Green Bay Packers

Championship Expectations Feel Different Around Green Bay This Year

Photo Credit: Kim Klement (USA TODAY Sports)

Almost every season carries with it Super Bowl expectations when Aaron Rodgers is in Titletown. This year is no exception. What is far different entering this run at a Lombardi Trophy is that it truly feels like it could be the best chance the Green Bay Packers have for quite some time.

Nobody knows what the future holds for No. 12 after this season, and Davante Adams still doesn’t have a contract beyond this year. The focus is fully on this season — but accepting the nature of the situation paints an uneasy picture of 2022.

The Packers are coming off back-to-back NFC Championship appearances. They aren’t a team building towards something, they have already been on the doorstep trying to break through. Two years ago, they were outmatched by the San Francisco 49ers. Last season felt to many like a year of destiny — until they ran up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it wasn’t.

Those kinds of defeats two years in a row can be mentally exhausting for a franchise. Nobody is complaining about getting that close, but it can be taxing in more ways than one. Getting so near the mountaintop for two straight years only to have their dreams thrashed puts even more pressure on Green Bay to get it done in 2021. There hasn’t been this sense of urgency to win the Lombardi Trophy until now.

Rodgers himself put it bluntly yesterday.

“Look, I think we all know what’s at stake,” Rodgers said. “It’s Titletown. It’s championship or disappointment just about every year…I think we’re all going to try and enjoy this one a little more.”

When has anyone heard Rodgers speak in this way? The answer would be never. Mentioning that this group is going to try and enjoy this one a little more speaks to the urgency that Rodgers and the Packers feel. He knows every year in Green Bay is a disappointment when they don’t win it all. He also knows this season has added weight because of the uncertainty surrounding his future.

Brian Gutekunst’s approach in the offseason, and even his moves after training camp, also suggests a team trying to do the damn thing now instead of hedging for the future.

Green Bay did well in the offseason to bring back star running back Aaron Jones even though it cost them All-Pro center Corey Linsley. There was never a scenario in which both would be able to return, given Green Bay’s lack of cap space. Many people thought both would be gone, but the Packers were able to hang on to one of the two.

Outside of Linsley’s departure, the entire core on the offense is back. It’s a unit that put up league-leading numbers, including topping the NFL in points per game at 31.5 per pop. Those numbers shouldn’t waver much this year given that the band is back together.

When Rodgers requested veteran Randall Cobb, who spent his first eight seasons with the Packers, Gutekunst made the deal. They didn’t trade for Cobb envisioning him in the slot for the next five years. There’s a reason they drafted receiver Amari Rodgers in round three of the 2021 NFL Draft. The move for Cobb was entirely about this year.

Amari Rodgers has some big expectations on his shoulders, but it’s going to take time. Cobb plugs in with plenty of experience right from the jump.

Green Bay hasn’t taken this all-in approach in any of the years with Rodgers. They have signed marquee veterans who played huge roles — guys like Charles Woodson and Julius Peppers — but this year they are truly pushing all their chips to the middle of the table.

This isn’t a doom-and-gloom scenario. Enjoy this season, soak it all in. Just know that it will carry a heavy weight given all the uncertainty that lies ahead.

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