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Devil’s Advocate: The Case for Keeping and Getting Rid of Everyone

As the Packers continue to underwhelm, the fanbase is divided on who’s to blame, and how to fix it.

During the great Green Bay Packers civil war of 2022, fans were either on the side of “get rid of Aaron Rodgers” or “keep rolling with Aaron Rodgers”. The organization put an end to that turmoil in April of this year, when they decided to trade Rodgers in favor of their 2020 first-round draft pick, Jordan Love. By “put an end to that turmoil”, I of course mean “the Green Bay Packers ignited a fire so deep that the entire fanbase may collapse as a result because no one is happy and everyone is to blame just 7 weeks into the season”. To be fair, the entire fanbase has a point. Let’s examine four of the guys in charge of the operation, and look at why some want to keep them, and why some are ready to move on from them.

HC Matt LaFleur

Get rid of him: As of this week, the loss to Denver is the 2023 rock-bottom, and it could get worse. Obviously, this points back to the guy leading the whole team. Since the Week 1 domination of the Bears, the team has progressively gotten worse. Jordan Love looks less confident. The offense is arguably the worst part of the team, and who’s calling the plays? Matt LaFleur. During the 2022 season, we kept hearing, “Just let Matt LaFleur run his offense.” Well...the offense has left much to be desired. Without Aaron Jones, he looks like he has no plan. With Aaron Jones, it...looks like he has no plan. The fire is gone, and maybe the people who said Rodgers carried him to success were right. And that’s just the offense. This guy’s also responsible for hiring (and continuing to retain) Joe Barry. It seems like every week we hear some iteration of LaFleur taking the blame for the team’s shortcomings. Is it time to listen to him?

Keep him: We are 7 weeks into a season with one of the youngest offenses this team has ever seen. Success does not happen overnight, especially in these situations. Though a fifth-year head coach deserves a little less grace than a first-year starting QB, some grace is still needed. The team has been rattled with injuries, including LaFleur’s two most important weapons on offense, RB Aaron Jones and WR Christian Watson. LT David Bakhtiari has been lost for the season, and the offensive line is a never-ending carousel of mildly serviceable faces, and Royce Newman. With ~$40 million in dead cap dedicated to Aaron Rodgers, there’s only so much they can do to help their offense at this point. Panic mode shouldn’t come unless things look exactly the same next season. Let’s see what LaFleur can do after Jordan Love and his hopefully healthy weapons have a full season under their belt.

DC Joe Barry

Get rid of him: At this point, it’s too little too late. Sure, the defense doesn’t look as bad as the offense, but that’s not saying much. Yeah, you can say giving up 19 points to the Broncos is a “success”, but after watching the film of the defense on Sunday, it could’ve, and probably should’ve been way more. Jaire Alexander said it best when he talked about how young the offense is, and how they’re still finding their way: “I think at this point it’s pretty obvious that the defense has to not give up any touchdowns.” The play of the defense has to far exceed the play of the offense at this point, and it’s just not happening. A strong defense, which can force turnovers frequently and create some momentum for a young offense, might be exactly what this team needs to turn it around. It’s time to find someone to make that a reality.

Keep him: The defense isn’t the problem! For once, this team can blame the offense and their lack of scoring ability. Joe Barry’s defense has been missing Eric Stokes, Jaire Alexander, De’Vondre Campbell, and is now without Darnell Savage for what appears to be the long term. Not to mention, Rashan Gary has been playing on a pitch count since the season began. With the amount of defensive playmakers battling some type of injury, it’s a wonder they’re not giving up 30 points per game. It’s time for the offense to score some first-half points instead of making every game a massive comeback attempt. That’s not the defense’s problem.

OC Adam Stenavich

Get rid of him: I’m gonna be honest, I don’t even know what this guy does. Which means he needs to go, right? I mean, isn’t his job to prepare the offense every week, and give them the best chance for success? They’re failing, miserably. Since 2022, the offense’s production has dipped severely. Stenavich is a common denominator here, as this lines up with his promotion to OC. Not to mention, this is an offensive line coach at heart. The offensive line is arguably the worst part of the offense, which is the worst part of the team. If LaFleur were to give up play-calling, which he briefly mentioned earlier this year, who would he hand that over to? This guy? I don’t want to find out.

Keep him: The offense looks all wrong, but is Stenavich really to blame? He’s not the one calling plays. He’s not the reason the leg injury bug has bitten everyone. Just like LaFleur, and just like Jordan Love, maybe he needs some grace as the new offense settles in. It’s tough to nail down this team’s identity, because they’re so young. When the TEs get better at blocking, when the offensive line is healthy, when we figure out what the run game looks like moving forward, this team can be something special. Stenavich deserves a fair shot to try and make that happen.

Brian Gutekunst

Get rid of him: This guy put us into this whole mess. His first move as GM was to get rid of one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite guys, Jordy Nelson. Then, to pour salt in the wound, he traded up and drafted Rodgers’ replacement, before the team was even close to needing a quarterback. He singlehandedly created an irreparable rift between the Green Bay Packers and one of their greatest players of all time. And for what? A team with 2 wins and zero games of 300 passing yards. For years, it seemed like the Packers were one pass-catching weapon away from an offense so powerful they could finally get back to the Super Bowl. He refused to make a serious investment at the position, which included lowballing Davante Adams when contract talks initially began, leading to Adams’ eventual departure from the team. How much more damage needs to be done before people realize enough is enough?

Keep him: Brian Gutekunst clearly had a vision for this team when he took over as GM, and it looks like things are slowly falling into place. We’re just at the ugly part. Aaron Rodgers and his offense had gotten Packers fans used to things looking a certain way. The last two years have been a bit of a shock, but there have been flashes, moments when we see what this team is capable of. Jordan Love has a powerful arm, but the accuracy and decision-making need some work. The receivers have all shown us why they were drafted, but need to work on their hands. AJ Dillon...has legs. These things can all be fixed. Gutekunst is betting on LaFleur & Co. to do what’s right, and make necessary improvements when needed. If they don’t, I think we can trust that Gutekunst will then make necessary improvements when needed, even if that means letting some guys go.

The bottom line is, there’s a case to be made for, and against, just about everyone involved with the Green Bay Packers (except Joe Barry, you sickos!) I think we need to let things play out for the rest of the season and evaluate what changes need to be made at that point. In the words of some guy, R-E-L-A-X.

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