Packers: Jordan Love Not Shying Away From Aaron Rodgers’ Shadow

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) is shown during organized team activities Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Green Bay, Wis.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) is shown during organized team activities Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Green Bay, Wis. /

The Green Bay Packers sent shockwaves around the entire NFL world in Spring 2020. After dealing with COVID protocols for much of the draft process, it became trickier and trickier for beat writers to lock in on the team’s goals. As it turns out, Jordan Love would unknowingly become Aaron Rodgers’ heir apparent.

Many assumed the front office would assemble more weapons to a roster that narrowly missed out on a Super Bowl trip only months prior. As we all know by now, the Packers pivoted from their initial game plan at the 2020 NFL Draft.

The 2020 NFL Draft Alters Landscape Of Packers Franchise

In one of the better wide receiver classes in years, it was a nearly forgone conclusion that one of those star-studded pass catchers would don the Green and Yellow. Alas, zero wide receivers were ultimately taken by Green Bay that draft cycle. Yes, you read that correctly, ZERO.

Rather than finally listening to its fan base and star quarterback, the Packers stuck to what they knew in the draft room. Granted, A.J. Dillon is a mainstay in the offense as 2023 approaches, but still, the Boston College alum runs the football — he doesn’t catch it.

It was a widely accepted thought around the country that Rodgers’ time with the franchise could be nearing an end. Those talks ramped up even more at the 2020 NFL Draft. If you thought passing on a receiver would aggravate Aaron Rodgers… Imagine how he felt when a quarterback’s name popped up instead.

Aaron Rodgers Suffers Same Fate As His Predecessor; Jordan Love Arrives In GB

It is a movie that Rodgers knows all too well. Back when he was entering the league, the Cal product was expected to go No. 1 overall to the 49ers. Something changed, leading to San Fran shifting its focus to Alex Smith. This single decision cost Rodgers a lot of money as he tumbled down the board.

His embarrassing slide ended when the Packers, already armed with a Hall of Fame talent at quarterback in Brett Favre, couldn’t resist the temptation to have Rodgers learn the ropes behind the Super Bowl-winning signal-caller.

Upon his arrival in Green Bay, it was clear that this was Favre’s show still — for now. After sitting and honing his craft for three seasons, Rodgers was ready to take the reins. But Favre was still unsure whether he was ready to relinquish them.

The Packers won the struggle, even after Favre tried to make a play to return late into the offseason. Instead, they sent the grizzled vet packing to the Big Apple only three days after his reinstatement following his second faux retirement.

Greedy? Power hungry? Just not ready to give up the sport? It’s impossible to know what an athlete is going through when their career winds down. Perhaps some malice was involved in the timing of Favre’s decision to return to the NFL, but it is just as likely that he got an itch he couldn’t scratch off a football field.

If you notice a lot of irony in this article, that is the intention. Favre, a franchise icon, after toying around with retirement for years, forced the Packers to make an impossible decision. Nearly 15 years to the date, Rodgers did the exact same thing.

Rodgers is justified in wishing the franchise did more to surround him with high-end talent. The franchise is justified in wishing a Hall of Fame talent could elevate any roster around him to a championship contender. Both parties deserve plenty of blame, so this should be viewed as a “best for both worlds” split — just like Favre’s in 2008.

If you need more proof that our simulation is glitching, take a peek at the trade details from each deal. Not only did Favre and Rodgers both get sent to the Jets, the compensation Green Bay received in return is similar in framing.

In what ultimately became a conditional third-round pick, the Packers received a middle-of-the-draft pick for a guy they thought was retired. Fast forward to Rodgers, and the franchise netted some more value — thanks to his stellar play in 2020 and 2021. Some pick swaps were involved as well, but the key pieces headed back to Green Bay were the second-round selection at the 2023 NFL Draft and another conditional pick for 2024.

The conditional pick in question can become anything from a coveted first-rounder all the way down to a round three valuation. Favre eclipsed every threshold to land a maximum return for the Packers; perhaps lightning strikes again by way of an added Day 1 selection next year.

With the band-aid ripped off, the Packers now embark on a journey they have gone down multiple times before. For the first time in professional sports history, Green Bay is looking to turn over the franchise to a third straight quarterback with cornerstone potential.

