There isn’t much of a case for a Green Bay Packers Super Bowl run this season. Last season, WITH Hall of Famer quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the team finished 8-9 and failed to make the post-season. This season, 24-year-old Jordan Love takes over for Rodgers and he’ll be surrounded by a cast of young, relatively inexperienced pass catchers at wide receiver and tight end. The team will also be missing some key veterans who opted to leave Green Bay via free agency.
So, with youth filtering through the system and older established players leaving (or being allowed to leave), are the Packers officially in “rebuild” mode?
Well, the answer depends on who you ask.
All-Pro kick returner Keisean Nixon has given a definitive “heck no” answer to that question, albeit with stronger language.
“Keep That Rebuild Sh*t Off My TL This Ain’t That…,” Nixon wrote via Twitter.
Veteran offensive lineman, David Bakhtiari, seems to disagree.
“We’re moving on from a Hall of Fame quarterback” Bakhtiari said on Mike Silver’s “Open Mike” podcast. “I literally today talked to Jordan [Love] about this. I’m like, ‘The Packers rebuilt from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers.’ What are we going to say? It’s not a rebuild? Like, that is what that is.”
“That’s totally fine,” Bakhtiari added. “I’m not saying that we’re going to be bad. I’m not saying we’re going to be good. I don’t know and that’s the beauty. No one really knows how good they are. We start the season, everyone is batting 1.000. No one has any losses. No one has any wins. And let the season play out however it may be.”
Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst doesn’t embrace Bakhtiari’s use of the “R” word (rebuild).
“No, I don’t ever look [at] it like that,” Gutekunst recently told ESPN. “We’re excited about this football team and where it can go. Obviously, we’re a long ways away from what our 53-man roster and our 16-man practice squad is going to look like, but we’re really excited about it. It’s going to be new, obviously, specifically at quarterback, it looks like. But at the same time, the goals don’t change around here. It’s going to be the same goals we’ve always had, right?”
Obviously, though, this season’s Packers will have significant changes from last season. Chief among them will be a new-look offense, headed by Love and a cast of young ball catchers. But there’s still a veteran element to the team which will carry through on the offensive line, in areas of the defense, and at running back.
To many, “rebuilding” carries the connotation of a team being entirely reassembled with little realistic hope of winning in the immediate future. The general vibe from the Packers, though, is that they will be competitive this coming season and, given the relative weak state of the NFC, stand a good chance of making the playoffs with the talent they can currently field.
Whether or not fans see the team as rebuilding appears to come down to semantics and how they define the word “rebuild.” The team, itself– from the front office to the players on the field– plan on going about their business and making this season a successful one.