Jordan Love is set to miss the second preseason game Saturday against the New York Jets. Matt LaFleur and the Green Bay Packers are rightfully approaching Love’s shoulder injury with caution, but it makes it hard to see what’s next for Love and the Packers.
For those who want to continue living in Fantasy Land where everything will be fine with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, this piece isn’t for you.
For those who understand the blunt truth that this could be No. 12’s last year in Green Bay, welcome.
The truth is that Green Bay was never going to be able to come to a conclusion about Love after just three preseason games — but they would’ve been given a hell of a lot more clarity.
Three exhibition games isn’t a large enough sample size, but it’s likely to be the only one the Packers get of Love this year that involves live game reps, which matters when you’re trying to figure out if you have a future starting quarterback or not. Love’s situation will always be vastly different than that of other young quarterbacks around the league.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will hand the keys over to Trevor Lawrence right from the jump and start to get an idea of what they have in the No. 1-overall pick. The same goes for the New York Jets with Zach Wilson. The Chicago Bears’ scenario with Justin Fields is a tad different, but he will be given a shot to be the franchise quarterback at some point this season.
The Packers have Aaron bleeping Rodgers under center. But, as he has noted, drafting Love was an indicator that the clock started ticking on his time in green and gold. However, if Green Bay was left wildly unimpressed with Love this preseason, perhaps they go back begging Rodgers to negotiate and keep him around beyond this season. If they liked what they saw from Love, they could try to have their cake and eat it too.
Green Bay doesn’t know what Rodgers will decide at the end of the season. This year is the team’s focus, but Brian Gutekunst and Mark Murphy must also figure out what they have in the former Utah State gunslinger.
When the Packers drafted Love, they had to have had a sense that they were trying to complete a tight-rope walk. Given some of the comments Gutekunst and Murphy have made since, they may have been more naive about how this whole plan would make Rodgers feel. It’s a massive miscalculation if they actually thought drafting a quarterback in Round 1 wouldn’t have a ripple effect.
Green Bay went into this season knowing they only had three preseason games to work with, which everyone on the planet seems to agree with. Yet, the Packers could have really used a four-game preseason to evaluate Love.
It feels odd to emphasize exhibition games as a worthwhile measuring stick, but it’s all the Packers have to work with for now, and maybe the rest of the season.
Win or lose, good or bad, Lawrence gets that shot in Jacksonville. Mac Jones will get that shot with the New England Patriots. The same goes for Fields in Chicago and Trey Lance with the San Francisco 49ers. At some point in time, they will all get their opportunity regardless of whether any of them wow (or struggle) this preseason.
The difference with the Packers is the perceived avenues they have with Rodgers and Love, making it an outlier case. And now they will have one fewer game to discern what Love can be if he does get the shot to take over at quarterback in the future. Because, unlike Lawrence, Fields, Jones, Wilson, and Lance, it’s not a foregone conclusion that Love ever gets an opportunity with the team that drafted him.
Green Bay’s front office dug this hole. Now that Jordan Love will miss at least one preseason game, they have to feel some sort of uneasiness about what the future holds. Rodgers is back for 2021, and Green Bay can rejoice about that. It’s still hard not to look ahead at all the unknown that lies ahead.