Christian Watson Changes the Complexity Of the Packers Offense

Christian Watson has scored nine total touchdowns as a rookie

Rookie wide receiver Christian Watson is the best thing in a cloudy 2022 season for the Green Bay Packers. His development as a true wide receiver 1 in the last four weeks, after several injury issues to start his career, changed the complexity of the offense and transformed the unit. It might be too late for a late-season run to make the playoffs, but Watson has been able to revive the offense almost by himself, and the projection for his impact in the future is extremely encouraging.

Between weeks 1 and 9, the Green Bay Packers scored an average of 17.1 points per game. That average increased to 27.25 in the last four weeks, when Watson started to play as a regular starter. In EPA/play, the Packers jumped from 23rd (-0.036) in the first nine games to 6th (0.114) in the last four. One point that catches the eye is the success rate, which went down from 46.3% to 42.7% — that shows how explosive Watson is, because the Packers are much more efficient, even if they have fewer positive plays.

Christian Watson's effectiveness in the red zone is impressive. He is the first rookie wide receiver to score eight total touchdowns in a four-game span since Randy Moss in 1998 — the only rookie wide receivers to score seven receiving touchdowns in a four-game span are Randy Moss, Odell Beckham Jr., and Christian Watson. He also leads the league in receiving touchdowns among rookie wide receivers — seven, ahead of Jahan Dotson (5), Garrett Wilson (4), Drake London (4), Chris Olave (3), and Romeo Doubs (3). If you want to take note, the all-time record is 17, from Randy Moss. The only wide receivers with more total touchdowns than Christian Watson this season are Davante Adams and Stefon Diggs.

Watson is the leader in yards per catch  among rookie WRs with at least 10 receptions this season — 16.0, ahead of Alec Pierce (15.9), Chris Olave (14.7), Treylon Burks (14.4), Garrett Wilson (13.9), and George Pickens (13.8).

Watson's impact goes well beyond his individual achievements. When asked last week if the improvement of the offense was related to Watson's emergence as a perimeter option, Packers offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich was definitive.

"It is that simple," he said. "When you can do that, and you have a guy outside who can take the top off the defense, it is that simple."

It is no coincidence that the Packers running offense has been much better in this four-game stretch. The Packers were 17th in EPA/rush in the first nine weeks, and improved to sixth in the last four weeks.

Watson is impressive because he has the talent to stretch the defense both horizontally and vertically. He is just the third player in Packers history to score at least seven receiving touchdowns and multiple rushing touchdowns in the same season — the other two, Johnny Blood (1931) and Don Hutson (1941), are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  

In today's NFL, it's impossible to have a good offense without a good passing offense. Christian Watson is a game-changer, and he has the ability to make everything around him look better.

Photo:  Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

-----------------------------

Wendell Ferreira covers the Green Bay Packers for Zone Coverage and Cheesehead TV. He is a Brazilian journalist with over a decade of experience covering the NFL, soccer, NBA, and MMA. Follow him on twitter at @wendellfp  

NFL Categories: 
7 points

Comments (66)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
LambeauPlain's picture

December 05, 2022 at 10:40 am

Watson was my first choice for WR for the Pack and Doubs was my second choice. I think many of us believed Doubs would be out of the gate more quickly due to his volume of college routes, receptions and points scored. I think most of us also believe Watson would become a game changer eventually.

I am mildly surprised how quickly he emerged once he was healthy.

But please, Christian...stop the back flips after a score. That grandstanding can hurt your team if you foolishly hurt yourself. After you score, act like you have done it (at least 7 times) before.

22 points
22
0
ricky's picture

December 05, 2022 at 11:00 am

The biggest change in Watson since the beginning of the years seems to be confidence. He seems to have been overwhelmed by the big stage the first few games, leading to drops that seemed more to do with lack of concentration, rather than lack of skill. Now, Watson seems to be plucking the ball out of the air, and is using his extraordinary speed to get more YAC. What is even sweeter is that it was a trade with Minnesota that allowed them to draft up and snatch Watson.

8 points
8
0
NoNonsense's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:23 pm

You think that may have to do with the fact that he didn't get to play in the preseason at all? He came into the Viking game with about a week of practice and that's it. Sure he practiced in OTAs but not with Rodgers. If he was healthy and played all 3 preseason games he would have been ready to feast a lot sooner. The only thing that can stop this guy is injury IMHO.

Did you see what the Bears did to him most of the game, they were grabbing him on just about every route in the first half. If the refs allow it then hes gotta change tactics but that's what he should expect from DBs from now on.

