Top 5 Reasons for Packers Optimism

There are strengths heading into 2023

Unless the Packers win out in 2022, which doesn’t look likely based on their loss to Tennessee and their 4-7 record, the best thing Packers fans can do is find reasons for optimism in 2023.

The NFL is set up for parity—the bad teams pick first and have an easier schedule, so that’s a given. Here are the other top 5 reasons:

5. David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are healthy enough to play.

It’s hard to identify a strength on the 2022 team but this might be it. The team might have caught a break with Jenkins proving not to be their right tackle, perhaps saving some money such that they can re-sign him for the money teams give all-pro guards, rather than stud tackles. These two may not be in peak form but we’ve seen the horror of not having them.

4. Kingsley Enagbare can play.

Arguably, the two most important positions are quarterback on your team, and the guy who affects the quarterback on the opponent’s team.

At outside linebacker, Preston Smith played his usual stout run/pass combination while Rashan Gary led the league in pressures before the Detroit Turf Monster gobbled his ACL. Like Jenkins, the Packers might get a break re-signing Gary for a little less than the Entire Brinks Truck, given the injury. Either way, Enagbare showed he’s at least a terrific backup and third-down option, if not a future starter/star.

3. Their “We” Teams didn’t cry wee wee wee all the way home. 

Only part of the way. There was nowhere to go but up from 32nd in the NFL special teams rankings in 2021 and, while they had to cut their punt returner for sucking and they seem to get a kick blocked every game, there are some signs of improvement. Keisean Nixon is a natural kick returner, and he and Rudy Ford are excellent gunners. Dallin Leavitt is a spirited leader and Swiss army knife for special teams. Pat O’Donnell is a competent holder—something they lacked last year. They may have found Mason Crosby’s successor in kicker Ramiz Ahmed, and could save $670,000 in cap space by cutting Crosby after June 1.

Surely, you didn’t expect coach Rich Bisaccia to turn around this Den of Special Iniquities in one offseason, did you?  Rome wasn’t built—or painted—in a day.

2. With a Quay there’s a way.

Every team would love to have a middle linebacker who can run down ball carriers sideline-to-sideline like Quay Walker. He has also shown he can cover and blitz. Sure, he doesn’t always time his blitzes like Charles Woodson, but he’ll learn. A year in the weight room will help him be more stout against runs in the A and B gaps. Clearly, though, he’s a building block for Gutey as he tries to Tetris this defense under a tight cap in 2023.

1. Christian FREAKing Watson.

He struggled to get healthy but, once he was, Christian Freaking Watson scored 5,000 touchdowns in five days. Fine, “only” five. Picky, picky. Whoever is throwing to him next year—Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, CJ Stroud (Ohio State), Bryce Young (Alabama), Will Levis (Kentucky) or Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)—Watson should provide Packers fans with much to cheer about for years to come. If you're buying a Packers jersey, his surely is the safest bet for longevity. He’s 6’4, runs a 4.3 40 and has hands the size of Mickey Mouse. And, if the QB in 2023 is Rodgers or Love and they decide to draft a WR like Quentin Johnson, the TCU receiver who is 6’4 and runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, to bookend with Watson, look out.

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Chris Hollenback worked for the Packers in 1998-1999, he has written for Packers.com and other media outlets, he's much shorter than Derrick Mayes and Brett Favre nicknamed him Chris "To-hell-en-back." Follow him on twitter at @CHollenback

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Comments (28)

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TarynsEyes's picture

November 22, 2022 at 06:12 pm

They've been playing, although ineptly at times, whether by injury or scheme design, or by detriment of youth.

There are no more reason(s) for optimism, and false hope kills common sense and reality.

Now is the time to just enjoy the game and watch for who is making the future brighter.

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stockholder's picture

November 22, 2022 at 06:31 pm

Johnny Unitas was 40 when he wanted to sever ties. But he was never a #1 draft pick either. I think your just a little pre-mature on the QB. News Flash- There is NO funeral scheduled. Rodgers is the QB until he says he isn't. The packers won't draft anyone you listed.
The best laid plans don't always work out. The goal is to win now.

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 22, 2022 at 06:57 pm

Win what? The ineptitudes on this team run too deep and start with the FO and coaching staff. They made grave miscalculations for this season, and with salary cap hell approaching, there is no feasible way we could win a SB in the next year or 2. We had great teams in '20 and '21, and they couldn't get the job done, so what makes you think this team can?. The entire team is wishy-washy, Rodgers isn't getting any younger, and I think the best thing would be to rebuild and see what Jordan Love has. Hopefully, after a couple of years in the dumps, we can be even stronger than we were for the last couple of years, and learn from our mistakes to finally put us over the top

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stockholder's picture

November 22, 2022 at 08:09 pm

The Super-Bowl.! = This team has talent. The problem is other teams are stronger, and caught them.
Love is a dime a dozen now. You don't need to see anything but the 20 mil.he will make next year.
The biggest miscalculation was the OL. They took away the Rodgers factor. He's now injured thanks to them!
There is No internal problem. Gute will run the show. It won't take the Supreme Court. To decide that.
Can LeFluer keep Rodgers anger from effecting everyone? Thats what Rodgers must keep in check. Especially when facing tougher competition. 50 mil says he will.