Jordan Love Eases His Way Into The NFL

Like Rodgers, Jordan Love spent three seasons as the understudy on the depth chart. His biggest knock heading into the league was the rawness he exhibited at Utah State. Studying the playbook, and watching the way Rodgers moves in the office and on the gridiron, should go a long way toward easing any growing pains or rust.

In Love’s very limited time as quarterback for the Packers, he was thrown into the fire, to put it mildly. After taking the intended redshirt season as a rookie, Love entered 2021 still squarely behind Rodgers on the depth chart. In Week 9, with Green Bay set to travel to Kansas City, Rodgers was ruled out of the contest for a positive COVID test.

In the wake, Love was forced into an uncomfortable role by starting his first career game at Arrowhead Stadium. The results were not great, to be honest. Love completed less than 60 percent of his passes against a KC defense that was susceptible to giving up points.

Against Love and Co.? You guessed it; the Chiefs only allowed seven points the entire game. Love lobbed a touchdown and an interception in the contest while also taking an unacceptable sack; a rough start to the career.

Love has not started a game since, but did appear in relief later in 2021 against the Detroit Lions. This time, the second-year player did a better job taking advantage of a porous defense. He still failed to reach the 60 percent completion rate or surpass 200 yards as a passer, but Love began showing signs.

To further make this case, we will now jump to the previous NFL season. Aaron Rodgers was in a dogfight with the Philadelphia Eagles before injuring his rib in the third quarter, forcing his removal from the game. Although under less-than-ideal circumstances, Love finally turned in a performance worth remembering.

Against a team that dominated the entire NFC, the 24-year-old quarterback completed six of his nine passes, including a 63-yard connection to recent second-round pick Christian Watson. That one play was enough to usher in the Love-Watson era; at least that’s how it felt afterward.

In the following weeks, Rodgers returned to lead Green Bay on a four-game win streak before suffering a soul-crushing defeat to the divisional rival Detroit Lions. This loss effectively marked the end of Rodgers’ stint in Wisconsin — whether they said it or not.

In an offseason that only Rodgers could get away with, he returned from a blackout resort with a newfound perspective. The Packers tried reaching out to the star quarterback during his hiatus but were unable to get through. Many believe this was a calculated move by Rodgers and the Packers — with both knowing it could be used as the final nail to their partnership.

After a few weeks of “will they, won’t they”, Rodgers made his intentions clear — at long last. Not only was he ready to suit up for a different organization — he knew exactly which one. The Jets trade went down mere days before the 2023 NFL Draft.

All You Need Is Love… Right?

For the first time in nearly two decades, the Packers are looking at a fresh start. You know what they say though… the more things change, the more they actually stay the same. Green Bay could have taken the first receiver off the board at No. 13 but instead stayed true to their core philosophy by taking Lukas Van Ness, a versatile defender, instead.

That doesn’t mean weapons weren’t added, however. Luke Musgrave and Tyler Kraft are two tight-end prospects with elite pass-catching traits. While they are not traditional wideouts, both guys will give Love increased weapons to add to the arsenal.

Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, two 2022 draft picks, will lead the wide receiver depth chart for the foreseeable future. The front office dipped back into the wide receiver pool again in 2023 by selecting Jayden Reed out of Michigan State. The Packers could reasonably start an offense full of 27-year-olds or less.

I mean, just take a look at this:
-WR Dontayvion Wicks (22)
-TE Luke Musgrave (22)
-TE Tucker Kraft (22)
-OG Sean Rhyan (22)
-OT Rasheed Walker (23)
-WR Romeo Doubs (23)
-WR Jayden Reed (23)
-QB Jordan Love (24)
-C Josh Myers (24)
-WR Christian Watson (24)
-OT Zach Tom (24)
-RB A.J. Dillon (25)
-OG Jon Runyan (25)
-WR Samori Toure (25)
-OL Elgton Jenkins (27)

Even if growing pains arise in the first year of life without Aaron Rodgers, Packers fans should still be excited. They finally have a vision for the future and are quietly stacking up high-upside youngsters. If Jordan Love truly can hold his own behind center, Green Bay has every chance to earn a postseason berth. Love is ready for his time in the spotlight; I’m not sure if the NFL is ready. Take a deep breath Packers fans; things will be on the come up in Wisconsin soon.