Packers quarterback Jordan Love passed his first in-game test of 2023, however small the sample size, completing 7 of 10 passes for 46 yards and a score in his preseason debut on Friday.
His blindside protector, David Bakhtiari, has been impressed with the overall showing since camp began, though, even as he’s intent on a grading curve that takes into account Love’s years of learning behind Aaron Rodgers.
“Definitely a higher standard,” Bakhtiari told The Jim Rome Show on Tuesday when asked if he was evaluating Love as a first-year quarterback or something more. “He’s had three years to understand the math of the offense, which is very fortunate for any first-round quarterback to get to watch and see how a first-ballot Hall of Famer and generational talent and a guy who borderline changed the quarterback position and how it’s played. And even the mechanics of even throwing the football. You’re able to see that for three years and then now coming in, so yeah, his baseline for me is way higher.
“I’ve been very pleased with what I’ve seen from him. And I think he’s also understanding that he’s not going to be judged, either, by a first-year quarterback, which is great. I think he’s going to be competitive right out of the gate. I’ve seen his development in practice. I’m really excited to see it translate into the game, and him to get those game time and hours logged in. And really see how he adapts and corrects himself mid-game and game to game.”
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Love exhibited one of the adjustments Bakhtiari is looking for in between his only two drives against the Bengals on Friday. The 24-year-old was to blame for the end of Green Bay’s first possession when he rocketed a ball far out of the reach of tight end Luke Musgrave, who was wide open on a third-and-7. It was the lone throw by Love on the night that looked truly poor.
He followed it up by completing the last four passes of his second drive, including a touchdown toss with perfect touch to wide receiver Romeo Doubs in the back of the end zone.
It was exactly the type of course correction Bakhtiari is hoping to see take place when the games start to count during the regular season.
Love playing close to the realm of his 2020 first-round peers, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, as opposed to someone in the first year in charge of an offense, is a big ask — especially considering none of his wide receivers have played more than two years, and his most experienced tight end, Josiah Deguara, remains on a rookie deal.
But teammates like AJ Dillon and Elgton Jenkins have been singing his praises throughout the offseason, and Bakhtiari feeling optimistic about his new QB after nine years watching Rodgers is surely a positive sign.
“There’s a lot of little nuances. A lot of pre-snap reads. There’s also certain checks. There’s abilities to work cadences and snap counts,” Bakhtiari said of what’s impressed him most. “A lot of things I’ve seen Aaron do at a very high level, and seeing the growth from [Love’s] rookie year to now is exponential. And that’s why I’m excited to go see him execute that in a game. There’s so many little things that the fans don’t get to see or notice that happen. The game within the game, so to speak. That’s what I’m really excited for him, and that’s why I definitely don’t view him a [first-year] quarterback.
“Not to mention, he can throw the ball and do a lot of things that I’ve been impressed with. But you also understand that I was watching Aaron every day for a decade. So [Rodgers] would make one jaw-dropping throw at least every practice. It’s hard to come off of that, but I’m very pleased with what I’ve been able to see with him. And at times, I’m like, ‘OK, that is a quality throw. That is a quality check. That’s a good job, man.’ I’m pumped about what I see.”
Bakhtiari also recently told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that Love provides Green Bay with an athletic quarterback who can move around, compared to Rodgers, who the lineman described as “slow as s—.”
It was a joke, but if Love starts out fast and maintains momentum with what he’s learned waiting in the wings, the Packers could get serious about making a run at the NFC North.
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