The Packers are preparing to take on the Chiefs in Week 9, but they’ll have to beat Patrick Mahomes and the reigning AFC Champions without their franchise quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers is going to be unavailable for Green Bay’s game after a positive COVID-19 test. The news was revealed by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and later, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Rodgers is missing the game because he is unvaccinated.
This came as a surprise to many, as Rodgers had previously announced that he was “immunized” before the season. Apparently, that doesn’t mean the same thing as being vaccinated against COVID-19. As a result, he will miss the game, and the Packers will have to turn to their backup quarterback in a key spot.
The good news is that the Packers have a backup quarterback with high upside. He was a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, after all, and the team traded up for him. He is likely the heir apparent to Rodgers, so this will be a good litmus test for him to start in a hostile road game against Kansas City as he looks to go blow-for-blow with Mahomes.
Here’s a look at the Packers’ quarterback depth chart, which is looking very thin with Rodgers out of action.
RIVERA: What’s next for Aaron Rodgers after positive COVID-19 test?
Who is the Packers’ backup QB?
Jordan Love is the Packers’ backup quarterback and the 23-year-old is viewed as the eventual successor for Rodgers. The Packers traded up to select him in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and are taking an approach with Love that’s similar to what they did with Rodgers early in his career.
The plan was for Love, who was raw coming out of Utah State, to sit and learn behind Rodgers for a couple of years before eventually challenging for a starting job. Rodgers did the same when he learned behind Brett Favre in the early stages of his career. But now, Love will get a chance to make a start.
Love has played in just one NFL game to date. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 68 yards in the Packers’ blowout loss to the Saints in Week 1. That comprises his entire NFL regular-season experience.
That said, Love played the majority of two preseason games for the Packers and completed 24 of 35 of his passes (68.6 percent) for 271 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 16 yards on three scrambles. He flashed upside but he will need to watch closely in his first professional start, as he struggled with interceptions in college. He had 17 in 13 games during his final season.
WEEK 9 NFL PICKS: Against the spread | Straight up
Who will be Jordan Love’s backup vs. Chiefs?
At this time, it’s unclear who the Packers’ backup quarterback will be. Kurt Benkert, the team’s practice squad QB and third-stringer, tested positive for COVID earlier in the week. It’s unclear whether he’ll be back in time for Sunday’s game. If not, the Packers may need to bring in some outside reinforcements.
There are two options that stand out as potential additions for the Packers: Blake Bortles and Jake Dolegala. The two spent time with the Packers during the offseason amid Rodgers’ holdout. They both have at least some knowledge of the system, so it would be easier to get either ready to serve as a backup over another player with no knowledge of the system.
Bortles is currently a free agent, so it may be easier to add him to the team than Dolegala, who is on the Dolphins’ practice squad. Bortles also has appeared in 78 games with 73 starts during his career, so he would provide some needed experience to the QB room with Rodgers out of commission.
Maybe the Packers will go wild and sign Cam Newton or somebody of that ilk if they’re not confident Benkert is out, but the safe bet is to expect Bortles to rejoin the roster. AFter that, we’ll know more about the Packers’ plans at QB behind Love.
MORE: Aaron Rodgers praises Packers front office, Brian Gutekunst
Packers QB depth chart