Jordan Love shined in key spots but he and Matt LaFleur can elevate this offense higher
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The Green Bay Packers offense scored 31 points in Week 1 with a brand new starting quarterback, no WR1, a WR2 on a pitch count, two rookie pass catchers serving as starters, and a third rookie leading the receiver room in snaps. Oh, against a division rival on the road. Head coach Matt LaFleur masterfully schemed up opportunities for his playmakers while quarterback Jordan Love thrived in the highest-leverage moments.
However, Love and LaFleur each managed uneven days. The early down offense struggled and the first-half game plan fell apart after the first drive, losing track of the team’s best offensive playmaker. And what exactly happened at the end of the first half when the coach and QB both lost track of the time, letting the clock nearly run out on the half? They thrived even with those hiccups, suggesting the sky is the limit for these two and, by extension, this Packers offense.
Week 1 evoked some memories of the early Aaron Rodgers/LaFleur games back in 2019 when the team was winning games but every week we’d hear the two talk about how much meat was left on the metaphorical bone for the offense.
In a game Love finished with a 123.2 passer rating and threw three touchdowns with no interceptions, he also missed a slew of throws to open receivers. According to NextGen stats, he had a -12.3 completion percentage above expectation. In other words, we would expect based on the depth of target and proximity of defenders, Love to have completed 67.8% of his passes instead of the 55.6% he actually managed.
His stats look much better than the tape because of a 51-yard catch-and-run screen to Aaron Jones on a perfectly called and executed screen, plus the 37-yard heave to a wide-open Luke Musgrave on “Y Leak,” a staple of offenses influenced by LaFleur’s former boss Kyle Shanahan.
But Love also finished top three in aggressiveness percentage which measures how often a quarterback is willing to throw into tight coverage. His counterpart, Chicago Bears signal-caller Justin Fields, finished DFL in Week 1. In fact, by the NextGen stats, Love was 10 times more aggressive than Fields by percentage.
This trait showed up on the money downs in particular which is where Love unequivocally shined in his debut as a starter. On third and fourth downs, he finished 8 of 10 for 141 yards, two touchdowns, and a perfect passer rating. Perhaps more importantly, all of them were past the line to gain with the exception of the Romeo Doubs throw on third-and-13. So while it’s true Love benefitted from three big plays in the final yardage totals, he made big-boy reads and throws to convert in the biggest moments and highest-leverage downs.
This blend worked for one week but won’t be a sustainable solution. The Packers won’t go 3/3 in the red zone every week or 9/16 on third downs. They will have to be better on early downs and early in games to beat the best teams on their schedule and threaten both for and in the playoffs.