Packers must more closely resemble Chiefs to win in 2023 regardless of who starts at QB
For the Packers to win in 2023, they will have to build and game plan more like the current Super Bowl champions.
In many ways, the 2022 Kansas City Chiefs represent a one-of-one title winner. The roster features no shortage of talent, headlined by the NFL's most valuable player, quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Meanwhile, future Hall of Fame head coach Andy Reid runs the organization, providing stability and vision that few others in that role have ever offered. Together, they toppled the Philadelphia Eagles in one of the most exciting Super Bowls of recent vintage.
Still, the Chiefs' success this past season offers opportunities for learning and introspection for other teams. That applies to myriad franchises but none more so than the Green Bay Packers.
Despite entering 2022 with similar expectations and a two-time reigning MVP under center, the team failed to so much as quality for the playoffs. As Kansas City positioned itself to compete for the top seed in their conference, the Packers struggled with far more fundamental concerns. They lacked an identity on offense -- one of the league's more dependable units for years previously -- while their defense couldn't solve basic issues into the final stretch of the season. With the exception of the Los Angeles Rams who delivered the worst title defense the NFL has seen this century, no club more grossly underperformed in 2022 than Green Bay.
In order for the Packers to have a more successful follow-up campaign, they need to more closely resemble the defending champions on offense. That holds true regardless of whether Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love starts at quarterback.
Deeper offensive supporting cast
Last offseason, the Packers and Chiefs took essentially the same risk, trading their All-Pro wideouts for multiple premium draft picks and reconstructing their receiving corps on the fly. The wide receivers who left town -- Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill, respectively -- each signed market-setting contracts with their new clubs while Green Bay and Kansas City added multiple, far less expensive pass catchers to fill the voids.
As the 2022 season made clear, those gambles played out in markedly different ways. The Packers, who largely bet on rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, didn't start to figure out their passing attacks until November. Meanwhile, the Chiefs never suffered growing pains or even much of a lull at any point, actually improving on a per-dropback basis.
Why did the Packers and Chiefs experience vastly different outcomes from their trades? Certainly, Mahomes played a role, delivering perhaps the finest season of his career and winning the MVP award in the process. At 27 and at the peak of his powers, Mahomes has produced arguably the finest start to a career of any quarterback in modern league history.
But while Mahomes provides certain advantages over every other quarterback at this moment, the Packers entered the season with the reigning two-time MVP, one still capable of making plays that only a select group of signal-callers ever have. Rodgers no longer has the mobility he did in his 20s and early 30s, but his abilities from the pocket remain among the NFL's elite passers. Rodgers' presence should have provided scaffolding for Green Bay's offense much like Mahomes gave his.