The thing that bothered me the most in this game was the fact they kept running him deep on a pretty windy day. LaFluer should have had him running crossers or screens, slants and comebacks where he can use his speed to create separation horizontally or use his big body to shield the defender at the catch point. He's got a big catch radius but it almost seems like Rodgers would rather throw an airball with no chance to catch it than throw a 50 50 ball up to him.

0 points
0
0
Fubared's picture

December 05, 2022 at 11:10 am

Watson will be a nice weaon. My concern was his health not his ability to catch and run.
Now we need to build an entire team around him. There just is a real lack of talent and speed on this team. KC and the Vikes get it, speed guys kill. They have them all over the place both sides the ball.

4 points
6
2
T7Steve's picture

December 05, 2022 at 12:44 pm

Yes. You can't teach speed.

0 points
0
0
mnbadger's picture

December 05, 2022 at 12:47 pm

Agreed, but you can't fix stupid either.
Speed without football sense is wasted. combine the two and you get explosiveness. GPG!

2 points
2
0
T7Steve's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:05 pm

Actually, by the time these guys are to this level, even stupid is coachable. That is, as long as it's not the coach.

0 points
0
0
LeotisHarris's picture

December 05, 2022 at 03:29 pm

My Track coaches would disagree with you, and so would Don Beebe. The mantra is, "if you want to run faster, you have to run faster" and athletes can improve speed with strength training and speed drills.

You can't teach height. Fact.

2 points
2
0
T7Steve's picture

December 06, 2022 at 09:27 am

Thanks Leotis, I was going to use the basketball analogy, but I thought it a given.

Why aren't all receivers running 4.2?

Running the stairs all summer converted the guard that was behind me that wanted to play anywhere, into a wide receiver. So, I'll give you that. I wasn't blessed with the right equipment to do anything but shotput and discus in track no matter how many stairs I ran.

0 points
0
0
Since'61's picture

December 05, 2022 at 11:28 am

With Watson coming on strong what the Packers offense needs now is a legit NFL #2 WR and maybe Doubs will prove to be that guy. With Watson, Doubs and Lazard as 1,2, and 3 WRs and an actual threat at TE the Packers receiving corps suddenly looks very strong. Add in our ground and continue to solidify the OL and the Packers offense is very solid regardless is Rodgers or Love is the QB. And yes a defense which can tackle and solid STs would not hurt either. GPG!
Thanks, Since '61

3 points
3
0
BirdDogUni's picture

December 05, 2022 at 11:40 am

*Quentin %'in Johnston! ; P

My best comp for QJ is Love Potion #9...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78KPCj3ksUc

I think the best way to help our QB and Watson is to add this guy.

-2 points
2
4
stockholder's picture

December 05, 2022 at 12:13 pm

No No No Bird. He's Jamon MOORE. He Drops passes. Hyatt Tenn. or Rashes Rice smu !

3 points
3
0
jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2022 at 12:59 pm

He did not impress in the Big 12 CH game. I still push for Cedric Tillman, Tennessee. Just coming back from injury. All-SEC last season. Bigger frame. [ CBS sports placed him again on the 1st team All-SEC, 2022]

1 points
1
0
stockholder's picture

December 05, 2022 at 04:35 pm

Hyatt is. 4.29. Tops in the draft. Will see.

0 points
0
0
bjkdad44's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:12 pm

I always tend to agree with you Since!… but in this case… add in the ground?… next year we may not (probably) have the two pieces we have this year… unfortunately

0 points
0
0
Since'61's picture

December 06, 2022 at 08:34 am

That's true we may not be able to retain Jones. On the other hand the Packers could trade Rodgers in the off season lowering their cap exposure and enabling them to retain Jones. It's too early to determine who will be on next season's roster. I'm expecting this off season to be a fluid situation to say the least. Thanks, Since '61

0 points
0
0
Untylu1968's picture

December 05, 2022 at 11:29 am

Not to get into draft talk to early, but with the emergence of Watson, and the flash we've seen from Doubs on occasion. What round do we start thinking about grabbing a receiver? Do we have the luxury of waiting a little longer, or just stick with the "best player on the board" plan?

2 points
2
0
Vachio's picture

December 05, 2022 at 12:11 pm

I'd like to see one in the first 3 rounds. I think Doubs and Toure are both going to pan out well, with Doubs becoming a WR1-B to Watson's WR1 and Toure becoming a solid #2, but that being said, injuries happen and you can never have too much depth at the position.

