Marquez Valdes-Scantling and His Roller Coaster Play

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

On Thursday night, the Green Bay Packers beat a depleted San Francisco 49ers squad 34-17. After falling to the lowly Minnesota Vikings the weekend before, it was a much needed win for the Packers. In the victory, several offensive players stepped up. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns. Once again, wide receiver Davante Adams was his top target. Adams hauled in 10 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown. Along with Adams, Marques Valdes-Scantling hauled in two touchdowns as well. But there is more to the story for him and his two receiving touchdowns. Valdes-Scantling and his play continues to be a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma for the Packers.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling and His Roller Coaster Play Continues

Standing 6’4″ tall and able to run a 4.37 in a forty yard dash, Marquez Valdes-Scantling has everything you want as a wide receiver. Actually, on paper he has everything that NFL teams are looking for as a wide receiver.

At times, Marquez Valdes-Scantling has teased Packers fans with his potential. However on the flip side, he has struggled mightily, with concentration and route running. His up and down play was on full display on Thursday night against the 49ers.

Late in  the first half, on a crucial third down, Rodgers scrambled and hit Valdes-Scantling with a perfect aimed pass. The pass hit Valdes-Scantling right in the hands which he dropped. On another attempted pass, Rodgers threw a pass that landed in front of him. From Rodgers reaction, it appeared that he might have run too far on his route.

Even with the drop and possible bad route, Marquez Valdes-Scantling flashed that potential. Late in the second quarter, Rodgers connected with Valdes-Scantling for a 52 yard touchdown. The touchdown gave the Packers a 21-3 lead going into half time. In the third quarter, Rodgers found Valdes-Scantling once again, this time for a one yard touchdown reception. The touchdown gave the Packers  a 28-3 lead.

Thursday night’s game best represents what the Packers have seen from Marquez Valdes-Scantling through his two and a half years career. Lack of concentration, big plays, and overall uneven play from the former South Florida product.

Flashed Potential at the Beginning

In his first season, Marquez Valdes-Scantling looked like he might be a key contributor for the Packers offense for seasons to come. That season, he hauled in 38 catches for 581 yards with two touchdown receptions. He displayed a knack for stretching the field with his 4.37 speed. The Packers offense hasn’t had his type of speed at wide receiver for a very long time.

The Packers always talk about their rookies taking the “next step” in their second season. They were hoping that Valdes-Scantling would be one of those rookies who would do so. But unfortunately for them and Valdes-Scantling, that didn’t happen.

His numbers dropped off in his second season. His receptions went from 38 to 26, while his receiving yards went from 581 to 452. But it wasn’t just the numbers that dropped. In 2019, Valdes-Scantling struggled with concentration that led to drops. His struggles and uneven play appeared to make Rodgers lose confidence his his wide receiver.

The Packers were hoping that Valdes-Scantling could get back to his 2018 form going into this season. While he sits at three touchdown receptions already this season, he is still struggling with concentration and the ability to get open on a consistent basis. Overall, his play is still uneven.

Adams is the Packers top pass catcher and is putting up big numbers once again for the Packers. But as the season goes on, he will start to face more double and possible triple teams. For the Packers passing attack to be successful if that happens, Valdes-Scantling will need to play more consistent and take pressure off of Adams.

Handed Golden Opportunities

Since Brian Gutekunst took over as the Packers general manager in 2018, he has only drafted three wide receivers. All of those wide receivers coming in the 2018 NFL draft.

In that draft, Gutekunst selected J’Mon Moore (Missouri, fourth round), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (South Florida, fifth round), and Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame, sixth round). Moore was a bust, only lasting one season with the Packers. St. Brown might be the most gifted of the three, but he has struggled with injuries during his career and hasn’t contributed much to the Packers offense. Valdes-Scantling has been the most productive out of the three, but that isn’t saying much.

Since that 2018, Gutekunst has chosen not to select a wide receiver in the NFL draft. Even with this past draft being rich with wide receiver prospects, Gutekunst stood pat. His lack of moves isn’t just with the draft. The only experienced wide receiver he has signed through free agency was Devin Funchess, who is sitting out this season because of COVID concerns.

Gutekunst did hit on Allen Lazard who was a street free agent. But he is currently making his way back after suffering a core injury earlier in the season. With the lack of moves, and Lazard out with injury, Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been given a golden opportunity to shine. While he has flashed, he still hasn’t been able to show the Packers he can be a contributor on a game to game basis.

Long Term Plans for the Packers

In 2021, Marquez Valdes-Scantling will be entering his final year of his rookie contract. With the speed and size he has, it would be very doubtful that the Packers would cut ties before that deal is up. Along with that, it is very doubtful that Gutekunst would cut the most productive wide receiver he has selected as the Packers general manager.

While Valdes-Scantling will continue to get opportunities, he will need to start showing more if he is going to be in the Packers long term plans. He should have opportunities this season to show he belongs long term. But next season might be a different story.

Funchess is expected to return to Green Bay in 2021. It is hard to believe that Gutekunst would once again pass on taking a wide receiver high in the draft (although you never know). With Funchess and possibly at least one drafted wide receiver entering the fold, Valdes-Scantling’s opportunities will drop.

If he is going to show that he should be a part of the long term plans, he is going to need to take advantage of his opportunities. Not only will he need to make those down the field plays, but he is going to need to show he can be more consistent. But the biggest thing he must do, is gain the trust of Aaron Rodgers.

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