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Packers excited to watch Jordan Love tackle his next challenge

Green Bay’s brass sees bright future ahead with ascending QB under center

QB Jordan Love
QB Jordan Love

GREEN BAY – For all the unknowns the Packers faced 12 months ago, the organization stands on firm soil as the 2024 offseason program draws near.

It goes without saying Jordan Love has had a thing or two to do with that welcomed reality.

Green Bay's burgeoning quarterback leapt onto the scene in 2023, completing 372 of 579 passes for 4,159 yards, 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions during his first year as a starter.

Learning from every throw he made, Love was one of the NFL's hottest passers down the stretch with a 112.7 passer rating over the final eight regular-season games. In doing so, Love became the first QB to guide Green Bay to the postseason in his debut season as a starter since at least 1950.

And now the Packers are looking to do a whole lot more in 2024.

"It's no different than what it's going to be with our football team – the expectations are going to be different. It's how does he manage those," said Head Coach Matt LaFleur when asked about Love at the NFL Annual Meeting last month in Orlando.

"There's a lot of things I love about him, but one of the things that has impressed me most about Jordan is his ability to learn from every situation, both good and bad."

Love's emergence after a three-year residency behind future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers was among the most popular topics at the league meetings, with LaFleur fielding several questions about the patient approach the Packers have taken to developing the game's most important position.

The first domino fell four years ago this month when General Manager Brian Gutekunst traded up to draft Love 26th overall. While Rodgers added two more league MVPs to his mantel, Love used his time as a backup to build a vast knowledge base for when his time came.

It turned out to be April 26, 2023, the day the Packers officially traded Rodgers to the New York Jets, that cleared the catbird seat for his 24-year-old heir apparent.

After overcoming a rocky midseason stretch, Love hit a groove during the second half of the year on his way to becoming just the third QB to post 4,000-plus passing yards and 32-plus passing TDs in his first season with multiple starts, joining Kurt Warner (1999) and Patrick Mahomes (2018).

From President/CEO Mark Murphy's perspective, a seminal moment for Love came when he propelled the Packers to a 27-19 primetime win over Mahomes and the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in early December. Love was near-flawless, completing 25 of 36 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns while shepherding the NFL's youngest skill-position group.

"I think pretty damn good," said Murphy when asked in Orlando to assess Love's play this past season. "I'm really happy for obviously Jordan, the way he played, and not only the level he played at, especially as the season got on, he just seemed to get more and more confident.

"But his leadership – we saw that throughout the offseason and certainly during the season, so I'm really, really pleased with the way he's played, and I just think the future is really bright."

For LaFleur, Love showed his growth and elite football IQ during the Packers' 48-32 rout of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card playoff. During that contest, Love switched protections against all-out blitz and fired a 20-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks.

Beyond Love's on-field play, what impressed Green Bay's brass even more was how Love led a young locker room. That role only stands to grow this year following the exit of Pro Bowl running back and two-time Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee Aaron Jones. It's a conversation LaFleur has already broached with Love this offseason.

It has the Packers ready to commit to Love long term, as well. Lauding Love for his production and professionalism, Gutekunst told reporters in Orlando that the organization already has started preliminary talks with their quarterback on a long-term deal.

"The thing that's always stood out to me about him is he just doesn't waver in his commitment, his work ethic," Gutekunst said. "I think there was a certain level of confidence, not just with Jordan, but with our entire football team as we went through the second half of the season that got them excited. But the work ethic, the way he goes about his business, that doesn't seem to waver and that's a good sign for the future."

The debutant proved durable in his first year as QB1, as Love was one of only four Week 1 starting quarterbacks to play all 17 regular-season games and not appear on his respective team's injury report, joining Dallas' Dak Prescott, Detroit's Jared Goff, and Washington's Sam Howell.

Undoubtably, the chessboard will change in Year 2. Defensive coordinators will be locked on Love, trying to find ways to foil the ascending QB. Of course, the Packers will strategize their own counters; work that begins in earnest when players return next Monday for the first of the three-phase offseason program.

"Certainly, he's going to face different challenges, not only from the teams we face but the different personnel we may have that he may be playing with," said Gutekunst of Love. "But I think having a year's worth of challenges to work through together and the continuity of that will hopefully serve us well as we go forward."

--Nicole Timm contributed to this story.

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