The Green Bay Packers are set to open training camp later this month. This is the first in a series of articles previewing the Packers position by position, analyzing the talent on the roster and discussing key questions that are facing the team as they begin preparation for the 2023 season. Today we preview the Packers quarterback position. We will examine another position each day until the start of training camp.
Packers Starting Quarterback: Jordan Love
For the first time since 2008 the Green Bay Packers head into the season with a quarterback not named Aaron Rodgers as the projected starter.
Jordan Love has spent three years learning behind Rodgers. The coaching staff saw major improvement from him in practice last season and in the limited game action he saw filling in for Rodgers.
The former Utah State star has a strong arm and is more mobile than the 39-year-old Rodgers. He also has the confidence of his teammates. Love has been doing things right under difficult circumstances until now and is finally getting his chance to shine.
Love needs to prove he’s ready to succeed as a quarterback in the NFL. There will inevitably be growing pains as he learns on the job. Like Rodgers did in 2008, Love needs to show he can be the next quality starter in Green Bay.
Now it’s time to see if Brian Gutekunst’s decision to select Love in the 2020 NFL Draft was a sound one. The two-year window the Packers gave Love when he signed his extension this offseason starts now.
Projected Backup: Sean Clifford
The Packers selected Sean Clifford in the fifth round of this year’s draft as a potential backup behind Love. The former Penn State star has good leadership qualities and understands the game well, but he lacks the elite arm strength that would have made him a first-round pick.
Clifford had some good moments at OTAs including some success in the two-minute drill. Now he needs to show enough growth to prove he’s ready for the NFL.
Will Clifford be ready to go if Love struggles or will he need time on the practice squad?
Projected Backup: Danny Etling
Danny Etling was drafted by the Patriots in the seventh-round back in 2018, but he has yet to take a snap in an NFL regular season game. He knows the Packers offense after serving on the practice squad in 2022 and he looked strong in the preseason.
Etling is mobile and enthusiastic but is he good enough to make an NFL roster or is he a perennial practice squad type player?
Three Key Questions for the Packers Quarterbacks
Packers Quarterback Preview Question One: Is Love Ready to Take Over as the Starter?
This has been a question since the Packers traded up to select Love in 2020. Now, we finally start to get the answer. It’s unlikely Love can be the team’s third straight Hall of Fame quarterback, but can he be a solid starter for the next few years?
If Love can match the mediocre performance Rodgers had last season, the Packers should contend for a playoff spot.
There will be growing pains, but Love needs to show he has the potential to be the next solid starter for the Packers by the end of this year and certainly by next season.
Question 2: How Will the Packers Offense Look Different?
Head coach Matt LaFleur ran a hybrid offense since coming to Green Bay to accommodate Rodgers who wanted to keep his favorite parts of the Mike McCarthy offense.
Now, with Love under center, LaFleur can install the offense he wants to run while modifying it to the strengths of his new starter. Expect more throws to the middle of the field, more use of the tight end and more scheming receivers open. The passes will likely be distributed more evenly as well.
With a group of inexperienced receivers and tight ends, this preseason may be a little less vanilla and we may see the starters play more often than they have in recent years.
This will be an important transition season for the Green Bay offense. We’ll know a lot more about the quarterback position by the end of the 2023 season than we do in the beginning.
Packers Quarterback Question 3: Do the Packers Need to Bring in a Veteran Backup?
The Packers usually keep two quarterbacks on their active roster and one on the practice squad. But neither Clifford nor Etling has taken a snap in an NFL regular season game, and they may not be ready to play if anything happens to Love.
Will Gutekunst add a veteran backup before training camp starts or will he stick with the inexperienced options presently on the roster?
A final decision may not be made until the week before the regular season starts although the sooner a move is made the more time the veteran quarterback would have to learn the playbook and get familiar with his teammates.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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