Jordan Love faced a ton of pressure in his first career start. The Kansas City Chiefs blitzed him on 53.8% of his dropbacks, while Green Bay’s offensive line allowed 28 total pressures. Love finished the game 19/34 for 190 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. The Chiefs beat Green Bay 13-7 at Arrowhead.
Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 only four days before the game, so Love had to step into the starting role with limited time to acclimate. Given the circumstances, the truncated timeline undoubtedly affected the team’s ability to tailor the game plan to make Love as comfortable as possible. Matt LaFleur’s game plan proved less than ideal, as he kept calling a notable number of long-developing plays against cover-0 defenses.
Capitalizing on Love’s inexperience, Steve Spagnuolo employed a relentless barrage of blitzes, sending defenders from various angles to disrupt his decision-making process. The consequence was palpable on the field as Love struggled to identify and react to the multifaceted defensive onslaught. The lack of blitz recognition left him in a vulnerable position, unsure of where to distribute the ball amid the chaotic defensive pressure.
Flash forward to now. Love has transformed since his debut in Kansas City, from a quarterback who faced difficulties in recognizing blitzes and navigating defensive schemes into a poised, calm, and confident passer. He has thrown for 590 yards and five touchdown passes over the last two games, showcasing that he has not only adapted to the demands of the NFL but is starting to hit his stride. The composure that seemed elusive in the face of intense pressure has become a defining trait, and Love now navigates the pocket with confidence.
Sunday Night’s game against Kansas City presents a compelling test of Love’s progress. It’s a pivotal matchup against a defensive coordinator who has previously devised the game plan to stifle him in the 2021 matchup — and an opportunity to demonstrate his adaptability. Will he succumb to the same challenges that marked his debut, or will he showcase the improvements he has undoubtedly worked on since then?
Green Bay’s offensive line must be prepared for everything at the line of scrimmage. Spagnuolo’s strategic prowess lies in his ability to deploy various players attacking different gaps, creating an unpredictable defensive front. Spagnuolo orchestrates the movement of his defensive linemen and incorporates unconventional blitz packages, such as corner blitzes from players like Trent McDuffie. The Packers’ offensive line will undoubtedly have their hands full, requiring not only physical prowess but also a keen understanding of the shifting defensive landscape. Green Bay’s offense should also be prepared to have extra men in pass protection.
The Packers must capitalize on the void McDuffie leaves at cornerback when he rushes. Incorporating a significant number of quick out-route plays into their playbook becomes crucial in exploiting McDuffie’s absence. By recognizing the moment McDuffie commits to a blitz, the Packers can effectively target the vacated space and create opportunities for their receivers to develop yards after the catch. Quick out routes not only exploit the open areas left by McDuffie’s aggressive defensive stance but also align with the need for Love’s rapid decision making.
Spagnuolo does a great job at confounding opposing offensive lines through a diverse array of rush looks. His defense creates confusion by deploying unconventional and unpredictable rush schemes, whether it’s having a single lineman rush from one side while sending three rushers from the opposite or dropping a defensive end into coverage unexpectedly.
Love must make sure his footwork is on point on Sunday Night. His debut in Kansas City highlighted the need to improve that area of his game. He must prioritize getting his feet set within the pocket to enhance Green Bay’s passing-game effectiveness. Against a well-coached defense, precise footwork becomes a linchpin for success. Establishing a solid base enables Love to maintain accuracy, navigate the pocket efficiently, and make swift decisions under duress.
Love must be prepared to adjust at the line of scrimmage. He may need to keep up with Patrick Mahomes in a possible shootout. If he can exhibit poise and adaptability and capitalize on offensive opportunities, the Packers stand a strong chance of emerging victorious.