Every NFL season there are players that exceed expectations or improve their game and players who have disappointing years. It could be due to injuries, coaching, a slump, the system the players are in or a combination of other factors.
The 2022 Green Bay Packers had their share of players who failed to meet expectations. The Packers need these players to bounce back and return to form in 2023 if the team is going to return to being competitive.
Here is a look at five players the Packers need to perform better in 2023 than they did in 2022:
- C Josh Myers
The good news was that Myers stayed healthy in his second season in the NFL. The former Ohio State star started all 17 games after being limited to six due to injury in 2021.
Myers was solid in pass protection but very inconsistent as a run blocker. The lack of consistency is a concern and certainly the lack of inside push hurt the Packers running game especially A.J. Dillon who is best suited to run between the tackles.
The Packers will need Myers to get a little stronger and pick up his play in the third year of his career.
- TE Robert Tonyan
Tonyan is an unrestricted free agent so the Packers need to re-sign him for his career in Green Bay is to continue.
Tonyan was recovering from a knee injury that cut short his 2021 campaign. Tonyan played all 17 games for the Packers and caught a career-high 53 passes last season but he lacked the quickness that made him more of a downfield threat earlier in his career.
The former Indiana State star had a career low 8.9-yard average per catch and just two touchdowns. If he returns to Green Bay, the Packers are hoping he will regain some of the quickness that made him more effective earlier in his career. Being another year removed from the knee surgery could be a big factor.
Tonyan’s career is at a crossroads and if the Packers bring him back, they are hoping he can return to form.
- CB Eric Stokes
After a strong rookie season, Stokes’ play fell off significantly in his second year in the league. The former first-round pick out of Georgia was out for the season after nine games but seemed lost in the passive zone defense Joe Barry played early in the season.
As a rookie, opposing quarterbacks completed just 49.5 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Stokes and had a quarterback rating of 71.3. In 2022, those numbers skyrocketed to an 80 percent completion percentage and a 123.5 quarterback rating according to pro-football-reference.com.
The Packers need Stokes to return to his rookie form in 2023. He needs to regain his confidence and to be utilized in a more way that maximizes his skill set.
- S Darnell Savage
Savage is playing 2023 on his fifth-year option and Packers GM Brian Gutekunst will have to decide whether it’s worth bringing him back after the coming season.
The former first round pick out of Maryland struggled early in the season and was not well utilized by Barry’s passive defense. Savage struggled in the zone and had issues with missed tackles until he was benched after Week 11.
Savage returned to action late in the season and his play did pick up as he was put into roles that played more to his strengths. At times he covered slot receivers and proved to be more effective. He also had a 75-yard pick six against Minnesota in Week 17 that was the highlight of his season.
The Packers need Savage to find a comfortable role and to be more consistent in a key season for his career.
- QB Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers is under contract for 2023 but the Packers still don’t know if he’ll opt to return to Green Bay or demand a trade.
Rodgers won back-to-back league MVP awards in 2020 and 2021 but last year had the worst statistical season since he became the Packers starter back in 2008.
There were numerous reasons for the falloff in Rodgers’ play from the loss of Davante Adams to a young and injured receiving corps, early season inconsistency along the offensive line and a broken thumb that he suffered on the final play of the game against the New York Giants in London. Matt LaFleur and company hope one of them is not that Rodgers is older and his play is permanently falling off.
If Rodgers returns to Green Bay, the Packers will need him to be more consistent and to be an elite quarterback again. At 39, he will also need to stay healthy and provide the Packers with leadership if he decides to return.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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