GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst held a media session on Wednesday. The lead topic was Tuesday’s trade of starting cornerback Rasul Douglas to Buffalo.
Gutekunst said the Packers did not go into the trade deadline looking to move players, despite their 2-5 record.
“We thought it was the best interest in the Packers,” said Gutekunst. “In the short term, you lose a good player. That’s tough. But at the same time, I think long term it’s going to be in our best interest. Any time you get a third-round pick, that’s going to kind of be within the top 100, probably going to be in the top 50 players you have on your board, that’s something I think was just too good for us to pass up.”
“Not only did he have a great impact on the field, obviously in the locker room, he’s one of our leaders,” said Packers head coach Matt LaFleur of Douglas. “There’s relationships that are real that extend beyond the locker room, that extend beyond the field. It’s a tough part of the business. All you can do is control how you respond and how you react. And, quite frankly, it’s no different, unfortunately, like when guys get injured, you got to adjust, you got to adapt. And, you know, we need guys to step up.”
The trade of Douglas jarred players in the locker room.
“I think everyone in the locker room was kind of surprised by it,” said Packers quarterback Jordan Love. “It’s tough. It hurts. Rasul was a key part of the team. A great leader and a great player. Everyone hates to see him leave.”
Gutekunst said he still believes in the Packers coaching staff and roster, but he knows the losing is hard to swallow.
“I would have expected better results,” said Gutekunst. “But the guys are putting the work in. They’re doing things the right way. We’ve certainly seen a lot of glimpses in practice, and certainly in the second half of some games. But the consistency hasn’t been there. I want those guys to be able to play free, get out there and play free and fast and just kind of see what happens. There’s expectations around here. When you’re not winning, it’s not fun for anyone. Everybody’s frustrated. But at the same time, I think no one has stopped working and they’ve stayed together. That’s important for us.”
As far as Jordan Love proving he can be the Packers’ long-term quarterback, Gutekunst said it’s too early to tell.
“We’ve got 10 games left,” said Gutekunst. “It is going to be a very important 10 games. I think he’s done a lot of really good things, really like the way he’s responded to the adversity, how he’s led the team. We’ve got to be better as a unit, and I expect that to happen over the next 10 games. We’re going through some things that we knew we would go through. We have a lot of faith in Jordan. We’ve got to get the offense playing better. It’s tough to evaluate everybody when it’s not going right.”
One thing is for sure. Gutekunst doesn’t want the Packers using youth as an excuse anymore.
“We’re seven games in,” said Gutekunst. “That whole young thing is out the window, right? They’re professional football players. There’s expectations.”
LaFleur is 3-0 against the Los Angeles Rams. Still, at 2-5 this season and mired in a four-game losing streak, he’s just thinking about this coming Sunday.
“They’ve got an explosive offense,” said LaFleur. “It’s a challenge because they got a lot of pieces that they can throw the ball to. And I think they’re doing a better job in their ground game as well.”
LaFleur worked with Rams head coach Sean McVay in both Washington and L.A. He calls him “a great person.”
LaFleur’s younger brother Mike is the Rams offensive coordinator.
“We’ve gone against each other quite a few times now,” said LaFleur. “Unfortunately, he’s been on the right side of a lot of those lately. So, we’ve got to try to flip the script this weekend.”
The departure of Douglas means opportunity for rookie cornerback Carrington Valentine, a seventh round pick from Kentucky who flashed in the preseason.
“Rasul was a mentor to me,” said Valentine. “I sat next to him every day. I’m sad to see him go. I learned a lot from him. I appreciate everything. He didn’t have to do that. With opportunity, just got to make the most of it.”
“Especially in the defensive backfield, you better have a short memory,” said LaFleur. “You got to play the next play. And I like how he battled, and he kept competing. I know he’s not afraid. He’ll go contest ya.”
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is nursing a thumb injury and did not practice Wednesday. LaFleur said the Packers have to be ready for anything.