I will put my hand up and say that when looking at prospects to take in round 1 this year, one of the few I absolutely wanted the Packers to stay away from was Jordan Love. I saw what most analysts saw when looking at Love’s college career- a special athlete with big-time potential and even bigger downsides when looked at as a traditional prospect. What that means is someone who is going to come onto a team and either instantly be named to the top of the depth chart or at least instantly become competitive for the starting role. Jordan Love, despite all his tools, will do neither of those things for at least three years (barring injury to QB1).
This was a team that was a less than a yard (in the SF-SEA game) from claiming the #1 seed in the NFC and was a single game from the biggest stage in the sport, the Superbowl. Are we as a team really so far away from those pinnacles that we need to plan 4 years down the line and not go “all in” right now?
To rub salt in the fresh wound, the Packers spent the rest of their draft picks not on flashy young wide-outs like we all wanted but tough, durable role players that have versatility. No one outside of the Green Bay management team thought they would be going QB, RB, and H-Back with their three most valuable picks but here we are.
There are a lot of ways these picks have been picked apart but one thing that I can sense in the underlying commentary is this…How can they do this to us as fans?
We’re all believers in Rodgers at this point in his career- he doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone as he’ll definitely go into Canton the minute he’s eligible. This is understood- and we, as his fans and fans of the team, want to ride him to the promised land as many times as we can. However this team went from an underwhelming 7-9 in the 2018 campaign to the height of the conference not by building up Aaron Rodgers and putting the team on his back, but by building a structured offense around him that was sound and didn’t need to depend on his magic to be successful. It’s under that model to success that the Packers entered the offseason and decided to go all-in not on him but on an offense worthy of his prowess without the week to week pressure to make it all work singlehandedly.
So how do we turn from being highly negative about a draft class to a more optimistic tone? A few things that need to be considered:
- This was never about making the Packers better this year. From what we heard from LaFleur and Gutekunst, Love was always going to be their guy. They felt strongly enough about him to move up to jump a potential Colts trade, which shocked fans and draft pundits alike. After missing the Superbowl by one game and being absolutely exposed during the NFC Championship, fans feel like this team is right on the precipice of greatness. Management feels like this team can make that jump all on its own, so this pick was about securing a future.
- The offense has a direction and it’s not the Aaron Rodgers show- it’s the Matt LaFleur show. No one will deny that 12 has a fantastic understanding of what works and doesn’t work in the NFL after 15 years. This past year he was paid with a new play-caller and the Packers offense looked radically different than it had in years past, with a lot more pre-snap motion, play-action concepts, and the use of the running game as the focal point of playcalling. The Packers clearly must have felt good about this style coming into the offseason, since they definitely went after prospects in the draft that met this playstyle.
- If there was ever a quarterback who knows how to identify with Jordan Love, it’s Aaron Rodgers. It’s a story that has been told a thousand times, but Rodgers’s welcome to the league was behind a star QB who did not like him or what he represents. From outside the organization, lots of fans are assuming that Rodgers will act pissed off and treat Jordan Love the same way he was treated, which seems ridiculous. Per Jordan Love, Rodgers already spoke with him and congratulated him on getting drafted and every single teammate who has gone on the record these past few days has been highly complimentary of Rodgers and his professionalism. We want to put words in his mouth since that’s how we feel, but that doesn’t have any basis in reality.
So where do we go from here? No one knows how history will view this Packers draft class, but it will certainly be heavily tied into how history views Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur. They have shown that they are not afraid to fly in the face of conventional wisdom and thought and are very much set on their own path.
If you really need to cheer yourself up there are a couple of bright spots. Check out this video highlighting what Jordan Love can do against the context of the Green Bay G.O.A.T. himself:
If that doesn’t turn you around to what Love can be then you’re in denial- he absolutely has the ability to be great. And now, the Packers are working to build a team that does not demand his greatness but rather looks to make it shine around him.
If that doesn’t work and you still find yourself in Packer’s depression, take a different approach.
Go back and watch the NFC Championship but for the viewing, take off your Packers fandom and watch it from the perspective of a 49ers fan. See how the offense is run and how a well-orchestrated run game can take over a game- now imagine that instead of wearing scarlet and gold, they’re wearing green and gold.
That’s ultimately what the Packers are seeking to become and whether you believe in it or not, they’ve passed the point of no return.
It’s now time for Packers fans to either reserve their bandwagon seat or be resigned to misery for the foreseeable future.
——————Joe Kelley is a lifelong Packer fan born in Wisconsin and currently living surrounded by Patriots fans in New England- please send messages of support to @Jkelleylol on Twitter or @j.k.lolz on Instagram.