The Packers should have been building around Aaron Rodgers, not taking a mistake-prone prospect from Utah State to sit for a while. They passed on some good receivers to take Love. They were apparently too caught up in their history, trying to replicate the success of the Rodgers pick when they took their next star QB late in the first round despite having Brett Favre.
But the one caveat to the shortsighted Love pick was that if the Packers found their next high-level quarterback, it would eventually be worth the trouble. Here’s the problem: Love got his shot and he might be the worst starting quarterback in the NFL this season. He’s certainly on a short list.
The Packers were awful on offense on Sunday in a 24-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, and another bad game from Love that gets us closer to the conclusion that the Packers’ unbelievable run of quarterback play over three decades has finally ended. The Packers, playing at home against a middling Vikings defense, didn’t even get a first down until about four minutes were left in the second quarter. Green Bay was stuck on -5 net passing yards deep into the first half. They didn’t score a touchdown in the first half. It’s the fifth straight game without a first half touchdown and Fox said that’s the Packers longest such streak since 1988, four years before Favre arrived.
In the second half, the Vikings scored to take a 17-3 lead, Love threw a bad interception on a deep pass (Love has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL in deep passing this season) and the Vikings immediately cashed it in for another touchdown.
In the fourth quarter the Packers had some signs of life. But they failed twice inside the red zone. A bad drop didn’t help Love the first time the Packers turned it over on downs. Then the defense got the ball back on a turnover, but the Packers had a run that got nothing, Love took a sack, he threw incomplete into tight coverage on third down and his fourth-down scramble came up a yard short.
One problem is Love isn’t a rookie. He sat and watched for three years and while that’s a horrible allocation of resources for a Super Bowl contender, he was supposed to emerge as a somewhat polished product when he did have to start. He had to be after the Packers wasted all that time on him. Instead, the Packers developed Love for three years just to come out of it with an inept offense. It’s not like the Packers have another realistic option this season; their backup is fifth-round rookie Sean Clifford. They might as well just let Love have the season, unless his play gets so bad that they just can’t watch it anymore.
Here’s what the Packers got out of that Love pick, unless there’s a big turnaround coming: No more Super Bowl appearances for Rodgers. The Packers fell short twice as a No. 1 seed in the NFC after picking Love, and maybe an impact first-round player instead of a backup QB could have pushed them over the finish line. They got little benefit from having Love on his rookie deal. Green Bay had to get creative with Love’s contract because the timeline of him starting was 2023, at best. The Packers should have seen that coming. He got an extension worth $13.5 million guaranteed. The Packers traded Rodgers, in part, to see what they had in Love this season, which was another consequence of a bad draft pick.
And it’s looking like they didn’t get a viable quarterback either. They did get a Week 1 win at the Chicago Bears. And some good reps in the preseason. That’s about it.
Now the Packers are back at square one. It has been a long time since the Packers had no answer at quarterback, and it’s a bad place to be in the NFL. Maybe Love will come alive in the second half of the season and be that answer, but that seems dubious right now. They’ll probably need to use a first-round pick at quarterback in April.
If they do, at least this time around it will make sense.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 8 of the NFL season:
Tyreek Hill‘s MVP chances: Hill isn’t really going to win MVP. It’s a quarterback award. And if Jerry Rice never won an MVP, Hill won’t either.
But if there was a receiver that had a case, it’s Hill. Hill became the first receiver in the Super Bowl era to reach 1,000 yards in his team’s first eight games, as he had another huge day in a Miami Dolphins‘ 31-17 win over the New England Patriots. When the Patriots took an early lead, Hill’s 42-yard touchdown snatched the momentum right back. It was a big play early in the game, establishing that the Dolphins weren’t about to be upset on Sunday.
Hill had eight catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. It’s hard to argue any player has had more impact this season. That’s pretty valuable.
Facing Houston Texans rookie C.J. Stroud, who went second overall behind Young and has been the better player at this early stage of their careers, Young led a drive that ended in a game-winning field goal as time expired. The Panthers got their first win of the season, 15-13.
Young was solid, outplaying Stroud. He had 235 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. That should slow down the comparisons between him and Stroud for at least a week.
The Cowboys offense has been stuck, but getting Lamb going might be a good sign. Prescott threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns in a 43-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Lamb had 12 catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cowboys’ passing game is warming up at the right time. They face the Eagles next week in a huge NFC East showdown.
Travis Etienne Jr.: Calvin Ridley was supposed to be the catalyst for the Jacksonville Jaguars offense. Trevor Lawrence was supposed to be the rising superstar. But week after week, it’s Etienne who impresses.
Etienne had another big game on Sunday. He had 79 yards rushing and 70 receiving. His 56-yard touchdown catch in the second half helped the Jaguars pull away from the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jaguars are 6-2 after the 20-10 win. They’ll probably run away with the AFC South. They even have a shot at the No. 1 seed in the AFC given their soft schedule. And Etienne’s consistent brilliance is a big reason why.
Arthur Smith: The Atlanta Falcons have one of the softest schedules you’ll ever see, and they’re still going to manage to hang around .500.
The Falcons played the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Titans aren’t good and were giving rookie quarterback Will Levis his first NFL snaps because Ryan Tannehill has an ankle injury. And the Falcons were outplayed in a 28-23 loss. DeAndre Hopkins torched the Falcons defense for three touchdowns, Taylor Heinicke had to come in for a concussed Desmond Ridder and he couldn’t lead a comeback, and the Falcons fell to 4-4. There’s no more fitting thing in the NFL than the middling Falcons being .500.
The Falcons should run away with the NFC South. All they have left is winnable games. But they’re not good enough to take advantage of it.
The Commanders are probably sellers at this week’s trading deadline at 3-5, which will make it even harder for key figures like coach Ron Rivera and quarterback Sam Howell to establish themselves in the Commanders’ long-term plans. Howell was pretty good on Sunday, but a fourth-quarter interception that was returned deep into Washington territory was the turning point of the game. Rivera has been a good coach but this year he’s not pushing any of the right buttons. It’s all bad for the Commanders.
Of all the teams that should be talking themselves into being sellers on Monday, the Commanders are near the top of the list.
The defense is what let the Colts down Sunday in a 38-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Taysom Hill ran for two touchdowns, Rashid Shaheed made some huge plays including a 58-yard touchdown and the Saints piled up 511 yards. The Colts offense was OK, but a bad second-half interception by Gardner Minshew in Saints territory didn’t help.
The Colts have looked pretty good at times. They just can’t do it consistently.