Jordan Love's progress credited to better footwork under watchful eye of Tom Clements

Kassidy Hill
Packers News
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GREEN BAY - Heading into his third year with the Green Bay Packers, quarterback Jordan Love has found a rhythm, in more ways than one.

Following Tuesday’s training camp practice, the first day in pads, coach Matt LaFleur told Love something the quarterback had been waiting to hear. 

“I think that might have been one of his best practices we've seen in three years,” LaFleur said. 

“It felt really good,” said Love of the praise. “Obviously that’s who you want to be telling you you're doing the right thing. So it's good to hear that but you know, the way I take it is just try and keep building on that. Take it day by day. Just try to keep getting better from there."

Love was able to control the huddle, make calls at the line, put zip behind his passes and place them in places only his receiver could make a play. It’s the kind of progress the Packers have been hoping to see with Love. He tossed a touchdown to receiver Romeo Doubs in two-minute drills that allowed the rookie to use his vertical and make a 50/50 catch worthy of a highlight reel. 

Between three standout throws, and a couple of throwaways that showed progress in Love’s decision making, it was a toss to Sammy Watkins over the middle that had quarterback Aaron Rodgers heaping praise on both Love and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements. 

Jordan Love runs a drill during the Packers' organized team activities in May.

“The ball was great, but it all starts with the footwork,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “It was an inside zone fake on the left; at the top of his drop, he was heavy, and he one-hitched a perfect 4-5-5-4 to throw that ball. That's the difference. When you start figuring out the fundamentals and throwing from the ground up, the throwing becomes the easy part because your feet tell you exactly when to throw the ball. And that was beautiful footwork.

“Year three is always a jump but I've seen the fundamentals, you know, get that little cleanup that needed to happen. That allows him I think to be a little bit more accurate.”

The 4-5-5-4 Rodgers mentioned references the steps a quarterback takes after the drop back to set their base and then throw in rhythm. Mastering that move will allow a quarterback to make the throw they need to make in the face of pressure. Rodgers gives a ton of credit to Clements for the change in Love. 

“I mentioned that to Matt, you know after the season … if he wants to bring in somebody to teach fundamentals the right way, every single day, then Tom’s the guy,” Rodgers said. 

“The attentiveness to the fundamentals, I think is really going to help Jordan and Danny (Etling) out because if you want to be accurate in this league, you got to throw the ball in rhythm and on balance. And I think for the first time there's the right amount of emphasis on those fundamentals.”

Love concurred, sharing that his fundamentals with his base was the biggest thing Clements wanted to address in the young passer’s game this offseason. 

"Watching film from last year, the games I played in, lot of throws, my feet would be kind of off, not be pointed to the target, not have a perfect base. So that's the biggest thing I’ve been working on,” Love said. “Just continue to keep a base whenever you’re throwing, whether you get off platform or not, just try to get back to the base as quickly as you can, and just continue to grow from that base.

“When you get to a base, you have more power and you're able to get your hips into it. You just have more power throwing, rather than just throwing all along when you’re off platform a little bit.” 

Now, LaFleur just wants to see Love show that his improvements are sustainable. 

“I thought there were a lot of great things that (Love) did (Tuesday). He made some big-time throws with pressure in his face. Some of those are questionable whether or not he’d have an opportunity to get them off but no, I thought he had a nice day. Now the key is to continue that, that consistency is what we want to see.” 

All hail to Dobbs

The talk of training camp thus far has easily been Doubs. He has walked away each day with a “wow” play and as Rodgers said on Wednesday of Doubs, “That’s kind of rare for a young guy like that.” 

It’s the young part that is giving general manager Brian Gutekunst pause. While he’s proud of the scouting that found Doubs at the Group of Five, Nevada Wolfpack, he wants to see how Doubs reacts as the weight of training camp continues to compound. 

“It’s exciting when you watch players have good starts. But you also know there’s gonna be ups and downs in camp and preseason,” Gutekunst said. 

“I think as the physical toll and the mental toll starts to load on these young players, you're gonna kind of see some ups and downs. So it's a great start. It's really a credit to his preparation and how he’s attacked those opportunities. He’s been prepared for the opportunities that have come his way. But as we get in here the next week or so, that mental load we’re putting on these guys … as they start feeling the stress of what they’re going through, I think we’re gonna see some ups and downs.” 

No concerns about Christian Watson

Another rookie receiver to keep an eye on is Christian Watson, but for a different reason. The second-round pick has yet to participate in a training camp practice while he recovers from a knee scope he had done following OTAs. While he had two days with Rodgers during mandatory minicamp, there is only a finite amount of time remaining to work with the quarterback before the regular season begins. 

Watson’s pure athletic ability and what he brings from a mental aspect though mean neither Rodgers or Gutekunst are particularly worried about Watson’s continued presence on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. From the general manager’s point of view, better to let Watson rest now to preserve him for later. 

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“I'm not too concerned with the long term,” Gutekunst said. “Anytime any player misses the time that (Christian’s) missing right now, you’re going to have to be in catch-up mode. He's a really smart guy, I know he works really hard, has really good work habits. So I know he’ll get there. We’d love to have him out there right now. But again, he's a young player that we have a lot of hope for and expecting him to be a big part of what we’re doing moving forward, so we’re not going to rush it.”

“Not a big concern,” Rodgers said of Watson. “He is a smart kid. It'd be nice if we could get him off the PUP so we can do some of the walkthrough stuff. But he’ll be fine. He's super athletic. He went through the whole offseason program with us, the OTAs and minicamp and he's been in my hip pocket. You guys have seen he's been in my hip pocket, asking questions after periods and and during individual time, so I'm not worried about him.” 

LaFleur prepared cut JUGS loose

LaFleur was ready to make a cut after Tuesday’s practice: the JUGS machine used for punts. During Tuesday’s practice, the Packers continuously had issues with the JUGS machine spitting out punts that wouldn’t turn end over end as they should, making them nearly impossible to return properly. On Wednesday morning, LaFleur jokingly made a plea for anyone to help out the team. 

“We’re in the market for a new JUGS machine. If you have any out there you may want to donate, put whatever price tag you want on it. I really don't care. We have to get a new JUGS machine because I've never seen anything like that. It was ridiculous,” LaFleur said. 

“It was awful. We couldn’t get the ball to turn over and it was damn near impossible to catch. Yea that was not the finest hour for our equipment staff.” 

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