Green Bay Packers: 9 Quick Observations from Preseason Matchup w/ Texans

Aug 14, 2021; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Oren Burks (42) celebrates sacking Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) during their football game Saturday, August 14, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 14, 2021; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Oren Burks (42) celebrates sacking Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) during their football game Saturday, August 14, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports /

The Green Bay Packers’ first preseason game of the 2021 season is in the books. Although Jordan Love’s debut will dominate the headlines — and I’ll get to that as well — there were plenty of other things to keep our eyes on as well.

While my Instant Takeaways article takes a 30,000-foot view of Green Bay’s performance and is more of a gut reaction to what we saw, this Quick Observations article takes a closer look at some more specific items. And this week, I have nine of them to cover.

Josh Jackson struggles

As we all know, this preseason and training camp is really now or never for Josh Jackson in terms of his future with the Green Bay Packers. But unfortunately, Saturday’s game against Houston was a rough showing for him–and I mean rough.

At this time I don’t have any official stats on Jackson’s performance at this time, but Andy Herman of Packer Report counted that Jackson was targeted seven times in the first half and gave up six receptions. Andy also notes that the one incompletion he tallied was a pass out of the end zone.

Regardless of who the quarterback was or which receiver was matched up against Jackson, it was crystal clear that Houston was targeting him. It’s not always easy to tell what’s going on in the secondary on the TV view, but it looked like the Texans receivers were having a lot of success on comeback routes against Jackson.

The Green Bay Packers can save $1.33 million in cap space by cutting Jackson this summer.

Oren Burks shines

On the flip side, while one member of the 2018 draft class really struggled, Oren Burks had a heck of a performance. Burks finished the night with seven tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, and he also generated a few pressures. He was also in on a special teams tackle as well.

New defensive coordinator Joe Barry was utilizing Burks quite heavily on blitzes, and he found quite a bit of success in that role. Burks looked incredibly quick on the field–playing downhill and trusting what he saw.

Jordan Love’s debut

Green Bay Packers fans should feel very good about what we saw from Jordan Love on Saturday night. While his stat line, which saw him go 12/17 for 122 yards with a touchdown and a passer rating of 110.4, looks nice, even more importantly, Love looked comfortable.

Footwork has been key for Love and on his completions, he looked quite balanced with his deliver–Aaron Rodgers would even complement that aspect of Love’s game during a sideline interview as the game was going on. At least from our vantage point, it looked like Love was going through his progressions consistently and when there was pressure, he kept his eyes downfield.

Love also found quite a bit of success attacking the middle of the field, including a beautiful pass to Jace Sternberger that he dropped in between a linebacker and a safety. With that said, there are always areas to improve upon, and after the game, Matt LaFleur told Larry McCarren that he would like to see Love “being assertive, being decisive, and letting it rip.”

Devin Funchess impresses

Admittedly, I’ve wondered if a lack of special teams contributions from Devin Funchess would keep him off this final roster–especially when he’s in a battle for a sixth spot on the receiver depth chart. But if he continues to show what he did against Houston, then I don’t believe special teams matters all that much in this regard–he’s making the team.

Funchess saw a good amount of playing time and hauled in six receptions on eight targets for 70 yards, with a long of 18. At 6’4″ – 225 pounds, he can be a real matchup-up problem from the slot, where he has plenty of experience, as well as potentially a favorite target of Aaron Rodgers’ on third downs and in the red zone.

The depth at safety

We know about Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos, but the safety depth after those two looks pretty darn good right now. Throughout camp, Henry Black and Vernon Scott have taken a bulk of the third safety reps with the starting defense, and both performed quite well on Saturday.

Both players were flying all over the field, combining for 11 tackles — 6 for Scott and 5 for Black — while Scott also came away with a pass breakup near the goal line on third down.

I also have to mention Innis Gaines, who stat-wise didn’t have the same level of showing as Black and Scott, but he’s put together a steady training camp and came away with a pass breakup that could have been an interception. If the Green Bay Packers keep five safeties as they did in 2020, it looks like these three are the favorites to join Savage and Amos.

Kabion Ento earning a roster spot

Prior to this game, my guess was that the battle for the sixth cornerback spot was between Kabion Ento and Josh Jackson, with Ento having the advantage. Well, after Saturday night’s performance, that’s even more true now.

Ento was one of the standout performers during Family Night in which he came away with two pass breakups. During the week, defensive backs coach Jerry Gray told reporters that the next step for Ento is to turn those pass breakups into interceptions. Well, that’s what he did against Houston, coming away with an interception. Ento also added two tackles and should have had another pass breakup if it wasn’t for a weak penalty call.

The offensive line

Of course, we have to note that the offensive line was without David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, and Billy Turner, but the Green Bay Packers were dominated up-front by Houston for most of the game.

Running the ball was extremely difficult as the Packers were held to only 2.3 yards per carry and that includes Dexter Williams inflating those numbers in the fourth quarter. Overall, Green Bay would record only 49 rushing yards.

Love and Kurt Benkert were sacked twice, although the pocket was often collapsing around them, and on top of that, Love was stripped by a defender who was able to beat Yosh Nijman. While Nijman’s performance may stick out the most, overall nobody — other than Josh Myers — performed particularly well up front.

Don’t forget about Malik Taylor

Devin Funchess may have stolen the show at wide receiver, but Malik Taylor wasn’t too far behind. At least to my knowledge, it’s been a quiet camp for him but he came away with five receptions — the second-most on the team behind Funchess — for 50 yards with a long of 21.

Taylor also had a nice block on a wide receiver screen to Amari Rodgers — we all know how important that aspect is to LaFleur — and is one of the primary gunners on special teams–a very important role.

That same old special teams unit

It’s only one preseason game, so we shouldn’t try to read too much into what we saw from the special teams unit — or at least that’s what I’m telling myself — but it was still a bit discouraging to see, especially after what we saw from this group in 2020.

The blocking for Kylin Hill on kick returns was spotty, as he struggled to get the ball past the 20-yard line. The punt return unit then gave up a 43-yard kick return to Desmond King, and there was some questionable tackling as well.

Next. Instant Takeaways & Highlights from Jordan Love's Debut. dark

For some good news, Amari Rodgers had a 14-yard punt return, and both JK Scott and Ryan Winslow had decent nights punting, averaging 47.3 yards per punt and 49.0, respectively.