The Green Bay Packers‘ improbable postseason run is over. Anders Carlson missed a 41-yard field goal, Jordan Love threw two interceptions, and the defense could not get a stop when it mattered the most. Dropping two interceptions that hit their defensive backs in the hands did not help either. In short, it is hard to pin the loss on just one player or phase of the game.
As unfortunate as the loss was, though, the 2023 Packers answered more questions than it left unanswered in their first season post Aaron Rodgers. Love is undoubtedly their franchise quarterback, their young pass catchers have the makings of one of the best groups in the NFL, and running back Aaron Jones is still an elite weapon.
Of course, the offense did not gel overnight. It took a great deal of hard work and they were far from perfect for much of the regular season. Still, the success they did have was the result of the foundation laid in the offseason when Love and Jones hosted workouts in California and invited everyone to participate.
For the first time in years, the Packers were led by a quarterback who genuinely wanted to work with his team in the offseason. The result was that they formed a tight-knit chemistry that no team in the Matt LaFleur era has had, and that is why this divisional round loss to the San Francisco 49ers hurts so much, at least according to Jones.
Green Bay Packers Running Back Aaron Jones Explains Why the 49ers Loss Hurts Worse Than Others
Jones missed a good portion of the 2023 regular season with hamstring and knee injuries. As an unexpected but positive result, he entered the final weeks of the regular season and postseason with fresh legs. In their loss to the 49ers, Jones had 18 carries for 108 yards, his fifth-straight 100-yard game.
After the loss, he talked with the media about why this latest postseason failure hurts worse than others he has experienced in Green Bay:
Aaron Jones reflects on what this #Packers team means to him:
“It’s honestly been the best team that I’ve been around.” pic.twitter.com/lgjvlsPF95
— Lily Zhao (@LilySZhao) January 21, 2024
“It’s been amazing. It’s honestly been the best team that I’ve been around. The best group of guys. Just the way we come together. We believe in each other. We care about each other. It’s like we’re all brothers, and if not brothers we’re all cousins, we’re like family. We’re all related somehow.
“But it’s truly fun when you know that the guys care about you. You can just look on the field; it’s evident we’re playing for each other. That’s why it hurts a little bit more; we were playing for each other.”
Of course, this is not to say that Packers players were not close or invested in each other’s success in year’s past. However, it goes without saying that this has been the least selfish group of players that Green Bay has seen in a long time.
The Green Bay Packers Wide Receivers Exemplify Selflessness
One needs not look further than the Packers’ wide receiver room to see the perfect example of a team-first attitude. Wide receivers are often stereotyped as me-first players and there is usually a clear hierarchy on teams in terms of who is the first, second, third, etc., options.
But not in Green Bay. On the broadcast of the loss to the 49ers, they pointed out that the Packers had a different leading receiver in each month of the season. Over the final weeks of the season, different pass catchers took turns racking up 100+ receiving yards in games as the Packers racked up wins.
This team-first attitude came to the forefront of fans’ attention during the Packers’ playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys. In that game, Romeo Doubs posted over 150 yards receiving, yet Christian Watson and Jayden Reed were celebrating as if the achievement were their own.
The best part about this is that they are all so young. This is a group of pass catchers that will only get better and closer. 2023 was their floor. That should be very scary for the rest of the NFL and a source of excitement for Packers fans.