Jordan Love is off to a pretty good start statistically as the starting Quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. He has the highest QB rating in the league after two weeks, and he’s accomplished it on the road. He’s also done it with only one of his top two weapons for just one of those two games. With the home opener for the Packers on Sunday, there’s a chance Love could have a full complement of weapons for the first time. We might truly see what this offense is capable of. One of those weapons that I’d like to see more of, is Tight End, Luke Musgrave.
So far in 2023, Luke Musgrave has seen seven targets and hauled in five of them for 75 yards. That’s third on the team behind receivers Jayden Reed and Romeo Doubs. We’ve seen Musgrave make catches in the middle of the field and near the sidelines. Through Training Camp, it was obvious that Musgrave was going to be a big part of this passing attack. His speed and size were a mismatch waiting to happen in the middle of the field. But we want more of it now that the season is underway.
Through the years I’ve always been begging for that upgrade at the tight-end position. When you sit back and watch these big speedy pass-catchers dominate the middle of the field for other teams, you get jealous. Especially during December in Green Bay. Imagine it’s 20 degrees out and defenders have to tackle a tight end like Rob Gronkowski in a Packers uniform streaking down the middle of the field. Well, Luke Musgrave is the same height and only a week’s worth of steak dinners at the Republic Chophouse away from his weight. Musgrave has the tools to be that guy.
The Tools and the Talent
Luke Musgrave is an athletic freak. Musgrave was one of the fastest tight ends in the scouting combine running a 4.61 40-yard dash and had a 36-inch vertical. He also registered the fastest 10-yard split (1.54 seconds) among tight ends at the combine. There’s no loss of speed and ability to get up and after that ball. He was described as more of a home-run hitter than an option-route runner before the draft. He also has reliable hands as a pass-catcher. So, if his intangibles are so great, why didn’t he go earlier than his 42nd overall draft position?
Well, Musgrave had his senior year cut short by a knee injury. He missed out on two games for Oregon State, but he was still able to play in the Senior Bowl. Whenever there’s a recent injury, teams tend to be cautious when it comes to the first round of the draft. This likely caused Musgrave to be ranked lower. Hopefully, he uses that as motivation to prove he’s better than the three tight ends taken before him in the draft.
Early on this season, Musgrave has shown the ability to get separation from defenders in his route running. Even against defensive backs, he’s shown this capability:
In the video shown above from Eli Berkovits, you can see Musgrave embarrass Falcons’ safety Richie Grant. He plants his right leg with a little bit of a juke and then uses his hands to knock away the jam attempts by Grant as he takes off on a slant.
This play ended up being an incompletion on kind of a fade route to Dontayvion Wicks. It seemed that Jordan Love locked in on Wicks just before Luke Musgrave showed the most separation from his defender. Granted there was another defender over the top, if Love waits just a second on Musgrave’s route and leads him on the pass, I think we’re looking at Luke Musgrave’s first career touchdown. Or at the very least, first and goal from the 5-yard line.
How to get it done
Depending on his status after missing the first two weeks of the season, there’s a chance Christian Watson could be on the field for the home opener. If Watson is on the field, sure that could take some targets away from Luke Musgrave, but it also could open up the field a bit where the targets Musgrave receives are more impactful.
Christian Watson stretches the field. He also commands the attention of the quicker defenders. Take for example the play we looked at above. A safety steps up to cover Musgrave leaving the two corners 1×1 with the receivers split to the right. One lone safety is left to also cover the corners to the left, he has the whole field to try to guard if one corner slips. Put Christian Watson on the field, a proven speedster. Suddenly there’s a chance both safeties are splitting the field. One focused on catching Watson if the corner loses him, and the other focused on the remaining side. Maybe even covering Musgrave man to man. In that case, I think if Luke Musgrave is making Richie Grant or another safety miss, he’s down the field for a 20+ yard gain.
Of course, the key is Jordan Love seeing him. Hopefully, as Love becomes even more comfortable in the pocket, he’ll have the chance to check all progressions and catch most of the open receivers. When all weapons are on the field and Love has time in the pocket, I truly believe the sky is the limit for this offense.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.