Packers having sustained success, but limited titles, with roster approach

The Green Bay Packers are known as a franchise that primarily builds through the NFL Draft, not making too many big free agent signings or blockbuster trades.

It’s led to sustained success and numerous playoff appearances, but it’s also held the organization back from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy more often. While the success during the Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers eras in Green Bay is right up there with the top teams in the league, only having combined for two titles over that stretch has left fans unsatisfied.

Take the last couple years as an example.

After the team hired Matt LaFleur after missing out on the postseason in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst made four big free agent signings, picking up linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos and offensive lineman Billy Turner. It was a drastic change on how the organization typically operated during the offseason, but fans were thrilled.

The moves paid off in a big way, as LaFleur guided the Packers to a 13-3 regular season record and NFC North title before claiming a home playoff win against the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round.

Of course, the team’s season came to a screeching halt the following week, when the Packers defense that carried the team most of the year was ripped apart by the San Francisco 49ers ground attack.

The team’s offense, which was led by receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones, struggled for large stretches of the season and went silent against the Niners.

The season-ending loss appeared to highlight two big areas the team needed to address in the offseason — the run defense and playmakers on offense.

While it might have been unrealistic for fans to expect the team to make several more big free agent moves this past offseason, many expected the team to make at least one flashy signing.

The big move never came, with the team instead addressing the areas of need with linebacker Christian Kirksey and wide receiver Devin Funchess, who weren’t considered among the top-end players at those positions. To complicate matters, Funchess later opted out of the season due to coronavirus concerns.

Fans then turned their attention to the NFL Draft, where they expected the organization to fill in some of the voids.

Instead, the team set itself up for the future, drafting a quarterback (Jordan Love), running back (AJ Dillon) and tight end, fullback hybrid (Josiah Deguara) in the first three rounds to send the NFL world in a frenzy.

In a perfect scenario, Love can learn behind Rodgers for a couple of seasons while Dillon and Deguara serve complimentary roles the next couple years before developing into the full-time starters down the road. It sets the Packers up for potential long-term success, but doesn’t do much to move the needle on the Packers Super Bowl chances now.

The team finally addressed an area of need when drafting linebacker Kamal Martin in the fifth round, but it was too little, too late to appease Packer nation.

Through eight weeks of the NFL season, the same two issues have popped up again and have left fans saying “told ya so!” and wondering if this year’s team is truly a Super Bowl contender.

The Packers defense is allowing just under five yards a carry and was exposed by the Minnesota Vikings in a game that was reminiscent of the NFC title loss to the 49ers. Tackling has been a major issue for the green and gold too.

As far as playmakers go on the other side of the ball, Jones and Adams have again carried the Packers offense. Jones has 550 total yards, while Adams leads the team with 502 receiving yards.

The 1,052 combined yards accounts for over 35% of the team’s offense, and that’s with Adams and Jones each missing two of the team’s first seven games.

The Packers had another chance to address some of its issues at the trade deadline that passed at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, but stood pat, so the team will be banking on the returns of Kirksey and receiver Allen Lazard, who have missed the past several games with injuries.

While the Packers have a way of doing things and a solid track record, fans are begging for the organization to go all-in and try and capitalize on the final years of Rodgers’ career.

To add some fuel to the fan’s frustrations, some of the other top teams in the NFC bolstered their rosters over the past couple weeks, picking up players they think the Packers could have used.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed wide receiver Antonio Brown, who has had his share of issues, but his talent is undeniable when he’s on the field. Instead, he’ll join the Buccaneers, who handed the Packers their first loss of the season.

The New Orleans Saints traded for linebacker Kwon Alexander, a former Pro Bowl player, to bolster their defense.

Only time will tell how well those moves pan out for those two playoff-determined teams. And maybe having Kirksey and Lazard back in the lineup will serve almost like an addition at the trade deadline for the Packers, but the green and gold faithful would like to see the organization try some different approaches instead of relying on what the team started the season with.

Many organizations would give anything to have the kind of success that the Packers have had over the past couple decades, but the standards are different in Green Bay. LaFleur often talks about trying to win Super Bowls each and every season, but one could also argue the organization isn’t fully invested in that idea and instead of trying to win just now, thinks a bit too much about its future.

It’s not a horrible approach by any means, but I’m probably not alone when I say the approach needs some tweaking should the team want to compete for Super Bowls each and every season. Unfortunately for fans, the same build from within approach will likely determine how this year’s team finishes.

Morgan Rode is the sports editor for NEW Media. Readers can contact him at