The Green Bay Packers entered the 2022 NFL season with a lot of questions at wide receiver. How would they replace All Pro Davante Adams? How quickly would their three drafted rookies be able to contribute to the offense? Would free agent Sammy Watkins stay healthy and recapture his earlier career magic?
Now after six games, the receiver position is more of a question mark than ever. A combination of injuries, poor offensive line play, subpar play by Aaron Rodgers and injuries and inconsistency at wide receiver have all contributed to the situation.
Here is a look at the team’s current wide receiver situation after six weeks and how the Packers can get more out of their receivers this season:
Lazard missed the season opener due to injuries but since returning, he is one of Rodgers’ most trusted receivers. Lazard is not an elite downfield target but he is a dependable receiver with good hands who runs the proper routes consistently.
Lazard has 20 catches for 285 yards and a team-high four touchdown catches. He is not an ideal number one receiver, but he is consistent and a quality starter who Rodgers looks to in many key situations.
The veteran the Packers reacquired last season at Rodgers’ request and he took over as the team’s primary slot receiver.
At this stage in his career, Cobb is no longer a speedster, but he’s smart and good at gaining yards after the catch. Rodgers often looks to Cobb when the team needs to convert on third downs. Thus far he has 18 catches for 257 yards.
Cobb is set to miss 2-4 weeks of action with a sprained ankle he suffered against the Jets. The injury was initially feared to be much worse but the Packers will have to find a way to deal with his absence as their primary slot receiver.
The rookie fourth round pick out of Nevada leads all Packers wide receivers with 26 catches for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Doubs has been targeted a team-high 38 times.
His talent and play making ability have been on display at various times but Doubs also makes his share of rookie mistakes. Rodgers seems to trust him more than the other rookies, but not enough to have confidence that Doubs will always get the job done.
The Packers remain hopeful that Doubs will make fewer mistakes and gain more of Rodgers’ trust as the season progresses. The talent is there but he needs to be more consistent.
Watkins only played two games before going on IR. He made six catches for 111 yards in seven targets. Watkins provides deep speed and experience. He seemed to be developing chemistry with Rodgers despite missing out on most of the preseason.
Watkins may be ready to return from the IR this week and if he does, he would likely be able to take Cobb’s roster spot and provide the Packers with the ability to stretch defenses that they have lacked for must of this season. Of course, having time to throw would also help in this area.
Staying healthy has been a problem for Watkins throughout his career and the Packers really can use a healthy Watkins for the rest of this season.
The rookie missed most of training camp due to a knee injury and now has a hamstring injury that forced him to sit out against the Jets.
Watson has a lot to learn after playing in a run-first offense at North Dakota state without a complex route tree. Missing time in the preseason and now during the regular season didn’t help that process.
The recurring injuries are slowing Watson’s progress and limiting his impact this season.
Thus far, Watson has seven catches for 52 yards. His future could still be bright but unless he gets into the lineup soon, his rookie season ay largely be a wash.
With Cobb sidelined for the next few weeks, this may be the best opportunity for Amari Rodgers to show he can contribute to the offense.
Last year, he caught just four passes and rarely saw the field on offense. This year, he saw action on offense against the Jets and made his first catch of the season for 14 yards.
Amari Rodgers needs to show he can be on the same page with Aaron Rodgers and get separation from defensive backs. He has a long way to go but this may be his best chance this season to earn a bigger role.
The Packers seventh round pick in this year’s draft made the 53-man roster but has yet to be active in any of the first six games. The Packers may want to give him a chance to see what he can do at some point this season, but obviously Toure must earn that chance in practice and show he’s ready for action.
Winfree is a pedestrian receiver who has been activated from the practice squad for the maximum three games. If the Packers want to have him play again, they must place him on the 53-man roster. Thus far Winfree has one catch in four targets for 17 yards. He runs reliable routes but has yet to make an impact during the regular season after playing well in training camp and the preseason.
The problem is that none of these receivers are game breakers or stars. With the offensive line struggling, Aaron Rodgers lacks the time to complete longer throws downfield and his accuracy has not been as good on long throws this season in part because of a lack of familiarity and chemistry with the new receivers.
The Packers are unlikely to make a move to bring in a receiver via trade or free agency who can make an immediate difference to this offense. Unless the addition has a history with the quarterback, that impact would likely come too late for this season anyway.
The better solution is to improve the play of the offensive line and tweak the playbook to emphasize more quick release, short passes to set up the occasional downfield splash play. The return of Watkins and/or Watson could help stretch the field a little but tailoring the offense more to the skill set of the available talent and scheming these players open would likely be the more realistic and effective way to go in the short term.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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