The 2023 NFL season is just about to get underway, and the Green Bay Packers have a tough Week 1 matchup with the Chicago Bears to deal with. As Jordan Love looks to make his second-career start, there will be plenty of eyes on this mid-afternoon matchup.
It has been quite the one-sided matchup as of late, as the Bears have only beaten Green Bay twice (November 2015 & December 2018) over the past eight seasons. With Aaron Rodgers having helped keep their southern rivals down, that responsibility now falls on the shoulders of Love.
While it can be expected that Love will be the biggest topic many viewers will focus on on September 10, what else can be expected from Green Bay?
3 Storylines for Week 1
Rashan Gary returns to work
After having torn his ACL back in Week 9 of the 2022 season, Rashan Gary is ready to see the field for the first time since. While not back to an unrestricted body of work, the plans for Gary will have him see a certain amount of snaps in his return.
The Bears’ offensive line unit is abysmal, and with left guard Teven Jenkins headed to the IR, this unit gets even worse. Even with Gary not being at full strength, the likes of Preston Smith and rookie Lukas Van Ness will all get a fair shot at taking down Justin Fields.
What should be realistically expected from Gary in Week 1? A 50 percent snap share may be his ceiling, but he may be used more as a situational pass rusher in likely passing situations. Seeing Gary run onto the field for longer third down plays would make a ton of sense, as the defensive unit would be getting the most out of their star pass rusher, all the while keeping Gary fresh.
Can Watson start his ascension into the WR leader?
When Rodgers was in town, any sort of mistakes made by younger receivers felt amplified by the future Hall of Famer. But as Love works through some growing pains with his young receiver unit, what are some realistic expectations for them?
Christian Watson returns to the lead role, something that Rodgers helped him to ascend into last season. With his impressive stretch of TD-scoring games last year helped put him on the map, the sky’s the limit for the leader of this group.
Both Romeo Doubs and rookie Jayden Reed figure into the three-WR sets to start the year, and both offer their own unique skills. Doubs has been routinely included in training camp conversations, as he was regularly targeted by Love. For Reed, the slot role is where he likely earns his keep this year, and his speed and shiftiness will help expose the defense.
How loved will Love be after Sunday?
It’s a weird feeling as a Packers fan to not have the expectations of playoffs or bust this season, and that can be tied to all of the unknowns surrounding Love. While his preseason tape was quite impressive, playing in games that count will be the ultimate test.
The Chicago defense is far from what it used to be, but the secondary is a formidable unit that will test Love. Hopefully the offensive line will be able to keep Love upright, something they have no problem with doing during the entire preseason.
If Love is able to showcase his understanding of the offense on the fly, making calls at the line and adjusting protections, as well as knowing which audibles are the best for the offense, then his growth is going to be much more than we originally thought.
But expectations should be a bit tempered in Green Bay for Love, especially since we truly do not know what kind of QB he is. With the understanding of needing to go through quite a few bumps to get the final product, Love is in the driver’s seat now – and we as a fan base are just along for the ride.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