Are Packers Lacking Weapons at Receiver?

Right now, the Packers wide receiver position has more questions than answers 

 

The Green Bay Packers are 2-0 on the young 2019 season but despite their perfect record, some areas of the team still leave many questions. The wide receiver position has been one of the biggest topics of conversation this week and since the win over the Minnesota Vikings.  

 

The receiver battle was one that got a lot of buzz in training camp and during the preseason as the depth chart took shape and a plethora of guys fought for limited spots. 

 

Returning from last season were Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Trevor Davis and Jake Kumerow.  Standouts Darrius Shepherd and Allen Lazard quickly threw their hats in the ring as well.

 

Early reports from training camp were that Adams may have the best footwork in the league and was the obvious top target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown were primed to take a big step forward in year two.  Their route running had improved and they appeared to have better rapport with Rodgers.  Allison and Kumerow were back as steady depth and Davis was likely to keep his return duties.  Shepherd and Lazard were headed for likely practice squad roles.

 

St. Brown, who caught some meaningful passes last season, was lost to an ankle injury after the third preseason game.  He was likely being counted on as a regular piece of the offense.  His absence left a hole in the depth chart but the Packers forged ahead with what they had and Shepherd earned the final receiver spot.

 

So far through two games, the Packers have just 357 total passing yards and rank 26th in the league.  Outside of the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings, the offense has sputtered along the way.  With Rodgers healthy and a new offense in place, many expected a rejuvenated Packers team out of the gate.

 

Now and despite having faced two very good defenses in the Chicago Bears and the Vikings, some wonder if the passing game is struggling because of the lack of receiving threats opposite Adams.

 

Through two games, Rodgers has targeted Adams 17 times in 64 pass attempts.  That's 26.5 percent of the time, which isn't overly disproportionate.  But consider that the other Packers receivers had 170 receiving yards in week one and managed just one touchdown.  Against the Vikings, Adams had just over a half of the receiving yards and the offense couldn't find the end zone after the first quarter.  

 

Penalties and some bad game management led to some of the stalling, but the passing game clearly needs a spark.  Where will it come from?

 

While there is no crystal ball to see who might become other viable options for the passing game, it is still just week three.  Many other teams are also still working out the kinks in their offense as the new season unfolds.

 

Might the Packers look for a veteran free agent option to add a pass catcher?  They could, but there aren't many to choose from.  Despite reports that Dez Bryant listed the Packers as a team that he wants to play for, don't hold your breath.  Bryant hasn't played a meaningful snap of football in well over a year and by now, most of us know that he doesn't catch much at Lambeau Field.

 

Could general manager Brian Gutekunst try to trade for a receiver before the deadline next month?  Sure, but again, don't spend too much time working through possible scenarios.  Gute doesn't like to part with prime draft capital and it's not like the Packers are lacking receiver depth.

 

Right now, it's most likely that the team and head coach Matt LaFleur rely on Rodgers to work things out and spread the ball around.  Make the other receivers an option that opposing defenses can't ignore as they roll more coverage towards Adams.

 

It's hard to argue with a 2-0 start, regardless of how ho-hum the offense has been.  But barring injury, what you see now is likely what the Packers will roll with through the remaining schedule.  How are you feeling about the Packers' receiver position?

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (57)

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Ryan B Dub's picture

September 18, 2019 at 11:27 am

Is not Eq St Brown done for the season? As in he went to IR before cuts to 53 making him a next year player?

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Aplinal's picture

September 18, 2019 at 11:46 am

Yes, that's my understanding as well.

As to the issue, I think Gute will hold off unless this trend continues for another couple of games. A-Rod has admitted the O only played 2 decent quarters of football, as the new system settles in, I'd expect there to be more quality passing attack, so the angst may be premature.

But, hey, if we can win while the O is indifferent, great. Enjoy it while we can, we could be 0-2!

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mamasboy's picture

September 18, 2019 at 01:01 pm

Unfortunatley you are right.

