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Aaron Jones confident in Packers' future: 'We're gonna be dangerous. We're gonna be special'

Lost in the immediate disappointment of Green Bay's Divisional Round loss to the 49ers was the makings of a team on the rise.

Packers running back Aaron Jones is among those who feel the Packers have laid the foundation to be major players moving forward.

"I feel like what we're building here is special," Jones told Larry McCarren on Total Packers. "You can feel it. You can see it. The chemistry, the bond, the standard that we've set. I feel like with the standard we've set, we know what our expectations are when we come back next year. Our standard is high. We have no reason not to reach that standard every day because we've shown that we can do it this year, and we've shown we can do it game after game after game, we can put it together. I feel like we're gonna be dangerous. We're gonna be special."

The Packers entered the 2023 season as the youngest in the NFL, having moved on from franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a number of aging veterans offensively.

Green Bay was green, and it showed in the early going.

While Jordan Love and the rest offense learned the ropes, the Packers consistently backed themselves up and killed drives with mental lapses and penalties.

Love and Co. were notoriously slow in the first half of games, and after eclipsing 20 points in the first two weeks, went on a seven-game stretch where they failed to do so.

That, along with an underperforming defense, led the Packers to a 3-6 record at the midway point of the season, after which things began clicking into place.

Love, who didn't have a receiver on the roster with more than a year of NFL experience and whose two primary pass catchers at tight end were rookies, transformed over the back half in tandem with sharper routes from those around him gaining reps.

As the Packers went 7-3 the rest of the way, including playoffs, Love threw for 2,616 yards, 23 touchdowns and three interceptions. After falling under 60% completion in six of his first nine contests, he never did so again, finishing the final 10 games with a 69.7 completion percentage.

Green Bay scored fewer than 20 points just twice in the second half of the season, with one of those outings resulting in the Week 18 victory to clinch a postseason berth.

"This is a special team, (as) special (a) group of guys that I've been around," Jones said. "We defied expectations. Nobody thought we would even be in the playoffs, let alone the second round of the playoffs. I feel like it was a great building block for us."

From there, the Packers blew out the No. 2 seed Cowboys, 48-32, in Dallas, and brought the No. 1 seed 49ers to the brink of elimination in San Francisco.

There were hiccups, as seen in consecutive late-season losses to the Giants and Buccaneers, and especially with turnovers and red-zone stalls against the Niners, but that's to be expected.

One of the Packers' weaknesses at the dawn of 2023, youth, has quickly grown into one of their biggest strengths, given what the roster proved capable of by year's end.

Love appears to be another franchise QB with a talented cast of playmakers forming around him.

The biggest question marks are at defense, with a unit now in limbo after Green Bay parted ways with coordinator Joe Barry, and with the running back group led by Jones himself.

AJ Dillon, the thunderous complement to Jones, has been a streaky runner during his Packers tenure and is a pending free agent, while rotational backs like Patrick Taylor didn't flash in a way that would prevent Green Bay from dipping into the draft or free agency for additional RB talent.

As for Jones, he'll turn 30 next season, nearing an unofficial cliff at the position after enduring multiple injuries this year.

Some might question his future in 2024, given he'll own the league's second-highest cap number at the position, $17 million, per Over the Cap, but he's undeniably phenomenal when healthy.

As one of the offense's elder statesman, Jones went scorched earth on defenses in his final five games across the regular season and playoffs, crossing the century mark in each for 584 yards on 102 carries and dropping three wild-card TDs on the Cowboys.

Seven seasons in, it was some of his best playing to date, something he'll hope to carry into next season to see through what Green Bay is building.

"I guess I'm aging like wine," Jones said. "I'm only getting better with time. I feel like I'm just stepping into my prime."

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