Packers Scattershot Approach To Receiver Seems To Be Working

The Packers haven't pushed all their chips in for a premier wide receiver. Instead, they've patiently build a deep group, and the early results are very promising.

Two years ago, the Packers receiving corps was looking grim.

Though the Packers posted a 13-3 record, the passing attack was no better than it had been in the doldrums of 2017 and 2018. It was a team improvement, but the passing game seemed to have stagnated.

In 2020 and 2021, the aerial attack experienced a renaissance, but it was more due to a rejuvenated Aaron Rodgers than anything else. The wide receiver room had a stud in Davante Adams, but lacked depth with Allen Lazard, the oft-injured MVS, and little else.

So the Packers made some moves.

Last year, they traded for Randall Cobb and drafted Amari Rodgers.

Cobb got hurt after showing he still had some ability, but Amari Rodgers never even really showed any ability.

So in 2022, the Packers brought in more talent. In addition to re-signing Allen Lazard, they signed free agent Sammy Watkins. Then, in the draft, they moved up for Christian Watson, and later selected Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure. They didn't stop there, either, picking up Danny Davis as an undrafted free agent.

In short, they took a volume approach and brought in receivers of all shapes and specialties.

As a result, there's been a lot of buzz about this group around camp, even though there have been some setbacks.

Watkins was hurt early, Watson still is hurt, Rodgers has been quiet.

But, because the Packers have plenty of guys to compete, Romeo Doubs has taken the opportunity to establish himself as the darling of training camp. At the same time, Allen Lazard (who has done everything that has been asked of him for his entire career) looks to have stepped up his game for a larger role. Davis has turned a few heads. Watkins is back at practice and Watson is expected back soon.

Some guys go down, some guys step up.

That's all the Packers need. Thanks to the sheer number of talented prospects the Packers had, they don't need one guy to replace Davante Adams, they just need a few receivers to show up and do their job each week.

Teams don't get bonus points for having Pro Bowl receivers, they win games when the entire team pulls their weight.

If training camp is any indication, the Packers have receivers capable of pulling their weight, even if they don't have one big stud ready to take over as the NFL's best wide receiver.

The good news is that this is exactly the kind of situation that will help Matt LaFleur's offense. Over the last couple of years, the Packers passing attack has suffered when the pass plays all funneled through one guy. Now, with multiple options and no true number 1 receiver, the offense is set to flourish, giving defenses no clues while opening up a multitude of options.

With a lot of options, and the support of a strong running game, this may be the most effective passing attack the Packers have had under Matt LaFleur.

 

 

Bruce Irons has played, coached, and studied football for decades. Best-selling author of books such as A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft, A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap, and A Fan's Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits And Misses, Bruce contributes to CheeseHeadTV and PackersForTheWin.com.

Follow Bruce Irons on Twitter at @BruceIronsNFL.

 

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14 points

Comments (37)

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ricky's picture

August 07, 2022 at 07:17 am

It will be interesting to see if the loss of Adams is, indeed, an "addition by subtraction" scenario for the Packers. Also, whether Adams will continue to be as productive with a new QB, especially one not nearly as good as Rodgers. And as far as Rogers being in the "doldrums", he snapped out of that with the drafting of Love. But, Rodgers' penchant for getting tunnel vision, and focusing solely on Adams during crucial moments was a significant factor in recent playoff losses. So, again, "addition by subtraction"? We can only hope.

13 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

August 07, 2022 at 07:56 am

Ricky,
Great commentary!

I too am on the bandwagon the drafting of Jordan Love changed the trajectory of Rodgers career in 2020. It gets little band width in national media but nevertheless those of us who truly follow the GBP's...we know!

Let's be clear...I absolutely loved Adam's as a player and person, but I am totally convinced the team is better without him. A diversified offense is a better unpredictable offense. Plus, the trade and haul we got for a 30 year old WR was fantastic. I believe the drafting of Doubs, Watson, and Toure all could be awesome additions far outweighing the value of Adam's.

I watched Amari Friday night and while still a big question mark I was surprised how quick and shifty he was. Much more so than I expected. The Packer WR have the pieces and we will see how they develop but I'm feeling very good about the WR corps. Would I like to see them draft a TE and WR next year absolutely but certainly very comfortable where we presently are with the WRs.

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murf7777's picture

August 07, 2022 at 10:00 am

I thought the same thing about Rodgers, he looked quick and shifty and also had a nice burst on a punt return. We’re on the same page with Adams, while great, diversification is better and it made our defense much better due to the available salary cap dollars.

