All offseason, the Green Bay Packers have emphasized patience and optimism regarding their new starting quarterback, Jordan Love.
As the heir apparent to franchise legend Aaron Rodgers, Love is set to take the reins and lead the organization into a new era.
With the 2023 NFL season fast approaching, the Packers front office and coaching staff are preparing to see whether Love can live up to the high standards set by his predecessor (and the one before him).
“I’m comparing it a little bit to Aaron’s first year as a starter, yeah, I’d say at least half a season to know,” said Packers President Mark Murphy, echoing the sentiments of those in the organization wondering if Love can indeed be their guy going forward long-term.
“I think even though we ended up with a losing record that year (Rodgers’ first as starter), we saw enough of Aaron to know that we had something special.”
In 2008, Rodgers’ first season as the starting quarterback, the team finished 6-10. However, midway through that season, Rodgers had already shown enough promise to warrant a contract extension.
With over 4,000 passing yards and 28 touchdowns, Rodgers exhibited the potential that would eventually make him one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
Similarly, Love’s first taste of NFL action came as Rodgers’ backup during his first three seasons. Though he only has one NFL start under his belt, the Packers expressed their confidence in him by extending his rookie contract this offseason, keeping him with the team through the 2024 season.
“He was highly criticized when he drafted Jordan Love,” Murphy acknowledged, referring to General Manager Brian Gutekunst’s bold move to select Love as the 26th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. “That draft, though, now put us in a position where we feel we can be competitive in the long term.”
The Packers commitment to Love signals their belief in his potential to become the next MVP-caliber quarterback for the franchise. However, the team is aware that the road ahead may require support from other areas, particularly on defense.
The team has used its recent first-round picks predominantly on defensive players, and they have once again invested in bolstering their defense with the selection of edge rusher Lukas Van Ness at #13 overall.
With third-year defensive coordinator Joe Barry under pressure to deliver consistent results, the Packers are eager to see their defense step up and provide support as Love adjusts to his new role.
The departure of some of Rodgers’ favorite targets, including receivers Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard, as well as tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan, means Love will have to build chemistry with a new group of playmakers.
“I think that’s one of the reasons people are excited because there’s, I don’t know if I’d call it uncertainty, but we’re a much different team than we were last year,” Murphy stated, highlighting the changes the team has undergone in the offseason.
“We’ll be younger, but I’m optimistic. I obviously have a lot of confidence in Matt [LaFleur]. I think our defense probably will have to carry us a little bit in the early season.”
Head Coach Matt LaFleur, known for his offensive acumen rooted in the Kyle Shanahan scheme, might have more opportunities to implement his true offense with Love under center.
Although the flexibility given to Rodgers in calling plays was beneficial, the Packers could now lean towards a strong running game and play-action with Love leading the charge.
Do you think Love can be a true franchise quarterback for the Packers?
How long do you think it will take to know for sure whether he is the guy or not?