GREEN BAY – The second OTA workout of the spring Tuesday started a bit rough for new starting QB Jordan Love and the Packers' offense, but Head Coach Matt LaFleur somewhat expected it to go that way.
In a change from previous years, LaFleur has decided to call plays on the fly in the 11-on-11 practice periods, rather than have the playbook installations scripted in advance.
It's a test to see "how they think on their feet," LaFleur said, but it can also produce some tough going offensively, especially with so many young players in the perimeter group surrounding Love.
In other words, LaFleur did not set things up in these early OTAs to manufacture success and build confidence for Love and Green Bay's youthful offense. He's preferring to really challenge them instead, and his new quarterback is all for it.
"This is definitely the time to do that," Love said in the locker room afterward. "Practice is the time to push the boundaries, test things.
"This is our second practice live so the timing's a little off with everybody, because we've been going routes versus air, so (we're) just trying to build that timing and get as many reps as we can. But we know it's not going to be perfect. We love when we can capitalize and score touchdowns, but (we) don't get down on ourselves when a play's not perfect or it goes off schedule or things don't work as we want."
LaFleur acknowledged an early installation of red-zone work often has an element of unpredictability, because neither side of the ball has game-planned for the other, and the two sides traded getting the best of one another.
"You're throwing your concepts out there and trying to get a feel for how the guys can manage the bad looks, and can they execute the really good looks," LaFleur said. "We're just installing our plays and whatever the defense presents, he's got to react."
This is Love's third straight year quarterbacking the first unit during OTAs, as Aaron Rodgers skipped these sessions in 2021 and '22. So that might've factored into LaFleur's thinking behind the structure as well, rather than simply repeat how the past couple springs have gone.
For Love, the bigger difference is knowing he's the guy not just now but when training camp rolls around, too. He described it as "not looking over your shoulder" anymore, and his demeanor fits that.
"Jordan, he's just calm. He's a calm, cool guy," starting safety Darnell Savage said. "We jaw back and forth at him a little bit, he jaws back at us. It's just good to see him with that confidence. I know he's eager and excited just as all of us are."
Patience is still required, though, because of all the young receivers and tight ends the veteran players and coaches must get up to speed. Multiple players and LaFleur referenced the energy that brings to the workouts.
But the real test will be over the next few weeks as they try to avoid repeating mistakes and find out how much they're able to retain while the playbook installs pile up one on top of the other.
In that vein, Love wants the communication to remain ongoing and be an "open book" to the young players with questions.
"It's just trying to get them going as fast as they can, getting them in the book, understanding the offense, understanding where they need to be, timing of routes, and just understanding how we want every route to be run," Love said.
"Obviously, new offense for them. As a rookie, your head's spinning a little bit. I think the quicker that we can get them going – I know it's not going to be easy for them, it's going to take time – but the more reps they get, the better."
The Green Bay Packers held their second day of organized team activities (OTAs) at Ray Nitschke Field on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.