GREEN BAY – The Packers have wrapped up their 2023 offseason program. Here are five things we’ve learned over the past nine weeks.
1. Jordan Love is still growing as a quarterback, but his leadership resonates in the Green Bay locker room.
The Packers’ new starting QB led the way from the first day of the offseason program in April to the team-building paintball event that closed minicamp Thursday. While it’s not easy to follow in the footsteps of a legend like Aaron Rodgers, Love won over his coaches and teammates with his patience, poise and attitude.
“He did it the right way, he bided his time and you never heard a peep or a complaint from him,” running back Aaron Jones said last month. “We all love Jordan here and he has everyone’s full respect and we all want to lay it out for him.”
This was actually the third straight year Love led the Packers’ No. 1 offense through the offseason program. The 24-year-old quarterback also lined up for Rodgers in 2021 and ’22, giving Love a chance to get a firmer grip on the playbook.
Now fully entrenched as the QB1, Love flashed his arm strength while also demonstrating the progress he’s made with both his accuracy and awareness. He made perhaps his best throw of the spring session when he unfurled a dart to the speedy Christian Watson on a deep ball over All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander’s coverage on Tuesday.
During the same practice, Love dropped a ball to Romeo Doubs on a corner fade in the end zone. After practice Wednesday, Alexander interrupted Love’s media scrum to hug Love and deliver a quick message.
“QB1, man,” Alexander said, looking into the TV cameras. “Best QB in the league right here, but tell him to stop trying me.”
Love also had its teachable moments. He threw late over the middle at the end of a two-minute period that safety Tarvarius Moore intercepted in the end zone last week, and he was picked off by Alexander during a half-speedy two-minute period Wednesday.
In the classroom and on the practice field, throwing on the run was a big focus for the young QB this spring. Love and position coach Tom Clements drilled it thoroughly during the early part of the offseason program, which Love hopes will pay off when he returns for the start of training camp.
Between now and then, Love will host a football camp in France and then return home to California to finish his offseason preparation. He said he would try to organize more throwing sessions with teammates, as he did in the winter with Doubs and Jones.
“We’ve got running backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield, run routes, stuff like that. We’ve added some really quick tight ends, so it’s just being able to stretch the field with them. And then of course we’ve got some really quick receivers too,” Love said.
“I don’t think we have that one player right now that’s like, ‘Oh, that’s who we’re going to go to with the ball,’ and throw the ball to on third down, so the defense might not know who to focus on . , on third downs. I think everybody is sticking together and going to help us.”
2. Expect the Packers to maintain a wide-open approach to position battles.
The competition is on for not only roster spots, but also multiple starting positions at tight end, offensive line, defensive line and safety.
Five former draft picks are looking to join Watson and Doubs at receiver, Zach Tom and Yosh Nijman rotated at right tackle all spring and rookie tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft saw snaps with the first-team offense.
Defensively, Justin Hollins started opposite Preston Smith at outside linebacker, while Devonte Wyatt and TJ Slaton lined up next to Pro Bowl defensive lineman Kenny Clark. With Alexander and Rasul Douglas not at OTAs, virtually every defensive back on the roster worked with the No. 1 defense at some point.
There is a huge opportunity for security. Adrian Amos signing with the New York Jets confirms the Packers will have a new starter in the backfield, with veterans Rudy Ford, Jonathan Owens, Tarvarius Moore, Innis Gaines and Dallin Leavitt competing to start alongside Darnell Savage.
Ford started the safety rotation during OTAs and finished minicamp with them. Owens stepped in behind Savage this week while Moore was excused for a personal matter and Leavitt did not practice.
Perhaps the most entertaining battle of all is for the No. 3 running back job. Dependable veteran and core special-teamer Patrick Taylor competes with seventh-round rookie Lew Nichols and Tyler Goodson, who spent his entire rookie year on the practice squad.
After working out with Jones in Miami last winter, Goodson drew considerable praise from the former Pro Bowl running back earlier this week.
“I think Tyler Goodson is going to be a weapon for us,” Jones said. “He’s been out here balling. He’s been working hard; so have some other guys in this locker room.”