The Green Bay Packers are set to open the season on the road against their division rival, the Minnesota Vikings. Will Aaron Rodgers and the Packers wide receivers be able to start their season with a bang against the unproven corners of the Vikings?
The Green Bay Packers wide receivers are coming off of an underwhelming 2019 season. Between it being the first season in Head Coach Matt LaFleur’s system and the injury bug that wreaked havoc throughout the position, the Packers’ passing game never really looked to be in sync.
Davante Adams came up just short of 1,000 yards after missing four games with turf toe. The receptions (83) and yardage (997) were the second-highest totals of his career; however, he struggled to find the endzone, only scoring five touchdowns on the season. Former Green Bay Packer Geronimo Allison failed to make much of an impact throughout the season, leaving Marquez Valdes-Scantling to do much of the heavy lifting. MVS was projected to be the fourth wide receiver during training camp, but a preseason injury to Equanimeous St. Brown moved him up the depth chart. Though he played in all 16 games, Valdes-Scantling was a non-factor for the second half of the season while dealing with lingering knee and ankle issues.
Luckily for the Green Bay Packers, Allen Lazard was able to step up and help fill the void left by injuries. With 35 catches for 477 yards during the final 11 games of the season, Lazard showed that he has the ability to contribute consistently in the NFL. Lazard, along with a healthy Adams, St. Brown, and Valdes-Scantling are looking to change the narrative about this wide receiver group and help establish this Aaron Rodgers led offense as one of the most dynamic in the league.
In last season’s two wins versus the Vikings, Rodgers threw for 2 touchdowns and one interception while averaging a meager 212.5 yards per game. Minnesota’s 2019 defense touted a solid trio of veteran cornerbacks in Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackenzie Alexander. All three players left Minnesota during the offseason leaving the team with a lack of experience at the position. While Minnesota hasn’t officially named their starters yet, the top three cornerbacks look to be Holton Hill, Mike Hughes, and rookie Jeff Gladney. Hill and Hughes have combined for nine starts in their young careers, and that inexperience could prove to be beneficial for the Green Bay Packers, especially early in the season.
There has been no shortage of speculation on what the Green Bay Packers’ offense will look like in year two of Matt LaFleur’s system. While it’s widely assumed that it will feature a heavy dose of the running game, it’s hard to imagine an offense that doesn’t rely on the arm of Aaron Rodgers. The commitment to the run game was made very apparent during the 2020 NFL Draft. The team opted to forgo drafting a wide receiver in what was one of the deepest classes at the position in recent memory. Instead, the Packers selected a running back in the second round, a tight end in the third, and three offensive lineman on the draft’s final day.
Veteran Devin Funchess was signed to help bring some experience to the Green Bay Packers wide receiver group but chose to sit out the season due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. Without any key additions to the position, the Packers are hopeful that the young group of wide receivers will make a similar jump in their progression, much like Davante Adams did in his third year.
With a group of receivers looking to rebound and make a name for themselves, starting the season against young and inexperienced cornerbacks could prove to be a very favorable matchup for Green Bay. If the offense can come out of the gates firing on all cylinders, the Green Bay Packers should have no problem coming out of week one at 1-0.