Today’s Film Room breaks down how Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love reset the pass protection to buy himself time to throw the touchdown to Dontayvion Wicks late in the second quarter vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
The Packers thoroughly dominated the NFC’s second seed in the Wild Card round, the Cowboys, by a final score of 48-32. The game was never really as close as the final score suggests with the Packers leading 48-16 at one point. To call this a statement win is an understatement. This was a Packers team thoroughly prepared for its biggest test of the season on the road in Dallas against the franchise’s former head coach.
You couldn’t script a better game for Jordan Love if you tried. He doesn’t get all the credit, the defense absolutely clamped the Cowboys' offense, intercepting Dak Prescott twice, once for a pick-6. But Jordan Love played as well as any Green Bay quarterback has in a playoff game in the last 30 years and one wonders how they can keep getting away with it.
One play that epitomizes his recent play and shows how far his level of understanding of the offense and what defenses are doing was the touchdown pass near the end of the third quarter to Dontayvion Wicks. On that play, Love simulated the snap with his leg from shotgun, and with the defense cueing in on it, revealed an all-out cover-0 blitz.
Situation: 2nd quarter, 3rd and 7 @ DAL 20, 3:28 remaining
This touchdown play capped off a 93-yard drive that had the Packers starting on their own 7-yard line after a Cowboys punt from midfield. It would have been a huge stop here for the Cowboys if they could limit the Packers to a field goal.
The play call is most likely a dagger concept. I say most likely because it could also 3x1 double post concept with a now return route in the flat but Love changed the protection and could have changed the play call. The broadcast copy was hard to hear so I didn’t catch the full audible.
Either way, he signaled to Tucker Kraft to stay in and block. Kraft most likely had a chip release into the flat.
My best guess is that the original pass protection call was “jet” pass protection, a 6-man half slide pass protection with the running back as the 6th blocker since Patrick Taylor is in at running back and is in a wing position to the left. Since Taylor is to the left in a wing, the call would be “3 Jet” or a half slide to the left away from the declared MIKE (Bell #14) since Taylor wouldn’t be able to pick up a blitz off the right side.
The defense is in cover-0 with a 6-man pressure.
Pre-snap showed the Cowboys' intent. The middle of the field is open and there are no safeties deep, likely tipping off a 0-blitz but to Love, it’s not clear from where until he simulates the snap.
Love’s hard snap count (leg lift in shotgun) revealed where the Cowboys' blitz would come from.
As soon as this occurred, he got the offense into the right protection by readjusting who the offensive line would be keying on, most likely sliding away from Bell to Kearse (No. 1). This would allow them to chip Parsons before releasing the back and slide into the blitz call. Wilson is likely not a rusher because someone needs to cover the tight end.
Love also adjusts Kraft to block the defensive end 1-on-1 and let the offensive line handle the five rushers in the core of the formation. If the play call is “skinner return,” this adjusts the play to “skinner,” a double post concept. Love motions Wicks into a stack with Jayden before snapping the ball.
The offensive line picks up the blitz thanks to the adjustment but Dallas still gets a rusher free. Zach Tom and Sean Rhyan did not pass off the rush and Rhyan was left out of position as Bell got a free rush on Love. Love zipped the ball through his hands to the end zone where Wicks had already beaten the corner. With no safety help over the top, Love just had to toss it out there and let Wicks run to it.
Love has done this several times in recent weeks and with great results. His ability to process a range of information and decisions within a matter of seconds is a big reason why the offense found its stride late in the season and why they’ll be playing another playoff game in the divisional round.