The 2023 Green Bay Packers were not supposed to be good. They were not supposed to be competitive. Many of the narratives surrounding the team heading into the season stated that they were going to regress. The season was going to be ugly. Heads were going to roll because there was no way they were going to improve on 2022.
But that is not what happened. While finishing 9-8 may not seem like much of an improvement, the 2023 squad is headed to the NFL Playoffs. There are many reasons for this turnaround, but one need not look further than the quarterback position to find the biggest difference maker.
There is no question that Aaron Rodgers is one of the greatest players in NFL history much less one of the greatest to don the Green and Gold for the Packers. But 2022 was far from Rodgers’ best season, both on the field and off of it.
Indeed, Rodgers was responsible, whether completely or partially, for many of the Packers’ struggles in 2022. And his successor, Jordan Love, is now, completely or partially, responsible for righting his wrongs.
Jordan Love’s Extension Did Not Financially Handicap the Green Bay Packers Like Aaron Rodgers’ Did
What went wrong with the 2022 Packers? Oh so much! But let’s start at the beginning: the offseason. Amidst rumors that Rodgers wanted out of Green Bay, the two sides agreed to a staggering three-year $150 million contract.
This contract achieved a couple of things, and neither of them were good. The first was that it caused Love to question his place in the organization. Entering his third season, Rodgers’ contract extended past his own with Green Bay. Even if the Packers picked up his fifth-year option, he would still be behind the four-time NFL MVP. At the time, it was a difficult position for him to be in.
The second is that it financially handicapped the organization. Valuable and limited salary cap space that could have been used to add to a roster that went 13-4 in 2021 was now tied up in an aging and disgruntled quarterback, who still wanted the Packers to go out and get the free agents he wanted.
His own contract prohibited that from happening, though, and led the Packers to look for talent in the NFL Draft.
Which leads us to…
Jordan Love Put in Offseason Work with the Green Bay Packers’ Young Players; Aaron Rodgers Didn’t Show Up Until Training Camp
Let’s make one thing crystal clear: there are a plethora of stories from Rodgers’ former teammates that praise him for being a fantastic teammate. Love himself credits Rodgers for taking him under his wing and helping with his development. Last year’s rookie wide receivers, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, said they learned a lot from playing with Rodgers.
That being said, even Rodgers, now with the Jets, says he regrets the way he approached working with the Packers’ young players last year. That is, he did not spend any time working with them before training camp. Instead, he came to camp expecting them to already be on the same page as him.
As much as Love learned mechanics and reading offenses from Rodgers, he also learned from Rodgers’ mistakes. It was painfully obvious that the 2022 Packers offense lacked chemistry, the result of not working together until just a few weeks before the season. When Love was named the starter for 2023, he coordinated workouts at his home in California and invited all the young Packers players to participate.
A young team, the Packers made plenty of mistakes early in the season. It took them a while to find their footing; but the offense looked good from November onward. That is a credit to the foundation Love set with his young pass catchers early.
2023 Jordan Love Is a Better Quarterback than 2022 Aaron Rodgers
It is well-documented that Rodgers played part of 2022 with a broken thumb. However, that injury realistically should have only hampered his production for four weeks. Furthermore, it must not have been that dire of an issue if he continued to play with it.
That being said, Love, in his first year starting, was a much better quarterback than the 2022 version of Rodgers. This is not to say he is the greater overall player. It is far to early to even entertain that question. However, it is obvious, when looking at the numbers, who the better quarterback is/was:
|2023 Jordan Love
|2022 Aaron Rodgers
The 2023 Green Bay Packers Won Their “Win-and-In” Game in Week 18
Despite all the struggles that the 2022 Packers faced, they entered Week 18 with an 8-8 record and a chance to make the postseason. All they had to do was beat the Detroit Lions at home. Of course, that did not happen.
Rodgers’ last throw as a Packer was the game-sealing interception in their 20-16 loss. Green Bay finished 8-9 and missed the postseason for the first time under head coach Matt LaFleur. In the loss, Rodgers was 17-27 for 205 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
Fast forward to the 2023 season, and Green Bay is again 8-8 and needing a win at home against a divisional opponent in Week 18 in order to make the playoffs. This time, the Packers defeated the Chicago Bears 17-9 behind Love’s finest game of the season. He 27 of 32 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
The truth of the matter is that this list could go on and on and on, much like Rodgers’ conspiracy theory rhetoric on The Pat McAfee Show. It would be so easy to talk more about Love’s 10 games with a passer rating over 100 compared to Rodgers’ three in 2022. People could discuss for hours how Rodgers’ interviews painted the Packers’ organization in a negative light while Love has been nothing but a good representative of the team.
The fact of the matter is that Green Bay needed to move on from Rodgers. His final season is not what his legacy should be, but it did leave many questions about the team unanswered.
Well, Love answered them. He learned from Rodgers’ mistakes. And most importantly, he proved he is the future of the franchise while leading them to the postseason in his first year as the starter.
The future is bright in Green Bay.