Expert Analysis


6 min read

Jordan Love Is Making Case to Be Among NFL's QB Elite

Jordan Love celebrates divsional playoff win vs. Cowboys
Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) leaves the field after their wild card playoff game Sunday, January 14, 2024 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 48-32.

With a 3-6 record after Week 10, the Green Bay Packers were a work in process with limited expectations and looking to build momentum for the future. First-year starter Jordan Love had completed a mediocre 58.7 percent of his passes through nine games while throwing for 14 touchdowns and a concerning 10 interceptions.

At that point in the season, nobody could have projected Green Bay would end the year on a 6-2 run, sneak into the playoffs and knock off the No. 2 seed Dallas Cowboys at Jerry Jones’ stadium in Dallas. But NFL seasons are fluid — anything is possible — and Love was in a different place at that time.

Times have changed, and so has Love.

Since the beginning of Week 11, Love has flipped the script, completing 70.7 percent of his throws and posting a mind-bending 21:1 touchdown to interception ratio. He ended the season on an absolute tear, ranking third in the NFL in completion percentage, first in passing yards and second in touchdowns through Green Bay’s final eight regular-season games.

Now, after one of the most impressive quarterback performances of the past several years, it’s time to discuss how Love has gotten to this point and whether or not he belongs in the discussion as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.

How Love Has Improved

When I turned on Love’s tape after Week 1, I saw a player with the arm talent, decisiveness, poise and athleticism to be a good NFL starter. However, his accuracy on a play-to-play basis was inconsistent, and there was room to grow with his dropback fundamentals and feel in the pocket.

After watching each pass against Dallas on Sunday, it’s clear Love has taken a huge leap forward on his flaws and improved on some strengths, as well.

Love plays, processes and makes decisions very quickly. He operates with a quiet mind and has shown even more confidence and poise with an entire season under his belt. 

To begin the game, it was evident the playoff stage was not too big for him. He set the tone by completing excellent throws while under duress, off-platform and with awkward arm angles in the noise in Dallas. 

He frequently extended plays and instinctively stepped up in the pocket, showing no fear after taking several direct shots while delivering accurate passes. Even though Love could seldom plant his feet and throw from a clean pocket throughout the game, he continued to show brilliant playmaking ability.

Love has shown clear growth in his understanding of route depth and timing of his feet and release, developing chemistry with his young first- and second-year receivers, which has continued to progress over the last month of the season. 

This improvement in his footwork, timing and chemistry with his receiving corps might have a partial impact on the most significant change in his game: vastly improved accuracy.

Love’s explosive arm talent, quick release and inherent wow factor have never been in question; the thing holding him back from being an elite passer early in the season was his inconsistent ball placement.

Against Dallas, that narrative was completely turned on its head. Love routinely placed his passes with precision to spots where only his receivers could make a play on the ball. There were no contested catches, and aside from one high throw to the sideline to Luke Musgrave, his receivers did not need to make outstanding plays to make Love look good.

His surgical dissection of Dallas' defense was not simply a case of a quarterback operating from the pocket, reading coverage, going through progressions and finding wide-open receivers. This was a magical performance at the highest level and a master class on what teams look for in a modern-day NFL signal caller.

Divisional Round and Beyond

Heading into the Divisional Round, the Packers will arrive in the Bay Area with a lot of confidence as they face the No. 1 seed San Francisco 49ers and one of the NFL’s premier defenses.

One thing the 49ers are likely studying on tape is Love’s low carriage of the ball as he exits the pocket. He often carries the ball loose from his body and below the waist, subjecting it to a blindside knockout. Considering how adept Love has been at avoiding interceptions during the past nine games, knocking the ball out of his hands might be the only way for San Francisco to generate turnovers.

When the 49ers look at Love’s numbers this week, they will see high completion percentages against zone coverage. Per TruMedia, Love completed 69.8 percent of his passes against zone coverage this season. Conversely, they’ll see a relatively low 50.4 percent mark against man coverage. 

While Dan Quinn’s Dallas defense was man-coverage heavy (third-highest rate in the NFL), San Francisco’s defense is more zone-heavy this year, calling traditional man-coverage concepts less than 25 percent of the time.

It wasn’t necessarily the coverage that Love beat last week, however. It was an aggressive pass rush that he courageously stood tall against or beat with his legs to get outside to deliver. 

If the 49ers elect to rush four and play zone behind, they will have to get to Love quickly or keep contain to prevent him from escaping and making dynamic plays outside the pocket. 

If Love can continue to play at the level he showed against Dallas, Green Bay has a legitimate shot to punch its ticket to the NFC Championship. As the playoffs continue, Love will have an opportunity to make a compelling argument to be projected as a top-five quarterback heading into next season.

Anything is possible when you have a quarterback operating at this elite level.