‘Night and Day’: Packers’ Offense Ready To Kick Into High Gear

Could it be 2020 all over again, with Jordan Love surrounded by a deep and talented group of skill-position players?
Packers coach Matt LaFleur and QB Jordan Love
Packers coach Matt LaFleur and QB Jordan Love / USA TODAY Sports via Milwaukee Journal

The difference in offseason workouts has to be staggering for the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff.

Rewind to this time a year ago, and the Packers were an organization in flux.

Aaron Rodgers, the face of the franchise for the last 15 seasons, had been traded to the New York Jets, signaling a new era of Packers football.

Along with Rodgers’ exit came a historic youth movement.

The Packers were far and away the youngest team in the NFL, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Their most-tenured pass-catchers were Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson and Samori Toure. All three had a whopping one season under their belts.

Coaching a roster that young was a challenge, and the Packers felt the growing pains early.

Rodgers’ successor, Jordan Love, and the rest of the offense had a bumpy ride to start the season.

Love was toward the top of the leaderboard in interceptions and, with the team floundering at 3-6, there were some questions as to whether this experiment would turn into a one-and-done experience.

Instead, Love and the offense found its footing down the stretch, punctuated by a 48-32 rout of the Dallas Cowboys in their playoff debut.

Their finish, along with a new attitude on the defensive side of the ball, has the Packers on the short list of favorites at FanDuel Sportsbook to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

This offseason is similar in nature to the offseason prior to the 2020 season.

In Matt LaFleur’s first season as coach in 2019, the Packers surprised everyone on their way to a 13-3 record. While they reached the NFC Championship Game, the offense struggled. Rodgers threw 26 touchdowns to just two interceptions, but the offense performed inconsistently.

The 2020 season was different.

Rodgers, perhaps spurred by the selection of Love, had one of the best seasons of his career en route to winning NFL MVP. The offense, which returned all its key performers, blew through opposing defenses to become one of the best in football. The Packers came within five points of representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Fast forward to now, the Packers are in a similar boat.

They return eight of their 11 opening-day starters, with Jon Runyan, David Bakhtiari and Aaron Jones the exceptions.

The Packers have a built-in replacement for Bakhtiari, with Rasheed Walker starting 17 games (including playoffs) after Bakhtiari was unable to play after Week 1. Former All-Pro Josh Jacobs was signed to replace Jones. All their top pass-catchers are back and have a year of experience in LaFleur’s offense and catching passes from Love.

Instead of thinking, they’ll be able to react.

“Oh, it’s night and day. Night and day because last year, going into the draft, we had maybe three receivers on the roster. We had two tight ends,” offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich said on Monday.

“It was just one of those things where you didn't really know what direction you could go yet because you didn't really know who was going to be on your team and what skill-set they had. Even going into camp and going into the season, it was the same deal like, how much can you put on these guys’ plates and allow them to go out and execute? So, now everyone has a year under their belt, so to speak. It's been great to just know what these guys are good at, what they need to improve on and just allow them to just go ahead and be the best players that they can be.”

With that, the offense should be poised to get off to a fast start for the 2024 season.

Instead of having to be slowly brought along, LaFleur should be able to dig deeper into his play sheet and build on things as early as this offseason.

“You’re always looking to take the next step. You have to keep evolving, so it’s just a matter of what’s our best next step or next two things that we want to do.” Stenavich said.

“That’s the thing we can work on now. It’s not just running the foundational base things, but now we can just, ‘All right, let’s see how this looks,’ maybe get this guy the ball in a certain way, whatever it is, a certain package with particular players on the field, just stuff like that where you can see, ‘All right, is this the direction we want to go.’”

That direction, and that difference, could give the Packers an early edge in what should be a fiercely competitive NFC North. 

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Jacob Westendorf


Jacob Westendorf, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2015, is a writer for Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: jacobwestendorf24@gmail.com History: Westendorf started writing for Packer Central in 2023. Twitter: https://twitter.com/JacobWestendorf Background: Westendorf graduated from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay where he earned a degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism and mass media. He worked in newspapers in Green Bay and Rockford, Illinois. He also interned at Packer Report for Bill Huber while earning his degree. In 2018, he became a staff writer for PackerReport.com, and a regular contributor on Packer Report's "Pack A Day Podcast." In 2020, he founded the media company Game On Wisconsin. In 2023, he rejoined Packer Central, which is part of Sports Illustrated Media Group.