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By: Rich Madrid
Jordan Love struggled with accuracy on Sunday in week 10 continued to make progress reading the field with five big time throws.
Though the Green Bay Packers lost in Week 10 to the Steelers 23-19 in Pittsburgh, quarterback Jordan Love for the most part still had a solid outing. Overall, Love finished 21/4 for 289 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. I covered the first interception in an earlier article and the second interception was more of a desperation heave to the goal line where seven Steelers defenders were camped waiting for a throw.
The receivers also dropped two passes they should have caught, he had two passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, and had two throwaways. Overall, it was not a bad day for Love throwing the ball. He had five “big-time throws” per Pro Football Focus, the most he’s had in a game this season. However, Love finished 26 out of 28 quarterbacks in Week 10 in on-target throw percentage, per Sports Info Solutions.
The lower on-target rate aligns pretty well with the low completion percentage, even with the drops, throwaways, and batted passes removed. Love finished 24th out of 28 quarterbacks in adjusted completion percentage in Week 10. Still, the peak plays from JLove were there early on even in a game that was a mixed bag from him.
Love got the offense on the board on the first drive of the game after hitting an explosive pass to Dontayvion Wicks for 23 yards on a play-action dagger concept.
Wicks goes on a fast motion across the formation from right to left before running the dagger route over the middle. Love drops back to pass after the hard play fake but doesn’t like the window the dagger is open in. He might have had a chance on the deep “thru” route from the slot receiver but that’s a little riskier.
The windows for the dagger route are also just not there right away so he bought himself some time by scrambling and ended up creating out of structure. Love climbs the pocket to his right, starts to take off, getting the defense to move to his right. This buys him enough to hit a throw over the middle to Wicks on a rope, showing off his arm talent.
Later on the same drive, Love hit Romeo Doubs for their first score of the game in the very back corner of the end zone.
Love sends Jayden Reed on a fast return motion from his spot out wide in trips. The motion indicates to Love that he has man coverage, most likely cover-2 man with two deep half safeties. The Steelers only rush four at the quarterback, giving Love time to drop back and survey the right side of the field.
The route distribution causes some confusion among the defenders as to who is supposed to pick up the corner route from Doubs, either the nickel defender or the safety. Love is already into his throwing motion as Doubs is barely out of his break. The pass was perfect and Doubs catches it in the very back corner over three defenders but is still able to get his feet down with no defender able to make a pass break-up attempt on it.
In the second quarter, Love connected with Jayden Reed for a 35-yard deep touchdown pass on a variant of their 3×1 dagger concept.
Running back Aaron Jones goes in motion to the right, creating a four-strong formation to the right. Both Jones and tight end Luke Musgrave are chipping the edges before releasing downfield into routes because the play is a deep drop-back passing game concept.
Love is reading the weak side safety here in the Steelers’ 2-deep/man-under shell coverage. He gets his indicator from the safety playing flat-footed reading the route from the #3 receiver, Reed. Love throws the pass before Reed is ever open and throws him away from the coverage, letting him run out underneath the pass at the goal line.
Love connected with Musgrave late in the 3rd quarter on a route Love had missed on several times to Musgrave earlier this season. This time, Love didn’t miss.
Musgrave is the point man in the trips bunch stack to the left running a seam bender up the middle of the field on the hash. The Steelers are in disguised Tampa-2 coverage and the Packers get the coverage look they want here with the middle hole runner looking for a crossing route inside. None of the receivers are running a crossing route and the defender is caught flat-footed as Musgrave sprints past.
Love identifies this and the zone in front of Musgrave with the safeties racing to close it. Love lays the pass in there for Musgrave who has to make an adjustment on it to catch it as it’s slightly behind him but giving him a chance anyway. Ideally, that ball is in front of him on the run and it might be a touchdown but it’s already a difficult enough throw over the coverage.
On a throw on the final drive of the game, Love showed great awareness of coverages and reading the leverage by the safeties.
Here, he connected with Reed for 46 yards down to the Pittsburgh 35-yard line. The play is a pure progression from left to right with the basic/spot concept (wrap/in) and a vertical concept called “aggie now” (all-go, with a “now” quick slant).
The Steelers are playing Tampa-2 coverage again. Love progresses from the dig route to the left but sees the safety leverage and a chance to throw Reed away open away from them. The dig route to Musgrave is open and would have been a good decision to throw but Love took a chance on the shot play for an explosive pass and a chance to be closer to the end zone.
Love buys time for the throw with a 1-step hop back to influence the pass rush before he hitches into the throw. This move backward manipulates the rushers further up-field and allows him to glide up into a clean pocket for a throw. He gets the throw off just as he gets hit by a defensive lineman in front of him as a result of trying to let the route develop. The pass bends Reed away from the safeties and the middle-hole runner.
Here are a couple more of the big-time throws in a cut-up that Love had in week 10. Love ranks 5th in deep throw attempts, throwing the ball 20+ yards downfield on 15.3% of his passes this season. He ranks 2nd overall in raw total of attempts with 46 and ranks 30th on these throws in PFF passing grade.
Despite the interceptions, Love played a solid game. The interceptions weren’t so much a result of a poor decision-making process as much as they were other factors that influence defenders and throws. He gave his receivers chances all game long to compete and move the offense well despite other mistakes that happened in the red zone like missed blocks. Such is the nature of a young team and first-year starting quarterback. Despite all of that, there was much to like with Love throwing the ball that we haven’t seen since the early part of the season.
Originally posted on ACME Packing Company