Ex-Packers turned Bears pull back curtain on new Green Bay QB Jordan Love originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The NFL world, for the most part, enters Week 1 in the dark when it comes to what the post-Aaron Rodgers era will look like in Green Bay.
With Rodgers now calling New Jersey home, the Packers will hand the keys to the franchise over to fourth-year quarterback Jordan Love on Sunday when they kick off the 2023 season against the Bears at Soldier Field.
The Bears are preparing for the unknown of Love by focusing on the Packers' scheme more than Love's limited NFL tape. But with three former Packers on the team and one of the coaches who decided to draft Love in 2019, the Bears have at least some idea of what to expect Sunday.
"He's really good. He's talented," new Bears tight end Robert Tonyan told NBC Sports Chicago. "He was a first-round draft pick for a reason. The times that he -- I think Kansas City when he started and when he came in against the Eagles -- he had some good plays. Obviously you have to play ball to learn and become experienced."
Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was part of the Packers' brain trust that drafted Love in 2020. Getsy watched Love grow for two seasons while sitting behind Rodgers and knows what the young signal-caller is capable of now that he's not behind a legendary signal-caller.
"His college film, it shows his athleticism, it shows his natural passing abilities, and then he came in and was very humble kid," Getsy said. "I thought he handled that situation really well. Came in raw his first year experienced in that system at Utah State, and then each year, he just got better and better and more comfortable with what was going on."
Tonyan spent the first five years of his NFL career in Green Bay. He considers Love a good friend and saw the growth that sitting behind Rodgers facilitated.
"I think just learning the game," Tonyan told NBC Sports Chicago. "Coming from Utah State, it's a little bit different than playing in the NFL. Just getting those reps under his belt. The confidence grows. Now, it being his team, the growth of confidence and leadership was especially there.
"You could definitely see him getting better film-wise," Tonyan said. "Obviously, when you have Aaron there, you can't really see him grow as a leader. As a player, he did get better every year."
Offensive lineman Lucas Patrick shared the building with Love for two seasons in Green Bay and witnessed why the Packers used the No. 26 overall pick on him to eventually take over for Rodgers.
"He's a tough kid," Patrick said. "Resilient kid. Smart. Clearly talented. We saw where they took him in the draft. He was also willing to learn. Nothing but good things to say about the kid."
It's rare for a quarterback to sit for three years and still get the keys. That Love stuck it out and will finally get his chance is a testament to that resiliency. But Patrick views it as a natural progression for a young player tasked with learning the most difficult position in sports.
"No offense to y'all, but y'all put it under this giant microscope and that's a tough position to play," Patrick said. "If you had to go in and study what they have to study, I'm impressed that guys can go in there with one offseason. If it were me, it would be awesome to let them develop. See what happens."
The Bears are confident they have a good grasp of what Love will throw at them Sunday. They know he's athletic and brings an escapability element that's hard to prepare for without much film. But the Bears' new-look defensive line spends every day practicing against Justin Fields, which they believe is the best preparation for the unknown.
A new chapter in the Bears-Packers rivalry begins Sunday, with a new quarterback under center in green and gold—a quarterback who is a relative unknown. But one the Bears are uniquely qualified to have a good feel for before they face him.
"He's a good quarterback," wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown told NBC Sports Chicago. "He didn't really get a chance because he was behind Aaron. But he's a good quarterback."