After having dealt with misfortune after misfortune, injury after injury, disappointment became second nature for the Green Bay Packers and their fan base. Having missed the playoffs two seasons in a row since 2005 and 2006, Green Bay was looking at a big climb back to the pedestal they once sat on, ranked in the lineage of the NFL as one of the most consistent teams ever.
While missing the playoffs as they have for the past two seasons is absolutely acceptable when considering the long streaks in which we have not only made the postseason but thrived in it, the type of players currently holding down roster spots on this team should have made this streak not happen in the first place.
Wasting the prime years of Aaron Rodgers has become such a rally cry for pundits everywhere that it does not even mean anything when referenced, a small cry from how big of a deal it was when it was first mentioned.
However, with all of these things considered, being behind the pack in most 2019 predictions actually is a benefit for the Packers, because then the pressure can be taken off of them in a sense, paving the way for impressive results.
Ranked 14th in an ESPN power rankings, it was said that more pressure seems to fall on new head coach Matt LaFleur than anyone else, even Aaron Rodgers. While unfair, monitoring and tempering these expectations early on in the process can only help this team forget about the tumultuous 2018 campaign that saw more closed-door activities gaining steam in the news than their on-field performances.
LaFleur is going to be chastised for being a spark hire that only happened due to his connections to the Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan coaching trees, which, on paper is fine to make. However, the development and improvements that LaFleur oversaw while running the Tennessee offense, while not stark, should be enough to make Packer fans excited for what he can do with a superstar quarterback, improving wide receiver corps, a defined running back depth chart and a solid offensive line that actually has depth.
The assimilation process that LaFleur has already begun undertaking for how to maximize Rodgers will be quite the interesting one to watch, seeing as how LaFleur is barely older than no. 12, only four years his senior (39 to 35). That sense of respect, which Rodgers has been pretty transparent on during any comments made about the hire, will be key in how well of an oiled machine this offensive unit becomes in 2019 and beyond.
There is nothing new or groundbreaking happening with the Packers this offseason, unless you count their spending spree they went on in free agency, shoring up the defensive unit with three players while bringing in an offensive lineman (Billy Turner) to create a sense of stability with their depth. Undergoing a coaching change is nothing new in the world of professional sports, and while it may not happen often for the Packers, it is not like this is a foreign process to the organization.
General manager Brian Gutekunst understand what it takes to win and has witnessed it first hand while bidding his time in the front office for Green Bay under Ted Thompson. Knowing that keeping Rodgers happy while making the rest of the team know that everyone has a say is exactly the fine line that needs to be balanced this year, especially after the large contract extension that Rodgers signed was plastered everywhere.
Not being expected to compete for the NFC North divisional title, much less be a factor in competing for a playoff berth, the Packers should absolutely appreciate the spot they are in now. Low expectations leave a lot of room to exceed them, and playing spoiler is a change of pace role for this team, but one they should try and take advantage of this year.
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23