5 points
5
0
stockholder's picture

December 05, 2022 at 12:28 pm

The Wrs class isn't what you think. Rd. 1 is Hyatt Rd. 2- Rice. Rd. 5- 7 - Possible Jones, Purdue

1 points
3
2
Untylu1968's picture

December 05, 2022 at 12:41 pm

Jones is a very intriguing prospect! I watched him shred my wolverines on Saturday. As a returner and what seemed to be, great route runner, with excellent hands. He'd look good in green and gold!

1 points
1
0
jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:13 pm

Bell from Michigan is a solid guy later on in the iteration.

0 points
0
0
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 04:17 pm

What about A.T. Perry of Wake Forest or Jonathan Mingo of Ole Miss? I know the Pack likes big receivers. Mingo is a Deebo Samuel-type player, and Perry is, physically, almost a clone of Allen Lazard, and he specializes in contested catches as well. Xavier Hutchinson of Iowa State is another good prospect.

I don’t see the Pack going WR in round 1 because I don’t think it is the largest need on this roster. I think that TE, OLB, and DL are the positions I could see in round 1. Safety is another large need, but there are some good prospects in round 2 and there isn’t really anyone that would be worth taking with an early round 1 pick.

1 points
2
1
T7Steve's picture

December 05, 2022 at 12:49 pm

Have to add to the TE room then the O & D lines before we worry about a WR unless as you say a great pick is on the board for any position.

5 points
5
0
Coldworld's picture

December 05, 2022 at 12:56 pm

Particularly the TE and DL. We need some interior OL, maybe later though.

3 points
3
0
jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:06 pm

Get playmakers. They have proved their defense is the dead zone with the high picks, aside from Gary. The interior of the O line needs stabilizing. OT is always on the card. I would look for a replacement to fill Stokes spot as he will be on IR as the season begins. Look at Joey Porter, Jr. I wouldn't use a one pick on Mayer.

1 points
1
0
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 04:54 pm

Why not Mayer? He is a Generational TE prospect. I like him very much, but here are a couple of other prospects at TE I like:
Darnell Washington, Georgia. Washington is a monster at 275 lbs and 6'7. He is far and above the best blocking TE in the draft and the best in quite a number of drafts. He can take on edge rushers with ease (watch the SEC championship vs LSU when he dominated B.J. Ojulari, a first-round EDGE prospect in this draft. He is also a great ball-catcher and is a nightmare to tackle. Great Yards after Catch ability. I would grade him as a mid-first round prospect
Tucker Kraft, South Dakota St. Another great blocker at TE. He is a very athletic pass-catcher and has great run-after catch ability. Mid-2nd round probably.
Dalton Kincaid, Utah. You may think he is a WR because of how good of a pass catcher he is. He makes incredible catches look normal, and has great hands. He is ascending as a blocker. Also mid-2nd prospect.

Also, using first-round picks on defense isn't bad, it is only bad when they are busts. The last couple of times we used a top-12 pick on defense (not often, by the way) worked out very well, with A.J. Hawk, B.J. Raji, and Rashan Gary all becoming star players.

2 points
2
0
Return_To_Sanity's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:00 pm

How do you know Stokes will be on IR to start next season? They havent even announced exactly what his injury is. All we know is he had surgery and that he wont play again this year.

0 points
0
0
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:14 pm

CB is not the biggest need, in my opinion, providing Rasul Douglas doesn't get traded. The 2023 CB class is okay, not great. Besides, Stokes could re-emerge to 2021 form. We know he can be good, and maybe even better than he was in 2021. The question is will he play like that?

1 points
1
0
T7Steve's picture

December 06, 2022 at 09:33 am

Depends on how the coach uses him. Again, speed counts.

1 points
1
0
Untylu1968's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:42 pm

Agree 100%! I believe our rookie WR's, will be solid enough to allow us to shore up other needs. DL,TE, OL, DB, RB, then maybe WR. And for the win with our last pick, K Moody, from Michigan...

2 points
2
0
jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:45 pm

Ruggles from Ohio State is better.

0 points
0
0
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:00 pm

Here is my needs hierarchy for the Packers heading into 2023:
TE
S
IOL (assuming Jenkins doesn't return in '23)
DL
OLB
WR

I wouldn't use early or mid-round firsts on Safety, though, because there isn''t really a first-round wirthy prospect other than Brian Branch of Alabama, who would be a mid-late first in my opinion. JL Skinner of Boise St. is my favorite Safety prospect. He is an early-mid 2nd in my opinion.

For Kicker, why not try Ahmed? He looked promising. Moody has been very accurate, though, but I don't think he has the longest range.

