By Tori Wittenbrock
Associate Sports Editor
CHARLOTTE, NC – As the Green Bay Packers (7-8) near the end of the 2023 season, quarterback Jordan Love has continuously grown into his role as a leader.
During their game against the Carolina Panthers (2-13), Love threw a clean game for 219 yards and two touchdowns.
Love said that he is excited to be able to celebrate the Packers’ recent win on Sunday, Dec. 24, with his team as they get ready to face the Minnesota Vikings in the final hours of 2023.
“This is what we prepare for all day, all week, so we are excited about that opportunity,” said Love.
Though there was no shortage of skepticism from Green Bay fans about Love’s ability to step up and fill the role of the legendary Aaron Rodgers, Love has proven his ability to perform for his team under pressure.
“I thought Jordan did an outstanding job. We just never quite got into a rhythm in the second half, but I thought that in the first half everything was flowing well,” said head coach Matt LaFleur.
After a couple of close, final drive losses early on in the season, Love has found a way to perform in recent games to get his team the points they need to get in the win column.
LaFleur said that he has witnessed Love’s growth all season and is excited to see where he takes the team in the future.
“One cool moment was when we were on the goal line there in the first half and he audibled to that quarterback sneak. I think that shows the level of growth he’s had just this season. Just to see that and take advantage of it, that was a pretty cool moment,” said LaFleur.
Though the defense struggled against the Panthers in their close 33-30 win, LaFleur said that he was proud of what he saw out of his offense.
“There’s a lot of good there, but I still think there’s more,” said LaFleur.
Along with Love’s improved performance, LaFleur said that he has seen his tenacity and work ethic bleed to other young players on the team as well.
“I can’t say enough good things about Tucker Kraft. First of all how tough he is, and just making critical plays,” said LaFleur. “He’s brought so much to our offense and it has been so much fun to see him progress and get better and work. He’s got so much confidence, and for good reason. He’s put the work in.”
Though a tumultuous season for the Packers, LaFleur said that Love has worked tirelessly to bring his team wins in close games.
“I admire Jordan’s resilience, because it can get tough when you feel the momentum flipping,” said LaFleur. “They were down 14 points and came back to tie the game and he made some big plays down the stretch.”
With the Vikings game on Sunday, Dec. 31, already on their minds, Love said that the team is excited to take in their win against the Panthers, knowing that they still have a chance to finish the season with a winning record.
“Any time we get a win we are going to celebrate that. And obviously, we can keep the playoff hopes alive,” said Love. “We found a way tonight and now it’s onto the next week.”
Even though his hard work and talent are evident on the field, Love remained humble, acknowledging the impact made by important veterans like running back Aaron Jones.
In their game against the Panthers, Jones had one of his best performances of the season, rushing for 127 yards in 21 attempts, averaging six yards per carry. His longest run of the day was 39 yards.
“Obviously we all know what type of player Aaron Jones is, and just being able to get him back 100% healthy was huge, and he had a great day rushing the ball,” said Love.
“When he can run the ball on first and second down and get those huge gains, and kind of just convert and keep those drives going, it’s huge. It takes that pressure off the pass game and keeps the defense on their heels trying to find ways to stop the run.”
The Green Bay Packers will face the Minnesota Vikings (7-8) on Sunday, Dec. 24 in one of the most important games of the season that could work towards securing their spot in the postseason.