The Green Bay Packers‘ receiver room was a point of debate heading into the season, but a bumbling performance across the board in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings closed that argument with authority.
The offense was hapless from the first play, when rookie wideout Christian Watson dropped what should have been a 75-yard breeze of a touchdown after the ball hit him square in the hands. Things didn’t get much better as the day progressed, with the team’s top four active receivers — Watson, Romeo Doubs, Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb — accounting for a total of 11 catches, 105 yards and zero touchdowns. To put that in perspective, Davante Adams, whom the Packers dealt to the Las Vegas Raiders over the offseason, caught 10 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown Sunday.
Of course, there were mitigating factors, namely that both starting offensive tackles in David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins watched the game from the sideline, affording Aaron Rodgers with a better view of the Vikings pass rushers than he’d ever hoped to get. Green Bay was also down Allen Lazard, arguably their top receiver.
Even still, the passing problem is a significant one when A.J. Dillon, the backup running back, accounts for the most receptions (5) and the most receiving yards (46) on the team. At the risk of overreacting, the time has come (if it didn’t already arrive weeks ago) for the Packers to consider their Super Bowl window realistically by adding a top-flight receiver to complement their two-time reigning MVP quarterback and one of the NFL’s better defenses.
The best man yet available for the job is free agent wideout Odell Beckham Jr.
Packers Should Add Beckham Before Another Contender Swoops in
Beckham is continuing to rehabilitate an ACL tear he sustained during last season’s Super Bowl. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on September 8 that he believed the receiver’s return timetable probably puts him back on the field of play around Thanksgiving, which is sandwiched between Week 11 and Week 12 on the NFL’s 18-week schedule.
While that timetable doesn’t help the Packers immediately, it would fill the most glaring hole on their roster with a three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion for the back third of the season, and presumably the playoffs as well.
Beckham is expected to take his time and consider his options, but based on the opinion of NFL insiders, the Packers would rank among his prime destinations.
“He was downright miserable in Cleveland. He won’t go back to a place where he can’t get a ton of targets, and catch a ton of passes from a great quarterback,” a league source told Heavy NFL insider Matt Lombardo.
Beckham very nearly joined Green Bay after forcing his way out of the Cleveland Browns last season, and his criteria are the same this time around. Even at 38 years old, Rodgers remains among the best quarterbacks in the league. And even at full strength, there isn’t a player in Green Bay’s receiver room equipped to challenge Beckham for the No. 1 designation if he is even reasonably healthy.
Thus, if the Packers can cobble together a working passing game in the meantime that keeps them in the hunt in the NFC, there won’t be many organizations that can offer Beckham a better path back to Super Bowl contention and a shot at one more big-time NFL contract in 2023.
Rodgers Speaks Out on Receiver Struggles in Week 1 Loss to Vikings
Rodgers did not address the need for adding new receivers to the mix during his postgame press conference. He did, however, address the need for the new receivers the Packers already added during the offseason to rise to the challenge in the sure to be arduous weeks ahead.
“We’ve got to make those plays,” Rodgers said of Watson’s drop to open the first offensive series of the season. “It’s the mental mistakes we’ve really got to clean up, and there were too many of them across the board.”
“We’ve got to have patience with those guys. They are young. They haven’t been in the fire,” Rodgers said of Watson and Doubs. “Now, that patience will be thinner as the season goes on, but the expectation will be high. So we’ll keep them accountable, but it’s going to happen, there’s going to be drops.”