The Passing Chronicles: 2021 Week 9

Dusty takes a look at 6 plays from the Packers week 9 loss to the Chiefs

You want me to say it? I'll say it. Not the prettiest game I've ever seen in my life. But, as with all games, it at least gave us something interesting to look at and break down a bit.

So, with another busy week weighing on me, let's not waste any time. Today, we look at 6 plays from Jordan Love's first start.

Play 1: 1st & 10, 8:19 remaining in the 2nd quarter

One of the things the Packers seemed to do with the gameplan was to give Jordan Love [10] some fairly easy reads off familiar concepts. It didn't always follow this pattern, but we saw a lot of binary reads. "Throw this if this condition is right. If that condition is not right, take the next throw." Obviously that describes the idea of going through progressions as a whole, but this was slimmed down even more to essentially make a lot of two-man reads, regardless of what else was going on for the play.

This is a good example of that. Backed up in his own end zone, they run a dig from the left and an out from the right. They're utilizing play action, so the read is this: "if the linebackers bite on the playfake, throw the dig. If they're falling back as you're dropping back, throw the out." 

Of course, sometimes neither of those options is open.

Love reads the linebackers during the dropback. He hits his back foot and sets to fire, but doesn't like the throwing lane with a linebacker dropping back.

So he resets to fire on the out, but Marquez Valdes-Scantling [83] isn't able to get a clean release and is tied up at the top of his route.

Love doesn't panic, because he knows where his checkdown his. He leaves the pocket to get a better throwing angle and finds AJ Dillon [28] in the flat

There are much, much worse options that Dillon in the flat. Dillon gets upfield and picks up 21 yards.

Play 2: 2nd & 12, 15:00 remaining in the 4th quarter

We're going to jump ahead a bit and look at the same concept. Dig from the right, out on the left, once again in the shadow of his own end zone. Love is a little cleaner with the read & release this time. On the previous play, he loaded to throw to the dig, before thinking better of it and moving to the second read. This time he is able to get a good picture of the second level of the defense during his dropback. When he sets, he doesn't set for the dig, because that has been ruled out before he even gets to the top of his drop. When his back foot hits, he's loaded and ready to throw the out route.

Hits his back foot, hitches and throws an on-time ball to Davante Adams [17] on the out route for 14 yards and a 1st down.

Play 3: 1st & 10, 6:15 remaining in the 2nd quarter

Now we'll move to another concept: Middle Read Dagger. As I wrote about in the offseason, it's a concept they used extensively last season, and they're still rolling it out on a regular basis this season. It's a really nice concept that can attack either a single-high or two-high safety alignment. It's a two-man concept, with the slot receiver pushing verticallly down the middle of the field. If it's a single-high safety alignment, he will run a dig across the face of the safety. If it's a two-high safety alignment, he will run a post and split the safeties.

If the conditions are right, that route can work as a shot play, particularly against two-high. But, generally, it's used as a way to clear space in the middle for the second route in the concept: a dig underneath the vertical route. 

You're not going to believe this, but the first time they ran this, pressure was breaking off the edge as soon as Love hit the top of his drop.

With the middle of the field open and his initial read covered up, Love escapes through the middle 

Play 4: 1st & 10, 14:33 remaining in the 4th quarter

Since it's one of their core concepts, they came back to it later in the game. The personnel is slightly different - Allen Lazard [13] is the slot receiver this time instead of Davante Adams - but MVS is running the dig on both plays. This time the Chiefs are in a single-high look, so Lazard runs a dig out of the slot.

The pre-snap jet motion shifts the coverage responsibilities on that side. The slot corner drops down on the flat route, while a linebacker carries Lazard up the field. With the safety drifting with the route from Lazard and MVS getting inside leverage, there's plenty of room in the middle of the field

Love looks down the middle of the field during his drop. He hits the top of his drop, adjusts his feet and fires to MVS on the dig.

Play 5: 1st & 10, 6:59 remaining in the 4th quarter

This concept here strips away the "Dagger" and just remains Middle Read. On this concept, the outside receivers typically run go routes, while the slot receiver attacks the safety alignment we described above. It's a good way to have a concept that can attack whatever safety alignment you're facing, while also giving the chance for some iso routes on the outside. In this case, it's a single-high safety alignment. The safety stays over the slot receiver, giving one-on-one match-ups on the outside with Adams and MVS.

Love's first read on this play is Adams, because he likes the match-up. Given the fact that the Chiefs are in full on "blitz every single play" mode, the pressure breaks through with a quickness. Love hits his back foot, loads and fires to Adams.

Adams has a step, but the ball sails out of bounds. Good pre-snap read, but the throw was just off.

The throw is a little off because Love sidesteps before the throw to buy himself half-a-step before he is pulverized by Frank Clark [55].

During the broadcast, Troy Aikman said something to the effect of, "You don't get many opportunities for a play like this. Love needs to make that throw." I don't usually mind Aikman, but this? Yes, Adams won the route but it's not like it was busted coverage and a clean pocket. Adams has a couple steps of separation and a free rusher is breaking through the line. It would have been nice if Love could have connected on this throw, but let's not pretend that this was a once-in-a-lifetime scenario.

Play 6: 3rd & 5, 0:35 remaining in the 2nd quarter

This is another example of the binary reads I was talking about earlier. The right side sees the Packers in a China/Smash concept. It's a high-low concept meant to stretch the field vertically. The outside receiver runs a short route - on Smash it's usually a curl, while China has it as an in-cutter or pivot route - while the inside receiver runs a corner route over the top. It's an old West Coast concept. Over the last few years we've seen the Packers run the Smash Fade variation more than the core concept itself, but Smash/China seems to be making a comeback this year.

