Jordan Love Doesn’t Have to Be Spectacular to Match Aaron Rodgers’ First NFL Start but Does Have to Do the Unexpected
In Week 1 of the 2008 NFL season, Aaron Rodgers stepped on an NFL field for the first time as the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. Thirteen years later, another QB drafted by the Packers to replace an aging legend will get his first chance to start when Jordan Love steps on the field for the Week 9 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In the NFL, you take it one step at a time. So before we worry about whether Love will become a three-time MVP and Super Bowl champion, we have to see if he can match up to Rodgers in his debut. It won’t be hard to do it in terms of the stats, but getting the same result will be more difficult.
Jordan Love is getting his first NFL start in Week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs
Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Green Bay Packers Week 9 game. The drama surrounding that news is a whole other story, but the result is that last year’s No. 26 overall pick, Jordan Love, will get his first career start.
The Packers controversially selected the former Utah State QB by trading up in the first round of the 2020 draft. With plenty of immediate needs on the 2020 Packers — including a desperate need for a No. 2 WR opposite Davante Adams — the Green Bay front office did what it historically does and gave more importance to the future than the present.
No NFL fan could dismiss the fact that the pick felt exactly the same as a selection 15 years earlier when the team took a signal-caller No. 24 overall in 2005 when it still had franchise QB Brett Favre on the roster.
That QB sat for three seasons before Favre left for the Jets and the Aaron Rodgers Era officially began.
While Love’s first start doesn’t come in as clean a fashion as Rodgers’ did, this will be the first start of the Jordan Love Era, if it ever becomes such.
The matchup is an interesting one for Love.
On the one hand, he has a great matchup defensively. The much-maligned Chiefs defense comes into Week 9 ranked 29th in yards allowed and 28th in points allowed. However, he also comes up against one of the most talented QBs in the league in Patrick Mahomes.
If the Chiefs can rediscover their form — which they showed flashes of in Week 8 vs. the New York Giants — the game could become a track meet which will be incredibly hard for Love to keep up with in his inaugural start.
Aaron Rodgers’ stats weren’t great, but he pulled out a big win in his debut
Rodgers and Love’s first starts are similar in the fact that they both faced a formidable opponent in their first game at the controls of the Packers.
While Love gets the high-powered but underperforming Chiefs, Rodgers started against the team that would ultimately win the NFC North in 2008, the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikes were Favre’s preferred destination in the 2008 offseason, but the Packers shipped him to the New York Jets, not wanting to keep him in their division. Instead, head coach Brad Childress went with Tavaris Jackson as his starting QB.
The 37-year-old journeyman Gus Frerotte would ultimately replace Jackson would ultimately and help the team turn their season around. But, for the Monday Night Football opener against the Pack, it was Jackson at the helm.
Rodgers had a very modest game from a statistical perspective in his debut. In the second quarter, he threw his first touchdown pass as a starter (and second career) to give the Packers a 7-3 lead. He didn’t do much the rest of the game until he ran a QB sneak with six minutes left in the game for what would be the game-winning score.
His final line was an efficient 18-of-22 for 178 yards with a passing and a rushing touchdown.
The most important takeaway for Rodgers, though, was the W, which the Packers got by a 24-19 margin.
Green Bay has had the most stability at the QB position of any NFL franchise in the last 30 years
No matter what you think about the Packers’ strategy of spending a high draft pick on the quarterback of the future while still having a productive veteran on the roster, it’s produced the most stability at the most important position in football for the last three decades.
When Love takes his first snap against the Chiefs, he will be just the eighth Packers starter since the team acquired Brett Favre in 1992.
This is four less than the New York Giants and five less than the New England Patriots, who basically had one QB for 20 years.
In addition to Favre, Rodgers, and Love, who else has started games for Green Bay since 1992?
In 1992, Don “Magic Man” Majkowski started the first three games of the season before Favre took over. Another Packers QB wouldn’t touch the ball to start a game until Rodgers took over in 2008. Since then, four QBs have had to take the starting reins with Rodgers out injured. These signal-callers were Matt Flynn (2010, 2011, 2014), Scott Tolzien (2014), Seneca Wallace (2014), and Brett Hundley (2017).
Now Love has his chance to cement his role in one of the most prestigious positions in all of sports. He and the Packers brass surely hope that this is just the beginning of a decade-plus run. Just like what happened with the two legends who manned the position before him.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference