Green Bay’s Wideouts Are Better Than Many Think

The national media has loved to have fun with the Packers wideouts ever since Davante Adams left.

More and more people have taken shots at Green Bay’s receiving group. The Packers are asking Sammy Watkins to have over 50 receptions for the first time since 2019. They are asking Randall Cobb to maintain his career 69.9 catch percentage. They are asking Allen Lazard to have a breakthrough season with 70 catches in his fifth per season. They are asking Christian Watson to understand NFL concepts and pro speed while playing alongside a perfectionist at quarterback.

All those things are true. Which is why ESPN’s Bill Barnwell wrote, “This might be the worst group of receivers.”

Now come on Barnwell. When was the last time an Aaron Rodgers’ team was pegged with the unfortunate moniker of worst group of receivers? In Rodgers’ first year starting in 2008, Greg Jennings (1,292) and Donald Driver (1,012) both topped 1,000 yards. That trend continued until it was broken in 2010 when Jennings was the only 1,000-yard receiver. And the reason that happened was because James Jones and Jordy Nelson started a combined seven games.

In 2011, Nelson (1,263) was the only 1,000-yard receiver, with Jennings missing it by 51 yards. That 15-1 team scored 35 points a game, with 38 of Green Bay’s 51 touchdown receptions coming thanks to the wide receivers.

The next time two Packers receivers notched 1,000 yards in the same season was 2014 with Nelson (1,519) and Cobb (1,287). The 2015 team might be Rodgers’ worst collection of wideouts because nobody notched 1,000 yards and Jones (50.5) and Adams (53.2) had miserable catch percentages.

Last year, Adams racked up 1,553 receiving yards — that’s 50.3 percent of all receiving yards by wide receivers. And his 11 receiving touchdowns were 40.7 percent of all receiving touchdowns by wideouts.

Those are Paul Bunyan-sized shoes to fill. And yes, I get the argument that this Packers group of wide receivers is unproven. But that doesn’t make them the worst band of receivers in the league.

I mean, the Bears are trotting out Byron Pringle, Darnell Mooney and Velus Jones, Jr. The Falcons have Bryan Edwards, rookie Drake London and Olamide Zaccheaus. Those are just two examples and Green Bay’s wide receiver room is much better than both of those.

But the main reason the wide receivers will be better than many people think won’t be because of the wide receiver’s athletic ability or Rodgers’ slinging the ball all over the place. Nope, the reason this group will succeed is because of the Packers running game. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will cause so many problems up front that the unproven receivers won’t have a choice but to win one-on-one matchups.

On the surface, the wide receivers may look scary now, but give it time. The running game is going to carry this offense and don’t forget about the added sprinkle of play-action that tends to give wideouts even more space.

Just as a side view mirror says, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” so also, the Packers wideouts aren’t nearly as wretched as many people think.

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