Taysom Hill 2.0? That’s not what these analysts see in Jordan Love
Hall of Fame quarterback and Packers great Brett Favre suggested Green Bay use Jordan Love like a utility player — a la Taysom Hill — to get him on the field in 2020. These analysts weren’t buying it.
SALT LAKE CITY — Heading into the 2020 NFL season, Jordan Love and Taysom Hill are set to back up future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, respectively.
Former Packers great and Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre sees another potential similarity between the two quarterbacks with Utah ties. Specifically, Favre suggested Green Bay could utilize the former Utah State star the same way New Orleans has used Hill, the former BYU standout: as a utility player.
“I think there’s ways to incorporate it much like Taysom Hill with the Saints. Use him as a halfback, a halfback pass, but occasionally let him run it just to show that you’ll do that. Something like that.” — Brett Favre, on Jordan Love
“I think there’s ways to incorporate it much like Taysom Hill with the Saints,” Favre told TMZ Sports. “Use him as a halfback, a halfback pass, but occasionally let him run it just to show that you’ll do that. Something like that.”
Love, who the Packers selected with the 26th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, is set to back up 15-year veteran Rodgers in Green Bay in one of the most stable starting QB spots in the league. Using Love as a utility player on offense would be one way to get the rookie more involved, as Rodgers’ contract with the Packers runs through 2023.
Favre’s suggestion, though, has sparked some debate.
Hot takes on ESPN’s ‘First Take’
Favre’s comments were discussed by a panel including Stephen A. Smith, Domonique Foxworth and Tim Hasselbeck on ESPN’s “First Take” Monday morning, and the consensus was Favre’s idea to utilize Love as a utility player made little sense.
“Taysom Hill was not a first-round quarterback. Taysom Hill was an athlete they picked up late and they tried to figure out ways to use him at H back or slot receiver, running down on kickoffs. Jordan Love is a quarterback. At no time did anybody suggest that Jordan Love was anything like Taysom Hill. He’s there to take over as quarterback going forward when they move on from Aaron Rodgers,” said Foxworth, a former NFL cornerback.
“He’s not there to be a gadget guy, he’s not there to line up at receiver or run triple reverses. It’s disrespectful to Jordan Love and Aaron Rodgers and it doesn’t make any strategic sense.”
Hill’s path to his current role
During his first three seasons in the NFL, Hill has become a valuable contributor for the Saints’ offense in a variety of positions, as well as on special teams, while playing behind All-Pro performer Brees.
Though he has thrown just 15 passes over his first three years in the NFL, including the postseason, Hill has lined up in the backfield and at receiver and tight end. He’s rushed for 352 yards on 64 carries — a 5.5 per-carry average — and three touchdowns, and became more involved in the passing game last year, with 19 receptions for 234 yards and six touchdowns during the regular season. He added a touchdown reception in the postseason.
That production paid off in a lucrative contract this offseason, as the dual-threat Hill — who went undrafted, then signed with Green Bay before being waived and ending up in New Orleans — inked a two-year, $21 million deal to stay with the Saints.
New Orleans added another veteran quarterback, former first-round pick Jameis Winston, to bolster their QB room. Winston had a 28-42 record as the starter over the past five seasons for Tampa Bay, throwing for 19,737 yards and 121 touchdowns before becoming an unrestricted free agent this year.
“Coach (Sean Payton) and I had a conversation before free agency hit, about what his plan was for me. I knew we were always going to bring in another guy,” Hill said when he signed his contract. “I didn’t know who it was going to be. But no surprise there; Jameis is a good football player, and a good quarterback.
“Nothing has changed for the New Orleans Saints. The goal has been and will always be to win the Super Bowl. I trust coach Payton.”
A different kind of player
Hasselback pointed out that trying to make a comparison between Hill and Love doesn’t really compute, making it difficult to see how Favre’s idea could be implemented.
“This idea that Jordan Love is somehow a similar player to Taysom Hill is absurd, it’s absolutely absurd. Just look at it from this perspective: one, Jordan Love isn’t going to be playing on special teams anytime soon. That’s really how Taysom Hill started to cut his teeth and started to have an impact in the NFL,” Hasselbeck said.
“The other thing is this: go back to college. Jordan Love had about 170 carries, nine touchdowns, a little over 400 yards. Contrast that to someone like Taysom Hill, who basically in college was a glorified running back — over 500 attempts, rushed for 32 touchdowns and had nearly 3,000 yards rushing.”
Set packages for Love?
Love enters the NFL having completed 61.2% of his passes over three seasons at Utah State for 8,600 yards, 60 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. He also ran for 403 yards and nine touchdowns, twice rushing for 160-plus yards on the year.
In Green Bay, coach Matt LeFleur has built a run-first offense that includes starting back Aaron Jones and BYU’s all-time leading rusher Jamaal Williams, as well as fellow 2020 draft pick A.J. Dillon out of Boston College.
During a conference call with media earlier this offseason, Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett talked about the possibility of having a set package of plays for Love.
“I think everything’s still so early to tell,” Hackett said, per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “Haven’t even really gotten to sit in a meeting room at Lambeau. I haven’t gotten to talk with him much or work face to face. I think there’s so much yet to be seen. You never know. Anything can happen.”
Rodgers is the now, Love is the future
Favre did have a piece of advice for Love, which proves especially pertinent considering Favre was the starter in Green Bay when the Packers drafted Rodgers, and Rodgers sat for three years before taking over the Packers offense.
“Soak it all in and your time will come,” Favre said.
When Love’s time will come in Green Bay is difficult to predict at this point. Over the past five seasons, the 36-year-old Rodgers has averaged 3,673 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 5 interceptions per year, and that includes missing half of the 2017 season due to injury. Rodgers has also been durable, as that’s the only time he’s missed due to injury since 2014.
“This notion that Aaron Rodgers is close to being done makes no sense, or that you’d want him off the field makes no sense,” Hasselbeck said.
Rodgers, for his part, said he’s looking forward to working with Love.
“I learned a lot over those years working with Brett, things that I can bring the relationship with Jordan and just bring the mindset I went through as a young 21-, 22-, 23-year-old, playing with my idol as a teammate,” he told reporters in May, per NFL.com. “I’ll definitely take those lessons with me. Like I said before, I’ve always had great relationships with my backups and always loved helping those guys out in any way. The more questions they have, the more answers I have. I’ve truly embraced those relationships, and it’ll be the same with Jordan.”