Nobody knew quite what to expect from Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love this year because he had started only one game while backing up Aaron Rodgers the past three seasons.
That wasn’t nearly enough evidence to give anyone much of an idea whether Love has what it takes to continue the Packers’ three-decade run of outstanding quarterback production, a pattern that started with Hall of Famer Brett Favre and continued with Rodgers.
Five games into Love’s first season as a starter, it’s still hard to tell if he’s a long-term solution. But his last couple of performances have provided cause for skepticism.
“I’ve got to be better,” Love said on multiple occasions after throwing three interceptions Monday night in a 17-13 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Since the Packers (2-3) don’t play again until Oct. 22 at Denver, Love has extra time to learn from his mistakes and regain the promise he showed at the start of the season.
Love was leading the NFL in passer rating through the first two weeks of the season, but he now ranks 28th in that category.
The 2020 first-round pick from Utah State has completed just 55.6% of his passes, the lowest percentage for any starting quarterback this season.
After throwing six touchdowns without an interception in his first two games, Love has been picked off six times while throwing just two touchdown passes over his past three games. During those three games, the Packers have averaged just 17 points and have been outscored 54-6 in the first half.
In the first of those three games, Love helped the Packers score 18 straight points in the final 11 minutes of an 18-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints. They followed that up by losing consecutive games to the Detroit Lions and Raiders.
“We’ve just got to find a way to get going faster, get a rhythm going,” Love said. “And I’ve got to find a way just to be better, get some completions going and move the ball.”
Packers coach Matt LaFleur noted that there’s plenty of blame to go around for the offense’s recent struggles.
“I think there’s definitely some plays that we’d all like to have back,” LaFleur said. “Just like there’s some calls that I’d like to have back as well. And quite frankly, all the spotlight’s going to be — or the majority of the spotlight’s — going to be placed on the quarterback.”
Love is throwing primarily to a collection of rookies and second-year pros at receiver and tight end while directing an offense missing its two most proven performers.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari is out for the season after playing just one game as he prepares to undergo a fifth surgery on his left knee since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament on Dec. 31, 2020. Running back Aaron Jones has missed three of Green Bay’s past four games because of a hamstring injury, though the Packers are optimistic he could return after the bye week.
That has led to plenty of growing pains all around with this offense. The issues were evident in the closing minutes Monday night as the Packers attempted to drive for a go-ahead score. Second-year receiver Romeo Doubs and rookie tight end Luke Musgrave dropped passes on back-to-back plays before Love threw the interception in the end zone.
On that interception, second-year receiver Christian Watson could have done a better job of competing for the ball that Amik Robertson picked off. Watson is 6-foot-4 and Robertson is 5-9.
“I’ve got to find a way to track it a little bit quicker so I can adjust to it a little bit quicker,” Watson said. “When 10 (Love) calls my number, I need to be able to have him be able to rely on me a little bit more.”
The Packers cleared the way for Love to take over as starting quarterback when they traded Rodgers to the New York Jets.
Shortly after that trade, they signed Love to a contract extension running through the 2024 season.
That gives the Packers a couple of years to determine whether he’s a worthy successor to Favre and Rodgers, who each won a Super Bowl title with Green Bay while winning a combined seven MVP awards.
Love’s fast start offered hope that the Packers might have struck gold on a quarterback again. Then defenses adjusted and started holding Love in check and forcing him into mistakes.
Love says he just needs to do a better job of making the right decisions and taking care of the ball.
“There’s been opportunities,” Love said. “I’ve just got to be better in that area.”