Green Bay Packers: 7 Reasons to Be Excited About 2020 Season

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 29: Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers have a conversation during warm ups prior to the start of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 29, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 29: Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers have a conversation during warm ups prior to the start of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 29, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

While many are focused on what this Green Bay Packers team is lacking, here are seven reasons to be excited about the 2020 season.

Even with the Green Bay Packers finishing the 2019 season 13-3, the No. 2 seed in the NFC, and ending up just one game shy of the Super Bowl, not many outside of the organization were very high on this team. Despite the fact that they were racking up wins week in and week out, their performance on the field at times as well as their stats didn’t exactly align with that of a 13 win ballclub.

Fast forward to the offseason where limited spending power left Green Bay bargain hunting in free agency, and then they followed that up with a draft where they didn’t address any of their perceived major needs early on. As a result, many are down on this Packers team heading into the new season.

However, believe it or not, there are reasons to be excited about the 2020 Green Bay Packers. In fact, there are several reasons. Yes, there are unknowns on this roster, but that is the case for every NFL team, not just Green Bay.

So with training camp underway and the regular season really not that far off anymore, let’s take a look at seven reasons that you should be excited about the Green Bay Packers this season.

The left side of the Packers OL

Admittedly, there are some concerns about how the right side of the offensive line is going to shake out, but over on the left, well, that may be the best trio in football.

David Bakhtiari is one of, if not the best overall tackle in the NFL, and I would call him the best pass-blocking tackle in the game. During the previous four seasons, Bakhtiari has allowed just 11 sacks, and 15 quarterbacks hits over 2,850 pass-blocking snaps.

Meanwhile, Elgton Jenkins put together an excellent rookie season where he didn’t allow a single sack, and Corey Linsley is consistently ranked among the best centers in the NFL.

Young and talented secondary

Although over this offseason, I’ve voiced my concerns about the overall inexperience of this group, what we can’t deny is the talent. And there certainly is a lot of talent.

Jaire Alexander looks like a future All-Pro in the making while a healthy Kevin King was able to come away with five interceptions, which tied for the second-most in football. Chandon Sullivan was phenomenal when on the field in 2019, albeit in a small sample size, and I’m particularly excited to see more of Ka’dar Hollman this season.

At safety, to put it simply, Darnell Savage is a playmaker while Adrian Amos gives the back-end of this defense a reliable veteran presence. And, of course, the return of Raven Greene should provide a big boost as well at that ever-important dime linebacker role.

As a young unit, there are still inconsistencies, but the addition of Jerry Gray this offseason as the DB’s coach will hopefully iron those out and accelerate the learning curve.

Jace Sternberger

It’s been quite a few years since the Green Bay Packers have had reliable production from the tight end position. However, this is the year that could all change with the emergence of Jace Sternberger.

After missing the first half of his rookie season, we saw Sternberger step in and be an effective blocker, and although his stat sheet doesn’t reflect it, he knows how to get open as well. If you go back and watch the last handful of games, there were a few instances where he was wide open for a big play, but Rodgers was looking in the other direction.

In the LaFleur offense, the tight end is going to play a more prominent role than it has in years in Green Bay, and with Sternberger’s skill-set, as Brian Gutekunst put it, he is a “matchup problem.” His versatility will allow LaFleur to move him around the formation, creating mismatches for himself, but also his teammates as well.

A productive Jace Sternberger is one of the major keys to unlocking the full potential of this Green Bay Packers’ offense.

The Packers Backfield

Truthfully, the Green Bay Packers could have the best all-around backfield in the NFL this season. Aaron Jones emerged as one of the better all-around backs in 2019 with nearly 1,100 rushing yards, another 474 through the air and 19 total touchdowns. He, of course, is going to continue to play a significant role in this offense.

Rookie running back A.J. Dillon gives Matt LaFleur another explosive option out of the backfield, and while Jamaal Williams may not have the same playmaking ability as the other two, from running the ball to pass-blocking, to being a receiver, he does it all quite well.

Lastly, we can’t forget about Tyler Ervin, who can be used on gadget plays and provides this offense with another option to line up in the slot or out wide.

Under LaFleur, it appears that the running backs are going to play even bigger roles than what they did a season ago, and with this group, they are more than equipped to handle the workload and added responsibilities.

Packers pass rush

While there are question marks surrounding the run defense, with Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Kenny Clark, the Green Bay pass rush is about as stout as they come. The dynamic Smith duo combined for a ridiculous 25.5 sacks, 36 quarterback hits, 98 hurries, which totaled 167 pressures in 2019.

While along the interior, Clark posted six sacks, seven quarterback hits, and by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) pass-rush productivity metric, he was the sixth-best interior defensive lineman last season.

I also have to mention Rashan Gary, who was used sparingly in 2019 to the chagrin of many, but as the season progressed, he began to make plays more consistently. A Year 2 leap from him will make life on opposing quarterbacks even more challenging than what it already is.

Year 2 in the LaFleur offense

The 2019 Green Bay Packers’ offense was a mashup of what LaFleur wanted to run but also some of what Mike McCarthy had established throughout the years. It really does take that long to implement an entirely new offense.

However, this season is going to be much closer to what LaFleur envisions, and that is giving this offense that element of unpredictability. LaFleur wants to be able to line up in different formations with the same personnel and call a variety of plays to keep the defense off-balance.

And from the running backs to the tight ends, and to the receivers, the Packers have a versatile group of players to do just that.

Earlier this offseason, Brian Gutekunst compared Green Bay to the 2015-2016 Atlanta Falcons, who had LaFleur as the quarterback’s coach and Kyle Shanahan as the offensive coordinator. In 2016, the Falcon offense, particularly Matt Ryan, took a huge step forward as they became one of the best units in football and made it to the Super Bowl.

Now, of course, that doesn’t guarantee that the Packers are Super Bowl bound, but it should give you a reason to be excited about the offense in 2020.

Don’t forget the Packers have a lot of talent

I saved this one for last because so much of this offseason has been spent focusing on what the Green Bay Packers lack instead of what they have. And in case you forgot, they have a lot of talent.

On the offensive side of the ball, there aren’t many, if any, teams that have a better quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and left tackle combination than the Packers. The quarterback and left tackle are two of the most important positions in the game, and with Rodgers and Bakhtiari, Green Bay has two of the best.

And while the national media is quick to point out that the Packers don’t have enough playmakers for Rodgers, Green Bay does have one of the best receivers and running backs in the NFL.

Defensively, I’ve already mentioned the several playmakers that this unit has in The Smiths, Clark, Alexander, Amos, and Savage. Sure, the run defense and linebacker position are in question, but goodness, that’s a lot of talent on that side of the ball.

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As I mentioned previously, the Green Bay Packers have their question marks, and I’ve pointed them out this offseason. But this is also a very talented team, and despite many being down on them, there’s also plenty of reasons to be excited.