Love’s two interceptions — together with the backbreaker whereas attempting to guide a game-tying or game-winning drive within the closing minute of Saturday’s 24-21 NFC divisional playoff loss on the San Francisco 49ers — will linger in everybody’s thoughts, Love’s included, for the quick time period.
However when LaFleur, his teaching employees, normal supervisor Brian Gutekunst and the remainder of the Packers’ entrance workplace take a look at issues from a ten,000-foot view, what they probably will see is what LaFleur stated after the loss.
“He is had an impressive season,” LaFleur stated. “I do know it did not finish the best way we wished it to. I could not be extra pleased with simply who he’s as a person, before everything, as a frontrunner of this crew. I do know this one’s going to harm him. I am certain he’ll be actually onerous on himself. He is simply received to make use of it as gas to proceed to get higher.
“However I believe you noticed a lot progress all through the course of the season, not solely from simply his capacity to go on the market and play constant successful soccer, but additionally I believe he grew as a frontrunner. And I believe that is crucial, clearly, to be the franchise quarterback that I anticipate him to be for a very long time round right here.”
The Packers could not say that for certain 2½ months in the past. At 2-5 in early November, Gutekunst stated he wanted more time to evaluate Love and hoped the ultimate stretch of the season would reply any questions.
“I believe we have got 10 video games left,” Gutekunst stated. “These are going to be an important 10 video games.”
At that time, Love ranked final in completion charge (57.7%) among the many 32 qualifying quarterbacks, and the Packers have been twenty fifth in complete yards per sport and twenty first in passing yards per sport.
Issues started to search for simply two weeks later. From the Week 11 win over the Chargers to the tip of the common season, Love threw 18 touchdowns and only one interception whereas finishing 70.3% of his passes. He gained the NFC’s Offensive Participant of the Week for every of the ultimate two video games, victories the Packers needed to have to complete 9-8 and make the playoffs.
If the remainder of the league hadn’t seen at that time, they did within the wild-card spherical towards the Cowboys — Love threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns within the 48-32 win.
Regardless of two touchdowns towards the 49ers, Love’s accuracy dipped and his two interceptions have been paying homage to errors he made through the early portion of the season.
Main 21-14 late within the third quarter, Love threw excessive and behind tight finish Tucker Kraft, who tried to get a hand on the ball however deflected it proper to linebacker Dre Greenlaw. His second interception was the deadly blow to this sport. On first down from his personal 36 yard line with 52 seconds left, Love rolled to his proper to purchase time after which threw off his again foot, throughout his physique and over the center of the sphere, the place Greenlaw had a straightforward choose.
Love admitted afterward that the whole lot he did on that play fell into quarterback coach Tom Clements’ listing of mortal sins for a passer.
“It will sting for some time,” Love stated. “Watching all of the video games going ahead, it is going to sting simply realizing that we had a possibility to win and we dropped the ball on that one. It will sting for some time, however we’ll be capable to look again on it and see some good issues we did.
“Clearly through the offseason, attempting to work on the issues we did not do as properly and the issues we have to get higher at. However positively going to get to it and assault it, however it is going to sting for some time.”
In some methods, Love is already forward of the place Rodgers and Brett Favre have been at this level of their careers as starters. Neither made the playoffs in his first season because the starter. Rodgers did not win a playoff sport till his third season because the starter — when he and the Packers gained Tremendous Bowl XLV.
“We received us an important quarterback,” operating again Aaron Jones stated. “He is proven it over 21 weeks. I believe he is simply going to proceed to get higher with the reps he will get. His time with the fellows up entrance, it is my job to make his job simpler as properly. He is an actual deal quarterback.”