The Green Bay Packers Thursday Night matchup against the Lions last week was painful. Not only was Jordan Love sacked five times in this game, but he was also hit 11 times. The Lions pass rush was in the backfield and after Love after only a second or two. Of course, you can partially blame the Packers’ injury-laden offensive line for that. But part of that blame also lies on gameplan and play calling. Perhaps if we moved that pocket around a bit, and kept the Lions’ pass rush guessing, things wouldn’t have been as painful. As a result, I’m begging Matt LaFleur to send Jordan Love on the bootleg more often.
Despite what we’ve seen so far in the first four games this year, Jordan Love is a mobile Quarterback. No, he’s not a Cam Newton where it would be no shock to see him take off on a 50-yard scamper, but he has wheels. So far this season Love has called his own number and run 16 times for 72 yards and two touchdowns. If he needs to run the ball, he can do it. Have it be an option, but not a designed option.
Not Designed RPO’s
When you talk about the option to run, so many minds drift to the run-pass-option. In these situations, blocking schemes can be set up for the Quarterback to elect to run right off the bat, or quickly throw the ball. Not that a QB RPO is a bad thing, a few of those could still be dialed up, but I mean running as a last resort.
Most bootleg plays are designed to get the Quarterback out of the pocket, and drastically decrease the chances of taking a sack. Most receiver routes will be heading to the side of the field the QB is running to so that the QB only has half the field to scan before pulling the trigger. You could have a tight end running a short out route after a quick block release, the receiver on that side go vertical, another receiver run a crossing route, and another run a post to the side of the field the QB is running to.
While these plays tend to be chunk plays, 5-10 yards here and there, they can be essential to getting a Quarterback into a rhythm. In the last two games vs. New Orleans and Detroit, Jordan Love didn’t get into a rhythm until later in the game. Running a few bootlegs here and there could’ve helped him get into that groove with his receivers. Also, they would’ve kept defenders out of his face.
If the sure completion isn’t there, there’s likely cleaner field ahead to take off.
He Has Legs, Use Them
As I said before, Jordan Love isn’t going to burn defenders for huge gains play after play. But if he gets free, he could take it 15-20 yards downfield before the next defender closes in. Calling in bootleg plays will open up this option.
When Aaron Jones is back on the field in his average role, hopefully on Monday vs. the Raiders, bootlegs could be deadly. Defenses will be ready to clog up the front off play-action fakes to Jones and 4-5 defensive backs could find themselves stranded trying to get off blocks if Jordan Love takes off.
Defenders’ eyes could get away from their receivers trying to monitor whether Love is going to run or pass, opening up that route for the receiver on a big play. Or they could choose to defend pass-only, and Love could get away for an easy first down.
Regardless of whether or not Elgton Jenkins returns for Monday Night vs. the Raiders, this matchup could be the perfect time to work in more boot-action. Maxx Crosby already has four sacks this season and will be looking to feast after watching how poorly this line defended Jordan Love against the Lions. So, take Crosby out of the game. Get Jordan Love out of the pocket for those easy passes or runs early so that the Vegas pass rush won’t have the chance to pin their ears back.
Use what we’re given and use it to our advantage. It’s time to coach the team that we have. Not the team that we want.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.