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Rick F's picture

September 18, 2019 at 11:54 am

The wide outs I think are carving out roles. MVS and Allison are getting better weekly. The way the scheme is designed with play action the 4-5 receiver won’t be as vital. Two TE s takes away the 4th option. The top 3 must run great routes to stress the field. The first play of the game showed what a great route can do. The more LaFluer opens up the play book the better the secondary options will flourish. They finally have true balance and Rodgers will exploit the weakness. By week 5-6 will be the best indicator where the receivers are and the roles they will play.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 18, 2019 at 08:48 pm

I can't see any evidence that MVS and Allison are getting better. Allison's lack of production is surprising to me.

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realitybytez's picture

September 18, 2019 at 09:13 pm

i think you meant that mvs and allison are getting better weakly.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

September 18, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Been screaming this since last season and into the draft, Allison and MVS are not legit #2 receivers, Imagine if we had drafted Hollywood Brown or Deebo Samuel or a few of the other rookie receivers who are already tearing up the league, instead of the project Gary, who was a redundant pick? Still don't believe Gary at #12 when everyone and his brother identified him as the biggest potential bust in the draft. For all the good that Gute has done to rebuild the D he went a little too far and should have drafted the best WR available. He misjudged what we had in Allison and MVS, who are just JAGS, easily covered by a single defensive back allowing Adams to be double and triple teamed. Everyone here is rationalizing by claiming it took Jordy and Adams 3 seasons to develop but they had the pedigree, 2nd round picks who had shown in college they were studs. Allison and MVS have never had anywhere near that kind of potential, they don't have the moves to get open regularly or the yard after catch ability. This season we're stuck with them. I'd give Kumerow and Davis some snaps this week just to see what we've got and not wait til Rodgers has to again hold the ball long enough to get injured.

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Gort's picture

September 18, 2019 at 03:49 pm

Although i am starting to buy into your drumbeat regarding the need for better WR, the whole of the team needs to be considered. The old adage is "defense wins championships" and the Packers defense was a higher priority than WR. Bottom line is we have 2 wins primarily because of a stifling defense.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 18, 2019 at 04:22 pm

OK with another WR to be brought in via trade, but the Gary analysis is a little sketchy. The only legitimate One Pick this year went to the Ravens as Mr Hollywood Brown. Then the run on wides with the next best guy, Deebo Samuels going to the 49rs. 2020 has a better group of WRs coming in.

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4thand10's picture

September 18, 2019 at 08:37 pm

I have been screening the same thing. However, The Gary pic I was good with. Savage was a really good pick, but at the time I wasn’t aware that he was THAT good. I would have been even better with a Christian Wilkins at Gary’s spot, but that’s just me. The Jenkins pick in the 2nd round I was more than good with. There were just too many needs this year. The only move that I would question is round 3 ..due to the fact that 1) already have Graham 2) Tonyan and 3) Lewis ( who can still play well). I’m not confident Sternberger would ever be a blocking AND receiving TE. A receiving TE ..yes. I’m not totally sure what WRs were available round 3 and if they would be more capable than what we had. But again, there were just too many needs to have luxury picks at WR or RB. But in my view, a WR was needed as well as a move the chains bruising RB.

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realitybytez's picture

September 18, 2019 at 09:28 pm

graham cannot play well. he's done. he was a $22 million mistake.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 18, 2019 at 08:56 pm

Given Lane Taylor's level of play, it is hard to argue with drafting Jenkins. Sternberger over McLaurin was a tough call for me, but GB will need TEs in 2020 and I wanted to jettison Graham last March.

I think this is a case of too many holes for the available draft picks and cap money for FAs. GB certainly had a lot of WRs who might have stepped up, and one of them still might. GB is 2-0, so the lack of offense has not derailed the season so far.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 18, 2019 at 10:54 pm

Sternberger was a good value and realistically met the receiving TE need. I was also in the McLaurin camp as he was the best of the O.State receiving corps.

