For the last six weeks, Jordan Love seemed to have turned a corner and began to look like the next future star quarterback of the franchise. On Monday night, however, he played like anything but that. It wasn’t so much of a regression as it was just the things that have plagued the young quarterback all season. In the last several weeks, we’ve seen flashes of these issues but his overall play largely overshadowed that they were still around.
That’s to be expected. On Monday night, the Packers lost 24-22 in a game where Love, fairly or unfairly, will be back under the microscope for his inconsistent play. In the end, he did engineer a game-winning drive where he made his best throws of the game, only to have that be undone by Joe Barry’s defense in the final minute of the game.
Still, though, he ended up making two unforced errors that also cost the Packers some points, with a lost fumble in the red zone and an interception. The lost fumble cost at least three points. The interception killed a drive after that.
What isn’t going well
For Love, it’s to be expected that he’s going to have to fight through the growing pains that come with quarterback development in the NFL. This year is his first real year of consistent game reps since 2019 in his last year of college. After sitting for a year and being inactive as a rookie, he sat for 2 years as the backup before taking over. None of his ups and downs should be all that surprising.
What will be concerning in the future, should these issues continue to persist well into next season, are the current issues he’s currently battling to overcome like accuracy, timing, and footwork.
Love struggled with accuracy pretty much all game until the end. Midway through the first quarter, backed up against their own goal line, Love had a chance to convert a wide open check down but his process was hurried and he airmailed the throw over Dillon at the line to gain.
First, Love’s process was off. With the Packers in empty 3x2, the play call has Love working the choice route to the right and then back to the levels concept to the left. He went to his first read, the choice route to the right but didn’t pull the trigger. Dontayvion Wicks was open after he cut outside but the throw would have required some anticipation.
Love can easily make this throw. But as soon as color flashed in the open rush lane, he tried to escape an otherwise clean pocket. He reset to give himself a chance but there was nothing open in the rest of the progression except his check down option out to the left.
He took the check down option but he was already hurried in his process at this point. The pass got away from him and was off the fingertips of Dillon in the flat to the left.
The reason his passes are so wildly off-target is due to his erratic footwork on some throws. The back foot swings loosely off the ground, causing his base to become unstable and forcing his arm to overcompensate for the throw. The result is a pass that sails and is off target.
In the above video from the Lions game in week 12, arguably one of his best performances of the season, notice how his back leg drives through the throw low and close to the ground with his foot scraping the turf. The pass is on time and accurate. His base is stable, his are separated and his weight is evenly distributed.
On Monday night, several throws were thrown off unstable platforms where his back foot is off the turf by several inches, throwing him off balance and throwing off the timing of the throw and its accuracy. On several throws on Monday, it looks like he’s falling away from the pass. In the process, he had to use more of his arm in the throw and he was unable to control its trajectory adequately enough for an accurate throw.
On other throws where he was late or off target, it’s because his process was bad. If the process (how a quarterback reads and sees the fields and determines where to go with the ball) is bad, then it can lead to disastrous results. Sometimes a quarterback can overcome a bad process but oftentimes that is not repeatable.
In this play near the end of the half, Love’s process and decision are sped up and it forces him from a clean pocket. He has a chance to step up on a hitch and throw deep to the corner but as soon as the pocket gets pushed back a little, he drops his eyes and looks to escape to his right. He threw a dangerous pass into coverage but fortunately, it drew pass interference.
On the same drive, Love had a chance to throw the crossing route versus cover-1. It looks like the Giants are going to send a 6-man pressure but it ends up being a simulated pressure where the mugged-up linebackers drop back into man coverage with one dropping to the underneath low hole as the plugger.
Probably one of the more consequential plays in the second half was an underthrown deep ball down the left sideline to Samori Toure. The play call is their “double go/middle read” concept out of a 3x1 formation. On this concept, there is no pure progression read, it’s basically just picking the best match-up.
The pre-snap indicates the pass should go to the single receiver side to Toure who is 1-on-1 with the corner. The safeties are shaded toward the trips side and a quick post-snap check would confirm this. Love came off the read too slow though, hit a hitch step at the top of his drop before throwing and short-armed a late throw that was deflected by the corner. The hitch step put him right in the path of his blockers, essentially causing him to throw with a lineman in his lap.
The important takeaway here is whether these issues persist or will they slowly fade away with more time and reps. Right now it seems the latter will be the case than the former and perhaps this game was just a reminder that these flaws can be an issue for Love. They should be easily correctable and overall the last seven games, they have not been consistently a problem.