Anyway, the idea of the combo is that you're reading two men. If the boundary defender stays with the short route, throw the corner route. If the boundary defender falls under the corner route, throw the short route. Ball control football, baby.

The Chiefs are playing up on the line and the boundary defender is staying with the short route. That tells Love to throw the corner route. The issue - once again - is that pesky rush. Love hits the back foot of his drop and finds two defenders crashing through the line, so he escapes to the right and throws the corner.

It's a good read, but the throw sails on Love, ending up high and behind Adams. Adams jumps and tries to stab it with one hand, but he's unable to come up with it.

This isn't the easiest throw in the world - he's on the run and trying to get the ball over the top of Ward on the sideline - but it's one he'll need to make down the line.

If there's one thing that concerned me in this start it was some of the inaccuracy. It's tough to judge based on a single game where he was under pressure constantly, but inaccuracy was an issue at Utah State and it was on display against the Chiefs. Love can be accurate - he has shown that - but the consistency isn't quite where I hoped it would be. I'm not burying him after one start, and I'm certainly not suggesting that he can't improve in that area, but it's just something to keep an eye on. 

I said something about this after the game, but this kind of felt like a Rorschach game, in that you could see whatever you wanted to see. Want to see a QB who you think should be further along? It was there! Want to see a young QB who is not quite ready but showed enough promise to be a good starter down the line? It was there! Personally, I fall into the camp of the latter. Obviously too early to say how his career will play out, but I was encouraged by what I saw this past weekend. 

Albums listened to: Eric & Magill - Two Travelers; Tom Petty - Wildflowers; Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats - The Future; Manchester Orchestra - The Million Masks of God; Modest Mouse - The Golden Casket; Dinosaur Jr. - Sweep It Into Space; The Appleseed Cast - Mare Vitalis; Talk Talk - Laughing Stock


Dusty Evely is a film analyst for Cheesehead TV. He can be heard talking about the Packers on Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter at @DustyEvely or email at [email protected].

8 points

Comments (7)

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Minniman's picture

November 10, 2021 at 03:16 pm

On play 2 - on watching that play in the Coaches film (which runs at least 2 angles of each play) you see clearly that Love only ever has eyes for #17. I also noticed this a fair few times on other plays that got broken up. He’ll need to work on his disguises to help his receivers.

….apologies for sounding like a broken record here (I’ve prefaced several of my last posts with “on the coaches film….”)

Thanks again Dusty for the great articles - a welcome return to just concentrating on pure football!

6 points
PeteK's picture

November 10, 2021 at 03:45 pm

Thanks for the positive Love highlights. He flashed some sparks, good enough for me at this stage.

1 points
wildbill's picture

November 10, 2021 at 07:08 pm

Great breakdowns and I enjoy viewing them as I don’t rewatch losses. Not a big Love supporter but very few veteran QBs wouldn’t had problems the way our offensive line played. A better game plan, or in game adjustment, might have helped both

4 points
KurtMc's picture

November 10, 2021 at 07:48 pm

Dusty, Thanks for the Great Breakdown - Not crazy about Love's overall Mechanics. Rogers can get away with it. He is an anomaly with QB mechanics.

Love has a long way to go. Certainly, a better game plan would have helped. Very disappointed with our H.C. & Offense Coordinator.


2 points
LeotisHarris's picture

November 10, 2021 at 10:06 pm

Always appreciated, Dusty. You never disappoint. Thanks.

Guys, if you haven't watched the JT O'Sullivan video Al posted in this week's Polluted Mindset, go check it out. I think it's really a fair assessment of Love even if his language sounds a bit, um, *familiar* at times.

4 points
Oppy's picture

November 12, 2021 at 11:37 am

I really could have done without JT's dry humor delivery of "topical" language, lol, but his analysis was insightful, fair, and honest. His breakdown of blocking schemes and his very good explanation of why he's critical of WTF was going on with the OL is excellent.

It doesn't hurt that he confirmed what I took away from the game in regards to Love :)

He made mistakes, but those mistakes were generally due to unreasonable pressure.

0 points
croatpackfan's picture

November 11, 2021 at 01:34 am

Dusty, thank you for the educated hope.

Yes, Jordan did not play well, but we forget that we are accustomed on much better QB show. Much of that better QB show comes with experience. Also, game plan for the game should never be just adaptation of plan for one QB, when you are playing another one.

I admitt that I do not know how to prepare game plan, but logic tells me that you first prepare game plan for your starter QB, than you should prepare back up plan for your replacement QB, if your starting QB had to be out of the game. For this game I have feel that just try to adapt AR plan for Jordan Love. No wonder why it was not working.

Some of the bad throws Jordan made in this game can be product of pressure, some of hits he received and some to adrenaline running high through his blood. The game plan did not help in calming his adrenaline rush, I would say it made the rush worse.

Also, I would like that someone tell Jordan Love that he is not and should not be Aaron Rodgers. As Aaron Rodgers is not Brett Favre. He has to be Jordan Love, in life and in playing the football. This is the only way you can achieve greatness. If you have greatness in yourself, you can achieve it by being trully yourself.

I noticed that in many small things Jordan tried to emulate Aaron Rodgers way of playing (like waiting last second to snap the ball), but he is not Aaron Rodgers. He has to play as Jordan, not as Aaron. You can succeed only if you stay and act as who you trully are...

1 points