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A-Rod Sets the Bar High: Recapping Rodgers’ Starting Debut With Packers

Green Bay Replaces Another Legend

The 2023 season will mark a new era for many NFL teams. The Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts are hoping they found their franchise quarterbacks after spending high draft picks on Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Anthony Richardson. The New Orleans Saints signed Derek Carr, and the Las Vegas Raiders are hoping Jimmy Garoppolo will be healthy in his first season of rocking black and silver.

The Green Bay Packers and New York Jets have some of the most notable QB situations. The Jets, who are the sportsbook’s seventh choice to win Super Bowl 58 (+1600), traded for Aaron Rodgers. The Packers are officially on to a new era with Jordan Love as the starting quarterback. This is not the first time a young QB was tasked with replacing a Green Bay legend.

A-Rod Sets the Bar High: Recapping Rodgers’ Starting Debut With Packers
Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers | Patrick McDermott/Getty Images/AFP

Rodgers thrived with the tall task in the 2008 season after Brett Favre joined the Jets. What are the NFL odds of this happening again? Love will be under immense pressure after another legend moved to the Big Apple. Love’s performance will be compared to Rodgers’ first season as the Packers’ starter. Let’s look at Rodgers’ 2008 season. Does Love have any chance of dodging heavy criticism?

Rodgers Racked Up Gaudy Stats

Love has huge cleats to fill. We know Rodgers’ accomplishments, which include one Super Bowl win and four MVP awards. However, it’s unrealistic to think any player will play at this level in his first season as a starter.

Rodgers’ first season as Green Bay’s starter does Love no favors. A-Rod posted gaudy stats with 4,038 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, and a 93.8 passer rating. One of the only knocks on Rodgers was his 13 interceptions, which remains a career-high.

These stats were among the NFL’s best in 2008. Rodgers finished fourth in passing yards and touchdowns and sixth in passer rating. Even by today’s standards, these are impressive numbers for a season. In the 2022 season, these stats would have ranked 10th in passing yards, seventh in passing touchdowns, and 12th in passer rating.

Rodgers flashed his immense potential in his starting debut against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 8, 2008. He did not post eye-popping stats with 178 passing yards and two touchdowns. However, Rodgers displayed his elite efficiency, completing 18 of 22 pass attempts for a 115.5 passer rating. The future Hall of Famer showed his knack for playmaking on the fly, pitching a one-yard touchdown to fullback Korey Hall (seen at the 18-second mark).

Rodgers’ first start should set realistic expectations for Love, who will make his first start of the 2023 season against the Chicago Bears. Don’t expect a 400-yard outburst from Love, but he should be able to display some of his promising potential. Rodgers’ elite efficiency in his first start will be difficult to match, though.

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Losing Record Alleviates Pressure On Love

Green Bay’s 6-10 finish in the 2008 season could be Love’s saving grace. Sure, Rodgers had great numbers. However, winning is always the ultimate factor. The Packers were a losing team that finished third in the NFC North standings. With his current roster, Love should be able to lead Green Bay to a better finish.

Per NFL lines, the Packers have a projected win total of 7½ and are +190 to make the postseason. If Love leads Green Bay to the playoffs, his first season as the starter should be a success no matter what. Rodgers may have posted impressive stats in 2008, but the Packers did not win enough.

Love better get used to direct comparison to Rodgers. It’s becoming Green Bay’s tradition. A wide-eyed young buck steps into the starting role, being compared to a Hall of Fame QB. Rodgers went through it after following Favre’s 16-year Packers career. Now, it’s Love’s turn. Rodgers thrived in his debut season as Green Bay’s starter, setting the bar high for Love’s 2023 season.

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