Green Bay Packers

Brian Gutekunst Has More To Prove Than Jordan Love In 2023

Photo Credit: Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

While the news of Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love signing a one-year contract extension may signal one thing, the bigger picture points elsewhere in 2023. After Green Bay’s selections in the 2023 NFL Draft, Brian Gutekunst has become the ant under the magnifying glass.

The Packers had to be excited to move on from Aaron Rodgers and the drama he created over the last two offseasons. By doing so, however, they have exposed the way Gutekunst and the front office have built this team. Now is the time to see if it withstands the storm or crumbles.

For Gutekunst and his staff, the 2023 draft was more of the same old, same old. They ignored critical team needs at wide receiver and offensive tackle and chose to make a luxury pick in Round 1 before fumbling everything on Days 2 and 3.

Fumbling may come across as too harsh a term, but this is a gross pattern Gutenkunst has established. He has had his fair share of hits – you don’t keep a job in the NFL for six years without those — but he reached on players he didn’t need to this year and he has ignored positions of need in years prior.

The Problems Start on Day 2

Gutekunst has struggled on Day 2 of the draft since his first year with the Packers in 2018. In 2018, after going with Jaire Alexander in Round 1 — a hit — he selected another corner in Josh Jackson at 45 overall and then Oren Burks at 88. Within the 43 picks between those selections, D.J. Chark, Brian O’Neill, Fred Warner, Orlando Brown Jr., and Mark Andrews were drafted. The rest of Green Bay’s draft class included picks at all the positions those guys played.

The mid-tier of the draft pool is foreign waters to this front office, and it is leading to failure.

There are examples of these errors in every draft class since the Packers promoted Gutekunst to general manager. Every GM has misses, even some blatant ones. But the Packers had one thing working for them that served as a cover: Aaron Rodgers. The way they have ignored the wide receiver position on Day 1 could also be tied to them finding Davante Adams in 2014 when Gutekunst was in the front office. The struggles at that position led to a lot of turmoil with Rodgers, especially after trading Adams away in 2022.

It’s All Out in the Open Now

Great quarterback play is the ultimate Band-Aid for an NFL team. It can cover up more issues than any other position. Conversely, poor quarterback play makes gaping holes look even wider.

At this point, the great quarterback is gone. Rodgers is in New York teaching Sauce Gardner who Jessica Alba is. Rodgers took these Packers teams further than many expected. He had them on the doorstep of a Super Bowl several times during his 18-year tenure, including winning one in 2011.

It wasn’t Rodgers that made the difference on that team that won a Super Bowl, though, it was the defense led by Charles Woodson. They paved the way for the Packers all season. That was the last time the franchise boasted a complete roster.

With Rodgers around, though, they trusted him to elevate his surrounding cast while Gutekunst and his staff tried to recreate that defense. Before Rodgers left, they would find some diamonds on defense, but they never could build that ever-critical complete roster.

This brings us full circle to Gutekunst today. The Rodgers Band-Aid is gone. This roster is about to be seen for what it is, and projections have the Packers being within the top 10 of next year’s draft. Meanwhile, front offices within the division have their teams poised for either major turnarounds or have shown sustained success in roster building.

Nothing is Guaranteed in 2023 or Beyond

Without a proven franchise quarterback, this coming season is uncharted territory for the Packers. The last time that was the case for them was in 1992 when Don Majkowski started the first two games before Brett Favre took over. They have had sustained success at the quarterback position for 31 years, which is a true rarity in the NFL.

Love will be under a ton of pressure, no one is denying that, but the pressure needs to be heavier on Gutekunst. This roster is a shell of what it was a year or so ago. This 2023 NFL draft class will be critical to filling those holes. Instead, it appears to be another class loaded with miscues.

From drafting Lukas Van Ness over Jaxon Smith-Njigba to selecting Sean Clifford in round four, the front office needed to help Love with more than just premium tight end picks and Day 3 wide receivers.

The Love contract extension was a safeguard for the team financially. Still, it could also be the last contract Gutekunst makes for any quarterback with the Packers if this year goes in the direction it looks like it’s heading.

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Photo Credit: Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

The best general managers are constantly looking for ways to improve their roster. Brian Gutekunst has been quoted multiple times saying that roster building is a 365-day-a-year […]

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