Is Jordan Love Ready to Start for Green Bay?

By Patrick Hayes   July 1, 2021 

Is Jordan Love Ready to Start for Green Bay?

The Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers have continued quite the dance this offseason. News broke near the NFL Draft that Rodgers wanted to be traded. His issue, in part at least, was reportedly with Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, who he said he wanted fired. 

There were rumors around the draft that a deal with Denver was close, but nothing materialized. Denver has remained a team consistently rumored to be interested in Rodgers, and the Broncos were even recently given 60-40 odds of acquiring him. Rodgers has also reportedly expressed intrigue in the combination of Denver’s Super Bowl-caliber defense and their assortment of offensive weapons.

Still though, nothing has materialized. A current Bronco, running back Melvin Gordon, even said he expects that Rodgers will play in Green Bay this season. 

For his part, Rodgers has shown he’s serious about wanting out by forgoing money to skip a minicamp. But for a team that has so far shown resistance to trading him and has said that he’s part of their plans for the season, the Packers certainly have taken a weird approach to the issue by basically ignoring it and seeming resigned to the fact that it will linger at least until training camp. Former teammate John Kuhn believes Rodgers will ultimately play in Green Bay this season as well.

Jan 16, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) against the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC Divisional Round at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“But I do eventually believe, because the Packers hold some serious leverage, too, I do believe the reigning NFL MVP will play quarterback again in the NFL,” Kuhn said on a podcast. “And I believe the only team he can play for this year is the Green Bay Packers.”

Understandably, the focus has been primarily on Rodgers and what his loss from the lineup would mean to a team with Super Bowl aspirations. The Packers were a weird, ill-fated, and widely second-guessed decision to go for a field goal away from potentially reaching last year’s Super Bowl. But if you sub Rodgers out of that equation what’s left?

Second-year quarterback Jordan Love, the player who is reportedly at the center of Rodgers’ frustrations with the team, is who would likely step into a starting role. The Packers drafted Love in the first round of the 2020 draft despite Rodgers hoping the team would take an offensive weapon. Rodgers also wasn’t told by Gutekunst that he was taking a quarterback, a courtesy normally extended to iconic, star players of Rodgers’ caliber.

Rodgers reportedly hasn’t taken out those frustrations on Love, and Love said last season that they have a good relationship. But whether or not Love is ready to step into what would likely be a highly scrutinized role replacing a future Hall of Famer remains to be seen.

Love didn’t throw a single pass his rookie season, and he reportedly struggled with his accuracy early in a minicamp this month before bouncing back later in the camp. The Packers have told him they expect him to prepare as if he’s the starter whether Rodgers is there or not – it’s the NFL after all, and injuries can happen at any time.

Love also has an interesting connection to reigning NFL Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert. The same quarterback coach, David Yost, worked with both of them in college. He thinks Love and Herbert are similar caliber players.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) hands off the ball to running back Patrick Taylor (27) during minicamp practice Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis.

“(Love is) extremely talented. And he has all the stuff you need to be successful,” Yost said in an interview. “The big question I got last year because I worked with both of them was ‘Herbert or Love?’ They’d say, ‘Who would you pick?’ And I said, ‘Either one. They’re both high-, high-level guys. They’re great people. They’re students of the game. Their work ethics are right. And their physical talents are what you need to be able to work with. They can both throw the football. They’re both athletic and can move. So, I didn’t think Jordan was far off of what Herbert was — if at all.”

Rodgers himself parallels Love’s experience somewhat. Rodgers was selected in the first round with future Hall of Famer Brett Favre still on the roster. Favre didn’t appreciate Rodgers’ presence. Rodgers didn’t play much his first three seasons, but after the Packers and Favre had a messy divorce, Rodgers was thrust into the lineup and immediately played at a high level.

Love has had a shorter apprenticeship backing up Rodgers, but he’s spent a full year being prepared for what taking over for a legend in a one-pro sport town like Green Bay will mean. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be equipped for that moment if it comes this season.

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