Packers rookie receivers need more opportunities to open up passing game

The Green Bay Packers passing game can’t keep functioning as it has been – or at least not successfully.

Behind an underperforming offensive line that has also dealt with a lot of movement, we see the Packers relying on the quick passing game, with Aaron Rodgers’ average depth of target this season being just 7.0 yards, which ranks 29th in the NFL prior to Week 8, according to PFF.

While the quick game should be a key component in the offense, it can’t be the Packers’ only way of moving the ball through the air. In today’s NFL, trying to repeatedly put together 12-plus play scoring drives just isn’t sustainable. To put it simply, if there is any hope of the Green Bay offense turning things around, they need more big play potential in the passing game, and that begins with more opportunities for the rookie receivers.

When relying heavily on young pass catchers, drops, wrong routes, and not making the right adjustments, are all going to be a part of the equation. However, the Packers – and Aaron Rodgers – have to push through those growing pains because it will make Green Bay better in the long run.

With injuries mounting at the receiver position and the Packers trailing by multiple scores to Buffalo, we saw Rodgers push the ball downfield to his young receivers. Romeo Doubs made a fantastic touchdown grab with a cornerback all over him. Later in the game, Doubs made another downfield catch on a jump ball. Then in the fourth quarter, while Rodgers was scrambling, Samori Toure made an adjustment that left him wide open in the end zone.

Christian Watson would leave early on with an injury, but with that speed of his, he is someone who should have more opportunities on crossers and vertical routes, where, at the bare minimum, he is going to garner the defense’s attention.

Against a very good Bills defense, the Packers’ trio of rookie receivers finished with six receptions for 111 yards and two touchdowns – with Watson missing much of the game.

There are several things that this offense needs right now, including a better run-pass mix and better offensive line play, but Green Bay also needs more explosive passing plays. Rodgers ranks 26th in yards per attempt, and defenses are shrinking the field, making it more difficult to move the ball in the ground or through the quick game, because they aren’t fearful of getting beat over the top. Each of the rookie receivers has the ability to add that element to this offense, with all three averaging over 17 yards per catch at one point in their college careers, including Watson and Toure at or near the 20 yards per catch mark.

Trust and not making the same mistake twice is important to Rodgers, but this season, and with these receivers, he doesn’t necessarily have that luxury. Without question, there will be more growing pains to come, but what do the Packers have to lose at this point? All three receivers can give this offense an important and missing element, and the Packers will be better off in the long run if they take these lumps now. It’s time to trust them.


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Story originally appeared on Packers Wire