“You were a first-round pick who got a contract extension without ever playing. They ran a Hall of Fame quarterback out of town for you. You’ve got to go prove that you are the right guy.” Orlovsky said. “The expectation shouldn’t be that Jordan Love’s OK, the expectation should be that Jordan Love doesn’t skip a beat to what the Packers have been.”This is a team that still has been to the NFC title game two of the last three years. He should play tremendous football.”
The Jordan Love pressure narrative is not an uncommon thought. If you ask general football fans who’s under the most pressure in Green Bay in 2023, you get a pretty consensus answer. The. quarterback. Those who cover and follow the Packers on a daily basis know better. Sure Love is under some pressure heading into this season, but he barely cracks the top five in that category. Here’s our top five Packers under the most pressure in 2023. Spoiler alert, the coordinator you are constantly frustrated with tops the list.
5. Jordan Love
Jordan Love, the man on top of the national media’s list, comes in at number five on ours. Any quarterback drafted in the first round should be under a certain amount of pressure. A QB that’s been allowed to sit and learn behind a Hall of Famer for three years likely deserves a little bit more. But, let’s be realistic about the situation. The multi year high profile drama between the Packers and Aaron Rodgers has created an unreasonable amount of expectations. When you add in the youth and inexperience of many of Love’s skill players, it makes sense that Matt LaFleur continues to preach patience.
Yes, we need to see Jordan Love play and gauge what his future looks like, but as Mina Kimes recently said “If Jordan Love plays in the top half of expectations they will absolutely be in the mix for the NFC North. But I also don’t think that’s the main priority for the season. It’s a possibility, but the priority is the development of the young quarterback and that’s what makes them different from the Vikings or the Lions who absolutely have to get back to the playoffs. It would be nice for Green Bay if they did, but they’re taking a longer view, with short term competitiveness being a very realistic possibility.”
4. The running backs
It may be weird to see Green Bay’s most valuable offensive assets on this list, but hear me out. Everyone expects the Packers to be run dominant this year. And why wouldn’t they? Aaron Jones is the best playmaker on the team and AJ Dillon was a high pick. But with carrying the offensive load comes carrying the pressure. If the running backs are successful, Jordan Love’s job will be exponentially easier. If this is a top 3 run game, there’s no telling how good the offense could be. If Jones and Dillon struggle, it could quickly snowball into struggles for an entire young unit. When you add in Ben Sirman’s recent critique of Dillon and Aaron Jones’s contract situation, it’s easy to understand that the Packers one two punch is under a bit of pressure in 2023.
3. Quay Walker
Walker is seemingly as gifted as he is immature. The unsportsmanlike conduct and ejection he received for shoving a Lions athletic trainer as he tended to injured RB D’Andre Swift concluded what had been a frustrating and inconsistent season for the first-round pick.
On the field, the 22 year can be brilliant at times and lost at others. A big step forward and a strong year could change not only Walker‘s career path but the Packers entire season trajectory. If Walker can keep his head on straight and start getting to the quarterback occasionally this could potentially be a top unit. If he can’t it’ll be interesting to see how the Packers, who pride themselves on culture and community, handle the idea of patience for Walker. This season is a big one for Quay Walker.
2. Matt Lafleur
In 2023 Matt Lafleur will finally get a chance to lead an offense exactly the way he wants. Working with a Hall of Fame quarterback is a privilege. LaFleur, and every other coach in the league for that matter, understands the importance of a star at the leagues most important position. But that privilege also comes with significant compromise. The last four seasons with Aaron Rodgers have been a little bit of what Rodgers wanted and a little bit of what LaFleur wanted. With Rodgers now in New York we get to see who Lafleur truly is as an offensive game planner and play caller. You can expect a more run dominate, 49ers type team. If it succeeds, LaFleur will receive a lot of credit. If it fails, the critics could go loud very quickly. And things will be magnified if Rodgers and the Jets succeed.
Yes, he was the first coach to win 13 games in his first three seasons. That hasn’t been enough to silence the doubters. LaFleur is finally going to get a chance to make his mark and with that opportunity comes a very real amount of pressure. Even the great Bill Belichick is being questioned for his struggles in the absence of Tom Brady.
1. Joe Barry
Were it not for the Aaron Rodgers drama, Joe Barry may have been the most divisive topic in Green Bay over the last season. As the national media focused on Rodgers and his relationship with young receivers, the defense failed to meet expectations. A slight run in the final games of the year seemed to have saved Barry’s job, to the dismay of fans. The coordinator’s unwillingness to be aggressive as the team struggled last season was a sticking point, not just with fans, but his own players as well.
Barry completely lacks a resume that would lead you to believe he should have survived his unit struggling. To make things worse there were multiple high profile defensive coordinators available this off-season. Packers fans watched Brian Flores, Vic Fangio, and Ejiro Evero all find new homes while the often too loyal Lafleur staunchly stood by the embattled coach
On ESPN’s NFL Live, Kimes made no bones about what she thought were fair expectations for the Packers coordinator.
“I also think that Love should be under significantly less pressure than the defense, which deserves far more scrutiny, consuming far more of the cap as Rodgers is off the books. Also WAY more draft capital, obviously, as we saw that theme continue with that first round pick.
I want you to look at the investment of first round picks in Green Bay. On the offense, it’s Jordan Love. On the defense, it’s eight players, of course the most recent being Van Ness. And despite that investment, which again is financial as well, this is a defense that finished last year 26th in EPA per play, 28th in in yards per play.
Telling it like it is, the loss of Rashan Gary really hurt the pass rush. But a ton of it was execution, bad situational football, playing that soft zone coverage that infuriated me in the first half of the season.
I think that, while they did clean up some of that as the year went on, I think that’s why defensive coordinator Joe Barry still has his job, but he’s on the hot seat and I would argue that the entire defense is under more pressure than the quarterback to live up to all that expenditure.”
Perhaps this will be the year Barry comes into his own and the defense dominates. But if they don’t, with the ridiculous amount of draft capital spent, Barry will be the first name out the door.