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Kubyskins12's picture

September 21, 2019 at 07:50 am

Rodgers just needs to stop playing scared of throwing picks. Take deep shots to mvs when he’s got single coverage. Wrs have the advantage in single coverage so throw and let you wr make a play. Throw some balls in the middle of field. Let the big tight ends to use their big bodies and long arms. If you look at Gronk he made those kind of catches all the time. It’s not like he was wide open all the time. Hemade a lot of catches with guys on his back. And just be more willing to take the underneath throw and get ball out on time. Be more aggressive while still getting ball out on time and trust your guys and your arm and this offense and the wrs will be just fine. Also I would like see Tonyan get more opportunities. I think if he does and Rodgers will trust him he will make a lot plays.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

September 18, 2019 at 12:04 pm

It is almost like you don't understand how the defense, much less the talent level of the defense or the coaching level, matters. Was there a mention of the poor packer OL performance? Leave aside the reasons/excuses. No preseason snaps...yada yada yada. Bottom line the OL.

Then go back to the queen game. Watch the defense on Adams the first three series when Adams impacted the game. The watch how Adams basically disappeared and figure out why.

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Alphadork's picture

September 18, 2019 at 03:38 pm

Wondering if you can make the same point without using a homophobic epithet to describe the Vikings....

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jasonperone's picture

September 18, 2019 at 04:52 pm

IL, there's a sale on heavy bags on Amazon and I'm sure you can find a neighbor to help install in the garage so you can work out some of your bitterness before you come on here, type away and sound depressed. Or just call the hotline. But figure it out or go play on Reddit instead.

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Lare's picture

September 18, 2019 at 01:14 pm

The Packers are currently the 26th ranked offense in the NFL in passing yards per game. Yes, they've played two pretty good defenses but I would still like to see Rodgers have another receiving threat to throw to when Adams is double & triple covered.

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fastmoving's picture

September 18, 2019 at 02:49 pm

oh man, when Adams is trippled there should be at least 2 Receiver uncovered????

other than that, its not the fault of the WRs......they pretty good.

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Old School's picture

September 18, 2019 at 01:47 pm

Yeah! Look at the awesome receiving threats Lamar Jackson has.

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nostradanus's picture

September 18, 2019 at 01:57 pm

#1. Stay the course, we all new the offense was going to take a month or so and the defense was going to have to keep them in games. This has happened.

#2. Keep feeding the RB’s and working off play action or teams won’t respect the running game and will keep safeties back.

#3. Get those tight ends involved, that is the reason they are paying Graham and to a lesser extent Lewis.

#4. Use Davis on WR screens, jet sweeps, end arounds.He is dangerous with the ball in his hands.

It is coming together, those were two great wins!

Packers are 2 & 0 in the division that is huge!!

Go Pack!!

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stockholder's picture

September 18, 2019 at 02:11 pm

Let's not make this Toxic. First: Arron Rodgers is not complaining about them. When Nelson left, he spoke up. He complained openly about them in the past. Yet; he praised them this camp.. Two: LeFluers offense was suppose to give the TEs the advantage. And even get the Rbs more involved. So even if you wanted to blow money ,or draft picks. A #2 veteran WR, or rookie standout, wouldn't be in LeFluer's best interest. Three: We've had the Pack Attack, West Coast, and several other named schemes. It's about the chemistry with the QB. And lets just keep that in mind with Rodgers.

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jimtalkbox's picture

September 18, 2019 at 02:20 pm

I think you've got to give MVS another year before making a judgement. People were ready to call Adams a bust after 2 years.

Allison is in his 4th year, so I think he's shown us what he has. Maybe a 3rd/4th receiver at best?

I don't think there's a big difference between EQ, Davis, Kumerow and Shepherd.

If Gutey wants to hedge his bets next offseason, I think you have to get a guy that can push to be a 2nd or 3rd receiver right away.

Dumping Graham and retooling the TE position might help too in 2020. I wish Tonyan would get more reps in this offense.

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Packers2019's picture

September 18, 2019 at 02:28 pm

I continue to say it but a lot of the bloggers on here do not listen.

MVS is a 5th rounder, Allison is a UDFA, Kumerow is an UDFA, Shepherd is an UDFA, Lazard is an UDFA (I think). Jimmy Graham is old and slow and he cannot block. Adams is all we have. If he gets hurt, we have major issues.

1) We need to draft a WR in the 1st or 2nd round next year.
2) Adding a veteran WR would not be a bad thing.
3) Put in Tonyan and see what he can do. He blocks better than Graham and he has more speed.

