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Jordan Love pushing boundaries, learning lessons in Packers OTAs

Mechanics, rhythm, timing remain focal points in quarterback’s process

QB Jordan Love
QB Jordan Love

GREEN BAY – Jordan Love decided to take a chance at the end of Tuesday's OTA practice, and the workout was going to end with either a bang or a thud.

It turned out to be the latter, as Love's scrambling, on-the-run heave deep down the middle for Christian Watson in the end zone was intercepted by safety Tarvarius Moore, giving the No. 1 defense the victory in the two-minute drill.

Love knew what he had done. He had broken one of quarterback coach Tom Clements' three cardinal rules, which in this case is to never throw late over the middle. (For the record, the other two are no blind throws and no premeditated decisions.)

"That was exactly a mortal sin right there," Love said after practice. "Late over the middle, ball kind of floats, DB has a chance to go make it. Christian, he doesn't really know where the DB's at so it's hard for him to kind of go up and get the ball."

It wasn't the best moment for him to have on a day the media was in attendance, but that's immaterial to its value at this time of year. He knew it was a huge risk, and it produced the worst possible result. So now he'll get to dissect everything about it, going over the film with Clements and his offensive coaches and teammates.

Before doing so, he was already thinking about what the film might show.

"I think I had an option right there on the sideline," he surmised. "Learning situation. Maybe hit him, get out of bounds, get some yards and be able to finish that two-minute drive maybe with a score, so it's all learning right now. This is a great time to be able to kind of push those boundaries."

He's done so at certain times, but all the post-practice talk about that play shouldn't be interpreted as representing Love's desire to regularly improvise and sling the ball all over the yard.

To the contrary, he has focused very consciously on what he calls "playing with a base," which is keeping his feet and body balanced in the pocket while going through his progressions and moving around if needed.

That's what allows his throws to come out, and the offense as a whole to operate, on time. When it does, tricky throws like Tuesday's corner end zone fade to Romeo Doubs between defenders Innis Gaines and Corey Ballentine look awfully impressive.

Love's on-field rapport with Doubs continues to be on display – "He's getting open, so it's easy to throw it to open guys," Love said – and he acknowledged the challenges he's seeing from the Packers' defense, which has thrown different blitzes at him from similar looks on various days throughout OTAs.

Communication with the coaches also remains constant regarding the types of plays and concepts Love likes or doesn't like, to help tailor the offense to his strengths.

"One of the things we've talked about in that room is just how important is really the process of playing quarterback," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "I'm less concerned about the end result right now, but I do believe that if the process is correct, he is going to be more consistent.

"So within that, it's just the footwork, the clean mechanics, keeping a base in the pocket, being able to throw at any point in time. Just the rhythm and the timing, that's something that we've really stressed. I think he's done a good job in particular this week of making some really significant strides."

The Green Bay Packers continued their third week of organized team activities (OTAs), practicing on Ray Nitschke Field on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

Tuesday was one of those days the strides were evident, until the last play of practice. Love had been putting together a pretty solid day, including some difficult throws that were catchable but dropped.

The ill-advised shot could've turned into a spectacular moment, too, if Watson had seen the ball sooner and come back toward the goal line for it. Instead, he got caught waiting for the ball and Moore swooped in front of him for the pick.

"I think it's a great learning experience and you'd rather have that happen in practice than in a game," LaFleur said. "Certainly there's going to be those moments. There is for every quarterback. When you talk about the situation, you're talking about two-minute, end-of-game, no-timeouts, sometimes you're a little bit more aggressive and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

"I think you just have to go through those experiences and try to learn from them and get better from there, both when they're good and obviously when they're bad."