There are no lack of questions that have emerged from the avalanche of noise, conjecture and predictions that was the 2023 NFL preseason. Overreactions, as always, are everything as the world waits for opening kickoff.
Put it this way: To say Detroit will win the Super Bowl and Arizona won’t win anything is, at this point, considered relatively reasonable discourse.
Yet maybe nothing holds the long-term impact of this: Is Green Bay about to pull this off … again?
More specifically, are the Packers on the verge of their third consecutive franchise quarterback after drafting and sitting Jordan Love the way they did Aaron Rodgers, who replaced Brett Favre, who Atlanta initially drafted and sat way back in 1991?
NFL franchises wander the wilderness for decades in search of a steady arm at quarterback (hello, Cleveland). Green Bay might just churn another one off the assembly line.
Rodgers is in New York trying to win a Super Bowl with the Jets, but Love, his replacement who was drafted in 2020 despite no immediate need at the position, has looked strong this preseason.
No one is fitting him for a gold jacket in Canton like the one Favre has and Rodgers eventually will. That said, a .636 completion percentage and three-touchdown preseason turned some heads. More than the stats, Love looked like a legit quarterback, in command of his teammates and the playbook.
Preseason is preseason but if you didn’t know any better, you’d think he was the returning starter. This was about as good as Packer fans wondering about their future could have hoped.
“He’s earned the trust of the locker room,” running back AJ Dillon told reporters. “Guys respect him. Guys wanna play for him.”
If Love works out, it’s the latest in a wild, yet somehow tranquil (at least on Sundays) era of Packers quarterbacks.
Back in 1991, Green Bay — and likely only Green Bay — zeroed in on Favre as its savior. Atlanta had drafted Favre in the second round out of Southern Mississippi but then-head coach Jerry Glanville hated the selection so much that, according to the Favre biography “Gunslinger,” Glanville declared that for Favre to play “we gotta have two plane wrecks and four quarterbacks go down.”
As coach and draft pick feuded, Favre admits he stopped caring, spent time drinking in bars and fell out of shape. His first pass, in Week 11, was a pick 6. He threw just three more times that year (two incompletions and an interception) and was later diagnosed with a degenerative hip issue.
Green Bay, undeterred, sent Atlanta the 17th overall draft pick in 1992 for him. Over the next 16 seasons with the Packers, he became a three-time MVP, the NFL’s iron man and brought a Super Bowl to Titletown.
In 2005, the Packers spent a first-round pick (No. 24) on Rodgers, in part because he’d fallen down the draft board and in part because as good as Favre was, he was constantly threatening to retire. Rodgers sat for three seasons and appeared in mop-up duty in just seven games.
When Favre finally left for the Jets in 2008, the unknown Rodgers immediately stepped in and over the next 15 seasons won four MVPs and a Super Bowl of his own. Now he, too, has finally left for the Jets because, like Favre, he too battled with management decisions, including the drafting of Love — not someone at a position that could help win immediately.
In Rodgers’ defense, the selection of Love in 2020 out of Utah State didn’t make a lot of sense … unless he became the next steady starter.
Will it work? No one knows for sure, but the preseason performance certainly speaks to such a possibility. Love looked good. Maybe he can even be great. The future will begin to become clearer when the Packers open in Chicago.
If nothing else, after two quarterbacks who were often known for their off-field drama as much as their on-field brilliance, Love is the quiet worker who doesn’t make a wave. Imagine that?
Either way, if Love pans out then it will be a trifecta for the ages — the latest long-shot Green Bay quarterback gamble that pays off big time.