Four Packers With the Most to Prove in 2020

I feel like at this point in the offseason we have circled around every possible topic at least twice now, so please excuse me if you have read an article like this already.   This season is certainly going to be a unique one as it will be played in the middle of a pandemic with little to no fans in the stands, yet these fans will continue to hold their favorite teams’ players to the same unrealistic expectations.  With this in mind, here are four Packers with the most to prove in the 2020 pandemic riddled NFL season. (Spoiler Alert this list will not consist of fringe players on the 53-man roster that we already know could be cut).

  1. Kenny Clark:  It is not any secret that Kenny Clark has brought it since he’s arrived in Green Bay.  Quite simply, the dude shows up every Sunday and makes plays whether he’s at full strength or not. However, this season, or sometime in the next few months, Clark is going to sign a big money contract and every move he makes on the field is going to be scrutinized.  Will he prove his worth, or will his play decline in the next year or two?  My bet is, and always will be on Kenny Clark, but in the meantime, we will have to wait and see.
  2. Aaron Rodgers:  Over the last two seasons Aaron Rodgers has thrown for almost 8,500 yards, and 51 touchdowns while only throwing 6 interceptions, yet he continuously gets shit on routinely.  (You all know who you are so don’t play).  In quite a controversial move, the Packers drafted Rodgers replacement, and no matter what your opinion of the pick is, the Packers are clearly telling Rodgers that he is on borrowed time and they are looking to move on from him as quickly as they possibly can.  The 2020 season will be Rodgers final opportunity to prove that he has more than 1-3 years left in the tank.
  3. Allen Lazard/Aaron Jones: Both Lazard and Jones have to prove they can duplicate their breakout seasons for different reasons.  Lazard has to prove that he can be the same legitimate threat with the coverage that a number two receiver can expect to attract.  The Packers clearly have put their faith in both Lazard and Funchess as their 2a and 2b (2-3) receivers so if either, or both don’t live up to expectations, the team’s passing attack will be severely limited. 
  4. For Aaron Jones, the pressure to duplicate 2019’s performance is obvious since it is a contract year.  Jones has to prove 2019 wasn’t a fluke and has to be ready to shine when defensive coordinators around the league will be giving him the primary attention when scheming ways to shut down the Packers offense.  For Jones to break the bank, he really needs to stay healthy and have a statistical impact close to that of his 2019 campaign.  In a league dominated by the salary cap which will most likely be facing an operational deficit, Jones must not give the Packers any reason to hope for a hometown discount.  If 2020 ends up being Jones’s final year in Green Bay, it will be because he played at an all-pro level for the second straight season and I think we can all live with that. 

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David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Comments (23)

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

July 19, 2020 at 06:26 am

Weird. I would put K Clark and A Jones very LOW on the "most to prove" list. They both have proven themselves for two years straight.
David qualifies with "not fringe players," but that's a strange qualifier for this topic; however, I could see not including rookies.
Before reading the article, I made my own list in my head, and it was Montravious Adams, EQ St Brown, Josh Jackson, and Oren Burks.

D Funchess and R Wagner would be high on the list too, but that's sort of unfair because they are "like rookies."

MVS probably belongs there, but I've had issues with him all along. He's just SO BAD at contested catches. I just expect him to catch it when he's open and drop it when he's covered.

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Oppy's picture

July 19, 2020 at 07:40 am

PackEyedOptimist, I think your list nails it down pretty well.
Although I don't think ESB is really in a "prove it" situation per se, but he likely does have to show out to remain in the mix. As you mentioned MVS, I'm a firm believer he's an excellent athlete who is only a marginal to acceptable wide receiver. I believe ESB on the other hand is a good all around athlete who is a good WR.

I'm one of those guys who apparently "shits on" Rodgers because I assess the play on the field. Lots of first downs left out there. Rodgers could still be an unquestioned top 3 QB in the league if he'd just run the offense.

