It’s been a slow news week for the Green Bay Packers, which is honestly great. #1 seed and a bye to rest up, get healthy (hello Jaire, Za’Darius, and…Whitney Mercilus?!) and game plan.
We’re fresh off an extended appearance by Jordan Love against the Lions in Detroit last Sunday. As expected it was an uneven performance filled with some glimpses of talent, rookie mistakes (for the 2nd year man) and a bunch of stuff that was out of his control.
So, the question is: What do the Packers know about Jordan Love now?
The short answer is at two years in I don’t think the Packers front office has a much clearer picture if Jordan Love is a starting-caliber NFL quarterback than you or I do.
That’s okay…for now.
What We Saw On Sunday
The Packers left the majority of the offensive starters in the game for the first half in Detroit, but by the time Jordan Love took over the offensive side of the ball looked more like the scout team than an NFL offense.
Peter Bukowski of the “Locked On Packers” podcast has noted multiple times that Matt LaFleur’s game plan for Love’s start against the Chiefs had a feel to it like LaFleur was expecting Rodgers to run out of the tunnel and not Love.
Inferring that the head coach didn’t draw up a game plan tailored to the strengths of Love.
Strong supporting cast on the field in KC for Love, but a game plan that was maybe one of LaFleur’s few stinkers this year. Tough to say.
Against Detroit I think LaFleur and the offensive coaching staff did a much better job of simplifying things for Love and giving him the ability to use his legs with some run/pass option looks.
The problem this time around was the lackluster supporting cast, much like his preseason efforts.
Just about any time Love dropped back to pass he was met with pressure immediately. One of the most concerning things for me (or maybe it’s just that Rodgers is so otherworldly at it) is Love’s lack of ability to feel pressure, step up in the pocket or find a way to extend the play.
Having Juwan Winfree and Amari Rodgers as your top two receiving options certainly compounded things as well. On their best days Winfree is a fringe NFL player and Rodgers is a rookie with a long learning curve ahead of him.
Of course Winfree fumbled out of the gates on a completion in the 3rd quarter, and Amari Rodgers should’ve made a completed catch on a ball that was tipped at the LOS but dropped it directly in the hands of a Lion’s defender for an interception.
Not really the fault of Love.
The one play that really stood out to me was when Love evaded the rush and rolled to his right and threw a touch pass in the end zone to tight end Tyler Davis. The pass was just a little bit out of reach for Davis but that was the kind of difference making play that we needed to see.
Unfortunately those were few and far between.
Love threw his lone touchdown to tight end Josiah Deguara on a play that we’d all agree was 110% on Deguara with his 62 yard scramble and the Lion’s defensive backfield ineptitude.
Love did cap the drive off with a nifty designed run for the 2 pt conversion.
The bottom line is that as long as Aaron Rodgers is in Green Bay, Love will carry an incomplete grade. We just won’t know if he’s the guy…until he’s the guy.
The Aaron Rodgers Effect
I don’t want to start prematurely talking about the offseason because, hey, we have A LOT of great football ahead of us in the playoffs, but this is going to be a SEISMIC offseason for the Packers organization.
Rodgers continues to sound like a guy on a farewell tour and bringing home a second Lombardi trophy could send riding off into the California sunset.
Because I do believe there is a genuine wistfulness to Rodgers’ tone, I think it’s possible that he does retire at season’s end. That is Jordan Love’s clearest path to playing time in Green Bay. Obviously.
I think the Packers front office would potentially bring in some veteran competition for Love or at least a high quality backup.
There is also a scenario where Rodger’s plays 1-2 more seasons in Green Bay. For as grateful as Rodgers is sounding right now, I’m not fooling myself into thinking that he’s not 100% the same fiery competitor that he’s always been.
There is an off-chance that if Rodgers tells the front office brass that he’d like to give it a go for another 1-2 seasons they decide to ship Jordan Love elsewhere and kick the QB succession “can” down the road.
If Rodgers does indeed stay and so does Love, the GM and young QB’s fates will be inextricably linked like we so often see. Will be fascinating to follow.
While personal statistics may not be the end-all-be-all for Rodgers, you’d have to think he’d love to finish with more career touchdowns than Brett Favre, and Rodgers currently sits at 59 away from his mentor. It would take two more strong seasons to pass Favre, and Rodgers certainly knows that.
Rodgers has an ego. That’s okay! He’s earned it. If the Packers find a way to win the Super Bowl this year, it’s possible that over the next two seasons Rodgers could easily vault himself into the conversation of greatest to ever play the position (with Brady and Manning) with another Super Bowl win and some strong statistical campaigns.
But at some point the fun will stop and there will be a new QB under center in Green Bay. Favre to Rodgers is such a unique thing..30 years of Hall of Fame QB play. Where does Jordan Love fit?
I’ve always tried to find the comps for that, and in my era the only thing I can think of is the San Francisco 49ers succession of Joe Montana to Steve Young to Jeff Garcia.
Is Jordan Love better than Jeff Garcia?
One way or another I can’t wait to find out.
You can follow Adam on twitter at @adamjcarlson28.