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Drive by Drive: Jordan Love v. Kansas City Chiefs

Drive by Drive: Jordan Love v. Kansas City Chiefs

This Sunday, we got to see our first extended look at Packers’ second-year quarterback Jordan Love after Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID and was unable to play. The Packer offense struggled to get much going and scored fewer than 20 points for the first time since their season-opening loss to the Saints. Did the struggles all fall on Love? Let’s dive into the tape and find out…  

First Drive: Starting on own 24, 14:56 left in 1st quarter, tied 0-0  

Green Bay starts the game with the ball and the come out with a play-action rollout to Love’s right. The KC end keeps contain and pressures the QB, and Love misses an opportunity to hit his fullback coming across the line of scrimmage, throwing incomplete. An Aaron Jones run brings up 3rd and 6; the Chiefs get pressure and Love is forced to just get the ball away, sailing it over his check down’s head. The Packers punt. 

Second Drive: Starting on own 25, 5:56 left in the first quarter, KC leads 7-0 

A pair of strong runs from AJ Dillon bring up a 1st and 10 from just shy of midfield. Love completes his first pass of the day, a quick out to Davante Adams who carries a defender for a first down into KC territory.

After a short Dillon run, they set up a screen to the second-year back and Love makes a shot put-style throw (for some unknown reason) that nearly falls incomplete, but Dillon grabs it before it hits the grass and is able to gain another chunk of yards. 

The Packers are set up at the Chiefs 24 with 1st and 10. Back-to-back Jones runs bring up 3rd and 8. Frank Clark gets a great jump on the snap off the left edge and comes in unblocked. The Packers were trying to set up a wide receiver screen, but Clark forced Love to airmail it. The Packers attempt a field goal, but Mason Crosby pulls it wide-left. 

“The laces were in … they were IN!” 

      – Lieutenant Einhorn … and also Crosby, who chewed out his holder after the kick. 

Third Drive: Starting on KC 37, 14:54 left in the second quarter, KC leads 7-0

The Green Bay defense comes up with a fourth-down stop that gives the offense the ball in Kansas City territory. The Packers faced a 2nd and 17 from the 30; Love bobbled the snap but was able to contain it and nearly threw an interception trying to hit Dillon near the left sideline. Tyrann Mathieu made a break on the ball and got both hands on it, but it went through him and somehow Dillon made the catch for a short gain.

Now 3rd and 12 from the 25, the Packers tried to set up a screen, but it was covered, so Love found Adams running a short crossing route, but he was tackled shy of the marker. The Packers try the field goal again, but this one is blocked. 

The Packers are clearly protecting Love, running screens and short crossing routes, and not allowing him to look down-the-field at all. Everything in the air thus far has been designed with him getting the ball out as quickly as possible.

He has not thrown a pass that traveled more than five yards past the line of scrimmage and the KC pass rush seems to be timing his snap count and getting pressure on every drop back. 

Fourth Drive: Starting on own 2, 8:19 left in the second quarter, KC leads 7-0

Despite Love standing on his own goal line while taking the first down snap under center, they run play-action and Love looks down the field. No one is open, though, and he flushes to his right and dumps it off to his check down, Dillon, who’s able to catch-and-run for 20 yards.

Love scrambles for eight on the ensuing first-down play, and Jones picks it up with a short carry on second down. The Packers go to the air for the third-straight first-down play on the drive, drawing a DPI on a slant to Adams.

Love drops back on first down again and the pressure forces him to scramble for a short gain. A Dillon run sets up 3rd and 6 and from the GB 45; Love throws into tight coverage to Adams down the left sideline, but the throw is short, and the WR is forced to knock the ball away from the defender to avoid the interception. The Chiefs brought a five-man blitz and gave Adams one-on-one coverage against Charvarious Ward. The Packers punt.

Fifth Drive: Starting on own 22, 1:44 left in the second quarter, KC leads 10-0

Love gets the ball back with under two minutes in the half and a final opportunity to grab points. He heaves one up to Randall Cobb on first down and Cobb comes back to make a great catch. It’s an ill-advised throw; Love is moving to his right near the sideline when he fires back across his body 30 yards downfield. The DB nearly gets there, but Cobb boxes him out. 

