Before I get too far into my thoughts on Jordan Love’s preseason performance this weekend, I will first give the disclaimer that it is, of course, far too early to make any broad statements about Love’s future or his capabilities as a quarterback.
Now, with that out of the way, if you’re a Packer fan you have to feel pretty good about what you saw out of Love in his first (limited) preseason action.
He wasn’t perfect, of course, but there were a few things that stuck out to me:
He played without fear. This is clearly a man who has confidence in his arm and isn’t afraid to push the ball down the field. He does not immediately strike me as someone who’s going to have an overly cautious play style. Of course, that could lead to some boom-or-bust tendencies, but it’s far too early to say.
He went through his progressions. This is a really important trait to have as a young quarterback in the NFL. He didn’t panic when there wasn’t an open read. Instead, he surveyed the field and made smart plays.
His ball doesn’t have quite the zip that Packer fans are used to seeing from Brett Favre and Rodgers, but there are very few quarterbacks in league history that can rifle it like those two.
Here’s an early play that really stood out to me:
Things we love to see: Jordan Love going through his progressions
— Joe Kipp (@joepkipp) August 15, 2021
We see Love step up in the pocket here to buy himself some more time. His first couple reads aren’t open. Now, he had a little bit of space to tuck it and run, but instead he looks to his last read and checks it down for a few yards.
Is this the right decision? It’s hard to say how many yards Love could have gained had he run up the middle, but with it being preseason, it’s better to avoid any unnecessary contact and to work through your progressions.
To me, this play, while seemingly unremarkable, was promising in that it showed Love already has an understanding of his offense and good awareness of the field.
Another play that stood out:
The third-down play to Amari Rodgers wasn’t a bad throw, but he’s covered well and the safety reads it effectively.
Rodgers doesn’t win on his route but Love gives him a chance to make a play. This is “throwing into coverage” but it’s not double coverage as some suggested. pic.twitter.com/Mu9FjAwAIB
— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) August 15, 2021
This is an incomplete pass, but it shows a tremendous amount of arm confidence. The pessimist will say Love made an ill-advised throw into double coverage. The optimist will say he put it where only his receiver could get it and made it a catchable ball in a tight window.
I’m not making any judgments here on whether this is the right throw or not for him to make–just noting that it’s much more Favre than Rodgers in this particular circumstance.
Those were the two big plays that stood out to me from the evening, even more so than some of the big-gainers (the laser to Jace Sternberger down the seam was beautiful, and more difficult than the standard TV angle showed).
There were, of course, some negative plays. A couple moments of sloppiness. One time where he opened up the wrong way on a rollout (at the time I thought Patrick Taylor went the wrong way for the play fake).
But overall, it’s a live game action debut for Jordan Love that left you feeling like the kid has promise. It’s certainly a better preseason debut than Aaron Rodgers had.
The shoulder injury Love suffered on the strip sack is not likely to cause him to miss time, according to reports on Sunday, but the Packers will be working out quarterbacks tomorrow just to have another arm around in camp in case Love does need to be held out.
But if Love does play against the Jets, the things I’m going to be paying particular attention to are:
The small details. Footwork, poise, body control. The moments where Love had minus plays were when he got a bit sloppy with the basics.
Mastery of the offense. We got to see a little bit of Love working through his progressions and hitting receivers on a variety of routes. I’m looking forward to seeing him in more in-game situations with different types of play calls. Would especially be interested in seeing him in a hurry up scenario.
It’s far too early to proclaim Love as the third consecutive franchise quarterback for the Packers, but one thing’s for sure: he’s got the skills and awareness of an NFL-caliber quarterback. It’s a reassuring start.
But there’s a long road ahead.
Was that really Oren Burks?
Gotta say, in all the “what to watch” articles I saw come out in advance of the Packers/Texans game, I never once saw someone mention Oren Burks.
The man played with a fire that I have never seen from him before. He was all over the field in the first quarter especially, on both defense and special teams, creating penetration up the middle, making stops and even leading the special teams coverage unit.
Burks has largely been a disappointment as a third-round pick since he was drafted in 2018. Even when he has been healthy, he’s had a hard time getting on the field because, well, he just hasn’t been good enough.
It’s only a single preseason game, but what we saw out of him on Saturday did not at all resemble the player we’ve seen over the last three seasons.
If (and it’s still a big if) Burks really manages to make a turnaround and live up to his draft status, it would be a huge boon for this Packers defense and linebacking corps.
Wisconsin Beer of the Week
I love highlighting small breweries in this space, and this week I’m highlighting one of the smallest in Wisconsin–the relatively new Supermoon Beer Company based in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood.
Supermoon has had only a few public beer releases so far, every few months (the first came in Fall 2020). They’ve specialized in slow-fermented beers and farmhouse blends.
If you’re unfamiliar with what a farmhouse beer is, basically it’s a tradition that started in Europe where farmers would brew beer for them to drink around their farm, using their own grains. Today’s farmhouse ales are basically a category of styles such as saisons, biere de gardes, gueuzes and others.
Farmhouse ales are most commonly characterized by being light and drinkable, perfect for summer days, with a bit of a sweet, funky flavor (similar to what you might expect from wet hay or grain) with a dry mouthfeel.
Spotted Cow is technically a type of farmhouse ale, albeit one that’s not quite as dry as what you’d typically find in the style. A common saison might taste similar to Belgian ales (think Blue Moon) but with a slightly different aftertaste.
