With Aaron Rodgers missing from Green Bay Packers OTAs, Jordan Love is getting the first-team reps at quarterback. According to one teammate, he looks good doing it, too.
Packers running back Aaron Jones praised Love’s development Tuesday, adding that the second-year quarterback appears much more comfortable under center in 2021 compared to 2020.
“You can tell he’s just a lot more comfortable out there, even from communicating in the huddle to the command of the huddle to just everything,” Jones said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN. “He’s had a year under his belt, he’s had time to watch and learn, so you can tell it’s a little bit different from what it was before. He’s going to continue to grow, and I’m happy to be here working with him.”
Love has had to tune out the noise about his selection, and the lack of communication over it, being the root cause of Rodgers’ unhappiness with the Packers. It seems he’s doing so effectively, winning praise from his head coach as well for the progress he’s making.
It remains to be seen how serious Rodgers is about not playing for Green Bay again. Love would almost certainly get the starting nod if Rodgers isn’t available, and based on the early returns, it might work out decently for the Packers. Still, everyone involved will definitely want Rodgers back in the fold.
Aaron Rodgers did not report to organized team activities with the Green Bay Packers this week, but the quarterback they drafted to eventually replace him is in attendance. The youngster has already been quite impressive, according to his coach.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur had high praise for Love on Tuesday. He told reporters the former Utah State star seems to have really made progress this offseason and the ball is “jumping out” of his hand.
#Packers Matt LaFleur right now, says he wants to talk about players in attendance. On QB Jordan Love says you can tell he definitely put in the work this offseason. The ball is “jumping out” of his hands. Excited about some of the progress they’ve seen, but a long way to go.
The Packers traded up to draft Love in the first round last year. Many believe that is the main reason Rodgers wants out of Green Bay, though the reigning NFL MVP denied that when he was interviewed for Kenny Mayne’s last “SportsCenter” appearance on Monday night.
LaFleur was asked about that interview, and he found a clever way to avoid the question.
Q: What did you make of Aaron’s comments later night on Sportscenter?
Lafleur: “I thought it was a heckeva tribute to Kenny Mayne”
The Green Bay Packers appear to be making another move to demonstrate that Jordan Love is still the quarterback of the future in the eyes of the franchise.
According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the Packers will not tender a contract to restricted free agent quarterback Tim Boyle. That means Boyle, who served as Aaron Rodgers’ primary backup in 2020, will become an unrestricted free agent. It also means that, unless the Packers add another quarterback, Love will likely be elevated to the role of Rodgers’ backup.
Garafolo notes that Rodgers was very fond of Boyle, so the Packers are risking more frustration from their star quarterback here. It also means the Packers will have little experience behind Rodgers, as Love was not active in any games last season.
The Packers didn’t hide how much work Love had to do when he entered camp last August. This may be a sign that they’re satisfied with his progress.
Aaron Rodgers had arguably the best season of his career in 2020, and it came after many wondered if the Green Bay Packers were in the early stages of giving up on him. In order to play as well as he did, Rodgers says he had to free himself of that narrative.
The Packers decided to use their first-round pick in last year’s draft on former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. In an interview with Michael Silver of NFL.com this week, Rodgers said one of his most important tasks last offseason was pushing away negative thoughts after the draft.
“You know, especially after the draft, it was important for me mentally to get to a place of freedom with that — freedom from bitterness, freedom from expectations, freedom from future thinking — and I feel like I did,” Rodgers told Silver. “It gave me a really good peace and calm about the season and to be able to focus.”
“I’m not fighting against it, and I haven’t harbored any angst or frustration with anybody in the organization,” he said. “I’m really content with where I’m at, and I feel like it’s helped me to be very clear-minded all year.”
This is not the first time Rodgers has admitted he was bothered by the Love pick. That is hardly a surprise, as any quarterback still playing at a high level would prefer that his team use a first-round pick on a player other than his potential replacement.
