Answer to Packers' identity crisis is simple but not necessarily easy
The Packers offense haven't established anything to "hang your hat on" as Matt LaFleur says.
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Call in the mental health professionals. The Green Bay Packers don’t know who they are.
After a 17-13 loss to a bad Las Vegas Raiders team, the Packers’ identity crisis reached existential levels. Before head coach Matt LaFleur reaches for his copy of Descartes though, the answer to his problem is simple and almost as old as French philosophy: It’s players, not plays.
That doesn’t mean fixing the problem and prestidigitating an identity from thin air will be easy. However, they’ve created a team to handle this funk.
Before we address what the Packers are as currently constructed, we have to understand what they set out to be. They’re an extremely young team with one of the youngest pass-catching batteries of the modern age, and that is by design. On some level, the team had to know struggles would accompany this influx of youthful talent.
The plan wasn’t to be bad, certainly not as bad as they were Monday night against a bottom-5 defense by just about every metric. But LaFleur and Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst either had to know there would be games like this or they’re delusional. One outcome is much better than the other, but given how intentional the building of this version of the roster was over the offseason, it’s hard to come to any conclusion other than they understand the 2023 road would not be a smooth one.
But with that youth comes dynamic athleticism. Rookie pass catchers Jayden Reed, Luke Musgrave, Dontayvion Wicks, Tucker Kraft, and Ben Sims are all excellent physical talents for their positions. All except Wicks featuring the kind of speed the 2022 Packers lacked. Pushing the ball down the field, as Green Bay has, fits with the roster they’ve constructed. Slinging it around the yard also meshes with the offensive line assembled, a group much more adept at pass protection than run blocking.
That leaves the Packers exposed to the inconsistencies of inexperienced players, and as Jason wrote after the game, LaFleur has not handled game-planning well for those issues. In fairness to LaFleur, he expects professional football players to run the correct routes or block the correct guys. Seems only fair. But asking Kraft to block Maxx Crosby one on one is patently not the same as planning for Marcedes Lewis to handle that task.
LaFleur insists identity though, includes that attention to detail along with effort.