• Plenty To Like (But Not Love) About Jordan's '22 Debut

    So, what did we think of Jordan’s 2022 preseason debut? Let’s just say I’m not “Addicted to Love” just yet.

    Here’s what I liked: he looked decisive and confident out there. After the initial three and out, he moved the Pack into Niner territory on the other five drives he led in the first half. He throws a nice deep ball and made some very nice plays with his legs. One that stood out: the bootleg to the left, when he zipped a pea to Romeo Doubs—who dropped it. The hurry up drive to close the first half showed that he can move the team quickly downfield—the 33-yard touchdown pass to rookie free agent (and yes, I know, former Badger) Danny Davis was a perfect way to end his night.

    Here’s what I didn’t like: he threw a handful of absolute clunkers and most were easy throws. He seems to struggle mightily with short and intermediate throws in the flat. In this offense, those are gimmes and he has to clean that up pronto. His box score isn’t pretty, but you can’t drill him for the three picks. The first two weren’t his fault, and Matt LaFleur absolved him of blame for the third one, when the corner jumped inside to snare it from Amari Rodgers—saying a couple of receivers ran the wrong route. Love still needs to be very sure of himself when there’s a lot of traffic inside.

    We know that the preseason doesn’t present the ideal platform to evaluate young quarterbacks since they’re generally not playing with or against starters, and in some cases with real NFL players. But it’s all we’ve got to work with. At least the Pack gave Love its starting offensive line to work with, such as it is. It’s still a work in progress on the right side, but Nijman, Runyan and Myers all were solid. The next couple of weeks will determine who gets the nod at RG and RT, until the starting tackles return and reshuffle things. To my eyes, rookie Zach Tom looked solid at right tackle. I expect he’ll get plenty of reps against the Saints when the come to town for a couple of practices leading up to the game.

    Much hyped rookie Romeo Doubs gave us plenty to get us excited about, but also reminded us that he’s a rookie, drafted on day three, and he’ll need a little time to shed the nerves and get more comfortable in the offense. He led the team with seven targets, torched the CB when he scored the Pack’s first TD of the game, and showed the ability to lay out some nice blocks. He also had a couple of ugly drops. But he looks the part and will have every opportunity to be out there for a lot of snaps in Week One.

    Amari Rodgers looked noticeably quicker, now that he’s dropped 16 pounds. We waited all season last year to see him pop a return and he gave us a 51 yarder on a kickoff that will most be remembered for Rashan Gary laying him out at the end of the play. His tightrope touchdown catch down the sideline was his only reception, but it was a beauty. Rookies Samare Toure and Danny Davis also made standout plays. It’ll be interesting to see how the depth chart plays out. I’m ready to declare that it’s no lock that Sammy Watkins makes this roster, despite the lack of experience ahead of him.

    What stood out to me on defense? The clear depth on the defensive line. With the top four guys sitting out (Clark, Lowry, Reed and Wyatt), the young guys got their chance and TJ Slaton, Chris Slayton and Jack Heflin all had strong nights. Isaiah McDuffie was all over the place at linebacker and looks like he’ll give the Pack four inside guys they like (Ty Summers may be exiting stage left).

    The backup guys in the secondary were up and down. Rico Gafford had his ankles broken (figuratively) on the easiest touchdown pass Nare Sudfeld will ever throw. And Trey Lance got a matchup that had him drooling: speedy receiver Danny Gray against backup safety Dallin Leavitt. Can you say mismatch?

    The first look at special teams was encouraging. I already mentioned Rodgers’ big return. The coverage units didn’t completely break down, which for now is all we can ask for. Kicker Gabe Brkic probably signed his own death warrant when he didn’t just miss a 32 yard field goal, but practically kicked it sideways. Moral of the story: there are probably better places to find competition for Mason Crosby than off the Vikings’ scrap heap.

    All in all, not a bad opening performance for the Pack. It looks like they dodged any serious injuries and they saw encouraging signs from Love. Now we wait and see if any additional starters take the field for next week’s game against the Saints at Lambeau: a good opponent for Love, especially if some of their starters play on defense.

    There are lots of roster battles and things to keep an eye on, but I keep hearing that Foreigner song in my head, when it comes to the preseason: “I Want To Know What Love Is.”

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