We are roughly a quarter of the way through the Green Bay Packers 2023 season. Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly from the first four games.
I’m not sure we expected the Packers to be on this massive of a roller coaster ride, with high highs and low lows, but to a degree, the season up to this point has gone as expected. There is a lot to like about this group, and we’ve seen flashes across just about every position group. However, with a first-time starting quarterback and a young team in general, consistency has alluded the Packers.
In an effort to hit on all the key takeaways from Green Bay’s first four games, here is what has gone well for them and where they have to improve.
The Good through the first four games of the Packers’ season
The ultimate goal this season for the Packers is to figure out whether or not Jordan Love can be ‘the guy’ moving forward, and in just four games, he’s showcased that he can shoulder those responsibilities. Of course, there are areas to improve upon, as is the case for any inexperienced quarterback, but Love has the required skill set to be a very good starter in this league–now it’s about putting those pieces of the puzzle together consistently.
Through four games, Love has displayed great pocket presence and an ability to go off-schedule when needed to create on his own. He can throw his receivers open as well, placing the ball where not many quarterbacks can, and when you put those two qualities together, you get a quarterback who has a high ceiling and can elevate the offense on his own. Love, for the most part, has also done a good job of taking care of the football and going through his progressions while showing a willingness to push the ball downfield. His poise and ability to almost will Green Bay to victory against New Orleans is perhaps the most exciting aspect that we’ve seen from Love–again, not a lot of quarterbacks are going to be able to do that, especially with how poorly the game had gone up to that point.
Red zone offense
At times, the Green Bay offense has had struggles getting to the red zone, but once there, they’ve been very efficient this season. The Packers currently rank 6th in red zone success rate, scoring a touchdown 69.2 percent of the time. What makes this feat even more impressive is that they’ve been successful in this condensed part of the field without a consistent run game. In this part of the field, in particular, is where we’ve seen Matt LaFleur really dial up some creative play calls to get guys in space.
Training camp and the preseason for Anders Carlson was inconsistent, at best. I’m not sure anyone truly knew what to expect from him once the regular season began, but so far, he has been perfect. Carlson has made all nine extra-point attempts and is 5-for-5 on field goals, including 2-for-2 from 50-plus yards.
Rashan Gary and the pass rush
Rashan Gary has been on a snap count the first four games, used primarily in obvious passing situations. Although his opportunities have been limited, he’s made the most out of them, looking as dominant as ever coming off an ACL injury. Despite having just 59 pass rush snaps, which ranks 60th among edge rushers, Gary is tied for fifth in total pressures with 17. He has an absurd win rate of 33.3 percent, which is the best in football at his position group and means he is generating a pressure once every three snaps.
As a unit, the Packers defense has created the second-most pressures in football up to this point in the season. The struggle has been slowing the run to get into pass-rush situations, but when they do, they’ve been getting to the quarterback at a very high rate.
Of course, there is room to be more efficient, but defenses have played a lot of cover-1 against Green Bay to start the season, almost daring them at times to push the ball downfield, and Love has been happy to take those opportunities. In four games, Love ranks first in pass attempts between 10 to 19 yards and first in pass attempts of 20-plus yards. I do think there is room for this offense to take more of the easier and shorter completions at times, but completing these throws or drawing pass-interference penalties has helped spark a number of their scoring drives.
Honorable mention: Pass protection
If it wasn’t for the Detroit game, where the offensive line was just bullied, pass protection would have been listed in the good category. For three games, this offensive line unit was one of the best in football in pass protection, giving Love the time that he needed to go through his progressions and find the open receiver. The protection has been a key contributor to his early success. Prior to Thursday’s game, Love had rarely been sacked, let alone hit. So for that reason, I’ll give Green Bay’s pass protection an honorable mention.