The Packers were likely hoping that Jordan Love’s impromptu audition, in wake of Aaron Rodgers’ COVID-19 drama, would give them some clarity on how to handle their quarterback situation going forward.
So much for that.
It was just Love’s first NFL start – but he did not look ready for prime time in the Packers’ 13-7 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday. Love completed 19 of his 34 throws for 190 yards, a late touchdown and a red-zone interception. He averaged 5.6 yards per attempt and looked jittery and inaccurate throughout, leading the Packers on just one scoring drive (though kicker Mason Crosby missed a 40-yard field goal and had another blocked).
On several occasions, Love was inaccurate down the sideline targeting Davante Adams, and missed some short throws on the move. Kansas City did pressure Love relentlessly, but he was unable to get the ball out quick enough to beat the blitz (he had one completion downfield on a rollout, though it was a heave and a risky throw). And just as he was stringing together his best drive in the fourth quarter, completing 7 of 7 passes, he threw a poorly thrown ball to Adams that was intercepted by L’Jarius Sneed.
The struggles weren’t entirely out of the ordinary for a QB making his first start, but Love is not a rookie – it’s his second season, and he has sat behind a future Hall of Famer in Rodgers for a full year. It also likely would have looked a lot worse had Patrick Mahomes’ immense struggles in 2021 not continued with the former MVP throwing for 166 yards.
Rodgers is likely to return for the Packers’ Week 10 game against the Seahawks. The veteran’s 10-day required absence as an unvaccinated player will be up by Nov. 13, the day before kickoff. But Green Bay was surely hoping for more from the quarterback they traded up into the first round to get in the 2020 NFL Draft.
It’s been rumored that Rodgers will leave the Packers in 2022 amid frustrations with the team and a restructured contract. Will Green Bay feel comfortable going with Love, if this game is the only sample for his play? And if they keep Rodgers, they will still have to decide on Love’s fifth-year option at the end of next season. It’d be almost unfathomable to offer the expensive option to a backup QB who has had one start, at which point, the 2020 draft pick looks even more wasteful.
Surely, better days could be ahead for Love and the Packers. But Sunday was a huge audition for their young quarterback – and he did not exactly ace it. And by losing a winnable game against a struggling team, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say Rodgers’ vaccine drama looks worse in the grand scheme of the season.
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