Although, Arod might go thru some frustrations he will make it work with the rookies and Amari. He’s just that good.

The one item on this team that worries me is the OL. If we get Bak, Jenkins and Tonyan back by week 5 I think the Packers will be THE favorite to attend the SB for the NFC.

I think Gutey has been very smart to draft OL in groves over the past couple of years, it will pay dividends. Some will surprise us as they become quality starters.

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Coldworld's picture

August 07, 2022 at 11:03 am

The only position on the OL that worries me is RT and depth while both Jenkins and Bakh are out. Nijman is looking better and better. He is continuing to grow. Late season Newman was actually good at G.

I do not think Tom is the answer at this point, particularly at RT, and he’s not close to Nijman at LT. Impressive technique but just overmatched too much physically. Newman is a guard at this level. If we start without either Bakh or Jenkins then I’m going to say we sign a vet or see Caleb Jones at RT. He’s looking better and better as camp progresses. I gather that they are bringing Walker on slowly after injury, but he too could make a push.

Interestingly, despite his demotion, CVL is still looking greatly improved at T, and particularly at LT. Small sample but I was surprised. I did not see that coming.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

August 07, 2022 at 01:10 pm

Murf,
Ironically my response above was going to focus mainly on the OL being the key to our passing game, but as I slowly pecked away on my phone my mind obviously drifted elsewhere with my response.

Therefore, yes if the OL gives Rodgers/Love time to pass our passing game should be more than adequate even without Adam's.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

August 07, 2022 at 01:11 pm

Duplicate

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Leatherhead's picture

August 07, 2022 at 09:14 pm

Yes. If Aaron Rodgers has time to do his job, somebody is going to get a chance to catch a strike. I’m 100% on that.

My expectation is that we’ll try to make teams cover Lazard, and he’ll get a lot of targets until teams commit to stopping him, just like we did with Adams. Maybe not to such an extent, but he’ll be the guy we try to establish.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 07, 2022 at 09:20 pm

Yes. If Aaron Rodgers has time to do his job, somebody is going to get a chance to catch a strike. I’m 100% on that.

My expectation is that we’ll try to make teams cover Lazard, and he’ll get a lot of targets until teams commit to stopping him, just like we did with Adams. Maybe not to such an extent, but he’ll be the guy we try to establish.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 07, 2022 at 09:21 pm

Duplicate.

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Handsback's picture

August 07, 2022 at 08:02 am

Well done Bruce. Hard not to funnel your passing game through one guy when he performs like Adams did. Now the offense will work like it was suppose to....find the open man not the all-pro.

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NickPerry's picture

August 07, 2022 at 11:41 am

Perfectly said Handsback...NOW we'll see the MLF offense in it's best possible version...USING EVERYONE!

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Tundraboy's picture

August 07, 2022 at 04:54 pm

Find the open man and not the All Pro.! Love it.

1 points
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mrtundra's picture

August 07, 2022 at 08:08 am

Who will opposing teams double team regarding our WRs? Adams was always double teamed and Rodgers still threw him the ball. We have a lot of playmakers in our WR room, right now. I think opposing teams' secondaries will have fits, knowing who to cover. GO PACK, GO!!!

7 points
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PatrickGB's picture

August 07, 2022 at 08:19 am

Adams was the #1 WR because he was open the most often. He beat his man more than any other receiver on the team. Now we have some good prospects but can they get open? That’s the key. Once, when asked who was his favorite receiver, Rodgers replied “the open one”. Now we have fast guys, big guys, smooth guys and experienced guys. The question remains, can they get open? Once that’s clear then we will know how the corps will perform.

5 points
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murf7777's picture

August 07, 2022 at 10:04 am

Patrick, that’s why the OL is so important, because given 3+ seconds most “pass catchers” will get open in the NFL. It’s not just about WR’s, it’s about all pass catchers. There’s many ways to drive down the field and as others catch passes it gives the WR’s opportunities to get open deep and make some big plays. The big IF for me is the OL, if they Excell and with Arod, our offense will be top 5 again.

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Oppy's picture

August 07, 2022 at 01:54 pm

Well, if Rodgers said it, it must be true.. no need to watch what happens on the field and come to conclusions based on what transpires.

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dobber's picture

August 07, 2022 at 09:38 am

Happy to be optimistic, but play some games against opponents who are rushing your passer, disguising coverages, and generally game-planning to beat your offense.

6 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 07, 2022 at 11:08 am

Always. Even vanilla Ds of other teams pose a greater challenge than players and calls that are seen every day in practice .

