Jordan Love made his first NFL start this past Sunday, where he and the Green Bay Packers fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in a 13-7 loss. The game was largely dominated by defense, but we’re here to break down the former Utah State QB’s first NFL performance.
Although our usual QB Aaron Rodgers is able to mask the offensive line failures, that wasn’t the case here. Jordan Love, despite only taking one sack, seemed like he had a Chiefs defender in his face on every play. By my count, Lucas Patrick (who was filling in at center) gave up six pressures, while Billy Turner gave up at least two. I won’t blame the entirety of Love’s bad performance on the offensive line, but it was definitely a contributing factor.
From the get go, Love looked off-balance and slightly rattled. This was expected given that it was his first game and that it was in the loudest stadium in the NFL, Arrowhead. Although these ‘jitters’ usually settle themselves out by the second quarter or so, Love didn’t look comfortable until mid-way through the fourth quarter when the Kansas City defense got tired.
Love was blitzed on a massive chunk of plays, which had to contribute to his uncomfortable nature. Big props to Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo for capitalizing on this.
Ball placement, specifically on deep passes, was something that Love seemed to struggle with as well. As shown by NFL Next Gen Stats, short passes were the norm for Love’s debut.
The Packers weren’t missing anybody on offense except for David Bakhtiari, who’s been out all year anyways. With the plethora of weapons that Love had at his disposal, I definitely think the ball should have been easier to move down the field.
But, I think a huge blame falls on the play-calling here as well. No young quarterback, especially one who didn’t know he was starting until Wednesday, should have to throw 34 times in their debut. The Chiefs’ lead was never sizeable enough to justify abandonment of the run game. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillion combined for a total of 20 carries, which is something that the coaches can’t justify for a young QB debut – especially when those carries were gaining traction.
In the end, Love’s performance isn’t completely on him – but he does deserve some blame. If the run game wasn’t abandoned, the offensive line wouldn’t have been under as much trouble in the passing trenches – which surely would have led to a much more efficient day for the Packers’ 2020 first-round pick. And besides, he did have at least one Rodgers-esc play in the game: