The Green Bay Packers offense was back on the ground last Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans at home in a 27-17 loss. The tone was set early when the Packers hit three quick runs after the Titans drove for 83 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead on their first hit.
The only bright spot is still rookie wide receiver Christian Watson, who continued to score, adding two more touchdowns and catching four passes for 48 yards. In addition to this, he has shown on several occasions that he can be a very effective run blocker. However, while he continues to shine in the stats, there are a couple of tendencies he needs to correct before he can take the next step.
Where Watson Wins
Watson’s two touchdown passes again demonstrated why the Packers chose him. Showing both strength at the tackle point and speed, he was able to throw two more touchdowns to help the Packers stay in the game.
On his first touchdown, the Packers catch the Titans’ defense when there are too many people on the field. As a result, the call to play switches to the four verticals because they get a free game. Watson is the number one receiver at the top of the screen.
Christian Fulton (No. 26) is at the top of Watson’s rankings. With Rodgers managing the traffic and all receivers running vertically, Watson is battling for a sideline spot in the end zone. He begins to return to the front corner of the end zone as Rogers rolls to the left, reveals and passes the pass to the rear pylon. Watson works behind the defender, getting up and catching a pass for a touchdown.
On his second touchdown, Watson opened up as the Titans closed coverage when the corner failed to pick up his crossing route.
Game challenge is the concept of crossing the grid in a game action with ghost movement that affects midfielders and opens crossing routes.
Watson crosses the flick and breaks through the second level as soon as he reaches the middle of the field. None of the Titans’ defensemen pick him up as he rushes through the secondary, and Rodgers makes a timely and accurate pass over a defenseman chasing Watson. The touchdown gave the Packers a three-point lead in the third quarter.
While Watson has shown unmatched speed in the last two games and the ability to separate from defenders and catch balls from the bottom of the field, he is also gradually becoming a force in the running game, where he is not afraid to show physical strength with defenders.
In the last two games, as his reps increased, he was asked to physically get into running both in midfield and on the perimeter, preventing defensemen from attacking running backs.
Where does he need to improve?
Slow down on deep runs
As a deep threat, Watson has the ability to take the top off the defense and if he can open up then Rodgers will get him the ball. But on two separate occasions against Dallas and Tennessee, Watson didn’t expect a deep pass and slowed down only to have the ball thrown to his side where he couldn’t play it because he slowed down.
In both plays, Watson runs down the field on a “go” route and a “deep post” route. And in both cases, he slows down, expecting the ball not to be thrown in his direction, but both times it was. Against Dallas, he likely would have had four touchdowns if he hadn’t slowed down. The pass slipped from his fingertips and he couldn’t deliver it.
Against the Titans, the situation was almost identical. He slowed down on the deep stance route, but Rodgers dropped him down the field. He started running again, but the pass was right in front of him. He will learn not to slow down on these routes, especially when he gets a feel for the separation he gets with his speed and Rogers’ ability to make perfect passes most of the time.
Watson had three downs in his last two games and one nasty down against Minnesota in Week 1, which was also a touchdown.
All in all, Watson is turning into a solid receiver in a group that has suffered injuries this season, including himself. But if he fixes a couple of issues he has right now, in 2022 he could be in the role of the number one receiver who has the speed and strength to win tight holds that has been lacking since last season.