In today’s film room, we’re going to briefly break down the final play from the Green Bay Packers’ game in Denver, Jordan Love’s deep shot to Samori Toure that ended up being intercepted by Broncos safety P.J. Locke. The interception sealed the Packers' fate in this one as they tried to mount a comeback down two points late in the fourth quarter where they trailed 19-17.
The loss drops the Packers to 2-4 this season and the bye week didn’t appear to give the Packers any more answers to the questions we’ve been pondering for a few weeks now with the exception of Jordan Love, whose late-game interception is cementing the perception that he’s just not going to put it together and be the quarterback the Packers need.
There’s still time for him because, for Love and Green Bay, this is essentially a two-season tryout with the contract extension he was given through 2024. But recent games have not been promising. And the interception highlights a few issues, notably decision-making and deep ball accuracy, that Love has struggled with.
The Packers called this play at the right time. Someone clearly did some scouting and found a chink in the armor of the Broncos' coverages that if they could catch them in it, could rip off a big play if needed.
They likely saw the Washington Commanders run this concept versus the Broncos in week two, something the Andy Reid tree calls “blackbeard,” and Eric Bieniemy, Commanders offensive coordinator, comes right that coaching tree. It has also occasionally been a big play for the Chiefs and Jaguars (Doug Pederson).
The play is run from a 3x1 trips formation with a deep in/dagger route from the #1 receiver outside, deep over route from the #2 receiver in the slot, and an intermediate sit route over the middle by the #3 receiver.
The play is designed to attack quarters/poach coverages where the weak or backside safety “poaches” the #3 receiver across and puts him in conflict with the deep over route behind him.
Here’s the Commanders running it in Week 2 versus the Broncos. The Broncos are in cover-2 running the concept from trips on the right. Quarterback Sam Howell hits the deep sit route over the middle from the #3 receiver.
The scouting department likely saw this as an opportunity to take a shot over the safety’s head. In the clip above, the Broncos safety drives on the sit route. If Howell was a tick more patient, he would have the deep over route for a big play. What the Packers thought they could was put that safety in a bind with how he drove on the sit route from the #3 receiver.
The Packers line up in a 3x1 trips with the trips to the left consisting of Jayden Reed as the #1 out wide, Samori Toure as the #2 in the slot, and tight end Tucker Kraft as the #3 inside. A.J. Dillon is to the left of Love running the checkdown and Romeo Doubs.
The Broncos are in cover-8 (cover-2 to the passing strength, quarters to the weak side).
Love drops back and surveys the reads. The Broncos' weak side safety’s eyes and technique open up to the crosser from the #2 receiver. The deep sit route from the #3 doesn’t draw the safety up and is covered by the weak hook and middle hook defenders, allowing that weak side safety to poach the deep crosser.
From a clean pocket, Love throws the deep crosser but he just doesn’t put enough air under the ball, leaving it short and allowing the other safety to come all the way across the field to intercept it. He doesn’t really step into the throw and never considers throwing the check-down to Dillon. To be fair, it’s not a guarantee that Dillon even gets it close enough to get in field goal range.
This play is primarily about Love’s deep accuracy. That ball should be thrown well in front of Reed toward the front pylon, which would allow him to make a play on it. The secondary issue is the decision to throw this route and not consider the check-down. It’s 3rd-and-20 though so it’s understandable why the rationale for that doesn’t make sense at the moment. Either way, this was not an ideal end to a game where Love already struggled with accuracy and decision-making.