Ladies and gentleman, we have real football.
Or at least as real as you can get in early August with stars like Joe Burrow and Jaire Alexander in street clothes.
In one of the most highly anticipated debuts of the last decade, Jordan Love showed incredible poise and decision making during his first start as QB1 for the Packers. Although he only played a little under one quarter, Love showed all of the traits that led to a first round selection in 2020.
After a deep shot to Christian Watson was broken up on a promising first series, Love and the offense returned to the field for early revenge.
Love connected with Jayden Reed, Watson and Romeo Doubs to set up a Gold Zone opportunity for the young offense. With the poise of a veteran QB, Love went through his progressions and floated a dart to Doubs for the first Packers touchdown of the year.
In joint practices with the Bengals on Wednesday, the Packers ran the same play that they ran above. On Wednesday, the Bengals committed to Doubs on the double crosser with Watson, which led to a Watson touchdown. Tonight, Cincy chose the speedy Watson, and Doubs took advantage of the single coverage with a touchdown.
Obviously, following all of the Aaron Rodgers drama the last few years, Jordan Love was the storyline of this game. But, Jordan Love and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur knew that Love and the starting offense only needed a few series to get in their rhythm.
Love talked about how much fun he had and said "we really only needed a few series to get ourselves going." LaFleur added that Love would play "at least one more time" in the preseason before the highly anticipated Week 1 matchup against the Chicago Bears. Is he ready for the big lights?
"The passing game is already in stride," said Jordan Love.
Once the starters left the field, the Packers still had plenty of bright spots.
Jayden Reed showed his speed and catch radius, hauling down an impressive catch from Sean Clifford and utilizing his speed on some jet sweeps early on.
Defensively, Carrington Valentine was all over the field and had LaFleur praising his name in the post-game press conference following an impressive interception.
"It's only one game, you have to stack these games, but I think he's got a ton of talent, great approach to the game. He's an exciting young player," said LaFleur.
With the departure of veteran safety Adrian Amos and veteran wide receiver Allen Lazard, both to the New York Jets, there are plenty of snaps available for the young guys in 2023. While one preseason game is no sole indication of what the year may look like, there is promise for Packers fans moving forward.
What to Watch:
Take a look at the position battles for the Packers at safety, right tackle, defensive tackle. The Packers likely have their safety and offensive line groups, the question is simply who starts and who sits to begin the season. On the defensive line, Devonte Wyatt and TJ Slaton are competing for snaps next to Kenny Clark on run downs.
It appears Sean Clifford may have solidified his spot as QB2 after an impressive performance tonight, but look for Clifford and USFL MVP Alex McGough to battle it out for the backup spot.
The Packers will play the New England Patriots in Week 2 of the preseason, and the Bill Belichick led defense will give Jordan Love plenty of a challenge if he and the starters take the field in Green Bay.
Follow MJ Hurley on Twitter @mjhurleytdt