The Green Bay Packers may be significant underdogs against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium — where Dak Prescott and company haven’t lost a game this year — but Jordan Love and the youngest roster to reach the NFL playoffs since the Buffalo Bills in 1974 aren’t backing down from the challenge.
This is the same team that looked like they were going into full rebuild mode with Watson as the only known commodity as a receiver for Love, who had patiently waited three seasons behind future Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers, but was doubted by plenty of people outside the organization.
Love will lead a team into Arlington, Texas that has 17 players who were born after the year 2000, and yet after an expected roller-coaster to start the 2023 campaign, the first-year Packers starter has found a way to get a bevy of pass-catchers who are all rookies or second-year players, to find chemistry at the right time.
While nobody else might believe Green Bay can pull off a win against the Dallas Cowboys, Jordan Love has shown he thrives in the biggest moments.
The first-year starter for the Pack has shattered expectations and solidified himself as the next franchise QB. While he has a way to go to catch up to Rodgers and Brett Favre, he’s already accomplished a major feat, finishing with a better season than the two legendary Green Bay passers in their first year starting for the franchise.
He finished in the top-10 of multiple passing stats, including touchdowns (32-second), passing yards (4,159-seventh), and QBR (62.0-ninth).
For years, Aaron Rodgers complained about the lack of wide receiver talent beyond his go-to target Davonte Adams, but at the time, the Green Bay Packers were thriving as Rodgers put together back-to-back MVP seasons and rarely missed the postseason during his 17 years as the team’s franchise QB.
Now seemingly overnight, Jordan Love has an arsenal of weapons. From Jayden Reed who is coming off his best three games of the season heading into the playoffs — and has earned the trust of the coaching staff to be utilized in different packages — constantly making defensive coordinators guess if he motions or lines up somewhere he didn’t typically earlier in the season.
But as of late when injuries forced other young rookies to step up, new revelations have taken place. Suddenly Dontayvion Wicks — who has flashed all season when he’s seen the field in a limited capacity —- has taken on a bigger role and appears to be Love’s go-to red zone target when it matters the most. WIcks has three touchdowns over the last two games, with his only other time finding the end zone this season coming in Week 2 vs. the Falcons.
Romeo Doubs has continued to build on his rookie season, currently ranking just behind Reed with 59 receptions for 674 yards and 8 touchdowns. The rookie tight end duo of Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft appear to be major offensive pieces for the future, thriving as blockers and receivers.
The depth of talent at key skill positions will be critical vs. Dan Quinn’s formidable Dallas Cowboys defense.
And we have yet to mention Christian Watson, who had the pressure of performing as the go-to guy for Aaron Rodgers last season, and while he’s battled injuries in 2023, he’s shined when healthy shined with 5 touchdowns on just 22 catches for 422 yards.
Even the bottom of the young WR depth chart is strong, with Malik Heath and Bo Melton each producing when called upon with a touchdown each.
This offense is clicking at the right time — and while they are significant underdogs heading into Dallas — they are mature beyond their years. The last two games have been must-win scenarios, so the playoff environment shouldn’t rattle them.
It all starts with Love, who is doing things veterans normally do. At times, it’s easy to forget Green Bay Packers fans are no longer watching Aaron Rodgers.
He has a keen ability to understand opposing defenses, and thrives when they send pressure his way. He’s coming off two of the best games of his career, torching the red-hot Bears defense last week (316 yards, two touchdowns and a QB rating of 128.6). The week prior, he thrived against the Vikings, another one of the NFL’s top defensive units, throwing for 256 yards, three touchdowns and finishing with a QB rating of 125.3.
Now, he will be tasked with going on the road against a Dallas Cowboys defense that ranks 5th in the NFL in total defense and 5th against the pass. Much of their success comes from their combination of elite pass rushers and stout defensive backs, with All-Pro Micah Parsons who is coming off back-to-back All-Pro seasons and was named to his third Pro Bowl in as many years with 14 sacks.
Dallas Cowboys star Micah Parsons Compares Green Bay Packers First-Year QB Jordan Love To Aaron Rodgers
On the stat sheet, Love enters the playoffs playing as well as any quarterback in the NFL.
And while Packers fans have been tuned in all season and watched him slowly grow game after game and earn the trust of Matt LaFleur to open up the playbook or call difficult plays in critical situations, other key players and executives around the league haven’t been blind to the first-year starter’s success, particularly as of late when it mattered the most.
Parsons — who has made it clear him and Jordan Love won’t be friends on Sunday despite the Cowboys pass rusher’s profound respect for the Green Bay Packers QB — gave his opponent the ultimate compliment ahead of their NFC Wildcard clash.
Count Micah Parsons as impressed by Packers QB Jordan Love. He reminds him of … Aaron Rodgers. “You can tell he played under Rodgers,” Parsons said. “Some of his mechanics, some of his movements and reads. And fearlessness. You can tell he learned a lot from Rodgers.”
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) January 11, 2024
Parsons said Jordan Love reminds him of Aaron Rodgers, according to Todd Archer who covers the Dallas Cowboys for ESPN.
‘Count Micah Parsons as impressed by Packers QB Jordan Love. He reminds him of … Aaron Rodgers.” Archer reported on X.
“You can tell he played under Rodgers,” the Dallas Cowboys star pass rusher said. “Some of his mechanics, some of his movements and reads. And fearlessness. You can tell he learned a lot from Rodgers.”
While it’s too soon to crown Love as the next Rodgers, it’s clear to see where the Cowboys offense wrecker is coming from as he’s studied his opponent’s film.
Much like Aaron Rodgers, Love has an obvious high football IQ, and it’s safe to say he learned a thing or two from the Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP during the three years he sat behind him. He’s able to make huge plays with pressure in his face, stays calm under pressure and moves out of the pocket when necessary to extend plays downfield.
Most of all, he is calm and poised in the most critical moments for the Green Bay Packers. The last time Rodgers was in the playoffs he was eliminated in the first round, and while many think this year’s Dallas Cowboys team could make a Super Bowl run, there’s a first-year QB with an arsenal of young talent coming to town to attempt a major upset.