Aaron Rodgers didn’t look like himself during the Packers’ Week 1 loss to the Saints. He performed so poorly that even one of Rodgers’ former teammates argued that Green Bay might have to replace him this season.
Jermichael Finley, who played six years with Rodgers and won a Super Bowl with the Packers in 2011, recently explained that Rodgers’ tumultuous offseason could have had an impact on his performance on the field.
“Aaron Rodgers looks tired,” Finley said. “If you had the fuss in the offseason like Aaron Rodgers this offseason, I bet the guy is tired. I bet he probably doesn’t want to play football anymore.”
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So what would Finley recommend if Rodgers can’t fix the boat? He would give Jordan Love a chance to prove himself to him.
“If you don’t see it [with Rodgers], let’s go to Love,” Finley said.
The Packers selected Love with the 26th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. They traded to get it, so clearly, they see him as the quarterback of the future.
In the unlikely event that Rodgers’ struggles continue, the team could give Love a chance to prove that he is worthy of starting. If he can’t, then the Packers can go back to the drawing board at the top position in the NFL.
When could you make a move towards love? When looking at the Packers’ schedule, there are only a few logical points for the untested passer to step in.
Week 5 in Bengals
Finley believes Rodgers deserves at least the first four weeks of the season to recover. However, if the first quarter of the schedule passes and Rodgers still isn’t looking good, he’d be fine with making the trade to Love, who is the ninth-highest-paid backup quarterback in the NFL, according to OverTheCap.com.
“You’ve got one of the highest-paid backup quarterbacks sitting right behind Aaron Rodgers, so you might as well use him and get him going for the future,” Finley said.
In reality, the schedule would line up perfectly for a possible Week 5 trade. The easiest game left on the Packers’ schedule is possibly their Week 5 tilt with the Bengals.
Cincinnati’s defense is better than in previous years and only helped severely limit Justin Fields in the middle of the Bears rookie action. Still, they allowed over 351 yards of offense to the Vikings’ powerful passing attack, so the Packers were able to follow suit and find success in that area.
Love would have at least a fighting chance if inserted at this point during the calendar. The rest of the confrontations that surround it are difficult.
Week 9 at Chiefs
This is not an ideal place to insert Love into the lineup. So why is it listed? It’s the week after the NFL trade deadline passes.
If the Packers continue to fight and fall behind in the NFC North race, they could look to trade Rodgers for a contender for the season. They may prefer to move him during the offseason, but maybe the right offer will come from a team in need of quarterbacks.
If that happens, Love could be asked to step in as early as Week 9. He would have to start his first road trip at hostile Arrowhead Stadium against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. That’s not exactly a fair fight, but it is something that could at least happen.
That said, this seems highly unlikely. It’s difficult to trade players during the NFL season as it is. Orchestrating a deal involving a franchise quarterback would likely prove too difficult.
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Week 14 against bears
Starting love anytime between weeks 6 and 12 seems less than ideal. The Packers face a challenge during that time, including road games against the Bears, Cardinals, Chiefs and Vikings, as well as home games against the Washington Football Team, Seahawks and Rams.
Most of those teams have strong defenses. The only exceptions, the Chiefs and Vikings, would be tough road games.
That said, inserting Love into the lineup in week 14 might work better. The Bears are poised to be a solid defense, but the Packers have a Week 13 break that would give Love more time to prepare for his start. Plus, this game is at Lambeau Field, so it might be an easier feat than starting out on the road against a divisional foe.
Week 14 would also give the Packers a better chance to fully evaluate Rodgers’ performance compared to Love’s. If they’re still in the playoff race and Rodgers is playing well, they can follow him. If they’re out of the running or the Packers aren’t playing well, Love may have a chance to develop on the field or catalyze the Packers.
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Sometime in 2022
This remains the much more likely option for the Packers. Rodgers had a bad game against the Saints to start the season. That might start a trend, but chances are the future Hall of Famer will find a way to fix things.
As such, it seems likely that Rodgers will end the season as the Packers’ starter. He will continue his “Last Dance” season as he looks to lead the Packers to a third straight NFC Championship Game. After that, no one knows, as Rodgers’ contract with the Packers will not be terminated until 2023.
Meanwhile, Love will continue to wait behind the scenes for the opportunity from him. He’ll be ready for that when he arrives, but there’s no guarantee that will be the case during the 2021 NFL season.