Packers offense ready to kick into high gear

The difference between offseason workouts must be staggering to the Green Bay Packers coaching staff.

Let’s go back to this time a year ago and the Packers were an organization in flux.

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

Rodgers’ departure was accompanied by a historic youth movement.

The Packers were by far the youngest team in the NFL, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Their most established pass receivers were Roméo Doubs, Christian Watson and Samori Touré. All three had a huge season under their belt.

Coaching such a young team was a challenge, and the Packers felt the growing pains early on.

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

Love led the team in steals, and with the team floundering at 3-6, there were questions about whether this would turn into a one-and-done experience.

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

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

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

In Matt LaFleur’s first season as coach in 2019, the Packers surprised everyone en route to a 13-3 record. As they reached the NFC Championship Game, the offense struggled. Rodgers has thrown 26 touchdowns to just two interceptions, but the offense has been inconsistent.

The 2020 season was different.

Rodgers, perhaps boosted by Love’s selection, had one of the best seasons of his career en route to the NFL MVP award. The offense, which returned all of its key players, blew up opposing defenses to become one of the best in football. The Packers were five points away from representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.

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

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

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

Instead of thinking, they may react.

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

“It was just one of those things where you didn’t really know what direction you could go in yet because you didn’t really know who was going to be on your team and what skills they had. Even early in camp and early in the season, it was the same thing: 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 great to know what these guys are good at, what they need to improve on and to allow them to move forward and be the best players they can be.

With that, the offense should be ready to get off to a quick start in the 2024 season.

Instead of having to be brought in slowly, LaFleur should be able to dig deeper into his playsheet and build on things starting this offseason.

“You’re always looking to take the next step. You have to continue to evolve, so it’s just about knowing what’s our best next step or the next two things we want to do. Stenavich said.

“That’s the thing we can work on now.” It’s not just about handling the basic things, but now we can just, “All right, let’s see what this looks like,” maybe give this guy the ball in a certain way, whatever it is. or, a certain package with particular players on the field. , just stuff like that where you can see, “Okay, is this the direction we want to go. »

This direction and difference could give the Packers an early advantage in what should be an extremely competitive NFC North.

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