The Green Bay Packers have never been about losing and shouldn’t start now. Instead, they should focus on player development and helping their guys grow on and off the field.
It’s easy to interpret Tuesday’s move at the NFL’s trade deadline as the Packers tanking. Green Bay shipped Rasul Douglas and a fifth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a third-rounder. Douglas was under contract through the 2024 season and was playing the best football of his career.
However, the move wasn’t so the Packers could tank and get a better draft pick next year. It was to give them an additional top 100 pick and someone who will have a chance to contribute in the future.
The Green Bay Packers need to align their priorities for the rest of the 2023 NFL season, with their focus on growth.
At 2-5, the Packers would hold the sixth overall draft pick if the season ends today. However, their focus shouldn’t be on improving that draft stock throughout the rest of the season. It should be on developing their players.
Green Bay has a ton of young talent on both sides of the ball. Jordan Love, Zach Tom, Christian Watson, Rasheed Walker, Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs, Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft, and Dontayvion Wicks are all offensive players 25 and under, and under contract through at least the 2024 season.
That’s a solid base to build upon if the coaching staff can begin to develop them. We’ve seen few signs of that so far this season, which is the biggest red flag. The coaching staff needs to help the young core reach their potential so they’re young and promising, and not just young. They need their arrow pointing in the right direction by the end of the season.
Matt LaFleur has shown the ability to be a creative playcaller in the past. He’s lost some of that magic as the season has progressed and must find it to help out his young team. The offensive line also needs to address their issues before the team has any chance to show what they can do.
The defense may be a little bit more challenging. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry is on the hot seat despite his unit playing the better ball of the two. However, that isn’t always an indication that the process meets the results. He still plays way too conservatively, and his team hasn’t lived up to the hype the talent and high draft pick status suggests.
The Packers have eight first-rounders on their roster: Eric Stokes, Kenny Clark, Jaire Alexander, Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt and Lukas Van Ness. If we take a close look at each of them individually, how many are playing up to their potential? Two? Maybe three? That’s not good enough.
Barry needs to figure out how to unlock his best players. They must show development over the final nine games to give Green Bay hope going into 2024 and beyond.
Overall, the Packers shouldn’t focus on winning or losing games. That seems ridiculous to say in the NFL, but it’s the truth. Their primary intention should be to develop their players for 2024 and beyond, and let whatever happens in the win-loss columns play out naturally. It’s about building for the future, not tanking.