The recent game against the Minnesota Vikings appeared to be a defining moment for the Green Bay Packers in the 2023 season. With a win, the Packers would remain in contention for an NFC wildcard spot at 3-4. However, a loss would realistically put them out of the postseason race at 2-5 and shift their focus to evaluating the roster for the rest of the season.
The Packers’ performance against the Vikings left no doubt about where the team stands. General Manager Brian Gutekunst’s decision to trade away their one healthy cornerback, Rasul Douglas, and the vocal leader of the defense at the trade deadline confirmed that the front office had acknowledged the reality of the 2023 season.
Gutekunst emphasized the importance of the next ten games, not only for evaluating Jordan Love’s progress but also to address roster questions across the offense and key positions on defense. With the secondary now looking depleted, the Packers face significant challenges on the defensive front.
The upcoming game against the Los Angeles Rams raises questions about the team’s chances of winning. While a victory would be a positive outcome, the game might be the only winnable one between now and December 10th, with tough matchups against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit Lions, and Kansas City Chiefs on the horizon.
The Packers’ defense, in particular, will feel the absence of Rasul Douglas, both on and off the field. Douglas was not only a key contributor but also the vocal and emotional leader of the defensive unit. While Gutekunst’s decision to trade Douglas made sense from a draft position perspective, it did not favor the struggling defense.
The Packers’ struggles extend to their ability to draft NFL-caliber players in the third round, as recent selections have not lived up to expectations. Gutekunst, armed with five top 100 picks in the next year’s draft, has an opportunity to address this issue.
As of now, the Packers’ offense has faced challenges, failing to score a touchdown in the first half for multiple games, while the defense has struggled to get off the field on third down. The team’s high number of penalties has also hindered their progress.
The author agrees with former Packer James Jones’ assertion that it’s time for Coach Matt LaFleur to take the training wheels off Jordan Love and let him fully unleash his potential. While Love is surrounded by young pass-catchers who are still learning, other rookies across the league have found success from the start.
The Packers need to find an identity, improve week by week, and address the issue of penalties. They face the Rams, a team that has a different feel this year. Fans will be watching without profound expectations, hoping to see progress in some aspect of the game.
For many fans, a win would be great, but a loss (and a higher pick in the 2024 draft) wouldn’t be hard to accept given the circumstances.