Despite losing to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, dropping its record to 7-2 on the season, the Green Bay Packers’ defense left fans optimistic heading into the last two months of the season. Jordan Love, on the other hand, didn’t have the same effect on a lot of fans and today we look at the report card from his first career start.
The 26th overall pick in the 2020 draft was thrust into the QB1 role after Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.
But there was excitement among fans as the Chiefs’ defense has been porous this season, allowing 25.2 points per game and the fifth-most passing yards in the NFL.
Zooming out, Love took a while to shake the jitters in this game. The game plan, as Matt LaFleur admitted, wasn’t ideal for a quarterback making his first career start at one of the toughest venues in sports.
Although he made a couple of throws in the first half to give fans a bit of hope for what the future could look like, Love really didn’t settle into the game until late in the third quarter.
When he did settle in, he rattled off eight straight completions before throwing an interception.
Love actually outdueled former MVP, Patrick Mahomes in this game, but that’s not really saying much.
The box score shows a modest day at best as Love finished the day 19/34 for 190 yards and one touchdown against one interception for a QB rating of 69.5. He also added 23 yards on the ground.
Poise – D
A key trait scouts look for in quarterbacks around the draft is poise. In other words, are they able to make the right decisions despite the world is falling apart around them.
Love struggled in this area.
Some has to do with LaFleur not making ideal play calls against the frequent blitzing Chiefs defense – in his post-game press conference he talked about calling plays with long-developing routes.
Some blame can also be placed on the Packers offensive line, which struggled to give its quarterback a fair shot at many points in this game.
But Love also didn’t show he was able to make the right decisions even when he did have that extra half-second to get the ball out.
He opted for a homerun ball against man coverage, as Rodgers often does against zero-blitzes, but wasn’t able to put the ball on the receiver.
There were a few times he could’ve taken a quick, inside-breaking route to beat the man coverage.
His “happy feet” to start the game were to be expected. It’s something many young quarterbacks do early in their career, but he did start to look more comfortable in the second half.
Love doesn’t carry elite mobility, but he did use his athleticism to his advantage in this game.
For much of this game, the offense sputtered.
There were a few moments when Love saw grass in front of him and decided to take some positive yards and you have to appreciate that as a fan.
For an offense that couldn’t grasp momentum, why not pick up a few yards with your legs, turn a no-gain into a positive, and see if that sparks something, right?
Love didn’t really move outside the pocket all that much in this game. He relied on rhythm throws that allowed him to plant and get the ball out of his hands on time.
His willingness to take off and run for a positive gain has to be one of the pluses from Sunday, though.
Protecting the ball – C
Yes, Love threw an interception in this game, but that wasn’t due to poor decision-making.
Although the ball probably could’ve been placed more toward Adams’ back-shoulder, he still gave his receiver a chance to make a play. Snead deserves a lot of credit for coming up with that ball.
The plays that were concerning not only came against the blitz, but they came on two occasions when the Cheifs didn’t blitz.
In the first quarter, Love took a short drop, stared down AJ Dillon, and threw the ball late and inside on an out route – a big no-no. The ball somehow snuck through the defender’s hands and Dillion made a great catch.
The other play came on one of the few occasions Love was able to get outside the pocket. He broke the pocket to the right and launched a cross-body throw to Randall Cobb, where a couple of Chiefs defenders were licking their lips waiting to intercept the ball, which safely hit the turf.
Overall, Love made some throws in this game that made you see why the Packers liked him so much coming out of Utah State.
His arm talent really wasn’t on display because he didn’t really make throws that required him to drive the ball in a tight window or layer the ball over a linebacker.
But he did show some of the zip he puts on the ball, at times. It might be grasping at straws, but he did show a couple of flashes that could leave fans intrigued about his next game.
It’s safe to say Love isn’t ready to be a starting quarterback in NFL just yet and his performance may have given Rodgers even more leverage heading into next offseason’s discussions.——————
Joshua Frey-Sam is a journalism student and aspiring sportscaster hailing from Winnipeg, Canada. A Packers fan since 2005, Josh has worked to master the financial and scouting aspect of the NFL over the past few years. Josh remains a firm believer that Dez did not, in fact, catch the ball. You can follow him on twitter at @jfreysam.