Now with 1st and 10 on the KC 43, Love makes a low throw to Cobb that he catches for one yard but would have been better incomplete because it keeps the clock moving. After a Love scramble on second down for a short gain, head coach Matt LaFleur takes his second timeout.

On 3rd and 5, Love moves to his right and has Adams open for an easy first down, but he throws it behind him, incomplete. Now 4th and 5, the Packers line up to go for it, but the play clock runs down, and they’re forced to use their final timeout with the clock already stopped at 30 seconds. Love seems unaware of how to run the two-minute offense.

The Chiefs bring the house and Love throws back-shoulder to Adams who was not looking and continuing up the sideline. It falls incomplete, and the Chiefs take over on downs.  

Second Half

The half starts with five-straight punts by both teams, relatively uneventful other than a snap that came while Love was trying to change a play at the line, but he was able to fall on the loose ball to avoid disaster. We’ll move ahead to the Packers eighth drive… 

Eighth Drive: Starting on own 8, 0:49 left in the third quarter, KC leads 13-0

It’s worth noting that in the previous drive, KC really started ramping up the blitzes and were all over Love, including getting their first sack. The first pass of this drive comes on 2nd and 12 from inside the GB 5 and Love makes his best throw of the day.

He steps into a clean pocket and hits Adams on a 15-yard out, perfectly on-time and a strong throw. Adams had separation and there was no pressure. Again, no pressure on the next play and Love hits Marquez Valdes-Scantling across the middle for another solid gain. MVS was open and the pocket was clean.

Two short, quick passes gain another first down thanks to some YAC from Adams on the second completion. Following a DPI, Dillon run, Dillon catch, and an Adams catch — all for short gains — the Packers face fourth down and a half-yard at the KC 40. They elect to throw, and Adams is open on a quick pass for an easy conversion.

Love has now completed nine-straight passes, including seven on this drive but KC has not blitzed and is playing off-coverage guarding against the big play. After a couple of Jones runs set up 1st and 10 from the KC 24, the Chiefs finally bring the pressure and force Love to throw it away.

On second down, facing no pressure, he throws wide of Adams to bring up 3rd and 10. Love drops back, looking for Adams the whole way, and L’Jarius Sneed goes up and takes it away for the interception. 

Ninth Drive: Starting on own 47, 7:51 left in the game, KC leads 13-0

The Packers scored on their final drive of the game, thanks to good field position, a big YAC reception from Cobb on an early third down, and two big runs from Aaron Jones. The Chiefs continue to blitz and leave Adams in single coverage; Love continually tries to get him the ball, but he’s not giving his star wide receiver a chance because the pressure is forcing throws to go sailing out-of-bounds.

Green Bay ends up with a 4th and 5 and Love throws off his back foot with the blitz coming and finds an open Allen Lazard, who makes a nice move after the catch and gets into the end zone. The Chiefs would not give the ball back and the game ended.  

Final thoughts:  

This was a rough game for Jordan Love; he was facing one of the worst defenses in the NFL and he really struggled. The Chiefs blitzed 19 times; it was clear that their game plan was very different than had they been facing Rodgers.

They would not have blitzed so frequently and given so much one-on-one coverage on the outside, especially against Davante Adams. The Chiefs didn’t think that Love could beat them through the air and regularly brought five, six and even seven rushers, leaving light coverage and daring Love to make throws.

In addition, he looked incompetent in the two-minute drill before the end of the first half. During their final TD drive, he was not moving the offense with urgency, despite being down by two scores, seemingly not understanding the situation.

The Chiefs consistently had unblocked defenders bearing down on Love throughout the game and it’s unclear if that was because the young QB was failing to change protections as needed or if the Packers blockers were blowing assignments. It was likely a little bit of both. 

After watching this game, the happiest man in the world has to be Aaron Rodgers. The drop-off from him to Love is massive and he has a lot of leverage over the team now, especially if we don’t see the former Utah State QB again this year.

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