It’s Thanksgiving evening as I write this. I’m sipping on a glass of Scotch, a New Glarus Coffee Stout, and fighting off a Turkey coma. In hindsight, maybe these beverages weren’t a good choice while trying to stay awake. But they’re delicious and I don’t feel like thinking of something else to drink. Hopefully you all had a great holiday and have a lot to be thankful for. If the Green Bay Packers are making a list of things to be thankful for, the emergence of Christian Watson has to be at the top.
Usually, I try not to get my hopes up about players in the NFL Draft. In my opinion it just causes nothing but negativity when players you want go elsewhere or players you maybe had no interest in, are drafted by your team. I’m not an NFL scout, I don’t see what they see, and I don’t have time to bicker over who we drafted and who we didn’t. Once you are drafted by the Packers, my team, I immediately have your back. I cannot wait for you to give me something to be excited about. So, when the Packers used the 53rd and 59th overall picks to draft Christian Watson, it surprised me. But I was ready to see Watson become the next great Packer.
A minor knee procedure before camp started landed Christian Watson on the PUP list to start camp. It was a little disappointing to read that news as you want to see what those shiny new players have as soon as possible. But you want them at 100% and not 60-70% when you get that sample, so it was time for the waiting game. Watson had to watch fellow rookie Wide Receiver, Romeo Doubs, become somewhat of a camp darling before he even got a chance to get on the field. But that never disturbed Watson from getting himself healthy and ready to go for Preseason.
Once Preseason came however, it was decided that it would be best to keep Christian Watson on the bench and not rush things. That of course, was when the hate began rolling in. I don’t know what it is about people, but it seems like they just can’t wait to label young players “busts” no matter the sample size.
Then the season began. It was Watson’s first action and unfortunately, he dropped his first target that may have set the start of his career on fire as it was likely to be a sure touchdown. The following game, Watson suffered a Thigh/Hamstring pull that kept him out week 3. His return week 4, he scored his first touchdown, on the ground. Week 5 he re-aggravated his injury unfortunately which then kept him out the following week 6 and 7.
Upon Christian Watson’s return to the lineup in Week 8, he suffered a concussion that took him out of the game. Week 9 once again, Watson was again taken out of the game early under suspicion of a concussion, this was negative, but the Packers elected to keep him out of the game, nonetheless.
Unfortunately, the hater wagons were circling. Too many people and also NY sport betting experts were writing off Watson as if he’d never get anywhere. Christian’s terrible injury luck just was not stopping. But he was not giving up under any circumstances. He was right to do so.
When I entered Lambeau Field to attend the week 10 match vs the Cowboys I didn’t know what to expect. But if someone told me Christian Watson was about to have a breakout, and I’d be gushing over his game in my Toasts and Roasts column later that night, I’d probably say something like “Oh man, I wish!” His first two targets were drops unfortunately. I then had to listen to a guy sitting near me show his hater-self and bash Christian left and right, saying he needs to be cut tomorrow. How is that beneficial to you as a fan to just hate on someone on your own team that bad? I longed for the day when that guy would be shut up.
Then it came.
On a third and 1 critical play, Aaron Rodgers launched a 58-yard strike to Christian Watson for the touchdown. I cheered as loud as I could, but I chose to stay quiet towards the hater near me. But then, there was another when Watson crossed across the Cowboy’s secondary and hauled in a 39-yard touchdown. Again, the cheering was very loud, and I decided this time to make a comment of “But I thought we were supposed to cut him?” To which I heard nothing from the hater. Then, with 2:29 left in the game, Christian Watson hauled in a game-tying 7-yard touchdown, and I let loose. I couldn’t help but yell out “Keep hating on him! Keep sleeping! He’s showed you now, hasn’t he?”
It wasn’t a fluke.
The following game on Thursday night vs the Titans, Watson hauled in two more touchdowns and is looking like this could become a regular thing for him. The emergence was sweet, and Christian Watson, has arrived.
Where has this been?
Many have begged the question, so where has this been? Granted Christian Watson has suffered some injury woes, why weren’t we at least seeing some flashes of this in other games?
It couldn’t be the Quarterback’s fault. As much criticism as I’ve given Aaron Rodgers for not trusting his young receivers, he’s talked about how much they need to get Christian Watson involved more. He’s talked about how he’s a different kind of special than he’s had the privilege of playing with, and they need to get him the ball more.
So, what else could it be?
In my humble opinion, I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault at all. I simply think that we’re just now being treated to what Christian Watson is truly capable of. Perhaps it was the lack of reps in the offense during camp and regular season due to the injuries. Now that Watson is healthy, and has a good grasp on the offense, and what is expected of him, the Packers are now reaping the benefits.
Some Wide Receivers are freaks of nature and produce on a high level immediately. Perhaps Christian Watson is one of those and we’re seeing his true start to the season now, now that he’s healthy and has the time in the offense down.
What to expect
Going forward I’d be hard pressed not to say, “Look for Christian Watson to become the Packers number one receiver” It’s definitely his job to take. Once Romeo Doubs returns from injury, I feel like we could get a great glimpse into the future of the Green Bay Packers receiving corp. This season may be rough right now, but every rep matters to these young guys. No matter who is at Quarterback next year, or the year after, I can see Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs being a dynamic duo and keeping the Packers offense relevant.
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.