Packers transition from Aaron Rodgers doesn’t happen without Year 3 leap from Jordan Love
During an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, Aaron Rodgers confirmed what we all suspected, which is that he wants to be traded to the New York Jets. Although there are a number of factors that led us to this moment, this transition doesn’t take place without a Year 3 leap from Jordan Love.
We got a glimpse of this progression during Love’s appearance last season against Philadelphia, where he completed six of nine passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. But more important than the stat line was the noticeable improvement in the little things. Love was confident in the huddle and decisive in his decision-making. His feet were active, but he was in rhythm and went through his reads as he stood in the pocket.
Love looked like a completely different quarterback than what we had seen in Kansas City and Detroit the year prior. This, coupled with the team seeing him daily in the film room and on the practice field, has led to an immense amount of confidence in Love throughout the organization.
GM Brian Gutekunst was very clear at the NFL Combine in saying that Love is ready to be the starting quarterback. Earlier in the offseason, Aaron Jones said Love is “definitely ready” to take over. During the season, De’Vondre Campbell called Love a starting quarterback, while Dallin Leavitt added that he’s a big fan of Jordan. Lastly, Allen Lazard told reporters that there was a “different feel” with Love in the game against the Eagles in comparison to the Chiefs game.
Even Rodgers may have seen this during the season, or at least got the feeling from the organization that they could be ready to move on to Love. Hindsight is always 20/20, but following the win in Chicago, Rodgers mentioned that in order for him to return, both parties would have to want that outcome. Implying that maybe the Packers were becoming more ready to see what they have in Love.
A year ago at this time, the Packers again found themselves at a possible transition point with Rodgers contemplating his future. Of course, Rodgers coming off winning back-to-back MVPs played a massive role in the team deciding to extend him. However, also part of that decision had to be how Green Bay felt about Love at that time.
If the feelings that the organization have now existed 12 months ago, do things with Rodgers play out differently at that time? I think it’s a real possibility that they could have. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’m guessing teams don’t hand out massive three-year extensions with nearly $60 million guaranteed in one season and cap hits that range from $31 million to $59 million if they believe in the young quarterback on the bench.
All of this is promising, but success certainly isn’t guaranteed. The next step in Love’s progression, as Gutekunst pointed out at the combine, is for him to get consistent playing time. Practices, film sessions, and of course, Sundays look a lot different when you’re the starting quarterback vs. the backup, and part of the transition for Love into his new role will be navigating through those uncharted waters.
There will inevitably be some ups and downs that come with being a first-year starter, but hopefully, the learning curve isn’t as steep for Love, given that he’s spent the last three years preparing for this moment.
As Zach Kruse of Packers Wire pointed out, it’s been just 281 days since Rodgers said that he would retire a Packer. A lot has obviously changed during that time frame, with Love’s improved play being one of the biggest drivers that has led us to this point.