That’s why Packers should consider starting Jordan Love in place of Aaron Rodgers for the remainder of the 2022 NFL season

Aaron Rodgers has been grappling with his NFL future for years. Now that the quarterback’s 18th season is nearing the finish line, it could be time for the Packers to make decisions for him. The reigning MVP, who was forced into an early exit with a rib injury after Sunday night’s loss to the Eagles, may or may not be back in Week 13 against the Bears. He remains an elite talent when healthy and his legacy is already written. But for the rest of 2022, and maybe forever, Green Bay should seriously consider sidelining Rodgers in favor of backup Jordan Love.

CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones has set the big frame for this: While the Packers are mathematically alive in the playoff race, they are 4-8 outside and have just a 1.1% chance of earning a wildcard spot, according to SportsLine predictions. Meanwhile, love has yielded little aside from a single emergency start for Rodgers over the past year. General manager Brian Gutekunst needs to see what he has in the 2020 first-round draft pick, argues Jones, for the sake of the post-Rodgers Packers. Love is under contract until at least 2023 but without additional experience he will remain an unknown in the squad’s most important position.

There’s an uncanny parallel to the possible crossing of the torch, as Love’s performance on Sunday night comes almost exactly 15 years after Rodgers first took over from the injured Brett Favre in 2007. But the reality is Rodgers’ own flirtation with life beyond Green Bay — soon to be 39, he’s openly considered both retiring and moving to a new team since Love’s arrival — support an in-depth look at his potential successor . Even if Rodgers decides to return in 2023, Green Bay’s struggles on both sides of the ball suggest Gutekunst could be motivated — and maybe even smart — to do so auction the QB as part of a true rebuild.

Here’s the real kicker, though: Long-term implications aside, it has to be argued that love gives the Packers the best chance of winning right now. Let’s be clear: Rodgers is still nearly unmatched when it comes to physical ability at the position. His poor setup this year shouldn’t hide the fact that he still has some of the best passing and precision in the game. Even with a bad thumb on Sunday, he enlivened some game-extending magic to keep Green Bay within striking distance of the high-flying Eagles.

However, consider that Rodgers also threw two picks on Sunday. Regardless of whether the errors resulted in overcompensation for an offense that happened too often in 2022, they brought his interceptions to nine in the season, the worst in more than a decade. Put simply, he’s been pushing – more so this year after losing former No. 1 target Davante Adams than at any time in recent memory. Now, with an injured slant making him flinch at even the simplest short throws, who knows if he’ll even have the strength to make up for his more desperate mentality.

Love may not offer the savvy experience of his older counterpart, and he may or may not be the future, but his bottom can be so much lower than today’s Rodgers, in a 4-8 team, averaging under 20 points apiece Game? Coming off the bench Sunday night with no first-team representatives against the Eagles defense on the street, the Utah State product looked better than at any other point in his limited NFL career, with flashing mobility and a noticeable zip at his throws. With a quick touchdown pass that takes the Packers to a seven, he immediately teases chemistry with recently broken Christian Watson and has the advantage of not only having clean health and fresher legs, but also a clean slate on offense by trainer Matt LaFleur is .

LaFleur has garnered praise from Rodgers this year when he “simplified” the offense to make up for staffing shortcomings. But there’s no greater motivation for NFL teams to truly go back to basic concepts than a QB change. The Packers’ Sunday night opponent drove Nick Foles to a Lombardi Trophy five years ago after returning to the basics following the season-ending injury to Carson Wentz. LaFleur’s brother Mike just oversaw the Jets’ best offensive performance of 2022 by benching big-name Zach Wilson as a backup capable of just making the easy throws.

That’s not to say that beginning love will be a panacea. But if it means LaFleur leaning even more heavily on the proven pieces that work – Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Christian Watson – then it’s a step in the right direction for a club that’s stuck with a solid one for much of the year formula was missing. It could even better prepare Rodgers for what lies ahead in 2023 and save the QB from further injury.

And if a permanent commitment to love pays off even better than expected, and maybe catapults the Packers back into the playoff race? Well, that’s the best problem one can have in such a situation. In fact, it could be the dream scenario for fans and team bosses: a scenario in which Rodgers’ successor really materializes and allows both A-Rod and the Packers to move more clearly towards an amicable split.

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