NFL Today: Jordan Love’s Amazing Transition
Jordan Love got the Pack back in the playoffs in his first year as a starter. (ESPN)
In the wake of a last-place finish in the NFC East, the Washington Commanders cleaned house, including axing Head Coach Ron Rivera; New England decided to keep Bill Belichick, but it could be in a different role; and dead-last Carolina also wants a fresh start, firing General Manager Scott Fitterer.
Green Bay Keeps Surprising Us
With Aaron Rodgers getting dealt to the Jets just before last year’s draft, few gave the Green Bay Packers much of a chance to sport a winning record or return to the playoffs this season.
However, in finishing the season with three straight wins, the Pack did manage to get back over .500 and secure the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC after missing the postseason last year.
We all know this team is green, both in its uniform colour and in its level of experience, so naturally it’s a long shot to advance past the Wild Card weekend, never mind go on a long run deep into the playoffs.
Still, everyone’s been writing Green Bay off ever since Rodgers was moved.
Which takes us to the amazing and rapid development of first-year starting quarterback Jordan Love. He had some bumps along the way, but managed to overcome them (see video below). Over a month ago, we noted how impressed we were with Love’s progress, and he’s only built on that since.
Sure, he had a down performance against the Giants the following week, but since then he has gotten consistently better nearly every game, culminating in his best of the season in the finale (just five incompletions on 32 passes, with no picks for the seventh time over the last eight games). Before Love went out and led the Packers to the huge win in Week 18, he even got some encouragement from none other than Rodgers himself.
Allowed to throw far more often in December, Love responded with 11 touchdown passes and just one pick. Sure, we’d love to see him get sacked less often, but by almost any measure, his first full season as the starter was a resounding success.
Heading into 2024, Love is arguably a top 15 option in dynasty formats.
Caleb Williams Expected to Go First
Despite being outplayed by Bo Nix in their huge head-to-head matchup in mid-November, USC QB Caleb Williams is still expected to be the first man off the board in the 2024 NFL Draft (currently -650 to go No. 1 overall as per odds at FanDuel).
Williams was able to bounce back in the season finale, completing 31-of-42 for 384 yards, but the Trojans suffered a third straight loss, as part of a 1-5 finish. Still, as bad as USC did in Pac-12 play, he did manage more touchdown passes down the stretch to cap the finest season of his career, which includes winning the Heisman in 2022.
Even with that strong finish and improved accuracy, Williams’s touchdown pass numbers paled in comparison to 2022, and that hurt him in this year’s Heisman voting. That won’t likely stop the Bears from taking him first overall in this year’s draft, even if Chicago QB Justin Fields finished strong. The creativity and dynamic passing ability Williams brings to the table will be too tempting to overlook.
Lamar Jackson’s Resurgence
You may recall that back in August, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson requested the opportunity to provide input for the team playbook. Man, did that ever work out well as he enjoyed his finest season since 2019 while setting a new personal best in yards per pass attempt.
The fact that Jackson put together two of his best games of the season down the stretch against the 49ers and Dolphins likely was enough to earn him a second MVP award.
He also seems to have a mutual fan club going with another quarterback that knows a thing or two about MVP awards. Appearing on a recent podcast with three-time MVP Tom Brady, Jackson said that when the Ravens are trailing, he draws inspiration from Brady leading the Pats back from a 28-3 deficit in Super Bowl LI and believes he can do the same.
For his part, Brady had some very complimentary things to say about B-More’s finest: “I feel that way watching you play. I don’t think you’re ever out of it. You’ve got the ability to inspire your teammates by your action, by your words, and your humility, and your toughness, and your courage,” he said.
“Not only your skill set, everybody can see that. To me, it’s your intangibles that make you special. You’re never going to lose that. You just do more of that and you’re going to have incredible success. I love seeing it. Keep it up,” Brady added.
Given his playoff history (four games, 68.3 rating), Jackson has some work to do to live up to Brady’s prophecy, but we can’t wait to see what he has in store when the Ravens get back to work in the Division Round in a week and a half.
Consider Jackson a top five option in dynasty formats.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
David Bowie got his start in 1962 and remained active until his death in 2016. In 1973, he released his sixth album, Aladdin Sane, and the third single from this effort was “Time,” written in 1972 when he was in New Orleans as part of the Ziggy Stardust tour.