Packers debate term ‘rebuild’ as they adjust to life without QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The exit of four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers has led to some debate among the Green Bay Packers regarding exactly what constitutes a rebuild.

Most Packers insist they’re not rebuilding even as they try to break in new starting quarterback Jordan Love after getting three decades of Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback production from Rodgers and his predecessor, Brett Favre.

“It’s the crutch that everyone wants to lean on outside of the facility, not knowing what’s going on in here,” wide receiver Christian Watson said Wednesday. “It’s easy to say, ‘They lost Aaron. It’s going to be a down year or whatever.’ I feel like that’s the easy route to take. That’s not our mentality in here. We’re never trying to think of it as a rebuild or whatever people want to say it is.”

Left tackle David Bakhtiari has no problem thinking of it that way.

“To me, flat-out, how I look at it it’s disrespectful to say you’re not rebuilding (after replacing) a Hall of Fame quarterback,” Bakhtiari said. “It was disrespectful to say you weren’t rebuilding off of Brett Favre when you moved to Aaron.”

Bakhtiari and his teammates have similar goals, though they’re using different methods to explain it.

As far as Bakhtiari is concerned, going through a rebuild doesn’t necessarily mean a team will have a losing season. He cited a very recent example.

“We’re all batting 1.000 come the first game of the year and we’ll figure it out,” Bakhtiari said. “I think the Seahawks rebuilt off of Russell (Wilson). Look at how that turned out.”

Seattle posted a 9-8 regular-season record and reached the playoffs last season after trading Wilson — their nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback — to the Denver Broncos. The Seahawks improved upon their 7-10 finish in their last season with Wilson.

The Packers went 8-9 last season to miss the playoffs and end a string of three straight NFC North titles. They have since allowed Rodgers and plenty of other veterans to depart while welcoming in a 13-man draft class.

Former Packers receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb are with Rodgers in New York. Kicker Mason Crosby, the Packers’ leading career scorer, is unlikely to return after the Packers drafted Anders Carlson in the sixth round. Tight end Robert Tonyan signed with the Chicago Bears. The Packers also seemingly are moving on from tight end Marcedes Lewis and safety Adrian Amos, free agents who remain unsigned.

All those departures explain the skepticism surrounding the Packers. The over-under for wins by the Packers this season is 7½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. That figure was at 10½ before the start of training camp last year.

“When you prove people wrong, it’s one of the best feelings in the world,” running back Aaron Jones said earlier this month. “I think that’s what we’re going to do this year — prove a lot of people wrong.”

Whether they embrace the word “rebuild” or dispute it, their mission remains the same.

“Our goal each and every year is to win the North, make the playoffs and win a Super Bowl,” Watson said. “Regardless of who’s leaving and who’s coming in, that’s our No. 1 goal, and I think that we’re attacking every single day with that mentality.”

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