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Year-End Walkthroughs: Assessing the Packers’ 2020 season

APC writers come to grips with the end of another great year.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Not that anybody really needs reminding, but 2020 was a bit of a low point. The Green Bay Packers, for their part, did their best to pull everybody out of that trough of despair, only to have their own 2020 cut short in heartbreaking fashion.

So what was the 2020 season, anyway? APC’s writers took up that question together. What’s your lasting impression of the season?

Lindsay Hansen: A bright spot in an otherwise dark year

Oh, 2020 — no one needs a reminder on just how much of a dumpster fire the year as a whole was. During a time when we weren’t even sure if the season was going to happen or not, the Packers gave us so many things to celebrate. From milestones reached to record-breaking moments, this team was a Super Bowl-worthy team and man, was it fun to watch them play. For 60 minutes each week, we were able to escape the realities of the world and come together over our love of the Packers. And while the season certainly didn’t end the way any of us would have liked, the Packers were a light for all of us in arguably one of the darkest years in modern history. It’s for that reason that I will always have a special place in my heart for this team. Go Pack Go.

Rcon14: Good when everything kinda sucked

I enjoyed this team significantly more than last year’s team. Despite the same end result, this year’s team was a lot better and it was really great to see Aaron Rodgers be awesome again. I’m actually more hopeful for next year than I was for this year given that the most important player was elite once again. The ending was obviously awful, as I wrote about, but in what has been nearly a full year of collective anguish, it was nice to enjoy something that was a lot of fun.

Shawn Wagner: So good it hurts

It may not be true for every fan, but I invested more heavily in this 2020 Packers squad than any other since the 2014 Seattle debacle. As such, I was also filled with a very similar sense of high optimism of a return to the Super Bowl only to be absolutely crushed with disappointment last Sunday.

This was a special season by many accounts. We may have expected Aaron Rodgers to be motivated after the Jordan Love pick, but not to put up the earth-shattering numbers he had, especially with underestimated receiver weapons that progressed throughout the season. The rushing attack was the best it’s been in recent memory. The offensive line adjusted on the fly as needed. The defense even started to show improvement to the point that it was enough to help a high-powered offense win most games. The team chemistry was off the charts, and, oftentimes, the playcalling. All the pieces were there to get the monkey off the team’s back and reach the final game of the year.

A run to the NFC Championship Game is no small feat and the Packers were impressive. But, ultimately, yet again, Green Bay was so good that the end hurt (the “finality” of it as Rodgers would say) - perhaps the most it has hurt since 2014.

Paul Noonan: A Smart, progressive offense

I never realized how much it hurt to watch Mike McCarthy’s old “out work, out-execute your opponent” scheme for the last few years. It’s mind-numbing. Matt LaFLeur’s scheme is so much more creative and coherent, it brought back the joy of offense. Can you ever remember seeing a receiver run completely wide open in McCarthy’s offense absent a defender just falling down? LaFLeur routinely schemed great matchups and open throws, and Rodgers’ elite efficiency almost always made the most of them.

He still needs to solve for fast inside linebackers, and to capitalize more on opposing weaknesses, but the Packer offense was simply fun to watch this year, and should be for years to come. Just add a receiver or two…

Jon Meerdink: An enjoyable reversal of 2010

Every team has its own unique characteristics, and one of the benefits of watching one particular franchise for a long time is seeing things that remind you of years gone by.

Reflecting a bit on the 2020 season, I can’t help but be reminded of 2010. That year, seemingly everything went wrong. Everybody got hurt. They lost to Washington and Miami in overtime. They needed all kinds of help down the stretch just to get into the playoffs. And yet, things came together all at the right time, they got red hot, and blasted their way through the NFC field all the way to a Super Bowl victory.

This year, everything seemed to go right. Despite the world burning around them, the Packers seemed a beacon of stability, even including a COVID-19 speedbump of their own around midseason. But then, well, you know how the NFC Championship went.

Still, as others have said, that beacon of stability was valuable for months. Having something to look forward to every Sunday from July through January was a game-changer, and I’m grateful to have gotten to watch this team.

Tex Western: The most fun Packers team I’ve ever covered

2019 was full of new beginnings and promise, as Matt LaFleur took over a Packers franchise that had been mired in the Mike McCarthy doldrums and lost a half-season of Aaron Rodgers over the previous two years. It was an enjoyable 13-3 season, but the team was clearly overachieving and still figuring itself out — what its identity would be.

The 2020 squad found that identity. From the Gold Zone to the D-Train to “yeet,” the 2020 Packers had a camaraderie and joy about them that we haven’t seen in Green Bay in some time, certainly not since the Super Bowl run in 2010. The personalities meshed together tremendously with the leadership from the coaching staff, as LaFleur, Nathaniel Hackett, and company offered their locker room leaders room to be themselves and bring personality to work every day.

This resulted in a team whose players and staff clearly care about one another and, as Lindsay noted, this helped to provide a bit of brightness to the team’s fans in an otherwise dark year. I think that’s what made the team’s NFC Championship Game loss sting that much more for me: because more so than at any other time in my tenure at Acme Packing Company, this team was genuinely fun to watch because they were so clearly having fun with one another.