Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love will constantly be compared to Aaron Rodgers during his career, right or wrong. That’s just the nature of the beast when you replace a four-time MVP at the most important position in the sport.
Packers fans should be casting a wider net, though, for Love comparisons. Everyone wants to stack Rodgers’ first season as a starter head-to-head with Love’s, but isn’t it better to get a wider sample of examples from around the league? With that in mind, I decided to dive into the data and pull what every preferred starting quarterback’s first six starts in the league looked like, so that we can evaluate where Love lands on the bell curve.
The only qualifiers here are that two of the preferred starters in the NFL, Indianapolis’ Anthony Richardson and Carolina’s Bryce Young, have yet to play their sixth game as a starting quarterback. Richardson went down with a shoulder injury, which will now reportedly end his rookie campaign. Young’s Panthers have simply not played a sixth game yet this season.
In general, it’s good for a young quarterback to play well, and it’s bad for a young quarterback to play poorly. Shocking, I know. There are some clear exceptions to the rule, though. Jimmy Garoppolo, for example, has a career Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A) of 7.05, despite recording an 8.1 ANY/A over the first six starts of his career. He simply wasn’t able to keep up that pace in San Francisco’s offense over the long haul (red alert: Brock Purdy.) Inverse examples of Garoppolo are Josh Allen, Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff, who all performed poorly — at least statistically — to start their careers but developed into quality starting quarterbacks, to varying degrees.
Ultimately, Love falls 23rd on the list — ranked by ANY/A. As a reminder, ANY/A is correlated to win percentage at a higher rate than any raw stat a quarterback can record or even completion percentage or passer rating.
Have Jordan Love’s stats been good for a young quarterback? He’s no Patrick Mahomes or Dak Prescott, so far. Have they been terrible? He’s not close to the rough starts that Allen, Stafford and Goff had. In truth, he’s somewhere around the middle — in the same range that a quarterback like Joe Burrow performed at during the early portion of his rookie season.
As much as Packers fans want to make a referendum on Love with every passing week, we’re going to need to see a lot more of him — particularly with all of the issues that have developed around him in the passing game — before we know if he’s going to become The Guy or not. Is he a Burrow or a Baker Mayfield? There’s simply no way to tell yet.