Green Bay Packers

Why Is Love Having Trouble Connecting With Watson?

Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Love will enter Week 11 with 10 interceptions on the year — half of which occurred when he was targeting Christian Watson. While throwing to Watson, Love had one interception in Thursday night’s matchup with the Detroit Lions, two interceptions against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football, and two against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It’s important to recognize the intricate world of X’s and O’s that defines football. It’s unfair and overly simplistic to blame Love’s interceptions solely on one player or moment. Love and Watson are developing their connection. There are mistakes on both sides that inevitably have resulted in turnovers, from Watson’s execution of routes and lack of aggressiveness in contested catches to Love’s misinterpretation of defensive reads.

What happened in each of those five interceptions?

Love’s pick against the Lions occurred while Green Bay was inside their own 10-yard line. Love executes the play action and targets Watson. Alex Anzalone tips the ball, and Detroit gets the turnover. The defender would have hit Watson hard in a scenario where Love completes the pass. It’s unlikely that the play would have been successful.

It’s also worth highlighting Matt LaFleur’s questionable play call. Why run play action near your own end zone when the defense is dominating your offensive line? Running the ball would have been a safer option to gain some breathing room and keep the offense out of harm’s way.

Love’s two interceptions against the Raiders occurred on plays where he and Watson could have made better decisions. In the first one, Love executed play action but placed the throw slightly behind Watson. Nevertheless, it was a contested catch situation, and Watson needed to aggressively attack the football. If he had, the worst-case scenario would have been an incompletion, with Watson essentially playing the role of a defensive back.

Love threw his second interception against Las Vegas on a pivotal third down in a two-minute drill. Notably, Watson had actually beaten the defensive back early in the play. However, Love failed to recognize Watson’s separation while going through his progressions. Under pressure, Love ultimately forced the ball to Watson in the end zone. Love underthrew the pass, leaving Watson unable to position himself to contest it effectively.

Love threw two interceptions in Green Bay’s most recent matchup at Pittsburgh, and both occurred in the fourth quarter. In the first one, Patrick Peterson had inside leverage on Watson, making it challenging for Love to throw that ball. Furthermore, Watson’s effort on the play was far from ideal. LaFleur stated postgame that the play was not intended for Watson, indicating that it falls on Love to make the correct read.

The second interception occurred on the final play of the game. There wasn’t much for either Love or Watson to do. However, considering the Steelers were defending the end zone, it would have been reasonable for Love to give Doubs, Reed, or Wicks a chance on the play. They are generally more adept in contested catches than Watson.

Defenses are acutely aware of Love’s inclination to target his speedy 6’4” receiver. Therefore, the Packers must change their approach. The chemistry between Jordan Love and Romeo Doubs has solidified Doubs’ presence as a reliable receiver, making a case for him as a go-to option in crucial situations. Furthermore, Reed’s impressive separation yards per route places him among the league’s best in creating space. Leveraging these strengths and recognizing Reed’s reliability in gaining yards after the catch can bring a fresh and effective dynamic to the team’s late-game plan.

Jordan Love and Christian Watson are both talented players. Like any evolving quarterback-receiver duo, their chemistry is a work in progress, and the intricate details that have occasionally eluded them will likely find resolution over time. Patience is key, as overreaction can hinder the natural progression of their connection.

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