The 2023 Expectations for the Cheese Team

Sep 8, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers fans wearing cheese heads and tops during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports.

A new era is dawning in Wisconsin. After having a Hall of Fame quarterback at the helm since 1992, it’s time for something new.

The 2023 Expectations for the Cheese Team

Surely they can’t strike it rich three times in a row with Jordan Love? What are the expectations in Green Bay? All eyes will be on the Packers quarterback as he steps into Aaron Rodgers’ shoes three years after being drafted by Green Bay. They are big shoes to fill, and the performance of Love will determine what the Packers do this season. They have enough strengths across the rest of the roster to compete in a division and conference that doesn’t look particularly strong.

Last Season

for the Cheese
Dec 25, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs with the football during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Rodgers’ last season in Green Bay wasn’t a success as the Packers missed out on the playoffs finishing third in the division with an 8-9 record — thanks to a last-game-of-the-season defeat to Detroit at Lambeau Field. After back-to-back MVP seasons from Rodgers and defeat in the championship game in 2020 and 2021, the magic for Rodgers and Green Bay had faded. Hopes for a fourth straight division title disappeared as the Minnesota Vikings ran away with the division. 

To miss out on a wild card place was a bitter disappointment and felt like the end of an era, with an expectation that it would be Rodgers’ last season in Green Bay. So it proved when a trade to the New York Jets was finalized. The Packers went into the season favorites to continue their recent division domination. The offseason was full of will he, won’t he?” shenanigans from Rodgers, who left it late to confirm his future with the team. Star wide receiver Devante Adams was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders, and Green Bay never looked like a happy camp. The Packers weren’t bad in 2022. They just weren’t great at anything.

Rodgers was only 11th in the league for passing yards (3695) and 7th for touchdown passes (26). Aaron Jones was 10th in rushing yards (1121) but only scored two rushing touchdowns. Without Adams leading the receiving corps, Allen Lazard topped the receiving yards for the Packers with just 788 yards and six touchdowns. Adams had over double the amount in both categories with the Raiders. Defensively, the Packers were 17th in yards allowed per game (336.5) and points allowed per game (21.8). Defense is where they now should be strongest, and those stats need to improve in 2023 for Green Bay to have a good season. 2022 saw a lot of mediocrity in the stats for Green Bay.

Head Coach

Dec 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur and Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus talk before their game at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

Matt LaFleur came to Green Bay as a first-time head coach and enjoyed 13-win seasons in each of his first three years. The Packers couldn’t get it done in the playoffs, losing in the NFC championship game in his first two seasons in charge and then in the divisional round in Year 3. 2022 was the first losing season for La Fleur as a head coach, and his 47-19 win-loss record is impressive. However, he now needs to get a response from his team without Rodgers at quarterback. 

This will be the biggest test of LaFleur’s career and indicate his strengths as a coach. How good was his coaching during those early seasons? Was he just riding the coattails of Rodgers? LaFleur needs to answer those questions this season, and a successful season with Love at quarterback would go a long way to answering them in a positive manner.

Star Players

Packers Top CB Shades Justin Jefferson
Jul 28, 2021; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) is shown during the first day of training camp. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK.

Jaire Alexander is one of the best cornerbacks in the league and now takes the mantle of the Packers star player. In a division that contains Justin Jefferson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and now D.J. Moore, the Packers need Alexander to be at his best in 2023. The 26-year-old already has two second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors to his name. Can he kick on even further in his sixth season? Green Bay will need him too.

Aaron Jones will be vital to the Packers fortunes this season. With an inexperienced QB, the run game will be so important. Jones went over 1000 yards last season, but only two touchdowns aren’t enough for a player of his caliber. He will also have an essential role as a pass-catching back who can help Love find his rhythm. He may need to be the offense’s focal point alongside A.J. Dillon, particularly while Love settles into his role as the starting QB.

Rashan Gary was the 12th overall pick in the 2019 draft. His breakthrough season came in 2021 when he became a regular starter and tallied 9.5 sacks and 8 tackles for loss playing as an outside linebacker. Gary got off to a flying start in 2022, with six sacks in the first six games. However, he suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 9 against Detroit. Gary was maturing into one of the league’s dominant pass-rushers. The Packers hope he returns from injury and continues in that vein.

De’Vondre Campbell played his college football in Minnesota and entered the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons. Four years there and one in Arizona never produced anything special. Then a move to Wisconsin ignited Campbell’s career. He has become one of the league’s top linebackers, earning first-team All-Pro in his first season. Campbell can do it all. In 2022, he finished with 96 tackles, six tackles for loss, three passes defended, and two interceptions over 13 games.

Rookies

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Iowa defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness (DL47) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

R1 Pick 13 DE Lukas Van Ness
R2 Pick 42 TE Luke Musgrave
R2 Pick 50 WR Jayden Reed
R3 Pick 78 TE Tucker Kraft
R4 Pick 116 EDGE Colby Wooden
R5 Pick 149 QB Sean Clifford
R5 Pick 159 WR Dontayvion Wicks
R6 Pick 179 DT Karl Brooks
R6 Pick 207 K Anders Carlson
R7 Pick 232 CB Carrington Valentine
R7 Pick 235 RB Lew Nichols III
R7 Pick 242 S Anthony Johnson Jr
R7 Pick 256 WR Grant DuBose

Free Agent Additions 

LS Matthew Orzech – signed a 3-year, $3.6 million deal.

S  Tarvarius Moore – signed a 1-year, $1.1 million deal.

S Jonathan Owens – signed a 1-year, $1 million deal.

Prediction 

6-8 Wins

A lot depends on the quarterback, but this feels like a season of transition for the Packers. Their defense should be good enough to keep them in many games, but can they produce on offense to gain victories? I can’t be sure right now and need to see the Packers produce it on the field to believe it. They are going to have to run the ball well, but teams will know that and look to force the Packers to put the ball in Love’s hands. I can only see six wins unless Love performs much better than I expect in his first season as a starter.


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