Rodgers does need to prove it in 2020, and the "it" in question is whether or not he's fully bought into the system and willing to run it as requested. That's going to include handing the ball off more than he'd probably like, as well as utilizing all the receivers on the field, regardless of his "trust" or comfort level with those players. If a WR is in progression and open (by NFL standards, not Rodgers' insane standard), throw the damn ball and move the sticks. I firmly believe that the drafting of Love is going to push Rodgers, and it should... and that's healthy.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

July 19, 2020 at 10:17 am

I agree on your comments on ESB, Oppy. I put him there because I believe he has the potential to be one of the three starting WRs, but if he has fallen off during the past year, he could also not make the team. That's a big "prove it" situation. M Adams, J Jackson, and O Burks are all in that same situation.

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Stroh's picture

July 19, 2020 at 04:28 pm

In Lafleur's offense I think there will mostly only be 2 WR on the field. This is a RB and TE centric offense. I mostly expect 2 TE and 2 WR on early downs and only 3 WR on 3rd and long. But I agree and expect EQ to make a big push for WR2.

Prove it players are the WR after Adams, and the 2nd or 3rd year players thst need to step up for the Packers to improve from last year (regardless of record).

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Guam's picture

July 19, 2020 at 08:13 am

Agreed PEO - an odd list. You normally don't see a HOF QB, an ascending near all pro NT and a top 10 RB on a "most to prove list" despite the author's qualifier. I had three of the four you did on my "most to prove list" and would swap MVS for ESB to complete mine. I give ESB a bit of pass because he lost last year to injury.

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stockholder's picture

July 19, 2020 at 07:58 am

I like your 4 picks. Money does have a lot to do with it. For that reason, I got to go with Funchess over Lazard. Good Veterans have a way responding. And I think Clark, Rodgers, Funchess and Jones will. While all will PROVE their worth. The ones that took that next step: Lazard, Savage, Jenkins, and Sternberger, must not regress. This club needs them in a big way. And while so many go through that sophomore slump. I’m hoping the packers truly do have something that wasn’t a flash in the pan. Last chance: Adams, Jackson, MVS,and Burks. Fingers Crossed: St.Brown, GARY, Kirksey, and Sullivan.

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4zone's picture

July 19, 2020 at 09:28 am

Sorry, this one isn't even close.

1) Sternberger. A position we needed to draft or sign but didn't. He has a huge task ahead to prove himself to be what this team needs at TE and has for a long time.

2) Gary. This #1 pick better pick it up quick before he becomes the next #1 flop for the Packers.

3) Kirksey. He needs to prove he can get the job done and keep on the field for an entire season, big time.

4) Wagner. Anybody taking over for Bulaga has big shoes to fill and while Wagner has experience, he needs to prove that he can play at a top level and keep #12 vertical.

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dobber's picture

July 19, 2020 at 10:03 am

I think this list is much closer. I don't worry about the high-end guys, it's raising the level of play for those around them that makes teams really good. Might include Billy Turner on this list.

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flackcatcher's picture

July 19, 2020 at 10:23 pm

Going into camp, I expected a knockdown drag out fight between our two veteran guards for the RG slot. Now, I expect Turner to start giving how short camp will be. (THAT IS... if we have a season at all this year :-)

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splitpea1's picture

July 19, 2020 at 11:07 am

Good list. I would also consider adding K. King because he needs to prove he can stay on the field like he did last season if we're thinking about re-signing him.

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Stroh's picture

July 19, 2020 at 05:01 pm

Sane goes for Aaron Jones.

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4zone's picture

July 19, 2020 at 09:29 am

What's the over/under for the number of weeks (after the start of training camp) before the NFL cancels the season?

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Qoojo's picture

July 19, 2020 at 09:52 am

Well, I think training camp will be the test if they can even practice without getting a major portion of the team sick.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 20, 2020 at 01:58 am

Zero?