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TarynsEyes's picture

August 07, 2022 at 09:38 am

In preseason, everybody or those of a certain focal point before preseason started, are labeled by various adjectives which has many believing they're recording a new video to 'Bust a Move'

https://youtu.be/OvuG5cBaRxk

when the reality of the official season starts, many of these when up against other players then their own teammates may look like this

https://youtu.be/HQu_NLRvULM

Let's see what happens when the real dance starts, and you're not 'chair dancing' anymore.

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murf7777's picture

August 07, 2022 at 10:11 am

Taryn, you’re correct regarding individuals. Making plays in scrimmage doesn’t mean you will do it against top competition. We’ve seen that story come to play time and time again. I don’t get caught up in the hype.

When looking at the big picture thou, that’s where the difference lies. By past production, Packers from top to botttom are without debate a top 5 team in the NFL. Gutey has proven to be a very good drafter of talent and when including the potential of the additions to this team, especially with 3 top 34 picks, its exciting to forecast what might happen.

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 07, 2022 at 11:09 am

Always a risk since nothing is proven until it’s done, however, there are traits that give strong indications of capability. Ultimately though, you are right and inevitably so, since no real football has yet been played.

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Jaqu’eau's picture

August 07, 2022 at 11:06 am

Yes, we will know once the season gets under way, but this is the amuse ourselves season when every projection is right, until it’s not. No harm, no foul.

3 points
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Leatherhead's picture

August 07, 2022 at 10:45 am

After three years of a very effective passing game, I’m no t worried that we’re going to be unable to pass.

6 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 07, 2022 at 04:24 pm

Leaning on that fact while knowing that 2 of the three major sources of receiving yards last year and the two biggest over the last 3 now play elsewhere is a little disingenuous and about as tenuous.

If the offense this year matches last year (itself a decline from 2020), it will be because of new blood and greater contributions from others. That in itself inherently requires players to reach as yet unascertained heights and thus contradicts this “we did it before so we will naturally do it again” trope of yours. If we do manage it, it will be because we don’t get hung up on emotion but on potential and ability to help now.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 07, 2022 at 06:32 pm

I think the best predictor of future performance is past performance. That’s a “trope”??

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Coldworld's picture

August 07, 2022 at 10:46 am

Since I think it’s relevant here, I’m going to do something I normally avoid and post a reply to a question posed about What Toure brings to the table that jI made in another thread. I think people continue to overlook his potential, this year and after. Here’s why:

Toure is a guy who can get deep and did regularly, but excelled over the middle. He’s not as fast as Doubs is, though he timed faster at 4.48, Doubs has shown he’s faster than that.

Toure is very fluid and maintains speed during changes in direction. He tracks the ball well in the air, has really good body control. He has an initial burst or twitch to beat defenders but he is a long strider who builds up to top speed (I think he’s faster over 60 than many quicker over 40). In addition to being a leading deep play receiver in the FBS, he broke Randy Moss’ FCS single game receiving record with 303 yards on 12 passes, an average of over 25 a reception.

Some see the lack of real burning speed and his fluidity and ability to find space as making him primarily a slot candidate. He did play in the slot regularly in college, but he also played outside significantly and in all WR roles. Interestingly, while he’s played slot in practice quite regularly, we only saw him outside in family night.

Toure also runs pretty good routes and a varied route tree. There’s a little more room for polishing than Doubs perhaps. He could use some play strength to improve against press coverage. He can get overpowered in physically contested catch situations too. Despite that he’s a willing and decent blocker by and not shy of contact. In college he also ran the ball occasionally.

Toure was offered a late minute scholarship by Montana and took it. He played there for for years and then a year at Nebraska as a graduate transfer. He was voted their receiver if the year and an honorable Big 10 mention. Despite that one year in the FBS, due to conference and route there Toure got very little attention. He no doubt suffered in that regard especially because of the glut of Covid extra year players and WRs.

Toure wasn’t even invited to the combine. He ran in the 4.4s at his pro day but where he really shone was in the lateral movement and change of direction drills. Toure’s three-cone time of 6.77 seconds would have ranked him third amongst his position group at the combine, and his 4.22 short shuttle would have placed him fourth among the receivers in Indianapolis. This kid has some true plus physical abilities.

I really liked Toure once a friend pointed him out. I had him going near where Doubs actually did (I had Doubs in the second). Toure has real upside, but he’s more ready to play than a lot of mid rounders as well. I was shocked when we got him. He’s a guy who can be decent at everything, play anywhere and get separation short or deep and I think a little more physical development will make that more so.