1 points
1
0
jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:02 pm

Round Two. Pick up an extra pick in this round. See how the Rodgers deal plays out, or trade into this round. TEs are also moving up boards. Tillman by pick # 35. The boards will change after the Holiday Games.

0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

December 05, 2022 at 11:33 am

Love the picture. Absolutely a athletic freak!

2 points
4
2
MooPack's picture

December 05, 2022 at 11:45 am

Glad they traded up to get Watson. I had him going at #28 in my mock and thought he'd be the best WR outside of Jameson Williams (who is just coming out of injury). Wyatt pick was understandable given the lack of DL talent other than Clark, but at 24 was a bit too old for me. In order to get better long term ROI he'd have to impact immediately. Hasn't happened, although cannot understand how he isn't getting more snaps than Lowry. I hope the light comes on soon.

Can't help think if the Packers would've taken Watson at #28 and kept both 2nds they could've have had OT Abraham Lucas and TE Jelani Woods, both of whom I was very high on and seem to be doing well. Can't help think when Gute saw Wyatt dropping he thought he could out smart everyone. So far, not so much. Oh well, what's done is done.

2 points
3
1
jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:18 pm

Moo, you were always on our Watson team, cheers ! I had Wyatt @ #28. Alec Pierce with the # 53 Lucas in @ # 59 would have set them up nicely. Devin Lloyd was a guy I thought Belichick would target, or Walker. The three pick again makes the personnel dept look like fools...He went with Walker #22 . Third round, Bellinger, Otten and the TEs should have been the targets. They Knew Tonyan was still hurting.

2 points
2
0
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:12 pm

Walker looks like the best LB from the class. With a good coach, he very well could become a star. Dan Quinn, known for his development of LBs, would do wonders with him.

Devin Lloyd, after a hot start, has been benched, and Nakobe Dean hasn't been starting for the Eagles, a team whose LB corps are not the best.

1 points
1
0
jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:35 pm

PS. Wyatt is being mis-used and not getting his reps. This guy Barry should be running four down linemen sets and using Montgomery's stunts and games. Get a new DC, asap...

4 points
4
0
MooPack's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:59 pm

Agree. Not sure what the coaches see in Lowry over Wyatt. And yes, they should be running more 3 and 4 man fronts. Especially now that Gary is gone for the year. Have never been a fan of 2 DL. Their Defensive analytics software needs to be trashed. They should hand Barry his scheme and show them to the dumpster.

1 points
1
0
jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2022 at 03:23 pm

Twelve-year olds running Madden would do a better job. The guy is a dinosaur.

-1 points
0
1
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:08 pm

We cannot call Wyatt a bust when he has not seen consistent playing time. Just like Christian Watson earlier in the season. He has shown good flashes, and could develop into a solid player with better coaches and a better D coordinator.

I do not blame Gutey for not taking a TE last year when the TE class last year was pretty meager, especially with the 2023 TE class being so strong. Daniel Bellinger of the Giants is the only consistent playmaker from last year, and he has been out for weeks with an injury. Cade Otton has been nice, but he was not a slam dunk

Having Lucas at OT would definitely have been nice, as he has been great, but I think the Packers may already have found their long-term tackles in Zach Tom and Yosh Nijman.
What I am upset about is why we took Sean Rhyan instead of Safety Kerby Joseph, a pre-draft crush of mine who is now on the Lions (who picked off Rodgers twice) that we could have gotten. Rhyan may turn into a good player, but I was surprised we did not draft a safety with such a strong safety class in 2022

1 points
1
0
wildbill's picture

December 05, 2022 at 11:50 am

added to Watson’s play I would mention the stability of our offensive line being a big factor also.

4 points
4
0
T7Steve's picture

December 05, 2022 at 12:54 pm

It all starts at the LOS. The line played better against a poor team but, got pushed around the last couple of games (Titan, Eagles).

3 points
3
0
splitpea1's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:13 pm

I kind of view Watson as the cherry on top of the offense. But there's still important filling in to do as far as finding another weapon at WR and a plug-and-play TE. The interior OL could use some improvement as well. And then there's the looming question at RB--replacing Jones won't be easy if that's the path the FO takes.

3 points
3
0
jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:53 pm

Sean Tucker, Syracuse; Earl Gray from Oklahoma.

0 points
0
0
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:25 pm

Tucker will probably go too high for us. Gray could be interesting.

-1 points
0
1
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:23 pm

We can address RB in the late rounds; we have had success in the late rounds with RB recently. A.J. Dillon is capable of taking over as the main RB if he continues to play as he has been for the last couple of games, but I would like to see more of Tyler Goodson as well. He looked special, and could become a 1B to Dillon's 1A. We also have Patrick Taylor too.

