The journey of Christian Watson in Green Bay has been a roller coaster, marked by ups and downs that have left fans questioning the potential of the former North Dakota State University standout. From a disappointing start in the 2022 team campaign to glimpses of stardom and a subsequent slump in 2023, assessing Watson’s true impact on the Packers remains challenging.
A glaring concern emerged after the recent loss to the Steelers, encapsulated in a brutal stat that hovers over the young receiver’s sophomore season: Christian Watson ranks 121 out of 121 WR/TE/RB on catch rate, according to Next Gen Stats, catching just 42.42% of passes thrown to him this season.
Compounding the issue, five of Jordan Love’s nine interceptions this season have occurred when targeting Watson. This interception rate would be concerning even for a quarterback targeting a team’s primary receiver throughout an entire season.
Head Coach Matt LaFluer did not mince words in his Tuesday press conference, providing a candid assessment of what Watson needs to improve. LaFluer emphasized the necessity for Watson to adopt an aggressive stance, especially when faced with defenders looking to disrupt his routes.
“If guys are gonna get up in your face and wanna bump you, you gotta be in attack mode,” LaFluer remarked. “And you gotta come off the line of scrimmage with a great stance and start and try to work people’s edges and get on top of them that way.”
While acknowledging there’s ample football left to be played and allowing young players time to develop is crucial, Watson’s struggles raise concerns in an NFL where wide receivers are adapting quickly to the professional level. The limited route tree and an apparent difficulty in attacking the ball in the air not only hinder Watson’s progression but also pose a potential liability every time Love targets him.
As the season progresses, Green Bay will undoubtedly require more from its young receiver, and Watson must rise to the occasion soon to secure his place and opportunities in the seasons to come.