The Green Bay Packers’ quarterbacks have been a hot topic of discussion this offseason, but questions still remain regarding how many they’ll keep and what the depth chart might look behind Aaron Rodgers. The answers may not be all that complicated.
The Green Bay Packers sent shockwaves through the football world in April by trading up to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with the 26th pick in the NFL Draft. While there has been speculation about the Packers’ quarterback of the future, Aaron Rodgers remains the unquestioned starter for this season. However, the battle for who will be his backup will be, is still wide open.
Competing with Love for the role is the third year, and incumbent backup to Rodgers, Tim Boyle. The former Eastern Kentucky signal-caller joined the Packers as an undrafted free-agent in 2018. After Brett Hundley went 3-6 in nine starts in 2017, the Packers addressed the backup quarterback position by trading for DeShone Kizer from the Cleveland Browns and bringing in Boyle, to compete with Hundley. Boyle showed the Green Bay Packers enough potential to allow the team to feel comfortable trading Hundley away during the preseason.
Green Bay surprised many in 2018 by keeping Boyle on the roster as the third quarterback behind Rodgers and Kizer. In 2019, Boyle had a stellar preseason, completing nearly 60% of his passes. What really stood out was his ability to take care of the ball, throwing for six touchdowns and no interceptions in those four preseason games. The Green Bay Packers were comfortable enough with his play that they opted to keep him as the only quarterback on the roster to back up Rodgers. Boyle saw action in just three games last year; running out the clock with kneel-downs in a couple of lopsided victories and mopping up at the end of a loss to the 49ers.
While it was clear that the Green Bay Packers were comfortable with Boyle as the backup, he was never regarded as the team’s long term solution if something were to happen to Aaron Rodgers. That feeling, or lack thereof, is partially what led the team to draft Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 Draft. Love compiled 8600 yards in three seasons at Utah State to go along with 60 touchdown passes. Though his interceptions sky-rocketed in his final season, the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff felt they could improve his awareness and decision-making skills while learning playing behind one of the stingiest quarterbacks, in terms of interceptions, in the history of the game. Physically, Love possesses the arm strength and mobility to make any throw on the field. He throws well from multiple arm slots, on the move, or under pressure.
Though Love has been seemingly tabbed as the next starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, it’s not clear yet how soon they’ll hand over the reins to him, or even where he’ll land on the depth chart this season. Without a preseason to show off his abilities in game situations, it’s hard to imagine him being the primary backup to Rodgers in his rookie campaign.
Most seasons, there’d be a lot of discussion about whether or not the Packers even roster three quarterbacks. With Rodgers’ still playing at an incredibly high level, and a first-round pick taking notes behind him, Boyle would likely be updating his highlight reel in hopes of landing a backup job somewhere else after the Green Bay Packers make their final cuts to get down to their 53-man roster. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2020, it’s that you always have to plan for the unexpected. Instead of worrying strictly about injuries this season, teams also have to worry about losing their players for a significant amount of time Covid-19.
It’s not just quarterbacks that teams have to worry about getting sick this year either. In a recent conversation with former Cleveland Brown Joe Thomas, he brought up how likely it is for an entire offensive line to get sick if one contracts it, due to the close proximity they have with one another. He questioned what a team would do if they were forced to start five backup lineman. Would they still start their franchise quarterback that week? If Rodgers were to miss time, how long would it take to have another quarterback clear testing protocols and join the team, not to mention get up to speed and make the active roster?
In a season with so many unknowns and unpredictable situations predictably happening, it makes all the sense in the world for the Green Bay Packers to roster three quarterbacks during the regular season this year. Tim Boyle will likely find himself lodged firmly in between the Packers’ present and future, as he spends another year as Aaron Rodgers’ primary backup, while Jordan Love waits and learns.