By Tori Wittenbrock
Associate Sports Editor
GREEN BAY – After battling all season long to get through to the second round of the postseason, the Green Bay Packers are now prepared to take in the offseason, reflecting on 2023 and working hard for 2024.
Quarterback Jordan Love said that although the team had a much better season than most people believed they would, he will still be disappointed with how close their loss to the San Francisco 49ers was.
“It’s tough. Very tough,” said Love. “We had an opportunity to win that game and didn’t capitalize on it, so it’s a tough way to end the season.”
Now that Love has one full season as a starter under his belt, he said that he has been able to look back and be proud of the areas in which he has improved.
“You know, understanding where to go with the ball, seeing the defense a little better, and being able to read defenses and things like that. I think just an overall understanding of what the defense is trying to do to us,” said Love.
Love also said that there is no better motivation going into the off season than being reminded over and over of their 24-21 loss and what could have been.
“I think it will sting for a while, watching all of the games going forward. I think it will sting just knowing that we had an opportunity to win and we really dropped the ball on that one,” said Love.
Veteran Running Back Aaron Jones said that he is extremely proud of his young team for believing in themselves all season long, and that their faith in their ability is what brought them this far.
“Just telling everyone to believe. Believe that we can get it done and truly work hard, having everyone make a play and lock in. The odds aren’t in our favor, but we believe we can get it done,” said Jones.
The Packers undoubtedly defied more odds than any team in the league this season, hitting win streaks throughout the season and hanging on towards the end when most people counted them out.
Jones said he believes that their belief in themselves and in each other is responsible for carrying them through.
“Nobody thought we would be here. Nobody thought we would make it to the second round of the playoffs, but it just shows that if you buy in, you believe in each other and you block out the outside noise and really come together, it’s hard to stop,” said Jones.
“When we play to our standard, we can play with anybody and we can beat anybody.”
Now that the team is looking towards the off season, Jones said that the Packers will no longer be viewed as the young and inexperienced squad that they were this season.
“We had a bunch of first and second year guys, but now they have had a season under their belt and we should just hit the ground running,” said Jones.
Although they have a lot to build on and a lot of work to do going forward, Jones said that their tough loss to the 49ers will always stick in the back of their minds.
“Playing San Francisco, this is the third time they’ve knocked us out, so kind of bitter about that as well,” said Jones.
Veteran Linebacker Kenny Clark said that their loss to the 49ers was nothing short of a great learning experience, especially for the younger players on the team.
“It was definitely a tough feeling [Saturday night], but it is what it is though. That’s just the reality of it,” said Kenny Clark. “We played a good game and we really just came up short, so you know, we’ve got to get better from it.”
Now that the team has displayed their belief in each other and their team chemistry, the off season is upon them and will no doubt leave them with some new changes to which they will have to adjust going into next season.
“There’s always turnover, every year with everybody that comes in here. Every team is different. You build a bond with these guys. Some guys leave, but that’s just the reality of it, and we all understand that,” said Clark.
“We’ve been through a lot this year, as a team, and the defense, and I’ve got nothing but respect for how we all just handled it.”
Although they are now focusing on next season, Clark said that he believes each player should be proud of their performance and accomplishments this season.
“I’m really proud of how we played with this team and just looking forward to the future,” said Clark.