Can the Green Bay Packers return to being one of the best offenses in the NFL with Jordan Love at quarterback and a young wide receiving cast?
One NFL analyst believes so.
“Over the next season and over the next couple of years, this could be one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL and I think it has unlimited upside,” Louis Riddick said during a recent appearance on ESPN’s “NFL Live.”
It’s only been three years since the Packers had the No. 1-ranked scoring offense in the league and, with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, they had a top-10 offense in 10 of the last 15 seasons.
Three years later, nearly everything has changed.
Love will be the quarterback. The wide receiver room has completely turned over with all first and second-year players led by Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs teaming with rookies Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks. And the tight end position will be anchored by rookies Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft.
“You have to take it slow and be willing to live with the bumps in the road,” said Riddick, a former NFL player, scout and member of two front offices. “You have to give them some time.”
What is a successful season for Jordan Love and the Packers in 2023?
Riddick’s fellow panelist, Keyshawn Johnson, a former NFL wide receiver, gave a simple response when asked how success will be defined for Love in Year 1 as the starter.
“Well, don’t screw it up,” Johnson said bluntly.
Johnson added that if Love can get the Packers to the eight-win mark — the Packers’ total last season — or a little better, and show Packers management that he has improved, it’ll be a successful season. Of note, the Packers’ offense in 2022 with Rodgers playing every game dropped out of the top 10 in scoring, ranking 14th and their 21.8 points average was 10 points fewer than their league-high 2020 season. And in Rodgers’ first season as the starter in 2008 the Packers finished 6-10 a year after going 13-3.
“Show us that you’ve evolved since sitting on the bench,” Johnson said. “Show us what the Green Bay Packers saw in practice and what little bit of game play that you’ve had, that you’ve learned from it, that you’ve gotten better. I think he’ll be successful. I understand he can’t be Aaron Rodgers off the bat.”
Riddick explained the Packers should lean on what he called one of the best offensive lines and running back tandems in the NFL. Even so, managing expectations will be critical for Matt LaFleur and his coaching staff with so much inexperience across the offense.
Do the Packers need to sign a veteran wide receiver?
So, given the lack of NFL experience of the receivers, should the Packers add a veteran wideout? Johnson doesn’t view that as a necessity.
“I think you can expect them to be the core,” he said. “As long as you have a veteran wide receiver coach and a veteran offensive playcaller, they’ll be fine.”
Jason Vrable enters his fifth season with the Packers and second as the wide receivers/passing game coordinator. He served as the wide receivers coach for two years before that and was an offensive assistant for one season. He came to the Packers with six years of NFL coaching experience.
Adam Stenavich is in his second year as offensive coordinator but LaFleur is the playcaller.
“A lot of people look at it the wrong way,” Johnson said of needing veterans. “I understand it was Aaron Rodgers and there were high hopes in Green Bay. But you have to give them the opportunity and chance.”
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Can the Packers return to being top offense in NFL with Jordan Love?