Pandemic Adds Twist to No. 2 Quarterback Battle

Bill Huber

GREEN BAY, Wis. – In normal times, Tim Boyle’s agents should be checking out NFL quarterback depth charts and putting together a list of potential landing spots after rosters are picked at the end of training camp. After all, with Aaron Rodgers returning for his 13th season as the Green Bay Packers’ starter and a first-round pick used on Jordan Love, the strong-armed Boyle would appear to be the odd man out in a top-heavy quarterback room.

However, these are anything but normal times. The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the offseason practices. Whenever the team convenes for the start of training camp, Boyle – who beat out Deshone Kizer for the No. 2 job last year – will be miles ahead of Love on the developmental curve and in prime position to remain Rodgers’ top backup.

“Tim, he became a veteran. He became a pro last year,” quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator Luke Getsy said in a Zoom call this week. “I thought when the competition for the backup role ended, he opened up tremendously and grew so much. … The mental part of his game is at a whole other level now. We’re so lucky to have him, especially at a time like this when we aren’t able to be together as much as we usually are.”

Boyle, who led the NFL in preseason passer rating last year, has just about everything you’re looking for in a quarterback, with a big arm, intelligence and a willingness to learn. He’s been a sponge in his two years alongside Rodgers. Those ingredients don’t guarantee anything, of course, which is why general manager Brian Gutekunst moved up in the first round to select Love in hopes of cementing the team’s success long into the next decade.

Love has all the tools, as well. At Utah State, he had 32 touchdowns vs. six interceptions in 2018 but suffered through a coaching change and major personnel losses to throw 20 touchdowns and a nation’s-worst 17 interceptions in 2019. Three meetings with Love before the draft won over Getsy.

“Just like anyone else who was in the draft, potential drafted free agents, we evaluated everybody,” Getsy said. “We spent a good amount of time on Jordan. We had a good opportunity to interview him at the Combine, and then during his virtual part of it, we got to spend a good amount of time with him. Really enjoyed his personality. Thought that he was the right kind of guy for our football team, and I think the talent part of it was something that we were extremely excited about, too. But I know the person was something that just stood out. I was really excited when those guys decided to take him.”

Getsy is eager to finally get his hands on the hot-shot rookie, along with intriguing undrafted free agent Jalen Morton. The pandemic, however, has created a significant hurdle for the rookies. Under typical circumstances, Love would have a decent grasp of the offense by now. More than that, he would simply know what he’s doing. Practices aren’t just about running plays and scrimmaging against the defense. It’s about learning the footwork and fundamentals and creating the muscle memory that’s necessary to succeed during those live situations.

“I think Aaron and Tim are at a great place and will be at a great place,” Getsy said. “But the two young guys, yeah, it’s going to be a demanding training camp for them because they don’t even know exactly what the drill is that we’re going to do yet. They’ve only seen a video of it. They don’t know what it feels like for any of that stuff. They haven’t had to say a cadence or say a play in the huddle with the team. I think all those firsts are what you really enjoy about rookie minicamps and OTAs, and then the veteran minicamp, getting around the vets and seeing and hearing how Davante (Adams) talks about a route or runs a route and what it’s supposed to look like, and watching Aaron throw and watching his rhythm and his feet. I just think there’s a lot of value in all that, in seeing that, that those guys are going to miss.”

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