The Green Bay Packers are about to get a sneak peek at what the Jordan Love era might look like in Week 9’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs after news broke that Aaron Rodgers will spend time on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive for the virus. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Rodgers could end up missing the next two games with his positive test result.
And just like that, Love’s opportunity has arrived. His first NFL start couldn’t be scripted any better if we’re being honest. He’ll square off against a putrid Chiefs defense that should allow him to work all three levels of the passing game with high degrees of success. Love will have his full complement of wide receivers—including All-Pro Davante Adams—at his disposal against a defense that’s surrendered the fourth-most passing yards in the league and has allowed opposing quarterbacks to post a 103.3 rating. They also have the second-fewest sacks in the NFL, with just 11 through eight games.
So, yeah, Love has a chance to make a statement (even if it’s a bit inflated by his opponent) on Sunday.
But what exactly will that statement be? Will Packers fans begin the inevitable calls for Love if he has a breakout performance? Rodgers wanted out of Green Bay last offseason and is expected to force a trade once the bell goes off next winter. With the end of the Packers’ road imminent for Rodgers, maybe—just maybe—Love will do enough to move the tectonic plates in Green Bay and, dare I say, create a quarterback controversy.
The Packers did this to themselves, didn’t they? The moment general manager Brian Gutekunst drafted Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the message to Rodgers was clear: you’re on borrowed time. Maybe that time is going to run out in the most bizarre of circumstances. Or maybe this is how it was meant to be. Let’s face it, it probably was going to take a global pandemic to knock Rodgers from the Packers’ starting gig. And here we are.
Rodgers isn’t having the kind of season in 2021 that makes him untouchable. In 2020, when he won NFL MVP, he was magical. He played the best football of his Hall of Fame career. And while it’d be unreasonable to think any player can stack two seasons like that in a row, Rodgers has regressed (at least a little) this year. He ranks 18th in the league in passing yards and his 17 touchdowns are tied with three players for fifth. His passer rating is inside the top 10 and his three interceptions are among the fewest for season-long starters. Good season? Absolutely. A classic Rodgers season? Not quite.
But let’s be honest here. Rodgers is one of the NFL’s all-time greats who’s still playing at a high level, even if it’s not as high as we’re used to seeing from him. The Packers are 7-1 and in the hunt for the top seed in the NFC. It’d be foolish to let one (or two) games from Love lead to the biggest quarterback change in modern NFL history in the middle of what’s likely to be Rodgers’ final lap around a Packers’ schedule.
At best, Green Bay will get a look into the future and feel good about the direction of the team with Love leading the charge. At worst, the Packers will see enough from Love to know he isn’t ready to replace Rodgers in 2022 (or beyond), allowing them to change course this offseason and prioritize the position once again.