It was great to see fans back at Lambeau Field on Saturday night, but I can’t help but think Green Bay had a pretty nice advantage playing in empty stadiums last season. Lambeau is the most iconic stadium in the NFL, but it’s hardly one of the noisiest. And while the Packers are a superb 160-51-2 at home since 1995, something tells me that has a lot more to do with the two men under center than it does with the people in the seats.
Anyway, here are three more thoughts that went through my mind after watching the Packers fall 26-7 to the Texans:
1) The much-anticipated debut of Jordan Love went pretty much as expected. There were times when the 22-year-old quarterback looked like a first-round pick, and there were times when he looked like a guy who hadn’t played in a game in over 600 days. The best thing Love did was stand tall in the pocket. Playing behind a shaky offensive line missing three starters, it would’ve been very easy for him to run at the first sign of trouble. But he didn’t. Instead, he kept looking for his receivers and only once forced a ball into traffic. The situation certainly wasn’t too big for Love. Now he just needs to work on ball placement. His accuracy wasn’t good enough. QBs at this level have to do more than complete passes; they need to give the receiver a chance to do something after the catch.
2) Devin Funchess was the most accomplished wide receiver in uniform on Saturday night, and he played like it. The former Michigan star had little trouble getting open against Houston’s overmatched young cornerbacks. He caught 6 passes for 70 yards, and the second number would’ve been a lot higher had some of Love’s throws been more accurate. It was kinda strange seeing the 27-year-old Funchess still out there in the second half. Perhaps the coaches felt he needed the work after not playing in a game since September 2019, or perhaps he’s being showcased for a trade. Either way, it was a good night for a player who’s fighting for a roster spot at a crowded position.
3) Inside linebacker Oren Burks has never struggled in August, and Saturday night was no exception. The fourth-year player from Vandy made an impact on two occasions in the first half, each time flashing the athleticism that got him drafted in the third round in 2018. But the Packers have seen this before. What they’ve yet to see is Burks perform nearly as well in games that count. That’s when his weaknesses tend to get exposed by complex schemes and starting-caliber players. Perhaps the special teams standout will finally blossom on defense under Joe Barry, but for now, one impressive half against mostly second and third-stringers isn’t enough to erase the past three seasons.