Packers: Top takeaways from Jordan Love’s first preseason
By Dillon Graff
What did we learn from Jordan Love’s first preseason with the Packers?
The NFL preseason is a useful tool for evaluating players that don’t traditionally see extended run on the field. This helps the front office catch a glimpse of where they’re at in their development, and what they specifically need to improve on moving forward.
This off-season in particular was critical for Green Bay Packers second-year quarterback Jordan Love. He was shorted a normal first year of development due to the abnormal nature of the league in 2020. Given the current state of the Packers’ relationship with franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers, plus the added financial benefit for the Packers if they move on in 2022 – the writing is on the wall.
Getting a better idea of where Love is currently at in his development is critical for the Packers front office in preparing for what in all likelihood will be a transition year in 2022.
Here’s what we learned about Love.
Love played his best football within the structure of the offense
In a positive development, the second-year quarterback played exceedingly well within the structure of the offense.
Simply put, when Love was able to get out of his drop and let it rip, he found success. This shows us that he’s grown enough in the offense to trust what he sees and also that he knows where his teammates are going to be.
At Utah State, Love made a name for himself going off-script and improvising. Seeing Love with a greater understanding of the offense and trusting his arm was exactly what we wanted to see from the young gunslinger in his first live game reps since college.
His improved understanding of the playbook allowed him to quickly lead himself into the next read if his first one was taken away, and didn’t hesitate with the football. He worked through progressions, even if it meant hitting the check-down.
It also doesn’t get talked about often when discussing Love, but he’s actually a really good athlete for the position. He’s not the kind of quarterback that you’re going to design runs for, but after working through progressions and the pocket collapsing, Love scrambled when necessary and used his legs to pick up some additional yards.
It may not have been perfect — it was never expected to be — but Jordan Love looked good within the framework of Matt LaFleur’s offense.
Love struggled when he was forced to improvise
Obviously, this is a small sample size, but improvisation was a strong suit of Love’s in college. That’s not to say it isn’t a tool he has moving moving forward, just that Love was clearly the most comfortable taking what the offense schemed up for him, something I’m sure the coaching staff/front office are elated to see. He’s coachable.
What was most discouraging was the fact Love still couldn’t quite seem to let a play die, and live to play another down. This, of course, was a concern coming out of college. Love too often finds himself playing hero ball and that can have obvious adverse effects on the outcome of the game.
A strong point of emphasis LaFleur has tried to engrave into the culture is the importance of ball security, so Love is going to have to reign that in a little moving forward.
The thing about young quarterbacks is that most lack consistency for a myriad of reasons. The NFL is a different game than college and presents unique defensive looks, coupled with complex offenses. So avoiding the high variance play is something that may take some time to work through. Thankfully, Love has the benefit of additional time on his side.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Bill Huber, Packers QB coach Luke Getsy had this to say:
"“I think the hardest thing for young guys to do is to let a play go, right?” quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy responded. “He feels like he can make a play every single time he has the opportunity. So, when you talk about teachable moments, that’s slowing the game down. The interception was on first-and-10. We’ve got three more downs to go get it. The other one, it’s later in the downs and we get to kick a field goal.”"
- Accurate passer
- Got the ball out quick
- Worked through progressions
- Comfortable letting it rip
- Trusted his arm strength
- Played well within the system
- Decision making vs. pressure
- Reverted to throwing off back foot
- Still can’t let a play die
If everything goes according to plan, Love won’t be seeing another meaningful snap in 2021. But, the preseason was the team’s first real look at what he can do on the field, and there were far more positive things to take away.
Yes, Love is still a prospect (22 years old), but showed obvious growth from the player we saw on tape coming out of Utah State. Beyond that, we were able to see flashes of the extremely high upside player the Packers coveted when they moved up to draft him. Love has a lot of gunslinger in him, and I remain confident his arc of development is clearly trending in the right direction.
All things considered, I do think Love is ready to play in an NFL game right now. His decision making and knowledge can only stand to grow as he continues to sit and develop behind Aaron Rodgers, but there’s no reason he couldn’t go out and give the team a chance to win if he was under center.
Love may still be a bit of a work in progress, but he has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback for Green Bay and he’s coming along nicely. I remain very high on Love’s long-term potential in Green Bay — this preseason only reaffirmed that.