Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love Jordan Love

You never want to be the guy who replaces the guy. Unfortunately for Jordan Love, he’s the guy replacing the guy who replaced the guy. That’s a lofty standard to live up to and probably an impossible one.

The Green Bay Packers have been spoiled. While most teams have been shuffling quarterbacks in and out of their starting lineups for decades, the Packers have not had to deal with quarterback mediocrity. Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers exemplified excellence since 1992. Two guys with multiple MVPs. Two guys with Super Bowl rings. Two guys with Hall of Fame credentials.

Generations of Packers have grown up expecting the best of the best. Well, now with Rodgers in New York with the Jets, Love is the next man up. It’s difficult to imagine him keeping that tradition of stellar play going. No franchise in NFL history has enjoyed such a run. The closest example we have is Joe Montana to Steve Young to Jeff Gracia.

Garcia was a three-time Pro Bowl selection with the San Francisco 49ers. But he wasn’t Montana. He wasn’t Young. It’s unlikely that Love will be anything close to Favre or Rodgers. Will that be good enough for one of the league’s most passionate fanbases?

To his credit, Love is aware of the expectations. He also has a thin pro résumé, so he’s a bit of an unknown. Love has started one game and thrown a total of 83 passes. The last time we saw him play meaningful snaps was when he came in to relieve an injured Rodgers in a Sunday Night Football game at the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022. Small sample size, but he fared well.

It’s one thing to come off the bench and face a defense that never prepared for you. It’s quite another to face the week-to-week grind of a full season against coordinators who are trying to exploit your weaknesses. 

Love also might be hampered by the same supporting cast that Rodgers complained about. There’s not one skill position player worthy of a double team. The Packers wide receivers are young and unproven. Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs showed flashes, but neither scares anybody yet.

When Rodgers replaced Favre in 2008, he was great right from the start. One reason was that he had one of the best wide receiver corps in the league with veterans Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, and rookie Jordy Nelson. Even though the Packers went 6-10, you could see Rodgers’ raw talent (4,038 yards, 28 touchdowns, 13 interceptions).

So much of success as a quarterback is tied to having the right organization, coaching staff, and players around you. Green Bay has a proven track record. The Packers have earned the benefit of the doubt by developing Favre and Rodgers. But the odds that they will succeed with a third straight quarterbacks are astronomically against them. 

Management invested a 2020 first-round pick in Love because it thought Rodgers was near the end. Instead, he won back-to-back MVPs before showing signs of decline last year. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is like a lot of bosses. He wants to be proven right. Love, 24, will be given every chance to excel.

But what if Gutekunst is wrong? The worst-case scenario would be Love looking overwhelmed, and Rodgers leading the Jets to the Super Bowl. That kind of failure can ruin young passers.

For Love, there’s a slim margin for error. He has to be great. Something close to Hall of Fame great. That’s unfair. That’s also the standard set by his predecessors.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.