The general feeling since the 2021 NFL Draft has been that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to play for the Packers this year. Not unless some things get ironed out in the front office to his liking. Whether Green Bay calls Rodgers out on this bluff remains to be seen. Nevertheless, Jordan Love sounds ready to take on his role as Rodgers’ heir apparent.
And in the eyes of Pro Football Focus’ projections, there seems to be an agreement with that sentiment:
What would a season look like with Jordan Love as QB1? pic.twitter.com/V6VJ6lpe7J
— PFF (@PFF) June 10, 2021
On top of that, PFF’s projections have him with a better season than Justin Fields and on par with Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson.
No, really. This isn’t a joke or an elite photoshop job:
Coming out of Utah State, PFF put the “buyer beware” tag on Love. So, through that prism, it’s hard to imagine how PFF comes to this conclusion. Better than Fields? On par with Lawrence and Zach Wilson? What gives? The site’s prior analysis doesn’t suggest Love’s stats are all that feasible.
Turnovers were a problem when Jordan Love last took the field as someone’s QB1. It all begins with the 17 interceptions Love threw as a junior in 2017. Additionally, Love’s PFF grade when going to his first read was 69.8 — which the site deemed as “far and away the lowest” among draft classes between 2018 and 2020. His turnover-worthy play rate inspired comparisons to Sam Darnold’s 2017 season at USC before he was selected with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and has shown to be the same player while in an NFL uniform. And by that PFF means “below average at best.”
And then, there’s this: Among the 33 QBs taken in the first three rounds between 2015 and 2020, Love’s overall grade was better than only the following: Jacoby Brissett, Christian Hackenberg, C.J. Beathard, Davis Webb, DeShone Kizer, Josh Allen, and Daniel Jones. Brissett has been a nice spot starter from time to time. Allen has been an outlier. But there isn’t a favorable comparison in the rest of the group.
In the end, I can’t look at Love’s first-year starter projections and not want to run to a sports book wagering window to bet the “under” on 4,149 passing yards. All while being upset, confused, and having hangups about the 15 interceptions. Especially if there isn’t any evidence right now that Love won’t throw a high rate or risky passes. As for the other numbers, they are almost what I would expect. In a pass-happy league, getting 24 throwing touchdowns shouldn’t be challenging. There were 18 quarterbacks who threw at least 24 touchdowns. Heck, if we were to extrapolate Mitchell Trubisky’s 10-game stats from 2020, his per-16 game numbers would’ve had him at 26 touchdowns. So, it’s not as if the 24 touchdowns should blow anyone’s doors off.
Part of my feelings are out of spite of the football team that wears uniforms garnished with mustard and relish. Hey, I’m a real human with genuine emotions and am willing to own up to them. But also, it’s tough to envision Head Coach Matt LaFleur trusting Love to throw enough to pick up that much yardage. Not with Aaron Jones – who is coming off consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons – holding it down in the backfield. Jones is averaging 5.0 yards per carry since the start of the 2019 season. Without Rodgers, I imagine the onus will be on Jones to spark the offense (and not Love). And considering how well the Bears defense has played the run in recent years, I don’t think anyone would mind that being the case in 2021.
Then again, if Love lives down to some of those pre-draft expectations, then it’s the Packers who will be obsessively watching college QB prospects in 2021. Especially if Rodgers remains out of action.