Green Bay Packers

Marquez Valdes-Scantling's Huge Improvement From Last Year Is Paying Off

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan (USA TODAY Sports)

It’s long been an open question whether the Green Bay Packers have a true No. 2 wide receiver behind Davante Adams or if the search is still on. The role has been available for the taking for a few seasons now, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling has slowly but surely been closing that door himself.

On Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, MVS again showed his improvements from last year to this year.

What plagued MVS in 2020 hindered him most of his early career: timely drops in big moments.

He had seven drops last season alone, and a handful of those were on the verge of going for big plays in big games. One peek at social media told the story of how Packers fans felt about the yips that MVS displayed. This season, it’s been nonexistent.

While he missed a handful of games earlier in the season, which affected the total numbers, Valdes-Scantling has a total of zero drops this season, according to Pro Football Reference. Fans held their collective breath on deep balls last year heading his way. This year, things have spun in the exact opposite direction. The Packers and those watching now get giddy every time Aaron Rodgers rainbows one deep downfield to MVS. He’s always had the top-end speed to run by just about any secondary and take the lid off. The worry was always the drops, and those worries have vanished this year.

MVS is the guy Rodgers will go to a few times a game to stretch the defense out. He’s molded himself into far more than that now. On Sunday, with Baltimore blanketing Davante Adams with one double team after another or safety help over the top, it was MVS’ time to step up. Rodgers hit him on some of his patented quick-trigger pull throws that usually go Adams or Allen Lazard‘s way while Valdes-Scantling is usually streaking down the field. The ball found MVS on multiple slant routes like a magnet to metal. It was capped off with a touchdown pass that put Rodgers level with Brett Favre for the all-time Packers passing touchdown mark. More importantly, in that moment of the game, it extended Green Bay’s lead in the second half.

Afterward, Rodgers noted how great MVS has been for the Packers.

“I just walked past him in the locker room and said, ‘That’s the Marquez I know.’ I’m very, very proud of him.… Confidence-wise, we wanted to get him feeling confident again. Nice catch on an under-thrown ball in the first half and then he had some really important catches. The slant for a touchdown is a great hands catch, great route, and not just that, it’s a great extension into the end zone to get that touchdown. That’s the Marquez we all know and love.”

The confidence is indeed oozing from Valdes-Scantling, who noted that he would be keeping the 442nd touchdown ball that tied Rodgers with Favre after the game.

“That’s just a crazy accomplishment, and I definitely kept that football,” Valdes-Scantling said. “That one’s not going anywhere. If it was broken, I would have gave it to him, but that one’s mine. That’s just a great accomplishment for him, and I just love that I’m a part of it.”

Bold move. He’s earned it.

His ability to not just be a home-run threat any more is super valuable to Matt LaFleur’s offense. And it’s just as critical that the drops have disappeared. It’s long been known that it takes time for Rodgers to develop trust in his wide receivers. At this point in this season, Rodgers has repeatedly shown that he trusts MVS when the offense needs a play, and Adams is getting blanketed. Finally, having a legitimate No. 2 threat is paying off.

Green Bay’s offense is already as lethal as any other in the NFL. They have not missed a beat with a depleted offensive line missing four starters, and a receiving group missing its top tight end in Robert Tonyan and its slot receiver in Randall Cobb. A big reason for that has been others stepping up, as MVS has.

The Packers entered the season without knowing if they had a true No. 2 wide receiver. But Marquez Valdes-Scantling has improved in his route tree, possession receiving, and confidence. No longer is he just a deep threat, and there are no longer reasons to fear big drops in big moments. MVS provides more than just a spark now; he gives the Packers the No. 2 wideout they’ve been yearning for.

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