Could I be wrong about one of the WR's mentioned? Of course but I would bet my next pay check I am right. I will eat crow if I am wrong and hope that I am wrong. Let's see what happens this week with Denver.

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4thand10's picture

September 18, 2019 at 08:44 pm

I agree with all of this, but I do think Graham will have a 7-8 touchdown season. We are 2 games in and he already has 1.

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Rick F's picture

September 18, 2019 at 02:35 pm

Out of all the receivers Trevor Davis is fast and is a one trick pony. He has no instincts or football savvy. His special team decision are not good either. Not aggressive on short kicks, then he does the hero ball and gets blown up. I hope shepherd comes back and takes the job. Kumerow is under preforming so this is not a shock either. Coaches play the players that help them win games. Both are irrelevant so the delusional fans that rip MVS and Alison don’t get that the best players play first.

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trailmarker6's picture

September 18, 2019 at 04:43 pm

Seems the Packers brass agrees with you in re Davis.

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Rick F's picture

September 18, 2019 at 02:35 pm

Out of all the receivers Trevor Davis is fast and is a one trick pony. He has no instincts or football savvy. His special team decision are not good either. Not aggressive on short kicks, then he does the hero ball and gets blown up. I hope shepherd comes back and takes the job. Kumerow is under preforming so this is not a shock either. Coaches play the players that help them win games. Both are irrelevant so the delusional fans that rip MVS and Alison don’t get that the best players play first.

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realitybytez's picture

September 18, 2019 at 09:34 pm

is there an echo in here?

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Swisch's picture

September 18, 2019 at 02:36 pm

My understanding is that Coach Lafleur's offense gets wide receivers open without them needing to beat defensive backs one-on-one. Is this so?
I'm hoping for receivers in triangle formations, receivers in motion, receivers in an array of crossing patterns, and receivers fanning out all over the field.
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Our current group of receivers is just fine, actually excellent, although inexperienced.
Stick with the guys we have now and bring them along as the new offense is refined with repetition during practice and in upcoming games.
I think a couple will emerge into top-three receivers to complement Davante; and that the other guys will improve, as well, into important contributors.
We make the playoffs at 10-6, and see what happens in the postseason.
Next year, watch out!
We're well on our way to an elite receiving corps.
***
Even this year, I'm concerned about our receivers after Davante getting enough targets. That's a big challenge for our coaches.

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cms's picture

September 18, 2019 at 02:53 pm

I guess my question over the last two weeks is: Are receivers not getting open or is Aaron missing them? I know its not as simple as that but it seems strange that the offense either it works great or not all. IMHO, I would like to see more of a rotation of skill players getting on the field. Neither Davis, Kumerow nor Tonyan have gotten many opportunities to help this offense. If nothing else, it gives the defense a different look. And as always, more first downs = more snaps for everyone. Go Pack!

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Samson's picture

September 18, 2019 at 02:55 pm

Both stockholder & Swish....Nice posts above.
Glad to see someone on this board actually understands patience in an NFL season...
Instead of the quick fix artists that want to retool everything after only two games.

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ChuckCecilKO's picture

September 18, 2019 at 03:05 pm

I would argue that Allison needs to elevate his game. The production was there last year before his injury. Obviously the coaches believe in his ability to be a viable #2 receiver. Going after a Dez Bryant may not be a bad idea. GB could use a steady possession receiver with his pedigree. Think Terry Glenn when he was with GB. The lack of offense with the TEs is disturbing. I agree Tonyan needs more reps. Finally, I would definitely state GB should select a WR in the first or second round of next years draft.

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Alphadork's picture

September 18, 2019 at 03:21 pm

We're two games into a long season; those two games were against two of the best defenses in the NFL. In those games, our young receivers haven't stood out or excelled - so what? Why would we expect them to? They'll find their grooves. As the stats show - and as Matt LaFleur said at his presser, it's not like they're dropping passes. The problems are learning a new offense, getting comfortable with Rodgers in that offense, and LaFleur not yet calling plays to capitalize on those receivers. There's no crisis.
PS Geronimo Allison's TD catch against the Vikings was spectacular.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 18, 2019 at 03:24 pm

Right now it appears that the Packers are lacking weapons at WR. But realistically it’s way too soon to tell. It’s been too limited a sample to make that pronouncement. Yet, with MLF running 11 and 12 sets there are only a few wide receivers on the field at any one time. So having a quality #2 or #3 receiver is very important. However, once a short pass game plan is activated then I expect more wide receivers to get involved and we will see more production from them. Also, that will increase their experience and value to the team. And it is my personal opinion that Rodgers doesn’t trust some of them in a bang bang type of play.

