Jordan Love takes over as quarterback of the Green Bay Packers this season after Aaron Rodgers held that position for the last 15 years. There are some interesting parallels and important differences between what’s happening now with Love taking over for Rodgers as compared to what happened in 2008 when Rodgers took over for Brett Favre.
Here is a look at some key similarities and some key differences between 2023 Love and 2008 Rodgers:
- Former 1st Round Picks Who Sat for Three Years Behind Hall of Famers
Both Rodgers and Love were first round picks who sat for three years behind Hall of Fame predecessors. Love sat behind Rodgers from 2020 to 2022 while Rodgers sat for three years behind Favre from 2005-2007.
In his first three seasons as a backup, Rodgers completed 35-of-59 passes for 329 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Love, meanwhile, completed 50-of-83 passes for 606 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Both players learned behind their respective predecessors and both players they learned behind had less than smooth exits from Green Bay as there was drama with the team’s front office. Both Favre and Rodgers were also traded to the New York Jets.
- One Start vs No Starts
Prior to taking over as the starter in 2008, Rodgers did not make any starts as Favre was busy extending his consecutive games streak. The streak would continue as Favre played for the Jets and Vikings and would finish at a record 297 consecutive games by the time it finally ended in 2010.
Love has made just one start in his first three seasons. It came in 2021 in Kansas City on national TV when Rodgers was sidelined with Covid a day before the game.
Love stepped in and completed 19-of-34 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He faced a lot of blitzes and played better as the game went on despite an uneven performance overall. The Packers lost the game 13-7 and his quarterback rating was 69.5.
- Both Showed Promise in Their Final Year as the Backup
Both Rodgers and Love had moments of promise in their third year on the roster that gave coaches and teammates reasons to believe they were ready to be effective starters.
For Rodgers, it came in a Thanksgiving game in Dallas against the Cowboys. Favre left the game due to injury with nearly 10 minutes left in the second quarter and the Packers trailing 27-10.
Rodgers came into the game and completed 18-of-26 passes for 201 yards and an 11-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings. The Packers still lost 37-27 but everybody could see Rodgers played well against a Dallas team that improved to 11-1 with this victory.
Meanwhile, Love replaced a banged-up Rodgers early in the fourth quarter of the Packers Week 12 game in Philadelphia. The Eagles had a 37-23 lead when Love entered the game. He led Green Bay to 10 points but in the end, the defense couldn’t make the final stop and the Packers lost the game 40-33.
Love completed 6-of-9 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown which was a 63-yard pass to rookie Christian Watson.
Like the Cowboys in 2007, the Eagles were one of the best teams in the NFC and the win over the Packers increased Philadelphia’s record to 10-1.
Both quarterbacks came into games on the road against elite teams and with the Packers trailing badly. Both Love and Rodgers rallied their teams but couldn’t complete the comeback. But in both cases, the young backups showed potential.
- Rodgers Inherited a More Experienced Receiving Corps
One major difference is the receiving corps these two quarterbacks had in their first season as starters. Rodgers in 2008 had an experienced and proven receiving corps while Love will likely open 2023 with no receiver on the roster with more than one year of NFL experience.
The 2008 Packers featured ten-year veteran Donald Driver, Greg Jennings who was starting his third season and second-year man James Jones. The starting tight end was Donald Lee who was starting his sixth NFL season, backed up by rookie Jermichael Finley.
Love will likely have second-year men Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs playing large roles with rookies like Jayden Reed and tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft likely to also play significant roles.
Rodgers clearly inherited a more established set of receivers than Love will.
- Rodgers Inherited a Winning Team
When Rodgers took over as the Packers starter in 2008, the team was coming off a 13-3 season and a trip to the NFC Championship Game the previous season.
Love is taking over a team that suffered through a disappointing 8-9 record and missed the playoffs a year ago. GM Brian Gutekunst has since let go many veteran players like Rodgers, Marcedes Lewis, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Robert Tonyan, Jarran Reed, Dean Lowry and Adrian Amos.
That will be an additional challenge for Love as he begins his era as starter of the Packers.
There are clearly some similarities between Rodgers’ first season as Packers starter and Love’s. Now it’s up to Love to prove he can be a quality NFL starter and to get a new era of Packers football off to a promising start.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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