Green Bay Packers
Packers have struggled early, but that should have been the expectation
Green Bay Packers

Packers have struggled early, but that should have been the expectation

Published Oct. 27, 2023 8:55 a.m. ET

This was always going to be an up-and-down year for the Green Bay Packers. Rarely does a first-year starting quarterback see immediate success — much less if the success his team is used to is having a future Hall of Fame quarterback under center and perennially making the playoffs.

Jordan Love almost did himself a disservice to start the season. He beat the Chicago Bears — convincingly. Two weeks later, he led a comeback victory over the New Orleans Saints in his first start at Lambeau Field. He ranked near the top of the league for the first three weeks of the season in touchdowns, throwing for seven in the first three games. He had just one interception. 

He got Green Bay's hopes too high too quickly.

They've come back down to earth in the weeks since. Coupled with the fact that Green Bay's offensive line isn't as solid as we expected it to be before the season and the defense is middling in most major defensive categories, it's no wonder the Packers are on a three-game skid. This is the reality of having a young, inexperienced quarterback who isn't quite in control of the offense yet.


The six-game sample size isn't enough to draw any conclusions, though. Not about Love. Not about the team, in general. The expectations that this team would finish in the middle of the division haven't changed. Not only is Love young, but so is the entire team. Green Bay has the NFL's youngest roster. They are especially young offensively, with all of their receivers in their first or second season. Two of their tight ends are rookies, too. 

Then there's the playcalling. It's been… conservative, to say the least. The Packers have dug a lot of holes in first halves. Green Bay has scored just 26 points in the first half this season. Not per game. Total. That's compared with 104 points in the second half. You can look to head coach and offensive playcaller Matt LaFleur for that. He doesn't quite trust his young quarterback. Love didn't come in with a track record like Rodgers did when LaFleur inherited him in 2019. Rodgers was already so firmly entrenched in the organization, LaFleur had no choice but to trust him, even if Rodgers didn't fully trust his coach in return. 

Regardless, the relationship between Love and LaFleur is going to need more time. The Packers are going to need more time. Love himself just needs more time. 

Not that we should be in the business of continually comparing him to Rodgers, but it's not as if everything was sunshine and rainbows during Rodgers' first season as a starter in 2008. He had two games with three interceptions that year, including a Week 4 loss to Tampa Bay in which he completed just 14 of 27 pass attempts for 165 yards and two touchdowns against those three interceptions. He followed it up with a game against the Falcons where he completed just 51.85% of his passes. In fact, from Weeks 3-5 of Rodgers' rookie year, the Packers also went through a three-game skid. Green Bay would go on to lose five of their last six to finish out the season. 

Rodgers did steadily improve as the year went on, though. After Week 9, he threw for at least 200 yards in each of the Packers' remaining games. He had an average completion rate of 64.6% and threw for a total of 4,038 yards, 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Love is on track for less as of right now: 3,579 yards, 28 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. But that isn't taking into account the fact that as LaFleur and Love figure each other out, the offensive line finds some continuity, and the skill players around Love get more experience, Love should improve. If he doesn't, that's a conversation for a later date.

No one in Green Bay should have held postseason hopes early on, no matter what things looked like in the beginning of the season. That doesn't mean hope is lost. It doesn't mean Love isn't the future. It doesn't mean the Packers are a bad team. 

What is it that Rodgers so infamously said?

R-E-L-A-X, Packers fans. 

Welcome back to reality.

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.


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