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Alphadork's picture

September 18, 2019 at 03:25 pm

Let's also remember that the new balanced attack, with half the offensive snaps being run plays, creates fewer opportunities for the receivers. Unless they add a 5th quarter, one would expect the team total passing stats to be lower than in Mike McCarthy's pass-first offense. If we're passing a lot, it probably means we're playing from behind - let's hope it doesn't come to that in most games.

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4thand10's picture

September 18, 2019 at 09:24 pm

I like the 20+ rushing attempts per game. Even when the run appeared to not be working, they stick with it and don’t abandon it. Which is a really nice change . But that is also the luxury that a solid defense provides.

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Lphill's picture

September 18, 2019 at 04:22 pm

The offense is a work in progress let’s give it a few more weeks before we evaluate the receivers , Rodgers needs time to get comfortable with them as well , like the man says RELAX!

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Samson's picture

September 18, 2019 at 04:36 pm

Looks like Trevor Davis has been traded to the Raiders.
For what, I don't know.... Interesting.

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Old School's picture

September 18, 2019 at 05:15 pm

I wonder if his stupid penalty factored into this. Montgomery was traded after a stupid play, Whitehead was cut after a stupid penalty. Maybe Gute just doesn’t like people who do stupid stuff that hurts the team.

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4thand1's picture

September 18, 2019 at 04:39 pm

We have receivers, the ball will get spread around, the offense will get better every week. nuff said.

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Gort's picture

September 18, 2019 at 05:01 pm

I very much would like to see the return of Andrew Hermann's grading series. His observations seem be able to differentiate between reality and what I think I see.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

September 18, 2019 at 05:09 pm

Allison and MVS may be the best we've got but that doesn't mean they're any good. Neither scares any defensive coordinator or CB. We have an A+ QB, an A+ WR, an A running back... all Gute had to do was find a legitimate #2 Receiver to make this a really dangerous offense. Jameson Crowder was out there, better than either Allison or MVS, and half a dozen good receivers were there for the taking in the draft. Instead... after signing two studs like the Smith Bros, he drafts Gary. Wasting that pick may be the mistake that costs a Super Bowl or two. I was praying he'd go Hollywood Brown, the closest thing to Tyreke Hill in the draft, but he drafted a project. For such a smart guy to gamble on the consensus potentially biggest bust in the draft was just insane. Couldn't believe my ears when it was announced. Damn!... Continue to bury me with dislikes, but I want to hear anyone claim they'd rather have Gary right now than a stud receiver. Remember that Wolf, after he retired, said his biggest mistake was not supplying Favre with more quality receivers. Gute didn't pay attention, not even to TT who seemed to draft a receiver in the second round every year; Jordy, Jennings, Cobb... big mistake by Gute that will play badly all year.

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Old School's picture

September 18, 2019 at 05:16 pm

So Gutekunst signed Allison to a $2 million deal. Is he stupid?

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JohnnyLogan's picture

September 18, 2019 at 05:27 pm

Don't understand the question. Is he stupid for signing Allison?... Not for $2 million, I guess, but I doubt he will ever re-sign him to a major deal. He did have a nice TD, other than that not so good. Not even a throw in his direction in the first game. It'll be interesting to see what the offense looks like this week now that the "impossible defenses of the Bears and Vikes" won't be playing. If Allison and MVS still continue to disappoint something has to be done. From his tape and what he did in preseason I have higher hopes for Shephard. He's a quick slot receiver and may be able to change the offense. Hope MLF gives him a shot soon.

