In what was an ugly game overall for the Green Bay Packers against the Lions, they can look to their two rookie wide receivers as bright spots in Sunday’s game.
Equanimeous St. Brown (EQ) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (MVS) both had impressive training camps and preseason performances this past summer. In fact, they made it very difficult for Packers coaches and management to keep them off of the 53-man roster at an already deep wide receiver position.
With injuries to Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb, EQ and MVS were thrusted into the Green Bay Packers starting lineup. Although there is still a ways to go, Sunday’s performances from the young receivers went a long way towards building trust with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
As we’ve seen in the past, before Rodgers will throw a teammate the ball in the game, they have to perform in practice. This week may have accelerated the process because Rodgers had no choice but to involve them in Sunday’s game due to injuries. But the duo was able to perform well and impact the game positively.
With Allison still in concussion protocol and Cobb nursing a nagging hamstring injury, we could be seeing a lot more of EQ and MVS in the upcoming weeks.
Equanimeous St. Brown
On Sunday, EQ made his first NFL start and he was able to provide some big play ability for this Packers offense. A factor that has been lacking offensively up to this point in this season.
EQ was targeted just four times but he was able to haul in three receptions and make some big plays. EQ tallied 89 total yards including a long of 54, where he was able to show off his ability in the open field. He averaged 29.7 yards per catch and didn’t have any drops.
St. Brown had another big play taken away from him early on due to a penalty. He was able to draw a defensive holding flag as he ran his route up the sideline and clearly had the defender beat. Without the hold, this play had the potential to go all the way in for a touchdown.
MVS played a majority of the offensive snaps against the Lions. Through practices and early on in the season, he has shown to be the favorite rookie receiver of the coaching staff.
On Sunday, MVS was on the field for 77 snaps. During that time he brought in seven receptions out of 10 passes thrown his way and didn’t have any recorded drops. Those seven receptions by MVS went for 68 yards and a touchdown.
The Packers lined up MVS 36 times in the slot, which was the fifth most snaps by any receiver Sunday to be lined up there. The reason for this is because of his speed. At the combine, MVS ran a 4.37, 40-yard dash.
When the play call is designed for MVS to be running a crossing route, it is nearly impossible for any defender to keep up with him, making him a wide open target for Rodgers.
Room for improvement
Both EQ and MVS had strong performances against the Lions but still have areas that they need to improve on the help this offense.
Rodgers was stuck in the pocket on a number of pass attempts with no where to go with the ball because his receivers weren’t open. EQ and MVS struggled to gain separation on a number of their routes and that is why they both received average grades in that category from Pro Football Focus.
This can be improved with more practice time with Rodgers as well as working on their route running.
Most likely, EQ and MVS are not used to Rodgers school yard style of play that we are all so accustomed to seeing when a play breaks down. But each of them need to improve on extending the play beyond their route.
As they gain more experience with Rodgers and in this offense, EQ and MVS will recognize what they need to do to get open after a play breaks down.
With any rookies there are going to be bumps in the road, but as Packer fans we should be encouraged with what we saw on Sunday. Rodgers’ confidence in EQ and MVS has grown and with more reps that will continue.
If they can keep improving, it will be two more weapons for Rodgers to utilize in this offense.