Football is back!
Well, sort of.
The Green Bay Packers kicked off their 2022 season with a preseason contest in San Francisco playing with mostly backups. Thirty-six Packers, including a host of starters on offense and defense, didn't play.
That left things in the hands of third-year quarterback Jordan Love, who played nearly 2/3 of Green Bay's offensive snaps. Love finished 13-of-24 passing for 176 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions as the 49ers prevailed 28-21.
Green Bay took a temporary lead in the fourth quarter. Battling back from a 20-7 deficit, touchdown passes by Love near the end of the first half and Danny Etling early in the fourth quarter gave the Packers a 21-20 lead. However, San Francisco used an 11-play drive capped by a Brock Purdy to KeSean Johnson 5-yard TD score to take the lead for good.
Of course, by that time, the contest was filled with substitutes, many of whom won't be on the regular-season roster.
Still, it's football and the Packers got to look at some young and unproven players as we ramp up towards the regular season, which can't get here soon enough.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Yes there were three interceptions for Jordan Love on Friday night but two went directly off the hands of his intended targets. What was noticeable with Love was his poise in the pocket and how in command of the offense he was. Love didn’t shy away from threading the needle and he made some gorgeous throws on a pair of touchdowns to Romeo Doubs and Danny Davis. The offensive line held up well and when things did break down, Love used his legs to escape and extend some plays. It’s just one preseason game, but in his third year Love looked far more comfortable and the happy feet in the pocket that have been visible in years past were invisible this time around. If you’re a box score hunter, you’ll see three interceptions and assume doom and gloom. It was far from that and Love played well.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
Badgers nation, let's hear it! Davis made the most of his opportunities Friday night, recording two receptions with one a 33-yard touchdown. Love stuck a dart right on the back shoulder of Davis who stopped at the perfect time to haul in the pass and then Davis did the rest, galloping into the end zone. The wide receiver room still has its questions for Green Bay but one thing that is known is there isn’t a problem in the quantity department. Davis will have to do his best to stand out and make the most of the reps he gets and he did just that in his first chance in live game action. One thing that really helps Davis stick out – his jersey No. 20. We kid, of course, well kind of. Seeing a wide receiver wear a number in that range helps them to stick out. It likely wasn’t a strategic move but it sure plays into Davis’ favor when he’s on the field.
How sweet is it when training camp hype gets backed up in the first preseason game? That’s exactly what happened with Doubs on a touchdown throw from Love. On a 4th and 3 in 49ers territory, Doubs was lined up in the slot to the right facing press man coverage. Love took a short drop, Doubs breezed by San Francisco slot cornerback Tarvarius Moore and Love dropped an absolute seed right into the bread basket. Doubs has been raising eyebrows all training camp long and in the exhibition opener he came up with the highlight reel play of the night for the Packers.
1 - The offensive line has been under the microscope during training camp with David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins both rehabbing from ACL injuries. Matt LaFleur has played mix and match with different combinations on the first team up front trying to crack the code for what group will work best. Against the 49ers, there was just one sack allowed. There were times where Love and Danny Etling were flushed from the pocket and they used their legs and mobility to escape. There were also two glaring plays where the 49ers’ defensive front blew things up on run plays for the Packers. Overall though, it was a good showing from the offensive line which rolled out a starting five left to right of: Yosh Nijman, Jon Runyan, Josh Myers, Jake Hanson and Royce Newman.
THEY SAID IT
"There were a couple throws he’d like to have back, but I thought all in all, it was a solid day. I loved his command and his poise in the pocket." - LaFleur on Love.
“On that one we changed the route on the line … I saw the way the DB was playing and just tried to give him a back-shoulder ball … Danny (Davis) made a great play coming back to it.” Love on his touchdown pass to Davis.
“I think the hardest hit came when he got to the sideline and Rashan Gary knocked him on his butt.” - LaFleur on Amari Rodgers’ 50-yard kick return.
“B.J. Baylor made a heck of a catch on that third down from Danny (Etling.) I thought (Tyler) Goodson showed some nice moves. Dexter (Williams) had a big run.” - LaFleur on the running back performances.
“Jordan (Love) threw a great ball for me so I just went up there and attacked it.” - Davis on his touchdown.
“I saw the nickel blitz so I knew I was the hot read. So I just got my eyes around quick and made the first person miss.” – Amari Rodgers on what he saw on his touchdown.
Green Bay will head back home and open the doors to Lambeau Field next Friday night to take on the New Orleans Saints, the Packers’ lone home preseason game. The Saints play their first preseason title Saturday night at Houston. Who knows how many expected starters will play but it’s football back in Green Bay! One thing that is certain is that Love will see plenty of action again regardless of who else is in or out of the lineup. The Saints beat up on the Packers in a major way in Week 1 last year and while this is just a preseason tilt, there’s no doubting Green Bay still has a sour taste in its mouth from the opener in 2021.