Jordan Love might not be a rookie per se, but Saturday night was the NFL preseason debut for the Green Bay Packers’ 2020 first round pick.
And on the whole, Love didn’t disappoint in 30 minutes of live football. He wasn’t perfect, but it was a solid first showing for a player whose development remains something of a mystery.
With Aaron Rodgers getting the night off, Love got the start against the Houston Texans and received a warm welcome from the Lambeau Field crowd. It was basically a lost rookie season for Love after last year’s preseason was canceled and he didn’t see any action as QB3 in 2020.
Had Rodgers not returned at the start of training camp with his cape on, this game might have held a far different level of drama and importance for Love. The pressure is certainly less now that the reigning MVP is back for another title run.
But that’s not to say there aren’t expectations and opportunities for Love now. This game — preseason and all — still has some real meaning to it, as his doubters could remain ambivalent until he shows something. Love is the no-doubt backup to Rodgers, and the Packers have to know what they have in Love going into the regular season.
It took a bit, but Love delivered. After a little early rust on back-to-back three and outs to open the game, Love put together an impressive drive on Green Bay’s third possession against the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field.
Love connected on passes of 34, 8, 10, 15, 22 and 22 yards on that drive, which ended in a screen-pass TD to rookie Kylin Hill:
It was the drive Love needed after a tame beginning. He finally cut it loose a bit and gave Packers faithful a little taste of the kind of talent that made him a first-rounder, albeit a controversial one.
The prettiest pass of the drive might have been this rope to tight end Jace Sternberger for 34 yards on third and 9, splitting the safeties and getting it over the linebacker’s head in zone coverage.
On his fourth series, Love faced a fourth-and-2 at his own 42-yard line. It went down as an incompletion, but Love delivered a nice deep ball that Devin Funchess couldn’t quite haul in (but perhaps should have).
Love had one more failed series after that, but it included a nice connection to Funchess for a first down. The Packers’ offensive line had a so-so first half, which made it tougher.
Overall, Love’s final numbers were solid: 12 of 17 passing, 122 yards and one TD in five series, even if scoring only once wasn’t the team result the Packers were hoping for. If there was an individual disappointment, it’s that Love didn’t scramble at all, with zero rushing attempts.
Love was hit once and had one of his passes dropped (another was batted down). But generally speaking, he played safe and sound ball while also letting a few balls rip in that touchdown drive.
So the results were a bit mixed. But at this stage, you’re looking for those big-time throws and splash plays as much as anything. Love remains a fascinating project, and it’s looking like he’ll get a ton of time while Rodgers sits out the preseason.
Saturday was a solid start. More will be expected in the next two preseason games, but Packers fans can’t hate what they saw from Love in his first real action with the team.
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