“I think sometimes people forget what really makes an organization. History is important: the legacy of so many people who’ve come before you. But the people, that’s the most important thing; the people make an organization. It’s about character, it’s about culture, it’s about doing things the right way.”
This was May of 2021 and Aaron Rodgers was, ironically (in retrospect), at the peak of his frustration with the Green Bay Packers organization. The Packers were coming off a devastating loss at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game and searching for answers. Who could have guessed that we’d now be looking back at that NFC Championship game and wondering when we might ascend to even that level of success again?
The 2022 Packers are not good. This is now crystal clear. Their defense is predictable. Their offense is poor. Their special teams are below average. This is not a good team.
So, what happens now? Do the Packers have any chance of success in the years to come?
The answer is an emphatic “yes!”, but let me explain. Let’s take a look at some teams from recent memory that can serve as a blueprint.
The 2018 Green Bay Packers
The 2018 team bears a strong resemblance to the current team. That team went 6-9-1. Their former MVP quarterback was ranked in the middle of the league in quarterback rating and was known to roll his eyes at play calls and draw up his own in the huddle. While an exciting receiver emerged as a legitimate #1 during the season, the rest of the receiver room struggled, including some inconsistent rookies. After some important coaching and player changes during the offseason, the 2019 team returned to the NFC Championship game.
The 2022 Tennessee Titans and NY Giants
Both the Giants and Titans are unquestionably less talented than the 2022 Green Bay Packers, yet somehow beat the Packers into submission. This is infuriating, yet also a sign of hope. It shows that winning in the NFL is not all about talent. As Tennessee Coach Mike Vrabel said recently, “I don’t want to be a coach that relies on talent. I want to coach fundamentals and technique. I want to teach and I want to make sure that (the players) play with great effort and I know that we’re talented. So, my job is to not try to rely on talent.”
We all know that big changes and tough decisions are coming for the Packers. The Packers will need to make important decisions regarding players like David Bhaktiari, Aaron Jones, Adrian Amos, and others. Yet, the Packers will still have one of the most innovative offensive coaches in the league in Matt LaFleur. They will have a strong nucleus of 2nd-year receivers, including a budding star in Christian Watson. They will move forward with either Jordan Love or Aaron Rodgers, but not both. They will have a new defensive coordinator. They will return a strong defensive nucleus in the form of Rashan Gary, Jaire Alexander, Kenny Clark, Quay Walker, Rudy Ford, and Rasul Douglas. The Packers will have a high draft position.
So, there is hope. Perhaps the Packers will hire a defensive coordinator in the mold of Mike Vrabel who raises their play to an elite level. Perhaps LaFleur will find magic with his young receivers and build a top offense. All is possible for as Aaron Rodgers aptly noted, success, in the end, is all about people, character, and culture.