The Green Bay Packers were on a five-game free fall before getting a much-needed victory in Mike McCarthy’s return to Lambeau Field Sunday.
A question on everyone’s mind is whether Sunday’s overtime win over the Cowboys will be the spark the Packers need to turn their fortunes around. Well, we’ll get a clue tonight just how much impact Sunday’s win will have when Green Bay hosts the Titans for some Thursday night football.
Here are my three thoughts as we enter tonight’s contest.
Christian Watson sparks the offense
Watson’s four-catch, three-touchdown performance against Dallas reminded me of Randy Moss’s insane stat line when the Vikings bested the Cowboys on Thanksgiving during his rookie year.
The second-round pick out of North Dakota State finally rewrote the wrong that was dropping a wide-open pass from Rodgers that would’ve been a touchdown during Week 1 by finally showing the Green Bay Packers faithful what he’s capable of.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) November 16, 2022
Watson’s speed adds a much-needed dynamic to this offense left vacant by speedster Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He also displayed his ability to not only adjust but overcome adversity — let’s not forget that he dropped a couple of passes on Green Bay’s opening drive and has been marred by injuries all season.
It’s nice to see Watson healthy and get some much-deserved redemption. In addition, it helped that Aaron Rodgers played his best game of the season by showing patience, letting plays develop and finding open receivers.
Tonight, Christian Watson tied the #Packers' single-game rookie record with the three TD receptions, joining James Lofton (Sept. 10, 1978), WR Billy Howton (Nov. 27, 1952), and WR Max McGee (Oct. 30, 1954).
That is E-L-I-T-E company.
— Wes Hodkiewicz (@WesHod) November 14, 2022
I’ve been tough on Rodgers and the offense all season, but give this unit credit. They showed out in a game the Green Bay Packers badly needed if they have any hope of turning their season around.
Keep an eye on Dede Westbrook
It was a busy transaction week for the Green Bay Packers with the franchise releasing wide receiver Amari Rodgers and running back Kylin Hill while adding running back Patrick Taylor to the active roster and wide receiver Dede Westbrook and linebacker Tim Ward to the practice squad.
Westbrook was a star at Oklahoma alongside Baker Mayfield and won the Biletnikoff Award after the 2016 season (awarded to the best receiver in college football). He also finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting that season.
His career has been in limbo since tearing his ACL during his fourth season with the Jaguars in 2020, but at the very least, he gives the Green Bay Packers another option at punt returner behind Keisean Nixon.
Among the 52 players with at least 35 punt returns since the start of the 2017 season, new Packers practice squad WR Dede Westbrook is one of 12 players with both a return TD and at least 9 yards per return (9.33).
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) November 15, 2022
LaFleur on Dede Westbrook: "I just met him for the first time today. Seems like a really good dude. I know (Nathaniel) Hackett thought highly of him. We’ll see what he can do." #Packers
— Wes Hodkiewicz (@WesHod) November 15, 2022
Current Broncos head coach and former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett coached Westbrook in Jacksonville for two seasons, including 2018 when Westbrook led the Jaguars in receiving with 717 yards and five touchdowns.
I’m not saying Westbrook is going to be a star in Green Bay, but this move has potential when it comes to the punt return team and an offense that has struggled for most of the season. In other words, this is a low-risk high-reward move by Brian Gutekunst. Let’s see how it plays out.
Odd games and wild endings have been the story for the LaFleur-led Packers on Thursday nights
Thursday night games have been pretty unpredictable for the Green Bay Packers in the Matt LaFleur era.
Let’s start in 2019 — The season opener saw the Packers edge the Bears in a 10-3 defensive battle. Three weeks later, the Packers suffered their first loss of the campaign after starting 3-0. An Aaron Rodgers goal-line interception sealed a tight win for the Eagles.
This Thursday night game was followed by a bizarre one between the Packers and 49ers in 2020 that saw numerous key players for the 49ers miss the contest due to COVID-19. Rather than moving the game, the league went on with it and Green Bay handled the short-handed 49ers as expected.
And who can forget last year’s thriller when Rasul Douglas burst onto the scene with the game-ending interception against the Cardinals?
Early in his time with the Cardinals practice squad, Rasul Douglas was stopped at the practice facility by a security guard because the guard didn’t recognize him.
In October, he made the game-ending interception against his former team.
— The Ringer (@ringer) January 20, 2022
With the Green Bay Packers seeking to build off Sunday’s momentum against a 6-3 Titans squad, we could very well be in for another bizarre and/or thrilling Thursday night Packers game.