Plenty of love for Aaron Rodgers, but no Love for the Packers.
The Packers are making a second consecutive appearance in the NFC Championship game after their 32-18 win over the Rams in the divisional round on Saturday, but Rodgers, for however good he was in the game, wasn’t a key discussion point.
Rather, it was QB3 on the depth chart, Jordan Love, who got a fair amount of buzz during and after the game:
The Packers surprisingly took Love with the No. 26 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, leading to loads of speculation surrounding Rodgers’ future: Are the Packers hoping Rodgers takes a Lambeau Leap into retirement? Did head coach Matt LaFleur want to bring in his own guy? Was the selection made to try and “motivate” Rodgers into playing better?
Really, none of that matters right now. Could the Packers have benefited from another wide receiver to help Rodgers? Absolutely. Love is essentially a wasted roster spot at this point in the season, anyway.
Really, the pick was exactly what the Rodgers pick was all those years ago: Green Bay, with eyes on the future, didn’t want to fall into a cycle of having to look for the next guy.
By the way, Rodgers himself seems to have made peace with Green Bay’s decision.
“You know, especially after the draft, it was important for me mentally to get to a place of freedom with that — freedom from bitterness, freedom from expectations, freedom from future thinking — and I feel like I did,” Rodgers told Michael Silver of NFL.com. “It gave me a really good peace and calm about the season and to be able to focus. I’ve been trying just to have a lot of gratitude every day at work and to enjoy all the little moments that much more.”
Rodgers had a typical Rodgers performance in the divisional matchup: 23-for-36 passing, 296 yards and two touchdowns on the day, and he was also victimized by a few key drops by receivers. No matter, though, as the Packers comfortably took the lead on an Allen Lazard fourth-quarter touchdown, stomping out the Rams’ momentum, if you believe in that sort of thing.
Rodgers was also assisted by Aaron Jones and the running game, which will certainly prove to be a major X-factor in their matchup next Sunday.
At the risk of sounding very deep about a game of big, sweaty, fast dudes chasing around an inflated piece of oblong leather, how you feel about the Love pick depends on where you stand along the philosophical line of drafting a (first-round) quarterback. Ideas generally filter into one of two buckets:
— Drafting a quarterback and using the rookie quarterback’s salary to your advantage, to fill out the roster and complement the quarterback before his payday hits.
— Drafting for the future, out of fear that your quarterback is entering the twilight of his career.
Clearly, the Packers fell into the second bucket here, but if recent seasons are any indication, Rodgers isn’t coming in for a landing anytime soon: He’ll likely win the league MVP award in 2020, and had another Rodgers-esque season in 2019, his first with head coach LaFleur.
The idea of rekindling the fire under Rodgers after a great year in 2019 was always kind of backwards, anyway.
While the Packers have done a good enough job to find talent other than the first round, plenty of people were left scratching their heads over the Love selection when there were other options for the Packers at No. 26. So is there a right or wrong answer here? Should the Pack regret the pick?
Well, they’re heading to the NFC championship game. You be the judge.