Packers' youth movement even bigger than advertised
The 2023 Packers made the conscious decision to get younger, but the scope of that change has extended beyond expectation.
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The change began even before the Green Bay Packers permanently altered the trajectory of the franchise.
By the time general manager Brian Gutekunst finalized the deal to send four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets, his personnel department had already bid adieu to more than a half dozen veteran starters, including Randall Cobb, Dean Lowry, Jarran Reed, and Robert Tonyan. Trading Rodgers merely represented the final step, not the catalyst.
In total, the moves painted an unmistakable picture: The Packers had embraced a full youth movement.
To a certain degree, such a pivot shouldn't have come as a surprise. The ascension of Jordan Love as the team's starting quarterback meant that the timetable for potential Super Bowl contention had moved. Perhaps a veteran like Allen Lazard or Marcedes Lewis provides a greater positive impact in 2023 than a rookie could, but which of those has the higher ceiling a year or two down the line? The Packers took the calculated risk that prioritizing less experienced but talented players would benefit the franchise in the long term.
Even so, most teams in this situation attempt to balance their young players with some key veteran leadership at their respective positions. The Packers zagged instead. None of their wide receivers has more than one NFL season under his belt while first- and second-year pros would start at multiple spots along the defensive front seven.
Still, when the real games arrived, many understandably assumed the Packers would minimize the exposure of their youth to just clear starters and a few role plays. During Sunday's season-opening tilt with the Chicago Bears, the coaching staff took a wildly different approach.