Analyzing the Green Bay Packers Receivers Through Three Weeks

Green Bay Packers Receivers

The Green Bay Packers have gotten off to a strong 3-0 start on the back of coordinator Mike Pettine’s suffocating defense. This is one of the league’s most-improved units from 2018 on either side of the ball. The Packers didn’t bring in first-time head coach Matt LaFleur to revitalize the defense, though. The former quarterback and acclaimed offensive guru has yet to show what this Packers offense is capable of. Much of the scrutiny has been placed on his relationship with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. There have been mixed results in the first few games on the play-calling from LaFleur and the execution from Rodgers. The blame should not be put on this tandem, though. Many of the Packers issues on offense thus far can be attributed to their lack of consistent pass-catchers. There are few established options behind Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams when looking at the Green Bay Packers receivers.

Analyzing the Green Bay Packers Receivers Through Three Weeks

Ongoing Issue

One of Brian Gutekunst’s first changes when taking over as general manager was to cut ties with former number one receiver Jordy Nelson. Randall Cobb remained with the team but hadn’t been the same since his breakout season in 2012. The team had a lot of faith in Adams who was then entering his fifth year in the league and was fresh of a new contract extension. He had never been more than second fiddle to Nelson though. The Packers were right to trust Adams as the de facto go-to target as he has blossomed into one of the league’s elite talents. Rodgers and Adams cannot continue to keep this offense afloat all on their own.

Gutekunst drafted three wide receivers on day three of the draft in 2018. The first was fourth round pick J’Mon Moore who couldn’t make the 53-man roster this year. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was taken in the fifth and has outperformed his draft slot by elevating to the team’s number two receiver this season. The Packers ended Equanimeous St. Brown’s draft slide by picking him in the sixth round. The size-speed product showed flashes in year one but unfortunately ended up on injured reserve before his sophomore campaign began. The Packers also had an undrafted rookie free agent make the roster in 2018 in Jake Kumerow. Along with this young group, the Packers retained Geronimo Allison and Trevor Davis. It was clear heading into 2019 that this was a relatively thin group of pass-catchers for Rodgers to target.

Fast Forward

The Packers are now fresh off a win over the Denver Broncos. This is not the same receiving corps as the one that took over after Nelson’s release. Cobb left in free agency to join the Dallas Cowboys after the Packers didn’t attempt to extend him. Moore was waived at the start of the season and has yet to catch on with another team even as a member of a practice squad. St. Brown is out for the year. Gutekunst recently orchestrated a trade that sent Davis to the Oakland Raiders for a sixth-round pick. The quartet of Adams, MVS, Allison, and Kumerow remain. Although there have been mixed results thus far, it is becoming more apparent who the team hopes seizes the opportunity as the second fiddle to Adams.

Through three weeks, Adams leads the team in receptions and receiving yards but not by much. He has only two more catches and 28 more yards than his new running mate, Valdes-Scantling. MVS created the biggest offensive play in the team’s week one win over the Chicago Bears on a 47-yard pass from Rodgers to set up the game’s only touchdown.  He had a very quiet game in week two with fewer than 20 receiving yards. Fortunately for MVS, the Broncos focused on shutting down Adams with double teams and coverage from one of the league’s premier corners, Chris Harris. This left the opportunity for Valdez-Scantling to make his case as an offensive playmaker. He responded with nine catches on ten targets for 99 yards and a score on the team’s opening drive. Adams only had 56 yards and still has yet to score on the season. Valdes-Scantling could be at the beginning of a breakout sophomore season.

Looking Ahead

This has been a slow start to the season for Adams. After being second to Antonio Brown in touchdown receptions over the past three years, Adams has yet to find the endzone in 2019. Even Brown has more scores thus far. He has faced some of the league’s best defensive backs over the first three weeks in Kyle Fuller, Xavier Rhodes, and Harris, so Adams and his fantasy owners shouldn’t worry. His scores and big games will come, perhaps starting in a week four matchup with the leaky Philadelphia Eagles secondary. We have already touched on the fact that MVS could be stepping into the role as the offense’s number two option. His increased snap counts each week favor that notion. It will be on Valdes-Scantling to continue impressing both his quarterback and new head coach.

No one else on the team has more than 55 receiving yards. Allison was supposed to give MVS a run for his money as the team’s second receiver. He has been a disappointment thus far. Apart from the fantastic touchdown catch on a perfect pass against the Minnesota Vikings, Allison has made little positive impact on the team. He had a fumble in the same game and caught one ball for a negative yard against the Broncos. Those who were worried after Allison failed to record a single target in week one were absolutely right. His time as a playmaker in this offense could be limited.

Running backs Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones are actually third and fourth on the team in yards and receptions. This is a good sign for the offense’s willingness to get the backs involved in the pass game but a bad sign for the receiver depth. The tight end was supposed to be a large part of LaFleur’s offense, but Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, and Robert Tonyan have combined for just 95 yards and a score on eight receptions. All have had their ups and downs so far.

The receiving depth on this team rounds out with a few undrafted free agents that have made their way onto the 53. Kumerow, along with Allen Lazard and Darrius Shepherd, have found their way onto the field late in games. Kumerow could start eating into Allison’s snaps if the fourth-year pro continues to struggle. Shepherd should be one of the primary return men from here on out and also offers a unique skillset on offense. Lazard is a big-bodied receiver that excels on jump balls. He should only find more snaps if Adams or Valdes-Scantling were to miss some time. The situation with the Packers secondary pass-catching options will be one to monitor over the team’s next few weeks.

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