For over a decade, the Green Bay Packers have been playoff contenders because of Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers' superhero play could make up for deficiencies elsewhere on the roster. When he played to his best, the Packers could beat anyone.
However, times have changed in Green Bay. Rodgers is gone, and the Packers begin a new era with Jordan Love. Maybe Love becomes the third straight Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Green Bay, but that certainly shouldn't be the expectation.
Even if Love does become a future All-Pro and Pro Bowl talent, he may not get there this season. The Packers went 6-10 in Rodgers' first season.
The Packers have surrounded Love with more talent this offseason, drafting tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft, and wide receivers Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks, and Grant DuBose. That certainly helps, as does the development of second-year receivers Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure.
But this is a young, inexperienced offense. The pressure shouldn't be on them, but on the defense.
Packers: Mina Kimes is 100 percent correct about her Jordan Love take
ESPN's Mina Kimes highlighted the number of first-rounders the Packers have on defense compared to offense.
On offense, there is only one first-rounder: Jordan Love. On defense, there are eight.
Cornerback Jaire Alexander, defensive tackle Kenny Clark, edge rusher Rashan Gary, safety Darnell Savage, cornerback Eric Stokes, inside linebacker Quay Walker, defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt, and edge rusher Lukas Van Ness were all first-round choices.
You could almost create an entire starting lineup just using the Packers' first-rounders on defense.
Van Ness is the only one on that list who wasn't on the team last season. The Packers also had big free-agent additions like Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and De'Vondre Campbell, yet the defense still fell short of expectations.
"Some of that was personnel related," said Kimes. "Losing Rashan Gary to injury really hurt the pass rush, but a ton of it was execution. Bad situational football. Playing that soft zone coverage that infuriated me in the first half of the season so much."
How often did we have to watch Packers cornerbacks sit deep in coverage only to allow a simple completion on third-and-short? Sit any deeper, and they'd be in the crowd. It was frustrating to watch, especially with an All-Pro corner in Jaire Alexander and all the talent the Packers have in the secondary.
That falls on defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Kimes says Barry should be on the hot seat, and the pressure should be on him and the defense, not Jordan Love, this season.
"The entire defense now is under even more pressure to carry their rookie quarterback and live up to all that expenditure," said Kimes.
Kimes is absolutely correct.
Love is entering his first season as a starter. Yes, the Packers expect him to play well and, yes, they have added offensive talent this offseason. But it's still an inexperienced group. None of the Packers' wide receivers were on the team two years ago, and their projected starting tight ends are rookies.
The Packers have repeatedly put their focus in the first round on defense. With eight first-round choices, Barry has an incredibly talented defense to work with.
It's up to him to make Green Bay's defense live up to its potential and take the pressure off Jordan Love.