Rodgers threw for 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions this season. His 121.5 passer rating is the second-highest mark in NFL history behind his own 122.5 in 2011. He’s almost certainly going to win his third MVP Award.
If the Love pick motivates Rodgers to win another Super Bowl and keep playing at a high level, it will have been worth it for Green Bay. Tom Brady was clearly irritated after the New England Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014, and Brady went on to lead New England to three more Super Bowls after that. The 37-year-old Rodgers may be headed down a similar path.
In case there were any doubts, Jordan Love doesn’t sound anywhere close to being ready to start for the Green Bay Packers.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur praised the rookie quarterback on Saturday, but made it very clear that Love has a long way to go before he’s ready to be an NFL starter, stating that there’s “a lot to clean up.”
1/ .@packers HC Matt LaFleur on impressions of QB Jordan Love so far: “He’s very natural. There’s a lot to clean up right now. He’s a young quarterback that is learning a new system, and just how specific we are with the footwork. I think that takes time. But I am pleased at…
1/ how he attacks it on a daily basis. I think he’s a really intelligent kid. And he’s very athletic. So, I think it’s a matter of time before he can pick up the mechanics. But, our challenge to him each and everyday, is just you gotta get that 1% better.”
The Packers have clearly drafted Love to develop him for a few years, just as they did 15 years ago with Aaron Rodgers. With that in mind, it sounds like LaFleur is telling the truth about wanting to keep Rodgers for years to come.
Jordan Love was taken No. 26 overall in the NFL Draft, and the Green Bay Packers traded up to get him. Combine that with the fact that Love is expected to eventually replace Aaron Rodgers, and the former Utah State quarterback enters the NFL with tons of pressure and expectations. None of that seems to bother Love.
Love spoke with NFL Media’s Omar Ruiz for an interview and was asked if he felt pressure to justify Green Bay’s selection of him. He seems ready to meet the challenge.
Jordan Love on if there’s pressure to justify the Packers pick: “No matter where I would have landed, that was the goal for me. You ought to go out there & prove yourself… It’s a job, you’ve got to be able to keep that.” More of my 1 on 1 w/ him coming up on #NFLNow@nflnetworkpic.twitter.com/SS0WytM9mZ
“No matter where I would have landed, that was the goal for me. You ought to go out there and prove yourself… It’s a job, you’ve got to be able to keep that,” Love said.
Rodgers spoke on Friday about the pick and admitted he was not “thrilled” about it, but said he did not hold hard feelings towards Love. Green Bay must believe in Love’s talent so much that they wanted to make sure to get him, even if they currently have a very capable quarterback.
Based on his mentality, Love sounds like he will be well-equipped to handle the pressure.
Aaron Rodgers almost certainly would have preferred if the Green Bay Packers used their first-round pick on a player that could help the team immediately, but the star quarterback insists there are no hard feelings over the decision to draft Jordan Love.
Rodgers spoke with reporters on a conference call Friday for the first time since the draft, and he was immediately asked for his opinion on the Packers drafting Love. The two-time NFL MVP said he was “surprised” by the pick and admitted he was not overly excited about it, but he understands why the front office made the decision.
“The general reaction at first was surprise, like many people. Obviously I’m not going to say I was thrilled by the pick necessarily, but I understand,” Rodgers said. “The organization is not only thinking about the present, but about the future. I respect that. I understand their focus and their mindset. Obviously they think he’s such a great talent that they needed to go up and get him. … It’s what those guys are paid to do — to build a roster for now and for the future as well.”
Rodgers made it clear that he is not going to hold the pick against Love, as the former Utah State star had no control over which team selected him.
Aaron Rodgers on Jordan Love: "He didn't ask to be drafted by the #Packers. He's not to blame at all. I had a good conversation with him the day after the draft and I'm excited to work with him."
The fact that Rodgers reached out to Love is a good indicator that he wants the arrangement to work. Rodgers knows from the time he spent playing behind Brett Favre that it can be uncomfortable waiting in the wings behind a franchise icon, so he should have a good understanding of Love’s perspective.
