Green Bay Packers

Why Jordan Love's OTA Presence Is So Important

Photo Credit: Mark Hoffman via USA TODAY Sports

With OTAs in full springtime bloom, the Green Bay Packers are taking their first real steps toward the 2024 season.

The Packers proved their young team was ready to compete with the league’s best by decimating the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs and hanging around with the NFC’s No. 1-seeded San Francisco 49ers for 55 minutes the following week. The journey to get over that infamous Niner hump and make a deep postseason run begins now.

That’s why it’s important to have Jordan Love in attendance even though he wants a new, long-term contract. Green Bay had almost perfect attendance for the first OTA practice last week, led by Love. Having the team’s quarterback there bolsters the team’s culture and allows Love to build rapport with his teammates early.

Just how important is it for Love to be in the building for this voluntary period, especially with news that OTAs might not exist next season?

 

It would be hard to blame Love if we wanted to avoid OTAs or was reluctant to participate. While you’d always want every team member there, OTAs are voluntary, and Love wouldn’t be the first big-name player in line for a big payday to skip them.

Love’s extension might not be imminent, but it will happen before the preseason (this is not a verifiable statement). Until then, Love is gambling by putting his body at risk before the ink on the deal is dry.

But Love is focused on football and being a leader, and he’s setting the example for the team.

“That’s just something that I’ve always done,” QB1 said last week, “trying to be here, get the reps in, get the work in with the guys, and just start building that chemistry and getting ready for the season.”

Matt LaFleur is pleased with his quarterback’s presence and beyond. This year’s OTAs have had the best attendance since LaFleur became the head coach in 2019, with only one player missing the first period for personal reasons. Week 2 had similarly high attendance, with only veterans Elgton Jenkins, Preston Smith, and Rashan Gary not in attendance.

 

“It’s everything to us,” LaFleur said.

“We’re still a very young football team as well, so these guys, they want to put in the work. I think we’ve got a lot of guys that love the game and love the process of grinding together and going through some tough things together. But to have him [Jordan Love] here, you can’t put a value on that.”

Aaron Rodgers famously skipped out on OTAs during his final few seasons in Green Bay due to wanting a new contract or not wanting to play for the team. LaFleur wasn’t a fan but acknowledged that OTAs are a voluntary activity. And Rodgers proved his confidence in himself by winning league MVP in 2021.

There’s an argument to be made that despite his absence not hurting his level of play, it didn’t help build the culture. However, the point of this statement isn’t to invoke a Rodgers-Love debate. Instead, it’s to highlight that despite each quarterback taking a different approach, their circumstances were also much different.

Despite finishing the season with white-hot piss, to paraphrase Matt LaFleur, Love and the offense only have a small sample size of success. Love might have won over most of the fanbase and some of the particularly astute members of the national media. Still, he has to build up his reputation to convince the world he’s the guy. We can’t definitely say that Love could dominate a season after missing important teamwork exercises the way his predecessor could.

Instead, Love recognizes that his presence at these activities is necessary if the team wants to take their next step. His leadership, ability to build rapport with his weapons, and setting an example for the rookies are crucial to fostering a winning culture.

This may be the final year of OTAs as a concept. The NFL Players Association is working on a proposal to end the voluntary workouts in favor of a longer mandatory training camp, similar to other professional sports. If this passes, player holdouts will be more severe. Skipping OTAs is sometimes a faux pas, but the league allows it. However, skipping training camp leads to fines and negative attention.

So, for the team’s quarterback and leader to show up for voluntary work in the final year when it might be a thing is huge. Love is showing that he puts the team before money and encourages his teammates to also focus first on putting in the work.

We’ve learned a lot about Love and his leadership style in the past year, and this is a picturesque example of how he chooses to present himself. There is an early level of buy-in for this Packers team, which is hungry after their last playoff loss. Having such ideal attendance, especially from QB1, allows the team to hit the ground running.

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