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It once would have sounded ridiculous — and perhaps even blasphemous, at least to Green Bay Packers fans — to make a case for why Aaron Rodgers should step aside this season, even temporarily, for understudy Jordan Love, barring an injury.

But now some NFL executives are wondering whether that outcome might be logical if not necessary given the arc of this bleak Packers season and the continued downward spiral of a quarterback merely months removed from capping a second straight MVP campaign. Undoubtedly, the idea will come off as crazy to many given Rodgers’s résumé, how much Green Bay just spent to secure his services through at least 2023 and how shaky Love has looked when actually granted an opportunity to play. Still, I would by no means rule it out.

“It doesn’t sound crazy to me at all,” one NFL general manager said this week after watching film of the Packers’ backward loss to the Detroit Lions. (He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not at liberty to discuss other teams’ personnel). “I think that’s where it’s headed. They’re stuck with Rodgers no matter what, but you need to know what you have in Love, too. Especially now. Was he worth the first-round pick? What could you get for him if he does play well? There’s only one way to find out.”

It would have sounded just as preposterous before this season to suggest Green Bay would be 3-6 at this point, especially considering expectations about how shallow the NFC would be. But Green Bay was shut down by a broken Lions defense in Week 9, with Rodgers’s quarterback’s rating falling below 90. And he appears no longer able to function in the red zone, where his genius has always been beyond reproach. Rodgers has been the 20th-rated passer in the NFL during the team’s 0-5 slide. His immobility is an issue. And he is averaging just 6.15 yards per pass in that stretch, ranking 27th in the league, despite his big arm. He faces a daunting upcoming task: the Cowboys’ vaunted defense Sunday, a surging Titans team (on a 5-1 run while playing stifling defense), the undefeated Eagles and then a suddenly improved Bears team before a Week 14 bye. Assume the Packers still will be a realistic playoff squad by then at your own risk.

A five-minute guide to NFL Week 10

Few also would have suggested before the season that Green Bay’s offensive line would look this desperate for a reboot, that Rodgers would be absorbing this many big hits or that a Packers team on cruise control to 13 or more wins in the first three seasons under Matt LaFleur would look so rudderless so deep into this season.

Still, why bench such an accomplished quarterback making more than $50 million in favor of a backup the franchise has been keen to keep on the sidelines for 2½ years since it shockingly moved up to select him in the first round when Rodgers was still at the height of his prowess? Well, from a general manager’s perspective, consider how bereft of talent this offense is outside the running back position, how much repair the offensive line merits, how many issues there are on defense and how the team will have to decide whether to pick up Love’s fifth-year option, which could have major ramifications on his trade market as well.

This is not a particularly deep roster; the team’s return from the ill-fated trade of elite wide receiver Davante Adams was already expunged in the 2022 draft, and Rodgers’s megadeal was not the least bit team-friendly. They are stuck with him through at least next season, in the opinion of every general manager and executive with whom I have regularly discussed this situation. And maybe, just maybe, Love’s athleticism could give the Packers a boost — or at least a different voice in the huddle from the one that has been quick to attempt to absolve himself of all blame despite poor results.

With four games remaining after that bye, wouldn’t it be something for a Packers brass that took such repeated beatings from the quarterback to have him take a seat for the prospect whose selection set off this soap opera in the first place? Far crazier things have happened in the NFL. Just this week, in fact.

The cascading impact of the Colts drama

The biggest winner in the entire Jeff Saturday charade in Indianapolis very well might be someone who isn’t even in the league, let alone on anyone’s coaching staff. In the immediate aftermath of the Colts’ stunning announcement that Saturday would replace Frank Reich as their coach, many league executives thought of a different team in the AFC South: the Houston Texans.

For two years, the Texans have come close to hiring former quarterback Josh McCown as their head coach; by now it is an open secret how highly owner Cal McNair and General Manager Nick Caserio think of him and how infatuated they have been by his coaching prospects. Several general managers who have had McCown on their rosters have vowed to me for years that he had head coaching stuff and would excel in that job, and McCown has been coaching his sons through their high school careers in Texas. The buzz about him has only grown, and after years of conversations with the Texans, his hiring next year would be far less startling given what Colts owner Jim Irsay just did midseason.

Jim Irsay has unleashed mayhem and misery in Indianapolis

“This makes it much less difficult to sell McCown now,” said one GM, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss another front office.

The Texans are hardly above blowing out a caretaker coach after one year; they just did it with David Culley a year ago. Unlike with Saturday, the Texans could contend that someone else might try to grab McCown. They have punted on actually trying to find their quarterback of the future, rolling with the limited Davis Mills instead, but that will change in this next draft. It’s fair to wonder, given their past pursuits of McCown, if he is now more attractive than ever as a quarterback-guru-slash-head coach, with the Texans the front-runners to land the first overall pick in next year’s draft.

Houston is the league’s only team without at least two victories heading into Week 10, with the third-worst scoring margin in the NFL. Did the franchise set it up that way as part of a long-term tank? Of course. But you have to bottom out somewhere.

A look at the 2023 quarterback class

The idea that the 2023 draft class will be loaded with potential franchise quarterbacks was seemingly inescapable early in this college football season. It may prove to be hyperbolic.

Certainly, it stacks up better than the 2022 group at this time a year ago, but a longtime executive and scout whose private evaluations of this position have proved astute over the years is pumping the breaks on the optimism. He doesn’t see four or five quarterbacks truly worthy of first-round grades, the way some evaluators would have you think, and believes teams selling their fans that all will be solved come April may be peddling some false hope.

“The hype about this class has gotten out of control,” said the executive, whose team is in the market for a quarterback and who cannot speak freely about them ahead of the draft. “This isn’t the once-in-a-generation class they want you to believe it is. I’ve seen them all, and you can get excited about some of them, but they’re going to need time. They aren’t coming in and saving your franchise from Day One.”

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