How about this for pressure on Jordan Love, a young quarterback already under immense pressure? One little slip up, one injury, one stretch of down time and your team is sunk because nobody’s backing you up.
Well, “nobody” is a bit harsh, but, as the roster stands now, the 24-year-old Love, with his one career start and 83 career passes, is, by far, the most field-experienced quarterback on the Green Bay Packers.
Backing Love up will be 2018 seventh round draft pick Danny Etling, who, at 29 years of age, has yet to play a single down in an NFL game. As the third string Packers quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love these last two seasons, the most Etling has done is suit up and help in practices.
Competing with Etling for the backup spot behind Love is this year’s number 5 pick (149th overall) Sean Clifford. At Penn State, Clifford exited as the school’s all-time leader in completion percentage (61.2%), passing yardage (10,382), and passing touchdowns (84). But, of course, he’s yet to play in the NFL and scouts are almost unanimous in their feeling that he lacks NFL starter-level arm strength and long-range accuracy.
All of this means that the Packers will be starting the season with two backups who’ve yet to play in an NFL game. They will be the only team in the league with that dubious distinction.
Gilberto Manzano of Sports Illustrated ranks Sean Clifford (working under the assumption that he beats Danny Etling for the backup gig), the second worst backup quarterback in the NFL, behind only the Jaguars’ C.J. Beathard.
Needless to say, the Packers will be walking a tightrope at quarterback this season, not only hoping that Love can find success with his young crew of pass catchers, but also that he stays healthy. When/if Love falls or has to sit out some time, the proverbial wheels could fall off the cart very quickly.
There has been some buzz about the team possibly adding a veteran as an insurance policy behind Love. The name of Carson Wentz, a former all-pro, has come up in several online rumors, although nothing concrete has been mentioned by the team, itself.
The front office, however, has addressed the need for some experience in the backup spot.
“I think it would be nice to have someone who has some experience,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said at the NFL owners meetings in March. “We have a lot of respect for Danny [Etling] and what he’s done and would be very comfortable with him in the (No.) 2 spot, but I think we’ll look at a lot of different options.”
It may be time to put those different options into motion right now or very, very soon. Unless, of course, the feeling is that if Love goes down or can’t make it, there’s no point in having a somewhat pricey backup anyway.