Jordan Love Shines in Debut

Before Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love set foot on Soldier Field on Sunday, left guard Elgton Jenkins told him that he was going to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns in his first game as the full-time starter.

It’s safe to say that Jenkins almost hit the nail on the head.

In his debut as the full-time starter, Love was poised, completing 15 of 27 passes for 245 yards and three touchdown passes, boasting a passer rating of 123.2. Love’s passer rating and three touchdown passes were both the highest among all quarterbacks in Week 1.

The 2020 first-round pick has been heavily criticized since his selection, but on Sunday, he was met with praise after an impressive and convincing 38-20 victory over the Chicago Bears.

After the Packers’ defense stuffed Bears quarterback Justin Fields on a fourth-and-1 on the opening drive, the Packers’ offense took over at the Bears’ 40-yard line. Jordan Love and company started off hot by conducting a meticulous 11-play drive. On third-and-goal, Love capitalized by throwing an 8-yard touchdown pass to Romeo Doubs in the back of the end zone to give the Packers the lead early.

After a promising first drive, the Packers’ offense sputtered for the remainder of the first half. The Packers had multiple three-and-outs and struggled to maintain drives. At halftime, Love had completed 7 of 16 passes for just 81 yards and a touchdown.

“I think we had, what, 23 plays in the (first) half?” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “Not a lot of plays. It was hard to get into a rhythm. It’s never an excuse, but it’s just the facts.”

However, the Packers came out of the half reinvigorated, scoring touchdowns on back-to-back drives.

On the first drive of the second half, the Packers’ offense was near the middle of the field. Love rolled left and threw the ball across the field to running back Aaron Jones on a screen. Jones followed a convoy of blockers and ran the ball 51 yards to the Chicago 7 before scoring on a 1-yard rush three plays later.

On the second drive, the Packers’ offense faced a fourth-and-3. Love threw a strike to Jones on a choice route with Bears linebacker T.J. Edwards in coverage. Edwards stood no chance as Jones took it 35 yards to the end zone.

“I knew he was going to beat him on the choice route, which he did,” Love said. “I just had to get him the ball, and he made the rest happen. It was an awesome finish by him, just how fast he was and able to split those defenders.”

That wasn’t Love’s only good throw on a crucial down. On third and fourth down, Love completed 8 of 10 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns, earning him a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

But arguably Love’s most impressive play of the day came early in the fourth quarter on a tight end leak play. After fumbling the snap, Love recovered the ball, rolled right, kept his composure, and lofted a 37-yard pass off his back foot to rookie tight end Luke Musgrave. Musgrave should have scored, but he tripped while backpedaling for the catch.

“It was a little chaotic, fumbling the snap,” Love said. “I knew we had a great play dialed up, so going through my head, I was like, ‘Man, I might be messing this one up.’ But picking the ball up, I was just hoping nobody was about to blast me because the timing gets messed up trying to scramble for the ball, but I was able to get out clean, and we had a great play drawn up, and Luke was wide-open, so I just chucked it out there for him.”

However, Love’s debut didn’t come without hiccups. He had his fair share of misses, including an overthrow to Luke Musgrave on a corner route late in the second quarter. On top of that, Love had some accuracy issues, throwing the ball too far inside on out routes. Despite the misses, Love and the young Packers’ offense kept moving the chains.

“It’s never going to be perfect,” Love said after the game. “You wish every play went as you drew it up and executed it perfectly, but there are times when things are going to go south and it’s not going to be perfect for us. Just be able to play that next play and bounce back… It’s never going to be perfect, but I love the way we bounce back.”

Overall, Love’s teammates and coaches were pleased with his performance and composure on Sunday.

“All in all, I couldn’t be more proud of his performance, his poise,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “There’s a big-time belief in that locker room for Jordan Love. I think the guys, they’re going to rally around him. They’re excited for him. They love him. They respect him. He comes to work every day, great attitude, great energy. I think you saw that today.”

“It was special seeing him go out there and play the game I knew he could play,” Elgton Jenkins said. “I always had faith in Jordan; we had faith in Jordan from the jump.”

Love is the first quarterback not named Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers to start the season under center for the green and gold in 30 years. Yet the result was all too familiar: domination over the Bears.

It’s only one game, but if Love’s performance last Sunday was any indicator of the caliber of player he can be, the Packers may have struck quarterback gold once again.
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