Rodgers also said he still wants to finish his career in Green Bay but understands that is not entirely in his control.
Rodgers started the answer by saying finishing his career as a Packer “obviously is something that’s very important to me."
Favre seems to think the Love pick will anger Rodgers to the point where he will want to leave the team. Rodgers is under contract through 2023, but a lot will depend upon how Love develops. If Love gains the confidence of his coaches the same way Rodgers did when he was backing up Favre, it would not be a surprise if Rodgers finishes his career elsewhere.
There has been some talk about Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur trying to send a message to Aaron Rodgers by taking a quarterback in the first round of the draft, but that theory can safely be thrown out the window. While LaFleur may support the Jordan Love pick, it was not his call to make.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has full control over all roster decisions, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. And it was Gutekunst — not LaFleur — who decided to trade up from 30th overall to 26th overall to make sure he had a chance to draft Love. When discussing the pick, Gutekunst even indicated that LaFleur had some concerns about drafting Love.
“Matt was on the [phone] line with us and understood where I was coming from,” Gutekunst said. “I think it was one of those things where, again, with a second-year head coach, I certainly wasn’t going to give him a player he didn’t want.”
Gutekunst also looked into drafting a quarterback early last year, as the Packers hosted Drew Lock for a pre-draft visit. The GM said he understands that taking Love will be viewed with skepticism by many, but he is trying to think long term.
“It’s not something we anticipated. It kind of fell to us, and we were excited about that,” Gutekunst said. “I know a lot of people will look at this as not a move for the immediate, and I understand that, but the balance of the immediate and the long term is something that I have to consider, and that’s why we did it.”
LaFleur may very well have supported Gutekunst’s decision, but the GM’s comments about the draft and Demovsky’s report about it make it hard to believe that LaFleur was trying to shake Rodgers’ tree. LaFleur wants to win entering his second season as the head coach in Green Bay, and getting the most out of Rodgers is obviously his easiest path to doing that. Playing psychological games with a franchise quarterback would be risky for a second-year head coach.
The Green Bay Packers made one of the most surprising picks of the 2020 NFL Draft when they traded up in the first round to select quarterback Jordan Love. While Matt LaFleur insists that does not mean Aaron Rodgers is on borrowed time with the team, at least one longtime Packers reporter believes the head coach was sending Rodgers a message with the pick.
Bob McGinn, who has covered the Packers for roughly 40 years, was highly critical of the team’s draft in his latest column for The Athletic. While he’s not sold on Jordan Love as an NFL prospect, McGinn thinks it is fair to wonder if the Packers will want to get out from under Rodgers’ contract in the next year or two if he doesn’t rediscover his MVP form or something close to it.
The Packers took former Boston College star running back AJ Dillon in the second round and declined to use any of their eight picks on a wide receiver, which has led to increased speculation that they could look to become more of a running team next season. A change in philosophy like that might not sit well with Rodgers, which is why McGinn believes the decision to trade up to No. 26 for Love indicates LaFleur has “simply had enough of Rodgers’ act and wanted to change the narrative.”
If Love succeeds in his first NFL offseason, that could put pressure on Rodgers in one of two ways. For one, it might inspire the 36-year-old to check his ego if he feels like a youngster is breathing down his neck. Or, better yet for the Packers, Love’s presence could light a fire under Rodgers and create a situation similar to the one when the New England Patriots used a second-round pick on Jimmy Garoppolo back in 2014. Tom Brady went on to lead the Pats to three more Super Bowl wins after that, and there’s no question the team’s decision to draft Garoppolo motivated him.
If the Packers viewed Love as a long-term backup and nothing more, there’s no way they would have traded up and used a first-round pick on him. Rodgers appears to be taking the addition of Love in stride, but the situation will be one to monitor — especially if it creates tension between Rodgers and LaFleur.