Time for the Young First-Round Pick? Or Stick with the Aging Legend?

The Green Bay Packers season is not completely dead… but it’s dead. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers left the game vs the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night with a rib injury on top of his thumb that has been injured since week five. This led to the opportunity that young first-round draft pick quarterback Jordan Love got an opportunity to play the entirety of the fourth quarter. To say he played well is an understatement. Love was slinging it.

 We were seeing this in the preseason and questioning if Jordan Love has arrived or not. Well looking back, Love has arrived. It was apparent that Love looked way better than the action he got against Kansas City last season. Players around the league are noticing too. A couple of weeks ago Packers’ linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and safety/special teamer Dallin Leavitt had an interview and talked about Love. Campbell said on Love, “He’s a starting quarterback. He’s better than a lot of starting quarterbacks in this league.” This is coming from an All-Pro linebacker. When Campbell said this a lot of people said “what else was he supposed to say? He’s not going to say his teammate is bad.” Well, it seems those critiques are wrong, and should have listened to the All-Pro. A former Green Bay Packer, Will Blackmon said they used to say the same thing about Rodgers. 

  Eagles cornerback Darius Slay talked about Love on his podcast and had a lot of things to say about Love. Slay said he noticed how Rodgers was heading into the locker room and the Eagles’ defense was getting ready to eat against the “young buck” and get after him because no one is Rodgers and can make the checks he can especially a quarterback at a young age. Slay went on to say “Young buck came in and did a very very solid job. Green Bay got a bright bright future, like a bright one because buddy was slinging it and I’m not going to lie he (Love) lowkey looked like A-Rod like he’s been learning a lot. You can see the gunslinging mentality that he (Love) has just like him (Rodgers) with the quick release and picking the back leg up. He’s (Love) copying and pasting him (Rodgers) for sure.” To think about this now that means TWO All-Pros have taken notice of Love and his play in the last month. 

  Rodgers has even spoken about how much Love has improved and said he views himself as a big brother to Love and is always proud when Love plays well. Rodgers said that this biggest improvement for Love has just been the fundamentals and mastering the offense. Also, credit must be given to Packers quarterback coach Tom Clements. Clements needs some credit as he was the one who developed Rodgers as a young player so maybe Clements is just a quarterback whisper. 

  There have been some thoughts going around that Rodgers knows that Love is good and can be a great quarterback and that is why Rodgers is so concerned about playing injured because he’s not ready to move on from being the Packers’ quarterback. This may be true, but we all know Rodgers prides himself on playing in every game it is just the competitor in him. Rodgers said he plans to play against the Chicago Bears this weekend and continue to play as long as the Packers are mathematically alive. Technically they are. Rodgers went on to say he believes they can win their final five games to get to 9-8 and see if they can sneak into the playoffs. It is intriguing to think about if they make the playoffs as they have played with two of the top teams in the NFC as they beat the Dallas Cowboys, and had a shootout with the Eagles. The big issue is though, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst must decide what he does with Rodgers and Love. 

  Love looks like the guy and is ready to play but the aging legend wants to finish his career with the Packers but who knows when his final season will be? Rodgers’s contract makes it impossible to trade him or cut him. Also if he does not want to be traded, he can just threaten to retire. Either way, it seems the Packers are stuck with Rodgers as long as he wants to be there. Love wants to play though, and rightfully so, he is a first-round pick and has sat learned for three years. Love has talked about this and said he does not know what will happen but wants the organization to make a decision soon and said asking for a trade eventually is not off the table. Gutekunst has a big decision to make much like the late and former Packers general manager Ted Thompson had between the young rising quarterback and the aging fan favorite legend. He ultimately went with the young rising quarterback. 

  This offseason will say a lot as Gutekunst and company must decide whether to pick up Love’s fifth-year option or not and wait and see if Rodgers retires, and wants to continue playing whether that is in Green Bay or elsewhere. What must happen though is Gutekunst cannot let Love walk out the door to stick with the aging legend. It could be the difference between being competitive for the next decade-plus and having the third straight great quarterback in Green Bay or being irrelevant for years scrambling to find the next guy.

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