Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said the obvious earlier this week when asked about Jordan Love who is expected to take over as the team’s starting quarterback this season.
“It’s going to be a different role for him, certainly, and I think we all have to kind of temper our expectations for him,” LaFleur said. “It’s different when you’re going into a game versus when you’re starting a game. It’s going to be a process, but it’s going to be exciting for him [and] for us.”
A process. Of course, it’s going to be a process. Many younger Packers fans don’t remember having a young unproven quarterback taking over as the starter. It hasn’t happened in Green Bay in 15 years when Aaron Rodgers took over after the trade of Brett Favre to the New York Jets.
This means the Packers will be going from a veteran, future Hall of Famer at quarterback to a player who has made one NFL start thus far in this career. The process will be Love’s growth from an untested player to an established starter.
In his first three NFL seasons, Love has attempted 83 passes during regular season games. In his first three seasons with the Packers, Rodgers attempted just 59 passes mostly because Favre was rarely off the field.
Like any new job, it will take Love time to get comfortable being the starting quarterback on the team. He has had one season to practice with receivers like Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure and a few seasons practicing with tight end Josiah Deguara. New players will likely be added to the mix before the start of the season whether it’s in the NFL Draft, by trade or via free agency.
Love is reportedly already preparing for the upcoming season. Last week, it was reported that Aaron Jones, Watson and Doubs were in California working out together to get their timing down and bond as teammates. That was something the Packers front office was disappointed that Rodgers didn’t do a year ago.
The process will certainly look different during OTAs and training camp as well as in the preseason. In the last few preseasons, Rodgers didn’t play at all or at most made a brief cameo in one game just to stay sharp. It is unclear what LaFleur will decide to do with Love come August. Will he let Love take some reps in the preseason despite the risk of injury? Unlike Rodgers, he could use more work to build his confidence in the playbook and his chemistry with his teammates.
Love will almost certainly not match what Rodgers did in his prime in his first season as the team’s starter. But can he match what Rodgers did in his first season as a starter back in 2008? Rodgers completed 341-of-536 passes for 4,038 yards and 28 touchdowns while throwing 13 interceptions. That gave him a quarterback rating of 93.8. The Packers finished the season with a 6-10 record after finishing 13-3 the previous season under Favre and reaching the NFC Championship Game.
But by the end of the season, Rodgers had proven to head coach Mike McCarthy and most NFL scouts that he had the potential to be a star in this league, something he backed up the following season when he earned his first Pro Bowl berth and led the Packers to the playoffs for the first of 11 times in his career.
Love is not taking over a 13-3 team like Rodgers did 15 years earlier. The 2022 Packers were 8-9 and Rodgers had the worst statistical season as a starter with a 91.1 quarterback rating which placed him in the middle of the league among qualified starters. Rodgers finished tied for 15th among qualified quarterbacks in quarterback rating out of 32 starters. Rodgers was playing with a broken thumb for part of the season which likely hurt his play.
Could Love at least match the level of play of 2022 Rodgers and be in the middle of the pack among NFL starters in quarterback rating? The two quarterbacks who had the same rating as Rodgers last year were Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott.
As LaFleur said, the transition is going to be a process. In year one, the Packers are hoping the process includes getting out from the large amount of dead cap money they have to deal with upon Rodgers’ departure and for Love to show he can become a quality NFL starting quarterback. If those two things happen, then the Packers will accomplish the minimum they need to in 2023.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
Click here for more great Packers coverage