The Green Bay Packers have wasted no time diving into the post-Aaron Rodgers era, for better or for worse.
According to this article by OvertimeHeroics, the Packers are basically football babies. With an average age of just 24.98 years old, the 2023 Packers aren’t just the youngest roster in football, they’re the youngest the NFL has seen since the 2017 Cleveland Browns, who infamously went 0-16.
But, after a dominating 38-20 week one victory over the Chicago Bears, Green Bay proved that experience isn’t everything. So how did the Packers do it despite their relative age? That’s what we’re here to discuss, taking a look at Green Bay’s roster adjustments to show why a team’s overall average age isn’t as important as you might think.
Exceptions to the Rule
Historically, being the youngest team in the NFL hasn’t been easy. Most of the time, youth is the sign of a rebuilding franchise who are allocating a lot of snaps to their recent draft picks. We already discussed the 2017 Browns, but the 2021 Lions are another great example. The only other team in the last six years with an average age under 25, Detroit won just three games all season, although they did upset the Cardinals and the Packers themselves late in the season. In fact, of the 10 youngest teams since 2015, only one finished with a winning record.
But, there are still exceptions to the rule. The 2017 Rams for example won the NFC West with an extremely young roster, and the 2014 Patriots were Super Bowl champions despite having a team that would be the second youngest in the league today. And, after their massive week 1 win in Chicago, the Packers look more like a contender than a pretender.
Here are a few key reasons why the Packers have a strong chance at a successful season despite their relative inexperience.
A Team that Trends Young
First of all, the Packers have never been a team that’s completely overloaded with veterans. Even at the height of their powers under Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay never reached higher than 14th in average age. Not known for signing high-profile veterans in free agency, the Packers have long been a team that prefers to fill out their roster through the draft.
While they did have plenty of veterans last season from Rodgers to Mercedes Lewis, to Mason Crosby who bumped up their age, most of the team remained relatively young. Because of this, there hasn’t been as much of an adjustment period for the NFL’s youngest team as you’d expect to see from more veteran-heavy squads rebuilding.
Experience in the Right Places
One thing that you consistently see with young teams that end up having successful seasons is that they still have plenty of veterans locking down key roles, and that’s actually what we’re seeing with Green Bay’s youngest NFL roster.
Despite losing their star QB, the Packers retained basically everything else that was going right. The dynamic running back duo of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon looks as strong as ever. Their elite offensive line is still led by David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins. And the defensive core of Kenny Clark, Jaire Alexander, and Preston Smith remains intact.
With strong veterans holding down key positions, it takes some of the pressure off Green Bay’s young talents like Jordan Love, Christian Watson, and Lukas Van Ness.
A Division Ripe for the Taking
It’s always helpful to be in a division without any elite opponents, and that’s looking like the case in the 2023 NFC North. There aren’t any basement dwellers among the Bears, Lions, Packers, and Vikings, but you’d be hard-pressed to make a strong case for any of these NFL teams to be serious Super Bowl contenders, age notwithstanding.
Without a clear favorite, this will give the Packers plenty of opportunities at winnable games against lackluster divisional opponents.
For more information, previews, and odds about the Green Bay Packers team, Overtime Heroics is a reliable source.
Lots to Look Forward To
Overall, it’s clear to see that this Green Bay Packers team is not your usual roster of rookies with ambitions only to grow and develop. They might be missing many of their oldest players from seasons past, but Green Bay still has plenty of Pro Bowl-level veterans across the board and a wide spread of exciting talents on both sides of the ball.
Even if this doesn’t end up being the year where they truly break out, the Packers appear to have once again seamlessly transitioned into another era of success and long-term playoff ambitions.