As some know, I was a little shocked by the Watson pick on a win now year: despite being excited by Watson as a boom/bust type for months, he’s a big development project in my opinion. When we bagged Toure, I breathed an immediate sigh of relief. Another WR who should be able to help this year and still have upside despite being a little older at 24.

I’ve been listening to people overlooking Toure based on his being a 7th rounder and due to infatuation with Watson’s potential and, latterly and more understandably, due to Doubs exceeding all expectations thus far. I didn’t doubt that, when given an opportunity, Toure would make a statement that might open a few eyes. I think he just did. He will have ups and downs but I think he will do so again.

6 points
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murf7777's picture

August 07, 2022 at 11:11 am

CW….speed for the WR position is over rated. There are so many more important traits in getting open. As you mentioned keeping speed while deceiving the CB is paramount. Quickness off the line of scrimmage, reading the defense, understanding body language, spending film on your opponent, the list goes on and on. Many of the best WR’s in the business run around 4.5 at the combine. In fact, I would say the fastest WR’s at the combine normally don’t end up with multiple pro-bowls, All-pro, etc…

I believe speed is very important in the CB position because they must recover at times based on a WR’s moves. They are in react mode.

5 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

August 07, 2022 at 01:41 pm

I think speed with size is important. There's a big difference in a 175 lb guy running a 4.3 and a guy like DK Metcalf running a 4.3.

Speed is the icing on the cake. If you skipped an ingredient when making the cake icing isn't going to matter much.

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 07, 2022 at 02:55 pm

In general, any receiver needs to have a stand out skill, maybe two and be good enough at the rest. On the simplest level , the less stand out attributes, the better that attribute must be. Obviously a reasonable ability to catch is a precondition, but even great hands won’t cut it if one doesn’t have more.

I know he was a TE, but Richard Rodgers comes to mind as an example of hands and no speed, along with All those Raiders receivers under later Al Davis, who couldn’t catch but were big and fast. Adams is a great example of a guy who was neither big nor particularly fast but was superbly quick footed among other things. Interestingly Toure has some of that ability.

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LLCHESTY's picture

August 07, 2022 at 09:04 pm

I'm still a little amazed that TE is one of the positions that RAS matters the most. Edge makes sense to me but TE seems like intangibles would matter a ton. But of the top TEs now Mark Andrews had the lowest RAS at 7.3, still very good.

0 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 07, 2022 at 09:54 pm

TE covers such a range of players and roles. Just using types on the Packers as an illustration: Lewis, through Tonyan through Davis and Deguara. A massive range of physiques, skill sets, roles and attributes to attempt to rank in one score. They really aren’t all that similar.

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AZ's picture

August 07, 2022 at 11:46 am

Awesome post Coldworld! This one of the best and most detailed I’ve ever read on this site.

1 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

August 07, 2022 at 01:17 pm

AZ,
There are certain posters on this site you do not skip. CW is one of the best in articulating their thoughts about GBP's football. A must read!

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

August 07, 2022 at 01:48 pm

One thing that stuck out to me with Toure on Friday is he looked like a natural hands catcher. That TD catch from Etling was impressive.

I don't think they keep 7 WEs on the 53, nor do I want them to but if Toure keeps it up that 6th spot is going to be a difficult decision. As of right now you'd have to go with Toure over Rodgers.

2 points
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Bure9620's picture

August 07, 2022 at 10:56 am

I agree with this. MLF's offense is designed to scheme guys open, not really force it to one guy, even if he is always the first read. I think Rodgers will be and forced to be playing in the rythm of the offense. He is still lethal from the pocket playing this way. Getting the ball out quick this will be a good offense. If he starts holding the ball, looking for second reaction plays, not going to work.

2 points
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Vforrest's picture

August 07, 2022 at 11:55 am

We may have another DA type talent and don’t know it yet. How long did it take DA to arrive? Some wanted him cut with the bust label after his second year.

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dpwiener's picture

August 07, 2022 at 04:41 pm

I'll also go with the "addition by subtraction" theme. It wasn't a bad thing that Aaron threw mostly to Adams, given that Adams could get open against double or triple coverage and mind-meld with Aaron and make amazing catches. But it caused the offense to be more one-dimensional in the passing game than it should be. The absence of Adams still leaves Aaron with a plethora of excellent targets. Let's not forget the tight ends (especially when Tonyan returns) and the running backs, all of whom will help spread the receiving workload. It's almost an embarrassment of riches. Lastly, Aaron will be highly motivated to prove that he can perform just as well if not better this year even without Adams. I'm looking forward to Aaron setting new statistical records and winning two more MVP awards: one for the regular season and one in the Superbowl.

0 points
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