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Lare's picture

September 18, 2019 at 06:21 pm

Unfortunately, most of the good WR's in the NFL are head cases, demanding a trade every year or so if everything doesn't go exactly the way they want. Will Alison or MVS ever make a Pro Bowl? Probably not. The best we can hope for them is to be average, serviceable receivers that help the Packers more than they hurt them

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Gman1976's picture

September 18, 2019 at 08:58 pm

MVS is in his 2nd year. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't it take 3 years for Jordy and Adams to blossom into bona fide stars?

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CoachJV's picture

September 19, 2019 at 04:43 pm

Word... and Adams had the Drops in year 2... so badly that everyone (including the majority of people on this site) were calling for him to be cut.

But people have short memories and even shorter faith in their teams these days.

If MVS catches a couple of deep ones for scores in the next few games, these same people will talk about how great he is...

I already think he's gonna be a top receiver in this league by year 4.

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CoachJV's picture

September 19, 2019 at 04:43 pm

Word... and Adams had the Drops in year 2... so badly that everyone (including the majority of people on this site) were calling for him to be cut.

But people have short memories and even shorter faith in their teams these days.

If MVS catches a couple of deep ones for scores in the next few games, these same people will talk about how great he is...

I already think he's gonna be a top receiver in this league by year 4.

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Rick F's picture

September 18, 2019 at 06:50 pm

Just watching the games I thought Davis was under preforming. I call it like I see it, honest evaluations. We will not miss Davis at ALL because Shepherd is twice the player Davis.

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Norm's picture

September 18, 2019 at 07:23 pm

Just maybe (I can hope!) Gute picked up the 6th round pick for Davis and now will use that along with another pick (or player) to trade for a legit #2 receiver. I have no idea who that might be but it wouldn't surprise me if this is part of a larger parlay on his part. I guess we'll see.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

September 18, 2019 at 09:24 pm

“Healthy, moving fast and explosive” words receivers coach David Robinson used to describe his workout with @DezBryant he’s working on his mind but looks like he’s still working on his game too.

Bring in Dez for a tryout!!!

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 18, 2019 at 10:37 pm

Sweet Jesus....no Dez!

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 19, 2019 at 08:01 am

Been saying since late last season that Tonyan is the man at TE. It is so obvious that Graham is very limited and Tonyan has tons of upside. For this offense to really click they need a TE who can run and split the middle of the field forcing Safety coverage opening up outside for WR's. Not sure why GB coaches struggle with this concept.

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pacman's picture

September 19, 2019 at 08:51 am

It's still very early in the season to throw out the rest of the WRs. It seems like we have the speed and height at WR if we can give AR just a 3 seconds to throw it. I would really like for him to play one whole game promising to get rid of the ball quickly and not look for the big play. He's shown improvement this year but not there yet. Personally, I'm getting tired of him not being a team player. There were 4 people to blame over the last few years. We FINALLY got rid of 3 of them and the team's outlook has greatly improved. Unfortunately, getting rid of the 4th is not an option for now - and he knows it. Gute doesn't seem to have much patience for not team or smart players - Montgomery, now Davis. I really wonder what he thinks of AR. Not that we will ever really know.

The next few games will be much more indicative of where we stand with this offense.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

September 19, 2019 at 05:52 pm

Every team in the NFL has receivers who are tall and fast. They also have to be able to run routes and get open which Allison and MVS can't do. Rodgers may not have shown frustration but he knows that the days of Jennings, Driver, Jordy, Cobb, Jones... are long gone. Guys who knew how to get open and made yardage on their own. That's not these two. We'll still be arguing this topic week ten and all of you will still be asking for patience, and then comes the draft and you'll be begging Gute to double down on WR. I'm ranting because I'm hoping Gute and Matt don't make the same mistake TT and Mac did for years, keep playing guys who can't play. My hope is that Kumerow and Shephard are given more opportunity and not wait til week ten.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

September 19, 2019 at 09:05 am

If I am the GM I am going to win if I have to sign the DEVIL himself. People need to get off your high and mighty horse. Packers fans lost all my respect when they allowed Randall Cobb and Kevin King kneel during the National Anthem, so if Dez Bryant helps us win games then I am signing him!! I guess you would rather him go to the Patriots or Cowboys. How about the Vikings? A win is a win is a win.

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