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Qoojo's picture

July 19, 2020 at 11:47 am

As the one guy said, NFL means "Not For Long". Every year every player must prove they are better than the next guy up. You can look on any NFL roster, and say a player has this or that to prove it. It's hard, or an argumentative exercise, to say which has the most to prove [but hey that's the whole point of off season discussion ;) ]

- Every one year wonder (see Lazard) in the league has to prove it wasn't a fluke.
- I disagree with Rodgers on the list. He just has to prove his skills have not degraded too much, and pretty much 25+ teams in the NFL would be very happy to have him for 2 years.
- Jones and Clark are in contract years, and it's always more beneficial for players to "prove it" in contract years.
- Jones has to prove he can stay healthy, more than perform better. That's really the only doubt with him.

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marpag1's picture

July 19, 2020 at 12:10 pm

How to write a craptastic article:

Step 1: Ridicule those people who say that Aaron Rodgers still has something to prove.
Step 2: Say that Aaron Rodgers still has something to prove.
Step 3: Double, triple and quadruple down by doing essentially the same thing for three other players.

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AlanFerrell's picture

July 19, 2020 at 12:31 pm

information enough thanks for the sharing...

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Since'61's picture

July 19, 2020 at 02:45 pm

Aaron Rodgers is the last player on the team who needs to prove anything. As I have posted repeatedly over the years, if the other players play their positions as well as Rodgers plays QB we would be undefeated SB champions several times over.

End of story. Case closed. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Gman1976's picture

July 19, 2020 at 04:03 pm

Even in a so-called down year, Rodgers’ stats were off the charts (4,000 yards, 26 TDS, 4 interceptions, 13-3 record) in a brand new offense that only seemed to click into high gear when our #1 receiver went down. Leading the team within one game of the Super Bowl was another great accomplishment. I’ll take these kind of gifts no matter how frustrated I was at watching him not throw to an open receiver down the middle or throw at someone’s feet. He may be declining a wee bit from the incredible consistency and performances he has been known for, but he Isn’t to the point where he has to prove he belongs on the team.

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MrsGlynn's picture

August 03, 2020 at 02:08 pm

Thank you! I’m so disappointed in this organization.

Whether or not Aaron Rodgers SHOULD be on the list is really irrelevant. The Packers front office and head coach have made it very clear that they believe that Aaron has been “the problem” within the organization. Not lackluster, lazy coaching. Not uninventive and predictable play calling. Not some of the most unacceptable defensive teams over the last several years.. Including one year (in 2018, I believe it was?) when the opposing offense scored EVERY SINGLE TIME they reached the red zone? Not failing to draft talent to support your QB and offense. Not choosing to instead find talent within the free agent market. Here’s the thing, guys! If you are NOT going to take your risks for talent in the draft, then you HAVE to do it in free agency!! Or vice versa! You just DO NOT get to do BOTH and then continue to blame your future Hall of Fame Quarterback for HIS inadequacy while you’ve squandered his talent.

Sorry for ranting on your thread... I am a little more frustrated than I realized.

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13TimeChamps's picture

July 19, 2020 at 03:08 pm

Aaron Rodgers?
Aaron Jones?
Kenny Clark?
What??

How about players that need to prove they even belong on the 53, after having been given numerous chances to do so, like:

Oren Burks
Josh Jackson
MVS
M. Adams

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PeteK's picture

July 19, 2020 at 03:25 pm

Absolutely , Tonyan and Madison will also be fighting for survival.

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Stroh's picture

July 19, 2020 at 04:20 pm

I don't see the drafting of Love as trying to move on from Rodgers as soon as possible. I see it more as the Packers taking a forward thinking approach and making the first move toward a life without Rodgers. When that comes is largely up to Rodgers. Does he buy in and play Lafleur's offense even if he doesn't have the control he wants. Partly id also depends on how Love plays. But mostly its up to Rodgers to buy in and play at the top of his game and run Lafleur's offense. If he does he could play out his contract and might get a SB or 2, like Elway did when he bought into Shanahans offense.

Hoe long Rodgers remains in GB is mostly up to Rodgers. The Packers aren't pushing him out, they only just initiated a plan for the inevitable. Whether that's in 2 years or 4 or 5.

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