Green Bay Packers

Jordan Love and Jeff Hafley Are The 2024 Packers Difference Makers: When Will They Each Be Tested Most?

Photo Credit: Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The NFL’s schedule release day is exciting because it offers a tiny peek into the future. For the 2024 Green Bay Packers, two factors will significantly determine that future: Will Jordan Love continue his ascent into the ranks of top-tier quarterbacks, and how successfully can new coordinator Jeff Hafley renovate an underperforming defense?

We won’t be able to start answering those questions until September. However, a look at Green and Gold’s 2024 schedule reveals more specifically when Love and Hafley will be tested.

On the surface, Green Bay’s schedule lines up favorably in several ways. First, the Packers finally have nine home games at Lambeau for the first time. Green Bay had nine “home” games in 2022, but one of those was the New York Giants game in London.

Two, the Packers will only have a single two-game road stretch. They face the Detroit Lions on Thursday Night Football in Week 14 and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football in Week 15. The additional travel time between back-to-back road games is beneficial. Compared to 2023, when the Packers had three two-game road trips, it’s a much more balanced travel schedule.

Third, having a Week 10 bye lines up well to give the team rest in the middle of the season. After having a bye in Week 6, Week 14, Week 13, and Week 5 in the last four years, having a bye squarely in the middle of the year should help avoid an exaggerated grind of a long stretch of games on either end of the season.

From a football perspective, the cadence of opponents creates a few curiosities. To start the year, the Packers will face Jalen Hurts and Anthony Richardson — mobile, physical quarterbacks — in back-to-back games. That will provide a great opportunity for Jeff Hafley to show he can prepare his unit for highly physical running games and demonstrate his ability to make adjustments and add wrinkles to his scheme every week.

Specifically, the Eagles-Colts duo of games is especially interesting because Indianapolis Colts coach Shane Steichen was previously the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive coordinator. It’ll be interesting to see how he interprets Hafley’s opening game as defensive coordinator, and he should line up for a great game of chess in Week 2.

From Week 5 to Week 9, the Packers face a strong stretch of quarterbacks in Matthew Stafford, Kyler Murray, C.J. Stroud, Trevor Lawrence, and Jared Goff. This month’s worth of games will reveal how Green Bay’s defensive backfield holds up against more passing- and play-action-forward offenses.

The Packers will have plenty of primetime games on some big stages, where quarterback Jordan Love can show the world that he’s leading a team of serious playoff contenders. The NFL scheduling four primetime games in a row from Weeks 13 to 16 suggests that they expect Green Bay will be in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Green Bay also has the fifth-strongest strength of schedule. Their opponents have a collective .526 winning percentage.

While quarterback matchups are in one sense somewhat theoretical — a quarterback plays directly against the opposing defense, not his counterpart — the games provide an easy platform for comparison of QB style. Love will have a lot of interesting matchups with signal-callers who have recently received extensions or will soon (Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovailoa, Jared Goff), potential NFC playoff matchups (Jalen Hurts, Brock Purdy, Matthew Stafford), and facing off against inter-division rookies (J.J. McCarthy, Caleb Williams). Each matchup provides a measuring stick, whether it’s player/contract value, playoff expectations, or long-term divisional hierarchy. Love has the opportunity to place the Packers and himself atop the heap.

A football team has 53 men on the roster and an entire sideline’s worth of coaches, assistants, and staffers. However, the story of the 2024 Packers will undoubtedly hinge on Love’s promising trajectory and the possibility of Hafley’s innovation. Each will have a stretch of games that will greatly test them and provide a perfect opportunity to prove themselves.

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