Week 1 is one to forget for the Green Bay Packers which feels like deja vu for fans after a similar result last year to the New Orleans Saints. Although, despite the frustration and sadness, this is the first professional NFL game for the rookies, some of which are being rushed into key positions after losses in free agency. I will be taking three key rookies who played yesterday and give them a grade. It is important to note this is only week 1 and we should avoid overreaction, but helpful analysis is worthwhile.
Quay Walker – Grade: C
Quay Walker was drafted with the twenty-second pick in the 2022 NFL draft to play alongside De’Vondre Campbell. He recorded seven tackles and one assist on his first start before getting taken off the pitch early in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.
The defense as a whole was really disappointing, allowing Justin Jefferson to catch nine passes for 184 yards and Dalvin Cook to run for 90 yards. Despite half decent productivity, longer passes across the middle were far too easily completed by the Minnesota Vikings, which is ultimately Walker’s area to defend. It is important to talk about Joe Barry (the Packers Defensive Coordinator) in this scenario. The zone defense was torn apart by the Vikings receivers and many Packers fans will be wondering why Jaire Alexander wasn’t shadowing Jefferson the whole time. Along with this the middle linebackers were often caught way too close to the line of scrimmage allowing a wide open pass through the middle. This is why I am hesitant to be harsh on Walker, I believe he was a victim of a poor game plan from Joe Barry. Therefore a C- seems fair.
Christian Watson – Grade: D
People will be quick to point the finger at Christian Watson for the loss after dropping a wide open pass which would have been an easy touchdown on the first Packers play of the year. Avoiding overreaction, there are many more issues with the Packers than just that one drop, but a catch would have definitely increased the momentum and maybe kickstarted the offence. After this he was practically invisible with only one catch for 8 yards. This was until Jordan Love threw a big pass to him at the end of the 4th quarter when the game was practically over. This resulted in our second round pick having two receptions for 34 yards. The only other involvement from Watson was on an end around play for 7 yards, which the Packers carried out twice, the other one being to Romeo Doubs. With no clear WR1, building trust with Aaron Rodgers was so important, but after the first play, the opposite appeared to happen.
An NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint, and there is still time for Watson to thrive, but this game was so disappointing after a painfully close to perfect start.
Romeo Doubs – Grade: C+
When looking purely at the statistics, it will seem strange to put Romeo Doubs as a C+ after criticizing Chrisitan Watson. Romeo Doubs had 4 receptions for 37 yards (only 3 more than Watson). But Doubs appeared to be one of the only receivers who got into a rhythm with Rodgers, being targeted more than once on two successive drives after half time. He caught some short passes, which seemed to be the only type of pass that the Packers could complete last night, with Rodgers completing 0 out of 4 pass attempts over 10 yards midway through the third quarter. Nonetheless, our fourth round pick was one of the only players I was happy with after last night. Still, there needs to be much more shown in the future, but at least it was an okay performance.