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Steve Spagnuolo on preparing for Jordan Love: ‘We’ve been digging for plays’

The Chiefs defensive coordinator addressed the challenge of preparing for a quarterback with minimal game film.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When the news that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers would miss Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for COVID-19 broke, the national narrative quickly became that the 4-4 Chiefs had caught a major break.

Oddsmakers tended to agree — moving the Chiefs from a one-point underdog to a 7.5 point favorite in the matchup. Lost in this narrative is the question of how the Chiefs prepare for Packers backup QB Jordan Love — a former first-round pick who has only attempted seven career NFL passes.

"We've been digging for plays," admitted Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo during his media appearance on Thursday. "It's funny, there's not a lot out there. I think he missed a preseason game, so there were a couple there, and then in that New Orleans game at the beginning of the year. But we'll dig as much as we can and research as much as we can and find out as much as we possibly can about the quarterback we're going to play against."

Spagnuolo was also confident that even with a new quarterback under center, the fundamentals of the Packers' offense would stay the same.

"What it really comes down to — I said this to the staff this morning — when there are a lot of unknowns, you defend the scheme," he observed. "It's still Matt LaFleur over there calling the plays. It's still the Green Bay Packers offensive scheme. I can't imagine they detour too far off from that.

"Will they have some wrinkles? They probably will, and we'll just have to be prepared for whatever they give us, but I think it's more right now defending the scheme and knowing what he can do as an athlete, which I think we all know he is. I'll tell you what, he can throw the football. It's evident by the few plays that we saw. There's no question about that."

Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu had a similar outlook on changes he expected in his Wednesday media appearance — speaking shortly after the Rogers news broke.

"Probably not too much," Mathieu said, answering the question of what changes. "Aaron Rodgers is a special player — probably one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league — but I think as far as preparation, it's just all about our mindset, our attitude, trying to get as much information as we can. Pretty sure those guy's offense won't change too much. So it's all about formational recognition and just understanding what's going on from our end.

"I do know he has a big arm. He can move around the pocket, so it'll be a good challenge for us."

Regardless of what Love is or is not able to do on Sunday, Spagnuolo knows the Chiefs will have their hands full with the Packers running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Jones and Dillon were instrumental in the Packers defeating the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals in Week 8 — a game that Packers played without top wide receiver Davante Adams.

"I'll tell you this — when I say defend the scheme," Spagnuolo explained, "Those two running backs are as good as we've faced — and will face — in my opinion. What they do with them, I think, is really, really good. It's zone schemes, stretch and cut back. They're downhill.

"I remember when the running back (Dillon) was a beast in college because I was up in that area at the time. I think he's a really good football player. 33 (Aaron Jones) can do everything that you want a running back to do: block and protection, run the rock and catch the football out of the backfield.

"So, I guess when I say defend the scheme, I'm kind of talking about that. I would expect that they would feature those guys — but we'll see."