Kendall Milton of Georgia, Kenny McIntosh of Georgia, DeWayne McBride of University of Alabama Birmingham, and Deuce Vaughn of Kansas St. are my favorite late-round RB prospects.

-1 points
0
1
mbpacker's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:19 pm

Even though my Christmas list is extensive, I would love for the Packers to get a TE that is also a game changer. KC, 49ers have them as weapons, I want one too. C'mon Santa work your magic.

4 points
4
0
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:21 pm

Michael Mayer, Darnell Washington, Tucker Kraft, Dalton Kincaid. The top 4 2023 TE prospects; one of them must be in Green and Gold at this time next year.

0 points
0
0
CheesyTex's picture

December 05, 2022 at 06:49 pm

Think that the best chance would be Washington in round 2 to replace Lewis -- especially if they are able to keep big Bob. Hope Pack does get one of them. GPG

0 points
0
0
Packers0808's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:24 pm

be interesting to see Rodgers after the bye and the thumb more healed or all the way. The guy is wacky for sure in many ways, but you know when healthy he still gets it done as shown against pretty much shown against the Bears. Really make a quandary with Love for sure. Rodgers seems to now have chemistry with Watson and has been looking better! If Rodgers comes back next year could really make a big difference in Packers draft and type player needed where.

1 points
4
3
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:20 pm

If Rodgers wants to win, he won't be coming back. There is no other way to fix the problems with the Packers right now other than entering a rebuild. It is practically and contractually feasible to trade him to the Jets, a team with a super-bowl caliber roster that is being held back by ineptitude at the QB position; I say we do it.

-1 points
0
1
fangirl's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:33 pm

I think Rodgers is enjoying his shiny new toy-hence all the deep balls-lol.

0 points
3
3
jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2022 at 01:55 pm

He and Toure' were brought onboard to stretch the field and stress the DBs, not run the T-formation.

1 points
1
0
LeotisHarris's picture

December 05, 2022 at 03:24 pm

Watson is truly an exciting young player. Several of you made comparisons to James Lofton last week, and I think that's a fair comparison. Let's hope he has a long and productive career like Lofton did.

Two things concern me about Watson. First, he can quit smacking his melon for the rest of his career. No more concussions. please. The other is his penchant for catching the ball against his body. Hands, hands, hands.

3 points
3
0
DoubleJ's picture

December 05, 2022 at 04:13 pm

Depending on where the ball is you might have to body catch it. When done correctly, it is effective and VERY hard for a DB to strip the ball.

1 points
1
0
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:18 pm

I have noticed that he often catches with his body. Maybe trying to out-push the other guy for the ball. He should develop his hands as well, but he seems to be doing well on contested catches

1 points
1
0
beautiful_mystery's picture

December 05, 2022 at 03:50 pm

I wonder if #9 can dunk a basketball? (Ya think:)

-1 points
1
2
beautiful_mystery's picture

December 05, 2022 at 03:53 pm

#9 be running so fast, he leaves a big ol' mushroom cloud behind him.

0 points
2
2
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:17 pm

Psychidelic Mushrooms?

2 points
2
0
beautiful_mystery's picture

December 05, 2022 at 06:51 pm

You know it! #12 be looking his way ALOT! 😁

1 points
1
0
PackyCheese500's picture

December 05, 2022 at 05:17 pm

Hee hee hee. The Vikings are going to regret 100 times over letting us trade up for Watson. He looks like the best WR in the 2022 draft so far. Can't wait for him to torch them the next few years

2 points
2
0
BirdDogUni's picture

December 05, 2022 at 06:57 pm

He currently has more TDs than Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill I think.

1 points
1
0
Philarod's picture

December 06, 2022 at 01:58 pm

He's been explosive the last 4 weeks, and I'm happy he's here but I'd still rather have Jefferson or Hill.

0 points
0
0
fangirl's picture

December 05, 2022 at 08:18 pm

His teammates say he's a great dancer

0 points
0
0
Philarod's picture

December 06, 2022 at 02:12 pm

When your team is 5-8, you're left with a lot of "What-ifs".

With all the instability around the O-line, a mediocre TE corp, slow veteran receivers and young WRs learning on the job...and an injured and slightly subpar Rodgers (to say nothing of the defense not living up to its talent) if Watson simply suited up every game starting with the preseason, I think the Pack would have at least two more wins, possibly three more out of the losses to NYG, Wash, NYJ and Detroit. Obviously, things don't work like that in the NFL or the real world, but... hopefully, this kid will stay healthy and keep improving.

1 points
1
0