It was a season full of low expectations and big-time results for the Green Bay Packers, as their 2023-24 season marked the first season of the Jordan Love era. With pressure on both Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur to assemble the best roster possible, it’s fair to say that this was the Packers roster that was the most fun to follow over the past 10 years.
Moving on from Rodgers
Having finally made the decision to move on from Aaron Rodgers, it first fell on Gutekunst to make things work for both Green Bay and the next suitor for Rodgers. With the New York Jets eventually popping up in the search, determining the best path to move on from Rodgers while still getting the right amount of value in return was at the forefront of any offseason decisions.
When the official trade confirmation report hit a few days before the 2023 NFL Draft, it resulted in the conclusion of a process that had been in motion for what felt like years. Rodgers obviously held disdain towards the Green Bay franchise, dating back to when they drafted Love while their Super Bowl window was wide open.
But Rodgers has and likely always will be an overly-impressionable celebrity, one who lives to see himself in the tabloids and the headlines. His 18-year career in Titletown is something that Packer fans will forever be thankful for, and he will see his no. 12 join the ranks of Bart Starr and other legendary Packers upon retirement.
Having basically followed the same path as Rodgers, Love was able to sit behind a future Hall of Fame quarterback and hone his skills. Flash forward to the 2023 season, which is the first with Love as the full-time starter, and expectations were a bit uneasy for how things would turn out.
An above-.500 record and a playoff win later, and the results are much better than most people expected. Playing far above expectations, Love was awesome this year, showing a ton of poise in a season that started with a ton of media responsibilities thrown on his shoulders and ending with him shutting his critics up.
4,159 yards, 32 TDs, 11 INTs, and a 96.1 passer rating comprise a stat line that, in a perfect world, would have been great for Love to reach in his third year as the full-time starter. But putting up these solid numbers in his first season as the starter revamps the expectations for this team.
The first eight weeks of the season compared to the remainder of it are starkly different, as Love looked like he was trying to prove himself. But getting a better understanding of his skill set and abilities helped ground Love, which helped him turn this Packers team around and sent them in a direction not many people expected so soon.
2023 Draft Class
With 13 picks at his disposal, Gutekunst set out last April to turn the future focus of the Packers into a positive one, and he did an excellent job of it. Having picked up extra selections in the second, fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds, Gutekunst attacked low areas of the roster, helping give Love a solid core of playmakers around him.
The MVP of this draft class is an easy choice, as second-round rookie wideout Jayden Reed looks like the perfect slot option for this offense for many years to come. Having showed his abilities to flip a game both as a receiver and a runner, getting the ball into his hands helped this offense find an identity.
An unheralded part of this draft class though is how the curse of the third and fourth-round selections may have finally been broken. With tight end Tucker Kraft and defensive lineman Colby Wooden coming off the board in respective rounds, Gutekunst looks to have finally found the schneid-breakers, as both players have looked solid in Year 1.
First-round edge rusher Lukas Van Ness looked to be a bit of a question mark earlier in the year, but a lack of playing time was certainly a big part of that. Flash forward to the end of the year, and Van Ness has cemented himself in the edge rusher rotation alongside Rashan Gary and others, and really came on as the season progressed.
All in all, this is one of the best draft classes that Gutekunst has put together in his time with Green Bay, as both sides of the ball added real playmakers that should only continue to grow with this roster.
It felt weird entering the 2023 NFL season and having non-playoff expectations for Green Bay – we aren’t called Titletown for nothing. Having this general understanding of seeing how things play out and going with the flow starkly differs from our Super Bowl or bust outlook of most years, but it was quite refreshing.
But once the fan base and the rest of the league got their eyes on just how good this Packers team can be, the idea of not aiming for making the playoffs quickly went out the door. The playoffs will yet again be our every-year goal with Love at the helm, and with a rich contract extension likely upcoming this offseason, the future is about to look very, very rosy.
Is it unfair that the Packers continue to hit on potential superstars at the QB position? From our perspective, absolutely not – it is a testament to our process and the value we place on that position, so it only makes sense for 30-plus years of success at this position to continue with Love.
The future is yet again extremely bright in Titletown, and this Green Bay team ain’t going nowhere.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