The Green Bay Packers are coming off back-to-back first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks over the last 30 years. There's no way they could hit on a third in a row, right? Right?
Well, if Jordan Love has any say in the matter, and by how he's been playing, he certainly does, it appears the Packers are in store for a third consecutive franchise quarterback.
After patiently waiting, learning, and coming into his own for two seasons as the understudy to Aaron Rodgers, it was a bumpy start for the fourth-year Love. The Packers started 2-5, and many early mock drafts had them choosing the guy to replace Love next season.
Love was very much living up to the preseason predictors that circled their wagons around him being a bad player and Green Bay's decades of dominance finally ending. However, after the course of a full season, what once looked like a throwaway painting has taken the form of a masterpiece.
Reviewing Jordan Love's first year as Packers starter
In fairness to Love, two weeks into the season at 1-1, it was more on the defense than on him. Love's completion percentage wasn't great, but he did start with six touchdowns to zero interceptions and a passer rating over 110 in both games.
However, in the next five weeks, Love got into a bit of hot water. He always looked poised and played with excellent pocket awareness, but his timing on routes wavered, his accuracy was all over the place, and his play seemed forced. He only produced five passing touchdowns in that span, his passer rating averaged 66.28, and he added another eight interceptions, including at least one in each game.
But then, the second half of the season began.
From that point, the Jordan Love Show has been nothing short of tremendous, stupendous, other-worldly, or really any other adjective along those lines.
From Weeks 9-18, there's a strong argument to be made that, on paper, Jordan Love has been the best-performing quarterback in the NFL. On film, his stats are coupled with hip-flipping deep passes with the flick of a wrist, wicked completions off his back foot or on the run, and fitting side-arm rocket passes into a keyhole. It's become so regular that broadcasters continuously compare him to a clone reminiscent of "vintage Aaron Rodgers."
In that span, Love's marks ranked tops in the NFL in numerous areas. He produced 20 passing touchdowns (1st), 2,439 passing yards (1st), only three interceptions, and his passer rating dipped below 108 only two times.
Better yet, he shored up his biggest weakness and would rank second in completion percentage over expected (CPOE) in the second half of the year. In fact, according to George Chahrouri of PFF, from Week 10 on, Love owns the top PFF passing grade (91.8). Shrink the view down from Week 13 on, and Love is PFF's top overall graded quarterback (91.7) and would go on to win PFF's Breakout Player of the Year award.
Love was also one of the most accurate quarterbacks on third down in the final 10 games, finishing with 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Packers finished 17th in third-down conversion percentage last season, but largely thanks to Love's ability to quickly learn how to command the line of scrimmage and maestro audibles, they finished third this season (47.64%).
Credit also needs to be shared with the Packers offensive line, who did an incredible job blocking for Love, undoubtedly helping pave the way to his success. Love was blitzed often but was phenomenal under pressure and always remained cooler than the other side of the pillow.
More importantly, after a porous defensive effort in a brutal loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that sent the Packers to 6-8, Love put on a quarterbacking masterclass with the season on the line over the next three weeks, all being must-win. Behind Love's nine total touchdowns, zero interceptions, 784 yards, and passer ratings all over 109, the Packers pulled out three straight wins to secure a 9-8 record and a trip to the playoffs.
Most recently, in the wild-card round of the playoffs, the Packers took to Dallas to play the No. 2-seed Cowboys and their vaunted defense. What Jordan Love and Co. would proceed to do would blow the roof off the sports world.
In Love's first career playoff start, with the youngest offense to ever make the postseason, the Packers became the first-ever No. 7 seed to win a playoff game. Had it not been for a late-game Tucker Kraft drop, Love would have become the first-ever Packers quarterback to have a perfect passer rating in a playoff game.
He finished the Packers' 48-32 onslaught victory with 272 yards, three touchdowns, a 76.2% completion percentage, and seemingly effortlessly tallied the top quarterback rating in a playoff game in history (99.3).
The performance left head coach Matt LaFleur speechless.
"Man, Jordan Love. Wow. That's about all I can say. Wow," said LaFleur after the game.
In totality, Love put on an absolute clinic in his first year as a starter. When you consider the Packers offense is the youngest in the NFL, with mostly first- or second-year starters, and were missing David Bakhtiari all season and Aaron Jones for a large chunk, Love has assured himself as a top-10 quarterback heading into the 2024 season.
He finished with 4,159 passing yards (7th), 32 passing touchdowns (2nd), 36 total touchdowns (3rd), 11 interceptions (t-10th), and a 96.1 QBR (10th).
Per the Packers Dope Sheet, Love tied the NFL record for games with multiple passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in a QB's first 18 starts (9). He was also the best second-half passer in the NFL, finishing with 19 passing touchdowns (1st), 21 total touchdowns (1st), 2,396 passing yards (1st), and 195 completions (1st).
It would have been a blasphemous statement five months ago to say that Love would have a better first year starting with the Packers than Favre and Rodgers, but in almost every regard, he did. He didn't just outdo Packers legends, though. Love outright finished with one of the best inaugural starting seasons for a quarterback in NFL history.
Besides Love, only two other quarterbacks in history have finished with 32 passing touchdowns and over 4,100 passing yards in their first year starting (Patrick Mahomes and Kurt Warner). He's also only the 10th quarterback in history to tally at least 30 passing touchdowns and 4,000 passing yards in their first season starting.
The stats and accomplishments keep piling up when combing through Love's first year starting. A large share of credit is due to LaFleur and quarterback coach Tom Clements for developing Love. LaFleur also showed tremendous trust in the young QB to run his system, and it has paid dividends for both Love's growth and the maturity of LaFleur's play-calling.
Realistically, there were no expectations for the Packers to be anywhere near the playoffs, especially with how shaky the defense looked throughout the season.
But here they are as the hottest team in the NFL, with the hottest quarterback in football, fresh off defeating the heavily favored Cowboys on the road to advance to the divisional round. No matter the results from here on out, the keys to the franchise are firmly in Love's hands after leading one of the top Packers offenses in the LaFleur era.
Where does Jordan Love rank among NFL QBs?
Heading into the 2024 season, the top five quarterbacks will remain the same: Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, and Joe Burrow.
After them, the pathway to a top 10 ranking is fairly wide open for Love. Here's a look at other top quarterbacks and how Love slots in.
Early 2024 NFL QB rankings
- Patrick Mahomes
- Lamar Jackson
- Josh Allen
- Justin Herbert
- Joe Burrow
- Jordan Love
- C.J. Stroud
- Dak Prescott
- Tua Tagovailoa
- Jalen Hurts
Jalen Hurts regressed heavily this season, and his Eagles were just wiped out of the playoffs by a much worse Buccaneers team, losing 32-9. Hurts struggles with accuracy, doesn't possess a strong arm, and talk is heating up among the Philly fanbase about whether he's "the guy." He's a dynamic weapon as a runner, but the falloff is concerning when considering he's throwing to A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert.
Dak Prescott is set to make almost $60 million next season, and despite a strong showing this past season, he still can not win playoff games. He will be heading into year nine, and he's all but hit his ceiling as a quarterback. A ceiling that is riddled with inconsistencies, no championships, and zero MVPs. Not to mention that Love in his first season just mirrored Dak's stats at his ceiling.
Tua Tagovailoa is another candidate inside the top 10, but while he separates himself as a pure passer, he is limited as an athlete and doesn't have a strong arm. His injury history and shortcomings when his top pass catchers are out or when playing in lousy weather conditions all raise questions as to whether Tua is someone the Dolphins will comfortably offer a massive contract extension.
Next is C.J. Stroud, who already looks like a star after his rookie campaign. He led the Texans to the playoffs this season and, like Love, defeated a top defense in the Cleveland Browns. His first playoff game stats closely mirrored Love's dominance, and he's quickly certified himself as one of the top do-it-all quarterbacks in football. Stroud is likely sprinting towards his first MVP in no time.
Brock Purdy is difficult to gauge. He's a guy you can win football games with and seems to do everything well. In a sense, a game manager - not that there's anything wrong with that. However, Purdy exists in a Kyle Shanahan scheme that is widely considered the best in the league and has a history of success with average quarterbacks.
Add in that Purdy is throwing to an All-Pro cast of talent with Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle. Even then, Purdy lacks the "wow" plays or throws and would not start over any of the aforementioned quarterbacks.
All things considered, Jordan Love should comfortably slot in as the sixth-best quarterback heading into the 2024-25 season. Besides Jackson and Stroud, no one had more "wow" throws or plays this season than Love, and he's doing it with the youngest cast made up of mid-round draft picks who look like home-run selections.
He will likely receive an extension upwards of $50 million per year this offseason and has done nothing over the past two months but certify his status as one of the elites. With Hurts's regression, Dak's continued shortcomings, and Purdy having "system quarterback" written all over him, there's an argument to be made that Love will be the best quarterback talent in the NFC to begin next season.