Weird month to be a Green Bay Packers fan, eh? The Wisconsin golden boy for the last decade, Aaron Rodgers, suffered a catastrophic, poetically tragic, all-time levels of unlucky season-ending injury on his fourth play for his new team. And Jordan Love Packers QB1 looks … good?
Quarterbacks. We love them and we endlessly debate them. Because, at the end of the day, they’re the most important ingredient in a Super Bowl recipe. Or in the Packers case with Rodgers, even having a shot at winning their division.
Could Jordan Love be the Packers’ unlikely hero? Let’s dive in.
Jordan Love Proving a Legitimate Torchbearer or Too Soon?
All it takes is a look back at headlines from two years ago to know the rigmarole that Love has gone through since joining the Packers. Like when Rodgers took over from franchise legend, Brett Favre, Love had to ensure the back-up spot waiting for the incumbent god to either expire or move on.
In Love’s case, Rodgers’ tenure with the Green Bay Packers expired this past offseason, for a two-year, $75 million fully guaranteed contract with the Jets.
And so, Love got his shot as a starter.
What’s confusing is that depending on which set of numbers you choose to look at Love performed either brilliantly or terribly through the first two weeks of the season.
From a passer rating perspective, the Utah State product was the number one quarterback in the NFL with a ranking of 118. But with just a 55.8% pass completion rate, he’s statistically better only than DeShaun Watson and Rodgers’ Jets backup and former number three overall pick, Zach Wilson.
Through 7 quarters of football, Love was very good from an eye test perspective and that of keeping his team in the game. He did however botch the chance at a fourth-quarter comeback for his team against the Atlanta Falcons last week, going 0-6 passing in the fourth quarter.
Jordan Love and the Packers Comeback
Then the Saints came marching in week three and one of the most unimaginable comebacks in recent NFL history.
Through three quarters, Love’s passer rating was at 57.8 and at one point in the second half, the Saints had broken up as many passes as Love completed.
On the opening possession of the second half, he threw his first interception of the season. Jordan Love looked like he was flaming out in his first start at home.
Then came a blistering comeback, bringing the Packers back from a deficit of 17-plus points in the fourth quarter. For perspective, it took Aaron Rodgers ten years to achieve the same feat in the 2018 season opener against the Chicago Bears.
“I’ve never been part of a win like this,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said after the game. “The guys in the locker room, they believe in one another and they continue to battle and that’s really, as a coach, that’s all you can ask of anybody is to continue to fight, continue to battle.”
Love has proven his talent with the arm in what can no longer be described as just ‘flashes’. He is seeing the field and finding receivers giving the cheeseheads hope in the post-Rodgers era.
But with bellcow running back Aaron Jones still potentially out, who is it that is driving the Packers offense on the outside? Green Bay’s receiver corps is a weird one, not least because they’re generally always ‘good enough’ without being superstars, save of course the indomitable Davante Adams, now a Las Vegas Raider.
Top Jordan Love Packers Targets
Through three weeks, Love has split targets almost evenly between his top two options; rookie Jayden Reed and Romeo Doubs with the pair totaling 148 yards and 2 touchdowns and 129 yards and three touchdowns respectively.
The missing piece of the puzzle remains the electrifying Christian Watson, a man who move with such speed his hamstrings can rarely handle it, explaining his absence through Green Bay’s first two contests.
Last season with Aaron Rodgers, Watson emerged as the bomb touchdown target, given his ability to streak away from any and all defensive backs in the league. He took 41 receptions for only 611 yards through 14 games last year, but converted his opportunities into 7 touchdowns.
As long as Watson remains out, Love’s reads will likely center around slants and dink and dunks to Doubs and Reed without Watson’s ability to stretch the field. However, there remains a chance that Watson makes his season debut in Week 4.
So what does the Packers immediate schedule look like? Certainly not as rosy as the first two weeks.
The dynamic attack and dangerous pass rush of the Detroit Lions, both at home, followed by the Raiders, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams; all teams with their own individual idiosyncrasies on both sides of the ball that make them tricky and unpredictable match-ups. The Packers win line available at top American sportsbooks at the start of the season was 7.5, they may well go beyond that.
Love will be linked to Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers for as long as he leads the cheeseheads. At least early in his career, Love has something in common with Favre and Rodgers: they’ve all beaten the Bears, and they’ve been good in crunch time when needed.
Jordan Love Compared to Other Young Quarterbacks
What also pushes Love’s stock higher is the relative struggle-success dynamic being experienced by other young quarterbacks in the league.
Justin Fields of the aforementioned Bears is in perhaps the worst position; a talented, physical runner of the ball has been subject to a tragicomic experiment by head coach Matt Eberfluss to turn him into a pocket passer. The Bears are 0-3 with a tanking season looking likely.
Newcomers Bryce Young and Desmond Ridder of the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons are both in the ‘too early to tell’ category, with Ridder relying so heavily on the Arthur Smith-designed rungame that it sometimes feels like he’s not even there.
CJ Stroud looks good. On a team as bad as the Houston Texans, the former Ohio State Buckeye is being forced to throw and throw and throw and is rising to the occasion, upsetting the hot-right-now Jacksonville Jaguars with Trevor Lawrence.
Where Love fits within the league right now is so difficult to parse. He is objectively good and sometimes the eye-test flits between magic and comically bad, but not in a boom-or-bust way. Whether Love plays well or badly, it all seems ‘calm’.
To have even half the career of Aaron Rogers with Green Bay would be more than any NFL fan could’ve expected of Love and it’s far too early to future-gaze his standing for years to come.
But when someone shows you who they are, try and listen. Jordan Love may be very good.