When the Packers selected Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the team didn’t expect the former Utah State star to start right away. They still had Aaron Rodgers on the roster and scouting reports indicated that while Love was unquestionably talented, he would need time to develop into a quality starting quarterback in the NFL.
Love’s rookie year only made things tougher on him. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Packers and all NFL teams had to cancel OTAs and training camp was truncated. All preseason games were also canceled. Add Rodgers’ clear unhappiness at the Packers decision to draft Love and the rookie was thrust into a difficult situation. He was unable to get many reps in practice. He did not take a single snap as a rookie and only saw action on the scout team.
Last offseason was full of drama that was not of Love’s making. On the first day of the NFL Draft, the press released stories indicating Rodgers was unhappy with the way the Packers front office was doing things and wanted more input and communication from the front office. Rodgers may not return to Green Bay the stories said. He stayed away from minicamp and voluntary OTAs. Finally, just before training camp started in late July, Rodgers announced that he would play for the Packers in 2021.
Through it all, Love continued to say the right things and prepare for the new season. With Rodgers absent and Tim Boyle now in Detroit, he took nearly all the snaps at OTAs and minicamp with the first-team offense until Rodgers returned.
Once the season started, Love was the primary backup to Rodgers who went out and won his fourth career NFL MVP award and his second in a row. Love did finally see action in the regular season and even started one game when Rodgers was in Covid protocols.
But where is Jordan Love after two seasons in the NFL? What has he shown and what does he still need to work on?
Love saw substantial action at quarterback during three games in the regular season. In the season opener against the Saints, he entered the game in the fourth quarter with the outcome already decided. He completed 5-of-7 passes in mop up duty.
In the season finale, Love played the second half against the Lions. He completed 10-of-17 passes and threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to tight end Josiah Deguara on a short screen pass that Deguara took to the house. He also threw two interceptions.
But Love’s biggest game came in Week 9 when he made his first NFL start when Rodgers was out with Covid. Love got off to a slow start but finished the game by completing 19-of-34 passes for 190 yards. He threw one touchdown and one interception.
For the season, Love’s statistics were very average. He completed just 58 percent of his passes for 411 yards, threw two touchdowns and three interceptions. His quarterback rating was a disappointing 68.7.
Love did show signs of improvement in his second season. He has the arm strength to make all the necessary throws and his ability to find second and third options on plays improved in 2021.
There are still some things Love needs to improve and the biggest is his accuracy. When his footwork is good, his throws are usually on target. But when he doesn’t set his feet properly, his passes can go astray and that was a big reason for his low completion percentage and low yards-per-attempt.
In addition, Love needs to get better at reading defenses at the line of scrimmage and calling audibles to create favorable matchups. This is something that should come as Love gains more experience starting with more action this coming preseason.
After the season ended, head coach Matt LaFleur said that Love “has come a long way” but also “has a lot of room for growth.”
While that is coach’s speak, it is also correct. Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com wrote an article this week that ranked all 62 quarterbacks that started a game in the NFL this season. Rodgers was ranked second. Love was 49th, just behind Case Keenum and just ahead of Mike White. Obviously, this is based on a limited amount of playing time but it shows how far Love still has to go.
Is Love ready to be the starter in Green Bay as of right now? Probably not. But remember, Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre for three years and there were often rumblings among the fan base and media as to whether he would ever be good enough to become a starter based on his limited playing time during those three seasons.
That’s not to say Jordan Love will ever become as good as Rodgers or Favre. He isn’t anywhere near that level yet. But he can still get better and develop into a quality NFL starter with some more experience.
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