Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers Creating Formula For Success

The Jordan Love era in Green Bay is off to a strong start after a convincing 38-20 victory over their NFC North rival Chicago Bears.

After watching all of Love’s Week 1 passes, it’s clear the Packers have a formula for success with their young quarterback. As is the case each week in the NFL, winning can hide deficiencies, but what better time to clean them up than after your first win on opening day, on the road against a divisional rival?

What Went Right

Love’s overall stat line on the day was 15 for 27 (55.6 percent) with 245 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. While that completion percentage is low for NFL standards, his 9.1 yards per attempt and TD:INT ratio are promising numbers.

When the quarterback takes care of the football (his No. 1 priority), his team will win most of the time. A number of his misses can be attributed to a very young receiving corps. Over the next few weeks, I believe the misses will turn into completions.

Even more promising are Love’s numbers in clutch situations. On third and fourth down, he completed eight of 10 passes for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns. 

With a starting group of receivers and tight ends all in their first or second year in the NFL — and without top WR Christian Watson — the Green Bay Packers found success throwing the football due to stellar pass protection and thoughtful play calling.

The Bears could not put pressure on first-year starter Love and generated only six quarterback pressures all game.

With time to sit in the pocket, Love exuded confidence, decisiveness and composure while showing the talent that led the Packers to draft him in the first round in 2020. He looked very comfortable orchestrating the offense and clearly has the poise, arm talent and athleticism to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

From his first completion on a slant to his right, he showed a quiet, meticulous three-step drop and smooth delivery. Throughout the game, Love exhibited a keen ability to vary his arm angles and deliver awkward throws on target. He also demonstrated NFL arm talent to get the ball up and out quickly into tight windows over the middle.

Love quickly worked through his progressions as the Packers spread the ball around without a clear go-to target. Six Packers receivers had multiple catches, while none received more than five targets.

On one occasion, he showed the capacity to work the entire field from right to left, finishing with his flare control running back, who was No. 5 in the progression. He did not complete the pass, but his well-coached footwork, mental capacity and command of the offense were clearly on display.

On another occasion, Love faced a fourth-and-3, and coach Matt LaFleur made a “player over play” type call. LaFleur called an option route to their best offensive player, running back Aaron Jones, as the primary. In this key situation at the Bears’ 35-yard line, Love did his best Aaron Rodgers‘ impression, getting the ball up and out quickly and decisively on a well-designed concept with pin-point accuracy to Jones, who caught the ball in stride and raced in for a touchdown.

With his strong arm, flashes of accuracy, multiple arm angles and ability to work through progressions, the Packers and their new quarterback have a very strong foundation to build on.

What Needs Cleaning Up

From reading the box score, one might notice Love’s average 55.6 percent completion rate and assume that he struggled with accuracy. And that assumption would be correct.

On a handful of opportunities, such as the aforementioned pass to his flare control running back, inaccurate throws led to missed opportunities for Love and the Packers’ offense. This inaccuracy was partly due to inconsistent lower half mechanics, where his base would widen unnecessarily, or he was a split second out of rhythm. There were also throws off his back foot when he felt pressured. Overall, there were some inexcusable moments where Love just missed his target.

Another area I would like to see him improve on is his willingness to climb the pocket. There were moments when Love had open space in front of him to step up and either complete a clean throwing motion or take off up the middle of the line of scrimmage to use his athleticism and gain positive yards. His feel in the pocket should continue to improve with game reps as he inevitably faces more pressure throughout the season.

Additionally, rest assured LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements are emphasizing to Love that he must improve his nonchalant staging of the football. While at times the ball was well protected on his drops, Love often held the ball in one hand, below his waist and outside of his body, especially when looking to throw deep, which exposed an unprotected ball to blindside pursuit.

As the introduction states, winning can hide deficiencies, but the best time to point out and correct fundamental mistakes is after a win. There is nothing Love can’t do on the field, but his negative plays should be addressed.

If he can improve his ball security and dropback fundamentals, his offensive line continues to protect at a high level and the chemistry with his young receivers continues to grow, this offense has exciting upside.

What’s Next?

The Packers should expect to face more five-, six- and even seven-man pressures in the weeks ahead and a greater mix of coverage looks. The Bears never challenged Love, and he made them pay. Future defensive game plans will presumably make him much less comfortable.

Chicago only blitzed Love on five of his drop backs. The Bears also failed to mix up their coverages, running zone concepts on 20 of Love’s attempts and man coverage on just seven. Chicago essentially rushed four and played zone behind it on most of Love’s attempts, expecting him to get impatient and reckless. It didn’t happen, which is a credit to the coaching, play calling, exceptional pass protection, and a very mature showing for a young quarterback.

After Week 1, expect Love to see more man-pressure defenses that will create 1-on-1s with the Packers’ offensive line and force him to throw into tight coverage accurately. Week 2 should be a very interesting matchup with the 1-0 Atlanta Falcons‘ pressure defense in Green Bay, particularly with Jones now out because of a hamstring injury.

Love will have to withstand additional pressure, maneuver in the pocket and deliver accurate passes against more press coverage while continuing to show his clutch ability on third and fourth down, in the red zone and in two-minute crunch-time situations.

We are only one week into the Packers’ time with Love behind center, and he has shown a lot of promise. The corrections that need to be made are important, especially as it relates to the fundamental of ball security in the pocket and on the run. The more game reps he gets, the more we should expect to see improvement.

Suppose the Packers continue to protect Love at a high level, and LaFleur continues to be a patient playcaller who plays continuity football with his defense and special teams. In that case, this team will be extremely interesting to watch as the season progresses.

Marc Trestman is a former NFL, CFL and college coach. After more than a decade as an offensive coordinator and a quarterback coach in the NFL, he coached in four Grey Cups in the CFL, winning three over seven years with Montreal and Toronto before becoming head coach of the Chicago Bears. Follow him on Twitter at @CoachTrestman.

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