Green Bay Packers: Defining Expectations for the 2019-20 season

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images /

The Green Bay Packers have big hopes for the 2019-20 season, but they will have to remember to stay grounded without getting too ahead of themselves.

Alright Green Bay Packers fans, I’m going to level with you right at the beginning. We have been spoiled by this team. They have been one of the greatest franchises in the history of football over the last 100 years. In regular season wins all time, they are second behind the division-rival Chicago Bears with 743 to the Bears’ 761. They are tied for the second-best winning percentage ever with a .564. They even have the most combined wins of any team with 777.

We have had two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game in Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre back-to-back, and we had Bart Starr who was one of the best in the NFL during his time. So, after two down years, we’ve seen a lot of hate and negativity about the expectations for this franchise. Everyone wants to win the Super Bowl every season, but that’s not realistic. Consider teams like the Detroit Lions or Jacksonville Jaguars that have never even been there.

Don’t get me wrong, the Green Bay Packers have underwhelmed compared to the expectations laid out for them at the beginning of each of the last two years for a couple of different reasons. Their roster wasn’t set up to be a competitive group, and Aaron Rodgers has dealt with multiple major injuries over those two years. So, what should we really be expecting from a team with a drastically altered roster and a brand new head coach for the 2019-20 season?

The key for us as fans is to have some patience this year rather than expecting the team to come out and light the world on fire in year one. That’s just not necessarily going to happen. The blocking scheme is the same, so the run game should remain relatively consistent. Everything else though is much different. It’s designed to manufacture big plays and put the best players in a position to make those big plays happen.

The problem with that though is it’s going to take time. The Atlanta Falcons didn’t dominate the NFL in Year 1 of the Kyle Shanahan offense. They went just 8-8 without making the playoffs before becoming the number one offense in the NFL the following season. 2019 could be better than that with a lot of good pieces in place, but we have to understand as fans that it might take one more year for everyone to get their feet under them in this scenario.

This is the second year of the Mike Pettine defense, but they need their new faces and young faces alike to take the next step in their development to progress this unit into the top-tier group that it can be. They added multiple young pass rushers in Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, and Za’Darius Smith despite having a pass rush that finished in the top-10 in the NFL last season in sacks and sack rate.

The pieces are there for this team to be great on both sides of the football, but it all depends on how everyone takes to the new schemes. The team chose not to draft any wide receivers which show their confidence in the pieces the team already has. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and J’Mon Moore will all be expected to make major leaps in their second seasons that may not necessarily happen.

Who all said that Davante Adams was a wasted draft pick after two quiet years to start his career? I’m looking at you guy in the back. Adams has prospered into one of the five best wide receivers in the NFL, and he’s only improving with each passing week. It took him some time, but he was able to get there. He’s a touchdown machine with 35 of them over the last three seasons. The Matt LaFleur offense should allow him even more opportunities to make these plays happen.

The Green Bay Packers don’t have the softest schedule in the world despite finishing third in the division. They have to play the AFC West, which features two teams that were among the best in the NFL last season in the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. Both of those games are on the road. Barring injuries or the Packers being the white-hot group of 2011, are you going to realistically favor Green Bay in either of those games? The answer is probably no.

Green Bay also plays five of their final eight games on the road this season which includes trips to Minnesota, on Monday Night Football, and Detroit to finish out the season. Green Bay has a lot of the first half of the season at home which can help them start the year strong, but they will still be infants in LaFleur’s offense in this stage. Miscommunications will likely happen. Mistakes will be made. Growing pains are just something you have to live with under new head coaches.

I could be wrong. Green Bay could come out flawless and make me look like a moron for doubting them. Finally healthy, Rodgers could go on a tear to tie Favre for the third MVP title of his career. He could throw for 50 touchdowns while remaining turnover averse. The defense could leap into the top-tier of the NFL by creating turnovers while increasing their sacks and pressure rate. If that happens, you can remind me on Twitter with this piece to make me eat crow.

I’m trying to keep it realistic to keep everyone grounded. I think, with the difficult schedule that the Green Bay Packers have this year, their best bet is likely going to be in the 12-4 range. The NFC is going to be a dog fight for any team to come out of it head and shoulders above the crowd, and the track record of first-year head coaches and immediate success just isn’t necessarily there. It’s likely going to be the 2020-21 season where the team takes that big leap we’re all looking for.

I would love for the Green Bay Packers to win a Super Bowl this year under LaFleur. I think that this team doesn’t have the gaping holes that some would say they do. They do have some question marks that could become issues if players don’t take the leaps that they’re expected to or players get injured, but that’s why Green Bay went about adding depth to keep this team in a good spot if that were to happen.

Tight end still remains a question mark. dark. Next

You can be excited about this year. I’ll be excited every week and hoping for a win every time just like you will. With Rodgers under center, they’re going to be competitive every week. That’s the luxury of playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL on your team. He’ll be the driving force that takes this team to where they’re going to go. Be excited, but remember not to get too high or too low based on one or two things going a certain way.