Green Bay Packers: Jordan Love Benefited from Aaron Rodgers Return
Everyone loves a backup but while some (including me) have clamored to see Jordan Love replace long-time and injured starter Aaron Rogers this season, arguing the team is wasting their former first round pick by leaving him on the bench, it is time to reflect on what transpired this season and be thankful for Rodgers' return.
I'm not saying there wasn't a legitimate argument for trading Rodgers during the last offseason, both to take advantage of his 2021 MVP run and get generous compensation and to save money under the salary cap. And with the Packers being, at best, a long shot to even get into the playoffs as the 7th seed, it is easy to use this likely lost season as evidence of that argument. From a big picture standpoint, however, Rodgers' return, even if it just ends up being for this season, will ultimately benefit Love.
There are a couple things that really stand out for me about this past offseason. One of the big ones was the loss of Davante Adams and Marques Valdes-Scantling, something that left the receiver group void of experience. When combined with the reshuffling that happened on the offensive line early, that could have spelt disaster for Love had he been the starter.
A lot of Packers fans haven't quite embraced Love as the quarterback of the future. In fact, many are already declaring him a bust and/or saying he should be traded even though he has only played sparingly since being drafted in 2020. He looked OK in the preseason but putting him against NFL defenses with very few weapons and a questionable offensive line could have resulted in his debut being subpar and an impatient fanbase affecting his confidence and possibly resulted in the coaches choosing to find a veteran to replace him before he got a chance.
Rodgers, in comparison, had enough history with the franchise to weather the storm and, in doing so, helped Love by ensuring he will have more experienced and talented receivers to throw to when he finally gets his chance. Christian Watson is going to be a star if he can stay healthy and Romeo Doubs will likely be a nice complement. The team also has a new group of linemen who look ready to replace aging veterans on the offensive line, helping to ensure he has time to get the ball to his receivers. Frankly, I'm not so certain this season wouldn't have been worse had that not been the case.
The other way Rodgers helped Love was by using his pull to bring back Tom Clements as the quarterback coach. Green Bay brought back Clements to appease their starter but, in doing so, also helped Love's progress. If Rodgers didn't come back, Clements would have likely stayed retired, and there is no telling what coach Matt LaFleur would have brought in.
I'm not convinced Aaron Rodgers won't return for at least one more season but, if he doesn't and the team finally pulls the trigger and makes Love the new face of the franchise, this "wasted" season will only help make that debut more likely to be successful.