Earlier this week, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur stated that the team had so many check-downs against the Denver Broncos because the team was playing deep zone coverage and sending few pass-rushers. That will not be a problem this week against the Minnesota Vikings, who are the most blitz-happy team in the NFL through the first two months of the season.
Under defensive coordinator Brian Flores, the Vikings have blitzed 50 more times than any other team in the league, according to The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman. Schneidman also noted that Packers quarterback Jordan Love ranks 29th in the league (among qualifiers) in completion percentage against the blitz.
There are a couple of ways to get teams to stop blitzing. First, you can pepper them with throws that replace the blitzer in the short areas of the field. If you want an example of this, check out this passing chart of what Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert did against the Vikings earlier in the 2023 season:
The Vikings blitzed Herbert on 86 percent of his dropbacks in the matchup, which led to Herbert spraying the ball to the perimeter. According to Inside The Vikings, Herbert completed 34 of 40 of those passes against the blitz.
Another option to beat the blitz is to block it up with extra hats in protection and throw the ball deep, something the Packers attempted to do against the Kansas City Chiefs in Love’s first career start back in 2021. That was a less-than-successful approach, as Love completed just 56 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 69.5 in a seven-point effort for Green Bay’s offense that night.
Still, that seems to be the way the Packers want to run their offense this year. The team isn’t executing at a high enough rate to sustain drives by stringing together successful plays, so the offense lives off of feast-or-famine deep shots down the field.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Love is 6 of 27 on throws 20 yards down the field or further this season, including three interceptions and zero touchdowns. Per Zach Kruse of Packers Wire, Packers receivers have come down with just 2 of 12 contested catch attempts of 20 yards or deeper.
Here are things you can anticipate in this upcoming matchup:
- The Vikings are going to blitz the absolute hell out of Jordan Love.
- The Packers are going to try to call deep shots to punish the Vikings for blitzing.
That plan hasn’t really worked out for the 2-4 Packers, who have dropped four of their last five games. We’re going to get plenty of tape on Love throwing down the field on Sunday, though, which should give us a better feel of whether the early-season woes in the deep game were just part of the growing pains of a young offense or if it’s simply just a weakness of Love’s game.