GREEN BAY, Wis. – Countless stories have been written about quarterback Jordan Love during the four-and-a-half months since he was the surprise first-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers.
This might be the last one, at least for a while.
The calendar has flipped from April, when Love was drafted, all the way through August, when Love’s slow development was scrutinized. Now it’s September. It’s time for games to be won or lost, which means – barring injury, of course – veteran Aaron Rodgers is the one and only quarterback that matters.
Still, these will be a critically important four-plus months for Love’s development. While quarterbacks coach/passing-game coordinator Luke Getsy must focus on getting Rodgers and the passing attack ready for Sundays, he’s also got to make sure Love is getting the technical work required to get him ready for whatever his future holds.
“He’s going to lose a lot of those physical reps that you get in training camp. That’s just part of the deal,” Getsy said on Thursday, with the team in the middle of preparations for Sunday’s opening game at Minnesota. “But he gets scout-team reps, and we’ve got to find those pockets throughout the practice and before and after practice to get him those (opportunities) to get the fundamentals down and make sure he gets better every single day. We can’t let him start to slip or anything.
“I think he’s grown a lot throughout this training camp and we’ve got to continue to build him, and that’s just getting more repetitions. And the mental reps are big for him, too. Him having the opportunity to see ‘12’ and the way he prepares and the way he goes out and practices every day, you can’t value that enough. So, he’s got to make sure he’s dialed in and staying on top of our game plan and making sure he’s getting a mental rep every single time any one of the other quarterbacks go out there. And when he gets his reps on the scout team and we’re in individual drills, you’ve got to maximize that opportunity. And he has. And the kid is becoming a pro. He knows how to work. The working is not an issue for him. We’ve just got to keep getting him familiar with what we’re doing and how we do it and how to play quarterback at this level.”
Love came from Utah State as anything but a finished product. He had a sensational 2018 season, which put him on Heisman Trophy radars entering 2019. However, a coaching change and massive personnel upheaval made for a long season. He went from 32 touchdowns vs. six interceptions in 2018 to 20 touchdowns vs. 17 interceptions in 2019.
Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy has high expectations for Love, including what he could mean for Green Bay’s long-term status as a contender, but acknowledged Love needs to watch and learn for a year or two.
That time will be now, with Love mostly directing the scout team. It’s a perfect opportunity for Love to lead a bunch of younger players while facing Green Bay’s top defenders.
“Every rep you get is a huge opportunity,” Getsy said. “These are live reps. Those are not just like, ‘Do whatever you’re told.’ We play those reps live. I mean, we have them do the footwork, we have them do the progression, we have them read the defense and everything. So, those are live reps. So, absolutely, those are invaluable for sure.”
Back when he was behind Brett Favre, Rodgers took those scout-team reps as his personal challenge. That’s where, with every victory against the starting defense, “The Belt” celebration was born and Rodgers blossomed into one of the great quarterbacks in NFL history.
True to his word, Rodgers has been a willing mentor to the player presumably drafted to replace him. After the team’s Aug. 30 practice inside Lambeau Field, Rodgers took control over a quarterbacks meeting to break down the finer points of red-zone quarterbacking to Love.
“It was a really cool moment, just to see a guy with a wealth of experience just kind of break it down, bit by bit, for a young quarterback,” coach Matt LaFleur said on Friday. “I think that’s what makes coaching so much fun. When you’re in those meeting rooms, you’re having those discussions, and you see that camaraderie that’s taking place, that bond that’s taking place, that’s part of the reason you do this thing.”
Countdown to Kickoff Series
Five Days: Five Keys to Game
Four Days: Four Questions from Behind Enemy Lines
Three Days: Three Reasons for Concern
Two Days: Two X-Factors
One Day: One Giant Game Preview