Major Management Faux Pas

The Green Bay Packers Backup QB position has major significance. Jordan Love now appears to hold that spot, and is he the right answer for the job?

Recently, I heard a joke that Paul McCartney was a huge Green Bay Packers Fan.  When asked about his feelings on the QB situation, McCartney responded, “All you need is Love, ba-da-da-da-da, Love is all you need!”

Given the state of affairs regarding the QB backup position, I find it no joke how management fumbled the ball on this one.  There are numerous reasons for my concern.

The Ripple Effect of Drafting Love

First, the Green Bay Packers moved up to draft Aaron Rodger’s potential replacement. They somehow were not understanding that Aaron is at the peak of his game. That he fully intends on breaking every QB record in the books by playing another five years.

The reigning MVP was willing to go to another team to do so. With the way Rodger’s now mimics Tom Brady’s nutritional and workout regimen, there is no doubt he feels this will help extend his career. 

So it was not essential to get a replacement just yet. However, had the communication lines been open and management understood his intentions, things may have taken a different direction.

Of course, it is a real possibility the Packer brass moved up intending to take someone else and took Love in panic mode after the guy they moved up for was nabbed ahead of them. 

That might explain not showing Rodgers due respect by informing him they were selecting a first-round QB, but that is another story for another day. 

In hindsight, you have to wonder which player could have been selected in that first round that would have impacted. Maybe they even discover the one difference-making element needed to win the NFC Championship game.

Consider if instead of moving up six spots to draft Love, they move up an additional 8-10 picks. Could they land standout WR Justin Jefferson, who went on to catch 88 passes for 1400 yards and seven touchdowns from a much less talented QB than Aaron Rodgers?  It may have cost them a bit to do so, but it would have been a small price to pay for long-term success. It might have provided Rodger’s enough to want to return from the get-go.

Either way, selecting Love was, in small part at least, another reason for Rodger’s rift with management this past off-season.  Jordan Love was a player who added absolutely no value last season, securing a crucial spot on the 53 man roster just because he was a high draft choice. 

The point is that the pick was unnecessary, and part of being a successful general manager in this league is knowing to make the right move and when. So was it panic or poor strategy?

The result is Love is now nowhere close to becoming a starting QB in the NFL and likely will not anytime soon, if ever.

He has shown some positive signs, but he consistently follows inept, rookie-like play with every good step he takes forward.

For example, he has made some nice throws in training camp and looks good on the run, but he has thrown some horrible passes and a significant number of interceptions.

NFL history has demonstrated more first-round QB busts than Hall of Famers.

A Bird in the Hand

In the previous two training camps, the Packers had a quality backup QB in Tim Boyle.

Possessing decent size and excellent arm strength, the undrafted Boyle not only beat out Jordan Love for the number two spot last year but beat Deshone Kizer the year before. 

Boyle also stuck to Aaron Rodgers like glue, soaking up every bit of information he could from the veteran, future Hall of Famer.  As a result, his grasp of the offense and the NFL style of play continued to evolve measurably.

For some very confusing reason, management determined Boyle expendable. However, something tells me that if the Packers retained Boyle (he was not let go for salary cap reasons), Boyle would once again have beaten out Love for the backup position. If Aaron did not return, my money would have been on Boyle as their best alternative option.

Boyle now appears to be the backup to Jared Goff in Detroit. If Goff fails, I would expect Boyle to take control and not look back. The guy is good regardless of how he entered the league.

So did they let Boyle walk to save face?   Was there a concern of the possibility of an undrafted player out producing their high number-one pick?

More Questionable Mismanagement

With his departure to Detroit, the Packers did imply Boyle’s leaving was a salary-cap saving measure.

I find that difficult to believe as his last year with Green Bay, Boyle, counted $572,000 against the salary cap.  He signed with the Lions for 2.5 million, a decent increase but not outrageous by any professional sports standard. 

By comparison, Love has a contract with a 2.8 million salary-cap hit.  Free-agent Blake Bortles had a contract worth just over 1 million in cap space.  The numbers are all relatively close, giving pause as to other extenuating circumstances present. 

Sources indicate some of the Green Bay coaching staff were decidedly unhappy in the departure of Tim Boyle. But, not surprisingly, coaches tend to be more concerned about actual talent than cap-space or justifying poorly selected draft picks.

Very Questionable Timing

There was much misinformation presented this past off-season, but some truths have since come to light. For example, we did not know until the April draft day that Aaron Rodgers was considering not returning to Titletown. 

We later learned that Packer General Manage Brian Gutekunst, President Mark Murphy, and Head Coach Matt LeFleur all visited Rodgers in California in early 2021. Thus, indications all were aware of the problems well before his displeasure became public knowledge.

Why did management let Tim Boyle go knowing Rodgers was contemplating his end in Green Bay? 

Would Boyle not have been a solid insurance policy should the team be forced to play without the reigning MVP?  As the situation seemed to worsen, the Packers then brought in several no-name quarterbacks, plus the aging Blake Bortles, none of who were better options than Boyle.

It also became clear that while their hopes were pinned on Jordan Love stepping up, they certainly could not have been too convinced he could perform. So bringing in Bortles had panic written all over it, a terror that management could have easily averted by keeping Tim Boyle.

Time Will Tell

The outcome for this year is we have Aaron Rodgers under center for at least one more season. Mark Murphy and company certainly dodged a fatal bullet there.

However, by Aaron Rodgers forcing the issue, I believe he has now made the egotistical front office recognize how valuable it is to have someone of his rare talent leading the team. 

If they make a genuine effort to keep him happy, I think he likely finishes his playing career where he has often said he desires to do so, wearing the Green and Gold uniform of the Green Bay Packers. 

Should they do just that, might they be able to have their many questionable managerial moves be overlooked? Rodgers playing QB provides their best opportunity to add another Lombardi Trophy to the Packer collection.

As for Jordan Love, I hope the lightbulb kicks on sooner than later, that he develops into a player worthy of his high draft selection status. 

If he plays well, he might one day be the guy that can be the heir apparent to number 12. He might also become a commodity worthy of trading, an option to consider if he fares well in the upcoming pretend games this pre-season and beyond.

Both are viable possibilities that our GM should never dismiss, but neither option will come soon.

It Has Been Done Here Before

I always admired the Ron Wolf draft strategy of selecting quarterbacks in mid-rounds regularly.  Names like Ty Detmer, Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselback, and Aaron Brooks, all taken in rounds 4 through 9 that developed here and became starting quarterbacks elsewhere in the NFL. 

Wolf consistently kept the QB cupboard stocked and traded most to other teams for higher draft picks. Again, an excellent strategy for a team often drafting in the back end because of previous on-field success.

His philosophy was QB is the most challenging position to fill, so a stockpile of talent has value.

However, Wolf also knew if you are taking a QB in the first round, you either got lucky and a good one fell to you, or there was a dire need because your team was not very good in the first place. So picking one every year in the middle rounds enables the finding of a diamond in the rough. Considering the odds of a first-rounder becoming a superstar QB, that seems like a perfect draft strategy.

As Ron Wolf’s place in Canton indicates, he knew what it takes to find success in building a championship-caliber football team. He understood how valuable a backup QB could be.  I only hope Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst were paying attention.