Nervous. That’s how quarterback Jordan Love looked in his first-ever start as a Green Bay Packer in November of 2021. Starting QB Aaron Rodgers had been ruled out with Covid just four days prior, and the Packers had little time to prepare Love to face off against the intimidating Kansas City Chiefs. The end result wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t exactly pretty. In the Packers’ 13-7 loss, Love finished the game 19 of 34 for 190 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. At times during the game, he looked to be in over his head. As we head toward Week 1 against a confusingly confident Chicago Bears team that was bad enough to earn themselves the number one overall pick last season, we’re hoping for a much different result.
We have good reason to believe a better outcome may be the case. Through three preseason games for a total of eight drives, Love went 21 of 33 for 193 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks (of the five non-TD drives, one ended with a punt after a botched snap by Josh Myers, and another ended with a field goal.) A common theme during all three games this preseason? Confidence. Jordan Love has carried himself with the poise of an experienced leader and has been a commanding presence on the field. So what changed from November of 2021 to July of 2023?
Well, for starters, the Packers decided to move on from a first-ballot HOFer to the guy they traded up for in the first round of 2020’s draft. No pressure, Jordan! The amount of confidence a move like this must give someone is...immeasurable. When asked about moving on from Aaron Rodgers, head coach Matt LaFleur was glowing with praise for Love. LaFleur mentioned Love’s fourth-quarter performance against Philly last season, which had a handful of people (me, it was me) calling for Love to replace Rodgers for the remainder of the season. Though the game ended in a loss for Green Bay, Love led the offense on back-to-back scoring drives to cut the Eagles’ lead to just one possession. Philly’s own Darius Slay had high praise for his opponent after the game, saying he “lowkey looked like A-Rod”. Just to be clear, this is the same Darius Slay who publicly admitted to not respecting his head coach during his time with the Lions. The man doesn’t mince words.
Love’s own teammates have publicly expressed their support of him, some doing so even before he was handed the reins to the Packers’ offense. In 2022, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell said that Jordan Love was better than a lot of starting quarterbacks in the league. Before the Packers traded Aaron Rodgers this year, running back Aaron Jones expressed confidence that Love was ready to take over. Running back AJ Dillon told SiriusXM NFL Radio last month “He’s earned the trust of the locker room. Guys respect him. Guys wanna play for him.” He also mentioned running through a wall for Love, and you know what, AJ? Same.
I know, I know, “He’s his teammate, what is he supposed to say?” And to that I say: Cut it out! We are one season removed from Jets players “accidentally” expressing their disdain for their own QB Zach Wilson, by liking tweets that were critical of his play and attitude during a post-game presser. When players don’t like their teammates, we hear about it.
Even beyond words of support from his teammates, it’s clear other members of the Green Bay Packers want to play with Jordan Love. Love had multiple workouts in California this offseason with teammates including Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, and Dontayvion Wicks. A quarterback making the effort to develop chemistry with rookie receivers, imagine!! Locker room interviews feel lighter this summer; it’s been jokes, smiles, and overall positivity. It’s almost like everyone is getting along.
The organization has given Jordan Love the tools to succeed, using five draft picks on pass catchers this year. Even with durability concerns, the Packers have put together one of the best offensive lines in football. Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, who was seemingly brought back to keep Aaron Rodgers happy, is sticking around for another season. Thanks to Clements, we saw a huge leap in development from Rodgers early in his career, and it looks like we’re on the path to seeing a significant jump from Love as well.
Obviously, it’s going to take a lot more than just support from the organization and his teammates to propel Jordan Love to the next level. That burden ultimately falls onto him, and he’s made every indication thus far that he’s up to the task. So, what’s next? Week 1. Bring on the Bears.