What Supermoon did with one of its latest beer releases (called Dens) was create what they called a Farmhouse IPA–a beer that has the dry, sweet, drinkable qualities of a standard farmhouse ale or saison, but with a hint of the hoppiness you’d expect in an IPA.
The result was an extremely pleasant summery beer that you could drink all day.
No frills about this one. Just really good quality stuff from a brewery that has been impressing me with all of their early releases so far.
Follow them on Instagram to stay up to date with their release schedules and when they’re doing bottle sales. They don’t have distribution yet, so you’ll have to visit them at their storefront in Milwaukee’s Bay VIew neighborhood.
Aaron Rodgers, like me, not a fan of joint practices
An underrated and hilarious moment occurred during the Packers game broadcast on Saturday evening when, in the fourth quarter, John Kuhn interviewed Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines
Kuhn asked Rodgers if he was looking forward to the joint practices that would be happening with the New York Jets this week, and Rodgers quickly quipped that he was “looking forward to getting past them.”
Rodgers went on to talk about how tensions tend to flare up in joint practices, and he’s going to do his best to stay out of the thick of it.
I personally have never really understood the need for or benefit of joint practices. Rodgers is right in that you frequently hear reports of fights breaking out in these joint practice sessions. I’m not so sure the benefits of these sessions outweigh the risks of teams getting overly aggressive with each other in August in practice sessions.
I’d be interested to hear what other players have to think about them, and whether they truly find them beneficial for their preparation in camp.
Waiting on alternative uniforms
It’s a bit surprising that the Packers have not yet released any information about what the team’s throwback alternates will look like this year.
There is, however, no shortage of fan theories out there about what the uniforms will look like. Last week, Twitter user @TheGPackers released what could very well be something close to the look the Packers are going for.
Based on a quote from Mark Murphy that the uniform would feature a “shade of the color green,” the user predicted the Packers would be modeling the team’s 1936 championship team uniforms, seen here:
Here’s the mockup @TheGPackers made based on the design:
It would be pretty consistent with previous historical alternates the Packers have released, and they certainly could do worse than this design.
Clay Matthews silliness
Look, Clay Matthews isn’t coming back to the Packers. And it’s unlikely the coordinated Instagram stories by Rodgers, David Bakhtiari and Randall Cobb calling for his return were completely serious.
But let’s discuss the silliness that would be a Matthews return for just a moment. We’d be talking about bringing in a 35-year-old player who spent the last year out of football, and was arguably the second-worst starter on the Packers’ defense THREE YEARS AGO, suddenly returning to a team with championship aspirations.
Matthews would be, at best, the team’s fourth edge rusher. In such a role, he would be expected to play heavily on special teams, something he probably wouldn’t be willing to do at this stage of his career, and which he wouldn’t be well-suited for anyway.
You don’t want the bottom of your roster filled up with old vets. That’s where you stash your developmental players and special teams rockstars. Even if Clay took a minimum deal, it simply wouldn’t be worthwhile from the Packers’ perspective. At this point, is his output going to be appreciably better than whoever he would replace in that position?
It’s not going to happen, and Brian Gutekunst essentially said as much in a press conference Monday.
State Fair recap
I finally made it out to State Fair with my family yesterday, the final day of the fair. I’m glad we waited until this weekend–the weather had been unbearably hot for the previous week, plus there was so much rain.
The fair was absolutely packed, but we still had a great time. My toddler was enthralled by the animals (especially the cows) but, of course, the main attraction was the food.
The two standout items to me this year were the Deep Fried Pink Squirrel (yes, like the cocktail) and the Deep Fried Wisconsin Fish Fry, both of which were available for purchase at the Water Street Brewery stand right on the main stretch of food stops.
The Deep Fried Pink Squirrel featured a homemade pink almond cheesecake in the center, coated with almond floud and vanilla wafers. It was then fried and topped with chocolate sauce, vanilla cream cheese frosting and a maraschino cherry. Just perfection.
The Deep Fried Wisconsin Fish Fry was a surprise. I thought it was kind of a dumb gimmick at first–basically they deep fried everything you’d get in a fish fry in one edible package. But it actually turned out brilliantly .It included German cole slaw, french fries and cod filets rolled in flour, dunked in a beer batter and deep fried, served with tartar sauce and a lemon slice. I could have eaten a whole bunch more of those.
Unfortunately, since we had three young kids with us I wasn’t able to peruse as many of the food offerings as I normally would like to, as our time was limited. But of course, we made time for a cream puff on the way out (a huge hit with the toddler), sampled some dairy and added other snacks here and there.
Fried foods, plenty of dairy products, Wisconsin beers, farm animals, live music… what more could you ask for, right?
Looking forward to the kids getting a bit older so we can spend more time and get even more out of the fair experience, but it was a hit this weekend.
For those of you who attended, leave your favorite fair foods in the comments.
Kurt Benkert hype
Can we all just give a moment of appreciation for Kurt Benkert?
Benkert wasn’t supposed to play nearly as much as he did on Saturday, but a shoulder injury to Love resulted in Benkert playing the entire second half. And he made the most of his time. Sure, he didn’t light the world on fire, but he didn’t shy away from the moment at all. The man wanted to come out and sling the football.
He’s been a fun story in training camp and seems like a genuinely good guy. I’m cheering for him to make the roster.
Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.