Green Bay Packers: If Jordan Love Plays, Look for him to “Let it Rip”

Aug 14, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) during the game against the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 14, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) during the game against the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Following his preseason debut with the Green Bay Packers, Jordan Love would miss all of last week, which included two joint practices with the New York Jets and a preseason game, with a “dinged” up shoulder after his throwing arm was hit by a defender and caused a fumble.

Obviously this was less than ideal for a young quarterback, who has already missed out on having a preseason during his rookie year.

But the good news is that Love was back at practice with the Green Bay Packers on Monday, participating in individual drills. Then on Tuesday and Thursday, he had his pads on and was active in team drills.

Matt LaFleur has not confirmed whether or not Love will play against Buffalo, but all signs are pointing in that direction. LaFleur did acknowledge that Love wasn’t experiencing any pain after practice. He also added that if Love plays, he will likely play the first half and possibly some of the third quarter before Kurt Benkert takes over.

In Love’s much-anticipated debut, I think most would agree that he looked good. He commanded the huddle, looked relatively calm in the pocket, went through his progressions, and displayed solid footwork–an area of emphasis for him. When it was all said and done, Love completed 12 of his 17 passes for 122 yards along with a touchdown and a passer rating of 110.4.

"“I thought there was a lot of good things that he did. I thought he made really solid decisions,” LaFleur said via the Wisconsin State Journal.“What we were really looking for is just going out there with the command, making sure our operation was clean, making sure that he was decisive and on point with his decision making,” said LaFleur. “And I thought by and large it was pretty solid,”"

However, if there’s an area for Love to improve upon against Buffalo — that is, if he plays — it would be that he “let that sucker rip,” as LaFleur put it. Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett would also echo similar sentiments.

"“If there’s one thing to just encourage him to continue to do is ‘Hey man, you’ve got to let that sucker rip,’ said LaFleur following the Houston game via ‘When you see it, trust what you see. Don’t worry about being perfect. Don’t worry about throwing a perfect, on-target pass. Usually when you do that, you’re not as accurate. You’ve got to let the ball go.’ But by and large, I think he did a really nice job.”"

Now, we did see Love “let it rip” on a few occasions; it’s not as if he was completing checkdowns all night. There was the big pass down the seam to Jace Sternberger that sparked the touchdown drive. Another example was the miscommunication on fourth down that resulted in Love heaving the ball downfield to Devin Funchess.

But throwing the ball recklessly downfield is not what LaFleur and Hackett mean by letting it rip–it’s still incredibly important that he goes through his progressions. Rather, Houston played some very vanilla coverages that game, primarily man and Tampa-2, as LaFleur pointed out, which should have led to Love pushing the ball downfield more, knowing where the weak points of those base coverages were.

Instead, as Justis Mosqueda of Acme Packing Co. pointed out in a discussion with Aaron Nagler of Cheesehead TV, Love leaned on those conservative swing routes at times–which wasn’t the best option given the defensive coverage.

As LaFleur points out, a key contributor that likely led to that cautious decision-making from the second-year quarterback was hesitancy, with Love trying to “aim” some of this throws.

"“There were a couple balls that I think he’s got to just let it rip a little bit more and try not to aim it,” said LaFleur."

However, this isn’t a major issue either. In fact, for a young and inexperienced quarterback, this is normal and should be expected to some degree as quarterback coach Luke Getsy told reporters.

"“I think that comes from just more the vision of the defense,” quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy said via Sports Illustrated when talking about Love’s cautious play. “When you’re catching the ball, especially in the gun, you have to have your eyes down, and then you have to pick your eyes up. I think trusting what you see, that takes experience. We talk about Aaron, he sees so much and he’s so comfortable and the game’s slowed down for him, that as a young guy like that, first opportunity out there, now full speed, not a practice rep, now it matters if it’s an interception or not, I think sometimes you’re a little unsure of yourself, and I think that’s all that showed up a little bit.”"

This Saturday against Buffalo, the Green Bay Packers and Love will face a more challenging defense, that from the sounds of it, will have some starters playing and will bring some more complicated coverage schemes than what Houston did. But even so, I imagine the message from LaFleur and Hackett is still going to be the same; trust what you see and let it rip.