The only week fans of the Green Bay Packers don’t have to worry about losing is the bye week, and having a late bye this year (Week 14) certainly came at a much-needed time. On the fringe of being eliminated from postseason contention, they certainly will have a few interesting storylines to keep track of coming out of the bye.
Matt LaFleur and Brian Gutekunst will need to assess the current structure of the roster, see where this team is, where they are headed, and what moves need to be made in their best interests. Playing time for Aaron Rodgers and other veterans, plus how heavily they incorporate the rookie class into the rest of the season will be very important aspects that bear watching.
Playing Time for Jordan Love
Jordan Love saw his first meaningful action of the year when he stepped in for an injured Rodgers against the Eagles. Having connected with rookie Christian Watson on a long TD, Love looked very comfortable in the pocket and had a good handle on the offense.
Even with Green Bay remaining in playoff contention, there is no benefit to them trying to remain competitive. By giving Love a shot in the final three games, they would be able to get a better grasp on where he is in his development process and how they can handle the QB position for 2023 and beyond, especially with reports of him growing uncomfortable concerning his backup status.
The fact that Rodgers discussed being open to having Love step in for him may just be spoken for the press or he may actually mean it – regardless, if this team wants to do what is best for its future, then they need to not concern themselves with the feelings of anyone involved.
Money aspects will be a big part of this decision, especially with Love’s fifth-year option coming up for discussion soon. As Rodgers failed to play up to his albatross of a contract this year, picking up Love’s fifth-year option and potentially moving on from Rodgers this offseason would create a ton of salary ramifications, both good and bad.
Offensive Role for Christian Watson
Watson was drafted because of his speed and field-splitting abilities that were on full display at North Dakota State, and he thankfully has brought both of those elements to Green Bay. His ascension into being one of the most trusted options for Rodgers and LaFleur was all a part of the plan, but the fact it happened this quickly certainly helps expedite his role in the offense.
Having recently inserted himself into the Rookie of the Year conversation, Watson’s scoring streak has been a pleasant surprise after fighting through injury issues to start his career. Even with those positive elements working in Watson’s favor, do they keep rolling him out there to help keep him acclimated in the offense? Or do they cite his early-season injury issues and scale him back a bit, letting players like Samori Toure and Romeo Doubs fill those roles?
My money is on Watson staying heavily integrated into the offense, regardless of who is throwing him the ball. If Love takes over to close the year, it would make even more sense for Watson to stay out there, especially since those two players could both be accelerating the future timeline of the Green Bay offense.
Job Security for Joe Barry
It is no secret that everyone in the Green Bay fan base wants Joe Barry gone as this team’s defensive coordinator, especially with how poorly his side of the ball has performed this year. With tons of potential and the words ‘top-10 unit’ being thrown around plenty of times this past offseason, it is fair to wonder where it all went wrong.
Barry’s inability to change up his schemes to focus on the strengths of the opponent (running QBs for instance) provides a perfect reason why LaFleur should look elsewhere (paging Jim Leonhard) for his next DC. But he has publicly stood by Barry throughout his inconsistencies, a far-too-familiar characteristic seen in plenty of other Green Bay head coaches.
There is no logical reason that Barry should remain on the job after this season, and he should actually be canned before the season ends to get a feel for what our internal options are first. If LaFleur wants to get rid of a smudge on his HC record, moving on from Barry is the most logical way to do that, it just feels like it won’t be that easy.뿓뿓뿓
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