Packers confident Jordan Love will learn from mistakes made against Lions
GREEN BAY – As badly as the game ended Sunday for quarterback Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur was not freaking out after watching him on tape Monday.
Three of Love’s drives in his 30 minutes of play against the Detroit Lions ended in turnovers, including a pair of interceptions in the final 1 minute, 13 seconds of the game. In six drives, Love also led the team to two touchdowns and a field goal.
The first interception came after the Lions took a 34-30 lead with 1:54 to go.
On second and 10 at the Packers 25, the Lions blitzed, and Love made the right read, throwing to a wide-open Amari Rodgers on a slant route. Only linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage and the wobbly ball went off the hands of Rodgers into the hands of safety C.J. Moore.
Replays showed that if Love had waited a tick longer to throw, he would have still had Rodgers open, but LaFleur said it was hard to knock him for picking out the right guy and throwing it there.
“We had an opportunity to catch the ball and it got bobbled up and he got picked off,” LaFleur said Monday. “And sometimes, I don't know exactly how to prevent that from happening, especially when the ball gets batted at the line of scrimmage, other than just making sure that your timing is right.”
After the defense held Detroit to a field goal, Love got one more chance.
The Packers got the ball at their own 22 with 41 seconds and one timeout left. Love threw consecutive passes to receiver Equanimeous St. Brown. The first had a chance to go for a long gain, but Love didn’t lead the receiver far enough, possibly because Love took a shot in the lower body from outside linebacker Charles Harris as he threw after left tackle Yosh Nijman got beat badly.
On second down, with excellent protection, he hit St. Brown across the middle for an 18-yard gain. After a timeout, Love tried to hit St. Brown again, but right guard Royce Newman and running back Patrick Taylor failed to block outside linebacker Julian Okwara, who charged into Love as he threw.
Okwara hit Love and the ball sailed behind St. Brown and into the arms of safety Tracy Walker.
“I think there was less than 30 seconds at that point in time because we had just burned our last time out,” LaFleur said. “So, a sack there will essentially end the game. So unfortunately, we had pressure in his face, and I think that is one where he has to get the ball out.
“Sometimes you make an accurate throw with pressure in your face and sometimes you don't. And unfortunately, that one sailed a little bit and was picked off.”
Love completed 10 of 17 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown and ran in a 2-point conversion in the 37 snaps he played.
“I think every opportunity that he gets to go out there and compete, I think is a great, valuable learning experience for him,” LaFleur said.
Showdown with Buccaneers, Cowboys will have to wait
The Packers will watch the rest of the NFC playoff teams fight it out in the wild-card round during their bye week.
They will play the lowest seed that comes out of the first round and since it’s impossible for Tampa Bay (No. 2 seed) or Dallas (No. 3 seed) to be the lowest remaining seed, the Packers’ divisional-round opponent will be Philadelphia (No. 7), San Francisco (No. 6), Arizona (No. 5) or the Los Angeles Rams (No. 4).
The Packers beat the 49ers, Cardinals and Rams this year and so they have plenty of familiarity with them and can draw on previous scouting reports. They will have to do a little more studying of Philadelphia.
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LaFleur does not plan on resting the team this week. They will practice Wednesday through Friday as they normally do.
“We're not going to cut any corners,” he said. “We're going to make sure we do a great job first and foremost with our self-scout. And then probably take a glimpse at some of these teams that we are less familiar with.
“We’ll take a look at the four potential teams that we could face here in two weeks. So, I think it's important that we utilize our time wisely.”
LaFleur said they would practice outdoors this week to get re-acclimated with the cold after practicing and playing indoors last week.
Hackett drawing more interest
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who has an interview for the head-coaching job with the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, is likely to have an interview with the Denver Broncos as well.
Several reports listed Hackett as one of five coaches the Broncos want to interview.
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“I would anticipate more interest in Nathaniel if teams are doing their homework,” LaFleur said. “I think he's definitely deserving of at least being in the conversation with everybody and get an opportunity to present what he's all about to all these teams. I know if I was leading the search, he would be high on my list.”
LaFleur said he wouldn’t be surprised if other staff members draw interest.
LaFleur said he wasn’t sure if receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who injured his back against the Lions, would be on the practice field Wednesday.
He did not give an update on cornerback Chandon Sullivan, who left the game with a knee injury.
The Packers released guard Ben Braden and practice squad wide receiver Chris Blair.
Braden, who was on the practice squad earlier this year, may return once he clears waivers.
They also moved receiver David Moore off the reserve/COVID-19 list and back onto the practice squad.
The only Packers player left on the COVID-19 list is tackle Billy Turner.