GREEN BAY – It's getting more and more fun to watch QB Jordan Love run the Packers' offense.
His pre-snap command was on full display in Minnesota, and he won the cat-and-mouse game at the line of scrimmage to keep the Packers in a rhythm throughout the game.
Here's the rundown.
Play No. 1: Third-and-3 from the Green Bay 27, first quarter, 11:16 left
Result: 4-yard completion to WR Romeo Doubs
A typical Minnesota defensive look here early in the game, with two potential blitzers lined up over the A gaps on either side of the center. Let the cat-and-mouse game begin. With his cadence and initial leg kick, Love gets LB Ivan Pace Jr. (40) to give away that he's bailing into coverage, not blitzing. With that knowledge, Love then goes up to the line to confirm the protection call, and the defenders are wildly signaling that Love is changing something. Turns out the Vikings are indeed sending a blitz, but from off the screen to Love's left, with the other bluffer in the A gap, LB Jordan Hicks (58), replacing the blitzer in coverage. Love calmly fires toward Doubs, who has some extra space thanks to the blitz from his side and then fights for the first down.
Play No. 2: Second-and-10 from the Minnesota 33, first quarter, 5:15 left
Result: 33-yard TD reception by WR Jayden Reed
This time the pre-snap action involves Vikings S Camryn Bynum (24), who's all alone in the middle of the field. Except when Love does his initial cadence and leg kick, Bynum starts cheating toward the near side of the field. Love knows it's a quasi-cover-2 look, not single high, so the middle will be open. Reed runs the post, throws his hand up for Love, and the Packers hit paydirt.
Play No. 3: Second-and-8 from the Green Bay 39, first quarter, 1:12 left
Result: 28-yard completion to WR Bo Melton
Here Love's awareness shows in another way, as the Vikings have eight defenders right up on the line of scrimmage. There's no way for Love to know who's rushing and who's covering (turns out it's a six-man pressure). But when he sends Reed in motion and CB Akayleb Evans (21) follows him, he knows the deep right side of the field will be completely empty, because the Vikings have only two other defenders back, and they're both lined up outside the other hash. With Melton's route headed right to the voided area, Love stays calm with the blitz in his face and lofts it out there to Melton for an easy catch and big gain.
Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the Minnesota 37, second quarter, :26 left
Result: 12-yard completion to Doubs
The Packers have just recovered a fumble off a strip-sack and have a chance to add to their lead right before halftime. Once again, Love's initial cadence and leg kick gets the Vikings to declare what they're doing, in this case sending S Harrison Smith (22) on a blitz off the edge. Love sees the giveaway, steps forward to confirm the protection call, RB Patrick Taylor (27) picks up Smith and Love can set his feet for a strong boundary throw to Doubs. Two plays later, Reed turns a quick slant into a 25-yard TD and the Packers are up 20 points at intermission.
Play No. 5: Third-and-8 from the Green Bay 37, third quarter, 7:18 left
Result: 13-yard completion to WR Malik Heath
Another third down, another double-A-gap look from the Vikings, and another time Love gets a tell from Pace, who is caught leaning back rather than forward on the dummy cadence. In his calm, routine way, Love adjusts the protection based on what he knows, and the Vikings are again running a blitz-replace concept similar to Play No. 1 above. The blitzer is Smith from the edge, being replaced in coverage by S Josh Metellus (44) from up front. Love reads where both A gap bluffers retreat to, and Heath sits down in an open area for another third-down conversion that looks easy because of Love's total command at the line of scrimmage.
Play No. 6: Third-and-7 from the Minnesota 30, fourth quarter, 8:54 left
Result: 11-yard completion to Melton
The same third-down setup seen multiple times, with Pace and Metellus lined up in the A gaps. Only this time, the dummy cadence gets nobody to move – no tell – so Love must be prepared for a true double-A-gap blitz. He adjusts the protection by moving TE Tucker Kraft (85) back in line and Taylor to another backfield spot. The line will be sliding left to account for both potential inside blitzers, leaving Kraft one-on-one on the edge, so Taylor will slide across that way to help. The execution is sound, Love can scan the field to find the open Melton, and the chains keep moving.