Green Bay Packers: 7 Quick Thoughts on Jordan Love’s 1st Start

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 /

I can’t imagine that this is how many of us expected it would happen, but Jordan Love is making his first NFL start for the Green Bay Packers as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

But before he and the Green Bay Packers take the field, I have seven quick thoughts that I’d like to share about Love’s upcoming debut.

Footwork and Progressions

If we go back to offseason programs and training camp, Jordan Love’s footwork and going through his progressions were the two biggest areas of emphasis that Matt LaFleur, Nathaniel Hackett, and Luke Getsy wanted him to work on.

Footwork is one of the key fundamentals at the quarterback position. In the pocket, we want to see Love have good balance, that his feet are constantly in motion, and that his feet also move with his eyes.

When it comes to going through his progressions, we want Love to move from one target to the next if his initial reads aren’t open. When a quarterback panics, we will often see their eyes drop as they look to escape the pocket from any incoming pressure. This is when things can go bad.

"“The main goal for me right now is that he just progresses properly, that he plays with his eyes and his feet,” said Getsy via over the summer. “If his eyes and his feet tell him to move in his progression, I want him to move in his progression. So if defense is taking something away, we need to progress. I don’t want him to think he needs to force something down the field.”"

For the most part, during the preseason, Love functioned well in these two areas, but of course, making your first NFL regular-season start on the road and in a hostile environment is a different story. If Love is going to be successful, these will be two reasons why.

Matt LaFleur’s play-calling

This Matt LaFleur offense is designed to scheme players open, and it does make life easier on the quarterback–this is one of the reasons we’ve seen a resurgence from Aaron Rodgers the last few seasons.

By leaning on the run game to set up play-action, the pre-snap motion, along with running similar plays from a variety of formations, all helps LaFleur achieve that “illusion of complexity,” as he calls it, and keeps the defense off-balance. As a result, this does give the quarterback easier reads and completion opportunities.

"“I think we have a pretty good idea of where he is right now and the things he’s comfortable with,” head coach Matt LaFleur said via The Athletic. “And there’s been a lot of communication. Obviously, he’s gotten all the reps. I do think that the offseason provided him a good opportunity to experience some of these plays for the first time. You just try to draw on those past experiences that he’s had, whether it’s during OTAs or training camp or in the preseason games, to get a feel for what he’s most comfortable with, because you want a guy that’s going to go out there and be confident in what he’s doing. And I think he will be.”"

In this offense, Love does not have to be great for the Green Bay Packers to win–he needs to play well like any quarterback, but not great. Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, who have similar offenses to LaFleur, went to Super Bowls with Jared Goff and Jimmy Garaopolo by playing within the system and relying on other key players. The Packers will do the same on Sunday with Love.

The run game

Even if Aaron Rodgers was under center, I imagine that the run game was going to be a big part of the game plan for the Green Bay Packers.

Kansas City is allowing 4.6 yards per rush this season, which ranks 28th, and 121.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks 21st. Success on the ground will help open up the passing game for Love and provide him with some downfield opportunities off play-action.

So expect a heavy dose of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon and that wide zone run scheme, which the Chiefs have struggled against.

Let it rip

One area of improvement that LaFleur and Hackett openly discussed over the summer was that they wanted to see Love let it rip.

Now, this doesn’t mean throwing the ball recklessly downfield just for the sake of doing so, but what LaFleur and Hackett were referencing was during the Houston game where the Texans played some very vanilla defenses.

Love should have been able to attack — and at times he did — knowing where the soft spots in coverage were. However, he would tend to lean on the swing routes or other easy completions–which is expected from a young quarterback.

"“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.”"

On Sunday against the Chiefs, if that first read is there–let it rip. If Love sees something in the defense that he feels he can take advantage of–let it rip. Trust your arm and trust what you see.

Let’s see what Love can do

Now, it goes without saying, but the game plan is not going to be identical to what it was if Rodgers was playing–they aren’t the same quarterback. We will likely see more of the run game, more quick passes, fewer shots downfield, and perhaps Love attacking the middle of the field more.

However, I don’t think the game plan should be drastically different either. There are changes to be made, but ultimately, Love is a first-round pick who is in his second year in the system. While the Green Bay Packers will want to give him manageable situations, if a throw needs to be made, go and make that throw.

"“Physically, timing and rhythm are so hard for young quarterbacks,” Luke Getsy said via Sports Illustrated. “He played in a pretty simplified system in college, where everything’s spread out and the plays aren’t very (complex); there’s only a few plays. So, then you come into this with the challenge of learning this big playbook, and now you have to match all this footwork to each route, to each pattern, to each concept. So, that takes time. And just these last six or seven weeks, I’ve been really proud of how far he’s come and to see the way that his feet are matching the timing of the throw and all that stuff. So, that part, the physical part of it, he’s come a long way.”"

There’s no need to go out of the way to protect him — and I don’t think that will be the case — but let’s see what he can do.

The Kansas City Defense

This is not going to be an easy game to win as the Kansas City offense can put up points very quickly, and it’s certainly not an easy place to play. But if there’s a defense to make your NFL debut against, this Chiefs defense isn’t a bad option.

I already mentioned that the Chiefs are allowing 4.6 yards per rush, and their run defense unit also ranks 32nd by PFF’s grading system ($$) and 29th by DVOA. Against the pass, they are allowing 270 passing yards per game, which ranks 25th, and have seven defenders who have a passer rating over 100 when targeted.

As a whole, Kansas City is allowing 27.5 points per game–the eighth most this season. Love may be making his first start, but with Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Aaron Jones, and AJ Dillon, there are a lot of playmakers on this Green Bay Packers offense.

It’s only one game

Regardless of the outcome, the hot takes will be flying this coming Monday morning–Love will either be a Hall of Famer or a bust. But remember, this is only one game, and one game is not an accurate indicator of career success–or failure.

Brian Gutekunst and Co. will use this as a measuring stick for where Love is at, and it will be part of the equation when we get to the offseason when decisions will be made, but this one game will not solely determine what happens in 2022.

"“This is something he’s been preparing for, for really his whole life,” LaFleur said after Friday’s practice via “Now, it’s his opportunity to go out there and showcase what he can do.“But it’s not just him. It takes everybody.”"