Things will be different for the Green Bay Packers offense in 2023 and it goes beyond the obvious fact that Jordan Love takes over as the starter after Aaron Rodgers’ departure.
Offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich admitted that things could look very different this year as he and head coach Matt LaFleur see what their young and inexperienced starters do best.
“I think it might [look different],” Stenavich told reporters. “And it’s not just because of not having Aaron Rodgers. It might just be these other pieces that we’ve added as well. So, again, it’s OTAs right now, so we’re just going to kind of see how it all fits, and once we figure out kind of how we’re going to attack defenses, then we’ll roll from there. But I think it might.”
Here are five things that are likely to be different about the Packers offense in 2023:
- The Packers Are Likely to Feature Less Shotgun Formations
Matt LaFleur’s offense features a lot more plays where the quarterback lines up under center. The Packers utilized the shotgun formation more frequently in recent seasons in deference to Rodgers who operated well from it.
With Love taking over, the Packers can now mix things up more and have more plays that start with the quarterback under center.
- Expect More RPOs and Jet Sweeps
Rodgers was 39 and while he was occasionally still able to avoid the pass rush and pick up a key first down with his legs, he was clearly slowing down and was not able to run as effectively with the football as he did earlier in his career.
Love is 24 and a lot more mobile than Rodgers was a year ago. He will be running more run-pass options and similar plays that match the skills of a more mobile quarterback.
The Packers will also turn more towards jet sweeps. LaFleur likes to run them, but he hasn’t had a player who could fit that mold since Tyler Ervin was healthy.
The addition of second-round pick Jayden Reed from Michigan State gives the team a player who can run those types of plays. Even if Reed runs them only a handful of times per year, the fact that it is a possibility can keep defenses on their toes and Reed can be used as a decoy to free up other routes and players once he’s established as someone who can run the jet sweep.
Look for LaFleur to use the jet sweep more often in 2023.
- The Packers Will Likely Run the Ball More Often
When you have a roster with no wide receivers with more than one year of NFL experience and two rookie tight ends together with a quarterback with just one career start under his belt, you can expect some growing pains in the passing game.
The most established and reliable part of the Packers offense is likely to be the running game which features the experienced and dangerous duo of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon.
Jones is more of an outside, one-cut kind of runner who had a career-high 1,121 yards on the ground last year and was also second on the team with 59 catches.
Dillon is a bigger, between the tackles style of runner who added 770 yards on the ground. Dillon got off to a slow start but played better for the Pack down the stretch. He caught 28 passes last year but may be utilized even more in the passing game in 2023.
Look for the Packers to establish the run and go to it more often, especially early in the season and Love and the inexperienced receiving corps are still mastering the offense and adjusting to the NFL.
- The Packers Will Throw Over the Middle More Often
For whatever reason, Rodgers didn’t like to throw the ball to the middle of the field very often, especially later in his career. Some critics believed it was to avoid interceptions or perhaps he didn’t feel as comfortable with his slot receivers or tight ends, but Rodgers generally preferred to operate the passing game to the outside of the hashmarks.
Scouts indicate Love does not have the same approach to the passing game. That opens up more of the field for the Green Bay offense and allows LaFleur to incorporate more of his desired playbook in 2023.
- Expect More Two-Tight End Sets
The Packers drafted not one but two highly regarded tight ends on the second day of the 2023 NFL Draft. They selected Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft in the second and third rounds and still have the returning Josiah Deguara to be an H-back/fullback or to line up at tight end.
Stenavich indicated more formations featuring both Musgrave and Kraft are likely to see the field together as soon as they are comfortable in the offense. That gives the Packers different types of tight ends and receivers and the ability to scheme players open.
Overall, this will be a year of change for the offense. “We’re just going to look at one day at a time and just go from there,” Stenavich said when asked about Love and the offense. “He’s ready [and] he’s excited. I think all the guys, you can feel good vibes, good energy around the locker room, so it’s going to be fun.”
This offense will be a work in progress, and it all starts next week at OTAs.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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