It’s not like we haven’t seen Jordan Love play a lot in the preseason before. However, this preseason is a lot different.
There’s much more pressure on Love to perform, as the 2020 first-round draft pick takes over the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback job from Aaron Rodgers. The Packers don’t normally play starters in the preseason but will this year, mostly to get Love as comfortable as possible before the season opener on Sept. 10 against the Chicago Bears.
The first look at Love as the Packers’ preferred starter wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty good in a 36-19 Packers win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Wilson, undrafted from Fort Valley State, had six carries for 111 yards and two TDs, the second an 80-yard run. RB Tyler Goodson also scored on a short TD run but later exited with a shoulder injury.
Rookie fifth-round pick Dontayvion Wicks led the receivers with 68 yards on three catches, including a 47-yarder late in the first half to set up a touchdown. WR Samori Toure added 56 yards on three grabs.
Defensively, rookie seventh-round CB Carrington Valentine continued his strong training camp, getting an interception and additional pass breakups. S Dallin Leavitt had Green Bay’s other interception, off a deflection by undrafted rookie edge rusher Brenton Cox Jr.
Love also badly missed wide-open rookie tight end Luke Musgrave on a third-down pass on Green Bay’s first possession, and that can’t happen in the regular season. It will be a teaching moment.
The rest of Love’s outing was positive. He looked in control, making quick decisions on his short passes. The Packers used a lot of play action, and Love looked comfortable on those plays. His touchdown to Doubs had great touch, as he lofted the pass to Doubs against man coverage. You’d like to see more yards per attempt from Love, but overall it was a good first preseason performance.
That the Bengals run a similar offense — Packers coach Matt LaFleur and Bengals coach Zac Taylor come from the Kyle Shanahan-Sean McVay system — and have one of the league’s top quarterbacks in Joe Burrow running it when healthy, gave the defensive players a baseline for what it’s supposed to look like, especially when it comes to changing plays.
It was clear to Pratt that Love paid attention to how Rodgers ran it.
“When he comes to the line making checks, he’s similar,” he said. “You being with a Hall of Fame quarterback, why not steal some of his game? I would do that. If there’s a Hall of Famer, I’m going to steal some of his game and apply it to mine.”
None of this, of course, guarantees anything when Week 1 rolls around.
Love’s challenge isn’t just mastering the art of quarterback play. It’s doing it in the long shadow of Rodgers, the four-time NFL MVP who gave the Packers another 15 years of elite quarterback play after Brett Favre did the same.
If anyone knows what Love is going through in that regard, it’s Bengals backup quarterback Trevor Siemian. He replaced Hall of Famer Peyton Manning in Denver, and what may have made it tougher was the Broncos were coming of their win in Super Bowl 50.
“Obviously it was a long time ago, but it was easy for me,” said Siemian, who lasted a season and a half as the Broncos’ starter. “I wasn’t trying to be Peyton Manning; I had no shot at doing that. I was fortunate to be around some really good coaches and a good team. So for me, it was easy. I wasn’t trying to be Peyton.”
Siemian’s advice for Love came from his own experience.
“Don’t try to be Aaron,” he said. “Be Jordan. Be the best version of Jordan he can be. It seems like he’s doing that. I haven’t paid attention much but heard good things. I’m pulling for him.”
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