing how a coach who had three-consecutive 13-win seasons before one dud season is on the hot seat? Well, it all comes down to leadership and decision-making. With big-name defensive coordinators like Vic Fangio and Brian Flores on the market, LaFleur chose to retain Barry instead. In essence, LaFleur has tied his success to Barry’s success, a risky decision indeed.
If the Packers’ defense does not improve in 2023, and LaFleur once again fails to take any sort of action about it, the organization could decide to move in a different direction. There is already a perception that LaFleur has not stood up to Aaron Rodgers when it comes to how the offense is supposed to run, leaving many wondering if he is truly in charge in the locker room. Add in the not-so-secret discord between Barry and former secondary coach Jerry Gray, one has to wonder if LaFleur has what it takes to resolve conflict on his staff.
Making some tough decisions would go a long way.
#3. General Manager Brian Gutekunst
This whole Aaron Rodgers saga could very well determine Brian Gutekunst’s future as the Packers’ general manager. He took the risk of trading up in the first round in 2020 to select Jordan Love. Similarly, Ted Thompson drafted Rodgers himself in 2005 despite Brett Favre still playing at a high level. It worked out for Thompson, but will it work out for Gutekunst?
He is truly in an all or nothing situation with the quarterback position. If Rodgers somehow comes back to Green Bay, they risk losing Jordan Love and their future at quarterback. If that is the case, only a Super Bowl, I think, makes it worth the risk. If Rodgers leaves and Love does not pan out (which, by the way, far too many “fans” are rooting for), he goes down as making one of the worst decisions in the history of the franchise.
2023 is going to be a make or break year.