clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

With Jordan Love, the Packers appear to have done it again at quarterback

Green Bay looks like it has done it again at football’s most important position

Kansas City Chiefs v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers stole Brett Favre from the Atlanta Falcons in a 1992 offseason trade. He started for Green Bay for 16 years, won a Super Bowl and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005. He sat behind Favre for three seasons, then took over as the starter in 2008. Rodgers won a Super Bowl, was named All-Pro four times as a Packer and will be a Hall of Famer once he’s done dominating news cycles with the New York Jets.

Green Bay drafted Jordan Love in 2020. He sat behind Rodgers for three seasons. Now, with Rodgers in New York with the Jets, Love has taken over as the Packers’ starting quarterback.

The way things are trending, with the 25-year-old Love playing outstanding football as the Packers have won three straight and four of five to put themselves in the thick of the NFC playoff picture, it looks like Green Bay might have done it again.

NFL teams get quarterback wrong far more often than they get it right, and quarterback-desperate teams will go to great lengths in efforts to solidify the position. When a team loses or moves on from a franchise quarterback, it can often be a decade or more before they truly find another one.

The Packers, though, may well have gone three-for-three. They have had franchise-caliber quarterback play for 30 years, and if Love is what it looks like he might be, that run could extend to 40 years.

That simply doesn’t happen in the NFL.

With Rodgers, and now it appears with Love, Green Bay has done something that was once standard procedure but it now rarely done in the NFL. The Packers have used a first-round pick on a quarterback, then had that quarterback sit and learn behind an established (great) quarterback for several seasons before getting an opportunity.

The amount of money invested in these players, instant gratification demands from ownership and the fan base and the often short ropes coaches — and sometimes GMs — get to prove themselves work against that philosophy.

Giants head coach Brian Daboll has worked with quarterbacks of all types, from a first-round pick like Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills to an undrafted one like the Giants’ Tommy Devito.

I asked him the other day whether he was a proponent of the ‘sit and learn’ philosophy for a quarterback.

“It’s been a good philosophy for them. So, I think every team is different. Every situation is different. They’ve had three, really, quarterbacks since ‘92, or was it ’91 that they traded Favre, Atlanta? ’92 or ’91, what year was it? Somewhere, ’92 or ’91,” Daboll said. “So, yeah, Coach Holmgren [former Packers head coach Mike Holmgren] with Favre and then Aaron was there, and he did an unbelievable job. Two of the best to ever do it.

“I’d say Jordan is just — he’s a heck of a player. That’s why he was selected high. You can tell he’s learned a lot from the coaching staff. I think, again, Coach [Matt] LeFleur runs a good system, puts him in good spots, but you can see he’s learned a lot from the people that have been in front of him, and now he’s letting his talent shine.”

Love has had passer ratings of 108.5 or higher in four of the past five weeks, not coincidentally the games the Packers have won.

“I just think he’s a heck of a player. Again, young, was able to kind of see how one of the greats have done it,” Daboll said. “He’s just got really good feet, he’s got good vision, he can make loose plays. He can run if he needs to, he can throw the ball vertical, he’s looking to take a bunch of shots. You can see he’s in full control of the system with the different signals and the checks that he makes. And then the guys around him are good players.”

Packers fans are certainly fired up

The following section, graphics included, comes from a post written by Justis Mosqueda of SB Nation’s Acme Packing Company:

Below is a table showing the Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt (ANY/A) Value of qualifying quarterbacks this season. ANY/A is the “raw” passing stat most correlated to wins. The short story on the stat is that it treats passing touchdowns as a bonus of 20 yards, an interception as a penalty of 45 yards and also includes sacks and sack yardage, unlike passer rating. The “Value” portion of the formula is just a simple comparison to the league average. For example, if the league average ANY/A was 6 yards per play and a quarterback averaged 7 yards per play over 100 dropbacks, his “Value” would be +100 (yards above the league average.)

As you can see, no one has made bigger strides between Week 1-8 and the last five weeks of the season than Love. The only players who come even remotely close are Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, now an MVP candidate, and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who was clearly playing through an injury at the start of the season.

If you map out this data, though, you’ll notice an even more interesting trend.

For the most part, no qualifying quarterbacks (min. 100 attempts up to and after Week 8) have really gone from good to bad or bad to good this season. Passing games can go from good to average or bad to average, but that’s about where the progression (or regression) ends. When you look at the “improving” ANY/A Value quartile, Love’s dot is very lonely. The only quarterback near him on the graph is Burrow — who, again, was playing through a calf injury early in the season before eventually going on the injured reserve for a wrist injury.

To put it simply: Jordan Love is red hot, and in a way we seldom see in the NFL. Usually, when a quarterback’s stats start rough, the best you can expect is average moving forward. Instead, Love has thrown for 11 passing touchdowns to just two interceptions (with one coming on an end-of-game play) over the last five weeks. From an ANY/A Value perspective, only Prescott, San Francisco’s Brock Purdy (the MVP favorite) and Houston’s C.J. Stroud have better stats over the last five weeks.

National analysts are noticing, too

Check out the video below from former NFL quarterback Chase Daniel, one of several ex-NFL QBs now doing quarterback film work on YouTube:

Does this mean anything for the Giants?

Well, it certainly means they have their hands full Monday night against a quarterback and a team that are playing well.

The real question, though, is can the Giants — who many expect to be in the quarterback market in the 2024 NFL Draft — learn anything from Green Bay’s success with Rodgers and apparent success with Love?

The Kansas City Chiefs sat Patrick Mahomes behind Alex Smith for a year after drafting Mahomes 10th overall in 2017. Of course, the Chiefs had the luxury of having gone 12-4 in 2016, and then went 10-6 and made the playoffs again with Smith in 2017.

The Giants won’t have that luxury. Yes, they will have Daniel Jones back on the roster and GM Joe Schoen has already said the organization is planning on Jones being the team’s starter whenever he is ready to play following surgery on his torn right ACL.

Schoen and Daboll, though, will be in their third seasons. They won’t have the track record of Chiefs coach Andy Reid. They won’t have an entrenched Hall of Fame quarterback. They will be facing pressure to show results in Year 3 of their regime after a second season that has gone sideways.

Even with Jones, or maybe because of Jones, if they decide to draft a quarterback in Round 1 the Giants’ braintrust will also face pressure to play that young quarterback to both show the validity of their decision-making and give ownership an idea of whether or not the franchise is going in the right direction.

The Packer Way has worked for them. It is, though a somewhat quaint, old-fashioned method that is rarely allowed in what is now an instant gratification league. It’s a method Schoen and Daboll, without the cachet of consistent winning to fall back on, might not have the ability to employ.