Jordan Love Struggles, special teams give a match
When Aaron Rodgers appeared on the COVID list last week, a circus erupted focusing on his previous lie about vaccination and subsequent comments about his bizarre “immunization” methods. The storm around Rodgers dominated the weekly news cycle, even landing on “Saturday Night Live,” but from a football perspective, the story was about Jordan Love’s first big opportunity. Unfortunately, head coach Matt LaFleur struggled to adapt the game plan to Love’s skills until it was too late, and thanks to an exceptionally good display from the Kansas City defense, we didn’t haven’t learned much about the young flagman.
Love certainly didn’t play well, completing just 19 of 34 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception, but his situation wasn’t ideal. While Kansas City’s defense has been poor overall, they have improved dramatically in their last three games with a -7.7% DVOA (meaning they were 7.7% better than an average defense over this period), and Chief’s defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo didn’t take it’s easy on love. According to Pro Football Focus, the Chiefs managed to get Pressure on Love 28 times (out of 34 dropouts), which is an insane number. Sometimes quarterbacks, and especially inexperienced quarterbacks, create their own pressure by failing to step into the pocket. In this game, most of the pressure came in the middle as the Chiefs mistreated guards Royce Newman and Lucas Patrick time and time again. There’s just not much you can do for a quarterback in this situation.
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Matt LaFleur also did Love a disservice with his call to play. When the Packers took Love out of the pocket, he actually had some success, and on the rare occasions he wasn’t under pressure. , it was quite precise. LaFleur was to provide an additional blocker or, failing that, replace Newman, who could not delay the team after his performance. The other clear factor for Love was his lack of chemistry with Davante Adams. Because Adams doesn’t play much in the preseason, and because he missed most of this week’s practice on the Covid roster, Love really never worked with the Packers star, and it turned out to be. seen on the ground.
Adams excels at coming off the line, and a certain level of chemistry is essential to give him the ball. Adams doesn’t run your standard road tree most of the time, it opens immediately and creates space for itself. LaFleur might have been better served by using Adams strictly as a decoy in this game. Instead, Love forced Adams 14 attempts, completing just 6 for 42 yards, including a key interception at Kansas City 24 .
All caveats aside, Love still looked fragile from the few clean pockets he had, and without a few exploits from Randall Cobb and AJ Dillon he probably would have had a few more interceptions. Love had the strongest arm in his class, and he showed it at times in preseason games, but on Sunday it looked like he was trying to aim for balls instead of just letting them rip. Even when he was reading the right way, his receivers almost always had to adjust to the ball. But the most concerning mistakes were botched mistakes, and there were many of them. Most blatantly happened when Love began to move forward just as a shotgun hit came. Fortunately, this is an illegal movement penalty, not a fumble, but it could have been a lot worse.
Even with Love’s struggles, the Packers still should have won this game. Kansas City has struggled this year, but even a struggling Kansas City offense still entered the ranked 6 game.e in offensive DVOA, and Patrick Mahomes is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The Packer’s defense played brilliantly, bailing out the offense and special teams time and time again, including a phenomenal goal line after Malik Taylor accidentally hit a punt, giving Kansas City the ball over Green’s ten. Bay. Linebacker Krys Barnes deserves special recognition for one of the best hits of the year, stoning Chief’s running back Damian Williams at the one-yard line. The high school also played an outstanding game, anchored in Darnell Savage’s best game as a pro and helped by Rashan Gary’s relentless passing rush.
But it was all canceled out by three crucial special teams mistakes, including Taylor’s inadvertent touch of the ball and two missed goals by Mason Crosby. The three mistakes cost the Packers at least 9 points, and according to the expected points added, which also explains the cost of the lost position on the field, rather 12.7 points. Corey Bojorquez was an outstanding punter, but he was bad as a starter and botched the catches on Crosby’s miss and block by not turning the laces.
The returns have also been terrible, as rookie wide receiver Amari Rodgers continues to punt regularly and hardly ever wins a positive distance. The 3rd round draft pick looks like a bust. On top of all these issues, the special teams unit even struggled to recruit the right staff to the field as AJ Dillon had to sprint at the last second on a late punt. Special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton replaced Shawn Mennenga, who led one of the worst special teams units in the team’s history. Drayton managed to make matters worse.
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The Packers will get Aaron Rodgers back, possibly this week. Their defense will improve as the players get healthy. The offensive line will improve when David Bakhtiari returns. But if they fail to do something against the special teams, it will cost them playoff time. It may have already cost them the seed of the NFC.