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dobber's picture

November 22, 2022 at 10:13 pm

"You don't need to see anything but the 20 mil.he will make next year."

Love's cap number in 2023 is $3.9M.

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croatpackfan's picture

November 23, 2022 at 02:41 am

stockholder is lost in time! 2023 is the forth season at Packers. Not fifth!

As usual, he is driven by hate to Jordan Love. I can understand that. Jordan Love as person is good, humble guy. Everything his man crush is not,

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stockholder's picture

November 23, 2022 at 04:59 am

The Packers will need to decide whether to exercise Love’s fifth-year option, which would be in 2024, a year beforehand. The deadline for such options has taken place in early May. The article I saw was 20 mil. It makes it harder to dump him.

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Coldworld's picture

November 23, 2022 at 01:22 pm

There are options other than the 20 million. He’s still pretty cheap next year. Unless he is lights out good playing later this season there no chance they use the the option for a QB, particularly with our cap issues in 2024.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 23, 2022 at 01:49 pm

Try to trade for Zappe from Big Bad Bill...

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Johnblood27's picture

November 23, 2022 at 07:42 am

do NOT bring facts anywhere near a stocky post!!!

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 23, 2022 at 09:13 am

There are Bailey Zappe type QBs that know how to pass the ball. I get Jalen Hurts with the draw game, but he would be wise to preserve his body. Rodgers is showing signs of mental blockage, or he just cannot whip the out route with any velocity to risk the throws. He has to dial his brain into the situation. The safety value should be the guy crossing his face. Maybe a trip to the optometrist?

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Ritzy's picture

November 22, 2022 at 07:52 pm

Ah, no pressure anymore with no playoffs in site. Maybe I'll learn a trade or find a new sport and team to cheer? Is there a national archery league? Anyway, I really like our rookie receivers. They make these final six games worth watching. It should be an interesting off-season to see who will be playing for us in 2023..

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bjkdad44's picture

November 23, 2022 at 02:38 pm

Gotta be able to throw to the receivers… no matter who they are!!!

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splitpea1's picture

November 22, 2022 at 08:14 pm

Some players are just having down years and will hopefully bounce back next season. Stokes was almost a non-factor when he was in there, Dillon has been less productive and has only scored one TD, and K. Clark hasn't been particularly effective getting after the QB the last several games.

Wyatt is a reason for optimism--that's if the coaching staff would like to give him more snaps now (!) so he's ready to play a much larger role next season.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 22, 2022 at 08:24 pm

I get the sense that a lot of the posters here have never been associated with a losing team, ever. Not in Little League or High School or anyplace.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That's the bottom line reality of sports competition. But if the only reason you're playing is to get a win, I think you're missing a lot of what sports, and especially football, is all about. It's about the struggle. The wins and losses are incidental to that.

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Starrbrite's picture

November 22, 2022 at 08:54 pm

LH —For the most part, I’m in agreement with you.
On the professional level however (right or wrong), you are expected to win. It’s ALL about winning.
The trend now is to sell-out and win at all costs.
I look at the Buc’s; and last year’s Rams—trades, high rent FA’s —I want a SB and I want it now!
IMO, the 9’rs doing the same this year.
Bellycheat, has been caught - spying, deflating, manipulating.
It’s win now—at all costs.

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TarynsEyes's picture

November 22, 2022 at 08:59 pm

It's about money and why players jump from team to team. Sure, they'll do the lip service about it being about winning etc. Very few players stay with one team, and even those needed a financial prodding.

Little League and High School comparison. Please, give us a break.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 23, 2022 at 10:53 am

Taryn, I used those examples because I thought people might be able to relate Little League or High School, since I don't think we have many former pros or collegiate players here.

I've seen High School coaches get fired because they didn't win. I mean, you're living and coaching in some place like Kerrville, Tx, and you get fired.....you and your family are relocating. So even at that level, there's pressure to win, or else. Not like at the pro level, of course.

I agree it's about the money for the players. Not so much for the coaches, who are going to get paid regardless. If they're fired, they collect money for sitting at home. These guys put in 75 hour weeks not for the money, but for the love of the game and the pride of doing a difficult job well. They know they aren't going to win every game, and if they've been around for more than a year, they know that bad seasons are inevitable.

Me? I like the rollercoaster. Sometimes you're on top, and sometimes you're on the bottom, but it's all part of the same ride. This season will end and we'll prepare for the next one, which might be better or worse. Circle of Life.

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Starrbrite's picture

November 22, 2022 at 08:37 pm

My dad was a pessimist. He said more than once, “Anyone can be an optimist, it takes experience to be a pessimist.” There is some truth in that statement.
I am however, a NickPerry optimist. Nicky, leans to the Sun, but is aware of the darkness.
On our team, I see the light of talent, but also recognize the abyss of the current coaching staff. Since’61 and many others, have candidly pointed out the incompetence of the coaching staff.
I also agree with HarryH, who suggested that many on the coaching staff have been promoted beyond their qualifications.
For now it seems, the players will have to overcome their pathetic coaching.

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LambeauPlain's picture

November 23, 2022 at 08:00 am

My Dad, a huge Packer fan, told me at a young age "it pays to be an optimist. A pessimist is unhappy all the time, and optimist just meets with occasional disappointment."

Faith, Family and Friends are the things that really matter. I was so blessed to learn from my Dad's wisdom for 87 years.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 23, 2022 at 11:00 am

Lambeau, shortly after the birth of my first son, I got a congratulatory card that had some words of wisdom.

It says that if you want to be a good Dad, you have to be in the optimism business. You have to believe that the future will be better, your kids will have a better life, etc., or there's no point in doing this.

The words really resonated with me, and it changed my way of thinking and it changed my life. A few simple words on a card.

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Starrbrite's picture

November 23, 2022 at 12:28 pm

Excellent Lambeau and LH.

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Pantz_Burp's picture

November 22, 2022 at 09:21 pm

Top 5 Reasons for Packers Optimism for me:

1). The Packers will never be relocated.

2). I saw a Packer team in the Superbowl. And a victory!

3). The rich history of the team along with it's struggles.

4). The memories & moments will keep on coming

5). Da Bears STILL suck!

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Grandfathered's picture

November 22, 2022 at 09:28 pm

I agree with all the writer's reasons for optimism. Even if Bak/Jenkins are not with the Pack in 2023, its optimistic that they could have excellent health outcomes and put stuff on tape for their own value. Engebare, Walker and special teams and Watson & company are reasons to remain as excited as always for the future of the Pack. It looks like there are building blocks in place.

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stockholder's picture

November 23, 2022 at 05:23 am

Jenkins market value is 14 mil. Better to part with him and put Runyan back at left Guard. TT would have.
Lazard market value is 11.2 mil. With most draft guru's calling for a WR. And watching Allison and other rumors of veterans. Move -on. Kingsley Engbare can play - Garys market value is 20.5. He might not like the franchise tag. - But Gutey should.

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Philarod's picture

November 23, 2022 at 06:14 am

Optimism is never a bad thing, right?
In most cases, margins are very small in the NFL, and things just have not rolled the Packers way for the most part this season. What would have been tight wins turned into tight losses. Repeatedly, with perhaps more to come.

Even if this team (a longshot, at best) is able to make the postseason, I wouldn't expect them to get very far, but I'd still like to see them get there. This Sunday, I'll have mixed feelings, as I'm a lifelong Eagles fan, but I figure the Pack need it more, and the Birds can lose and still win their way to the #1 seed in the NFC. If the Pack miss the postseason ("538" gives them only a 6% chance of making the playoffs) then hopefully, next season will start with a whole new vibe.

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LambeauPlain's picture

November 23, 2022 at 08:13 am

Reasons for Packers optimism:

1. New leadership is coming starting with the President of the franchise, hopefully the day after Lions game.

2. The foundation of the Packers remains strong...financially, legacy, fanbase, expectations of excellence.

3. The journey from worst to first in the NFL is a short trip unless you are the Lions or the Bears.

4. The team has a nice core of talented players on rookie deals that should respond to effective coaching.

5. Packers 3rd round draft choice this year will be close to a 2nd rounder and will have great value trading out of the "Round of the Abyss".

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SinceLombardi's picture

November 23, 2022 at 08:55 am

Everything, and I mean everything regarding the immediate future of this franchise is dependent on who is in the front office and sidelines.
If there are no changes made, expect a similar outcome.
Bisaccia’s special teams are vastly improved over Drayton’s.
Imagine if Vic Fangio were to be hired as DC? Maybe if we had Wink Martindale this year we would still be in the playoff picture.. instead he helped beat us in a pivotal game ( NYG).
I know they won’t dismiss MLF because of his good overall record, but it’s clear his record was more of an AR achievement than a MLF achievement.
All the promising talent in the world won’t make a difference without the right coach. Lombardi proved that.
The way MLF has coached in the playoffs as #1 seed gives me no reason for optimism. 11 wins regular season was the expectation in 20/21. The real coaching was the postseason and he failed.. miserably.
I think if MLF was let go , he wouldn’t be hired as a HC anywhere else. The rest of the league know it was a three year run for AR( along with Adams).

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