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3 ways to fix the Green Bay Packers with the team in the midst of a lost season

Vincent Frank

It was just this past Sunday that the Green Bay Packers pulled off a surprising home win over the Dallas Cowboys to end a five-game losing streak.

For Aaron Rodgers and Co., this gave the team a fighting chance to remain somewhat alive in the NFC Playoff race heading into Thursday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Pretty much almost immediately, Green Bay proved that it was not in the same class as the visiting Titans.

Its defense allowed Ryan Tannehill to complete 22-of-27 passes for 333 yards with two touchdowns. Derrick Henry scored a touchdown on the ground and threw for another. While Rodgers played pretty well and rookie Christian Watson scored two more touchdowns, it was not enough for the Packers to come away with a win.

Tennessee ended up defeating the home team by the sore of 27-17 to open up Week 11 of the NFL season. In the process, these Packers fell to 4-7 on the season and three games behind the San Francisco 49ers in the loss column for the final NFC Wildcard spot.

Sure there’s still a fighting chance here. But losing at home in this manner mere days after a season-saving win pretty much puts the death knell on the Packers’ playoff hopes. If that is indeed the case, there’s a lot that needs to be fixed ahead of the 2023 season. Here’s a look at three things the Packers must do.

Related: Green Bay Packers schedule and game-by-game predictions

It’s simple. Move on from Brian Gutekunst

green bay packers fire brian gutekunst
Sarah Kloepping/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

Second-guessing general managers has become a national pastime around the sports world. A lot of this Monday morning quarterbacking is just reactionary. That can’t really be said for a decision-maker in Brian Gutekunst who has succeeded in turning a Super Bowl contender into a likely double-digit loss season.

A lot of this has to do with failures in the draft. Most recently, Green Bay released two 2021 draft picks. That includes third-rounder Amari Rodgers after the receiver struggled with turnovers on special teams. But it goes much further than that.

The 2020 NFL Draft stands out the most. Immediately after losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, Gutekunst opted to spend his first two picks on players in Jordan Love and AJ Dillon who didn’t see action as rookies. In particular, trading up for Love didn’t sit well with Rodgers.

For the future first-ballot Hall of Famer, this seemed to be the Packers’ way of indicating they planned on replacing him at some point in the not-so-distant future. The selection of cornerback Eric Stokes in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft was another primary example of this. He entered Thursday’s action having yielded an 80% completion and 123.5 QB rating when targeted this season. Talk about having bust written all over your name.

General managers are going to make mistakes. That’s known. However, what we’ve seen from Green Bay’s front office head over the past few years has set this organization back in a big way. It’s time to replace him.

Related: Green Bay Packers standing in Sportsnaut’s NFL power rankings

Green Bay Packers should play out the string with youngsters

green bay packers play christian watson
Dan Powers / USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur will likely wait a game or two before completely throwing in the towel for the season. In fact, it could come after their Week 14 bye. But things are not trending in the direction of this team heading into December with a legitimate shot of earning a playoff appearance.

Green Bay must contend with the one-loss Philadelphia Eagles on the road next week. It then takes on a vastly improved Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears in Week 14. Coming out of the bye, these Packers take on the defending champion Los Angeles Rams, first-place Miami Dolphins and another one-loss team in that of the Minnesota Vikings before closing up shop against the Detroit Lions. There’s very little reason to believe we’re going to see a run in Wisconson.

Now, it’s clearly time to start playing the youngsters. This means Christian Watson should get WR1 play after scoring five touchdowns over the past two games. Once fellow rookie Romeo Doubs returns from injury, he should start opposite Watson. Even if it’s not Gutekunst making the decisions moving forward, the Packers’ coaching staff needs to see what it has in these youngsters. That includes linebacker Quay Walker, defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt and defensive back Tariq Carpenter.

Related: Sportsnaut’s 2023 NFL mock draft

Get Aaron Rodgers that true No. 1 wide receiver

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Once upon a time, Green Bay had a legitimate top-end receiver in that of Davante Adams. Instead of signing him to a contract extension eons ago, the Packers let this thing play out. It led to the All-Pro asking out, culminating in a deal that sent him to the Las Vegas Raiders this past spring.

We can’t dwell on that. It’s a thing of the past. But if Gutekunst is given his walking papers, the individual replacing him must right this wrong. Obviously, that’s assuming Rodgers also makes the decision to return for the 2023 season. This isn’t a foregone conclusion.

Unfortunately, there’s no top-end receiver set to hit the NFL free agent market next March. Instead, Green Bay might have to exhaust a high-round pick or two in a trade. It nearly had a trade for Jerry Jeudy ahead of the November deadline. Someone of his ilk would make sense in that it could help the Green Bay Packers both short-term and long-term. Either way, the status quo at wide receiver is not working despite the talent both Watson and Doubs have displayed.