Green Bay Packers rookie wide receiver Christian Watson had a tough debut on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
Watson immediately showed that he has some elite moves by getting impressive separation from cornerback Patrick Peterson in a one-on-one situation early in the game.
The former North Dakota State standout, however, dropped the pass from Aaron Rodgers — which came on the Packers’ first play from scrimmage.
As you can imagine, the clip of Watson dropping the pass, which foreshadowed Green Bay’s tough afternoon, went viral on social media.
Oh no, Christian Watson… 🤦♂️pic.twitter.com/jk4dWxUfVI— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) September 11, 2022
It’s certainly understandable if Packers fans are frustrated with Watson after that drop — especially since Green Bay went on to lose the game. That’s a play that a wide receiver at any level has to make.
But let’s not forget that Watson is a rookie and that was his first play in an NFL regular season game. There were undoubtedly a few nerves that contributed to the drop.
Watson also missed action in camp due to injury, so it’s not like he has a full offseason of reps, either.
Beyond the missed time and nerves, though, there’s something else at play here. The expectations being placed on young wide receivers are ridiculous.
It wasn’t that long ago that a rookie wide receiver starting would be a big story.
15 to 20 years ago, the general feeling with wide receivers was that year three was their “breakout season”.
Now, we’re expecting rookie wide receivers to have Pro Bowl seasons immediately. There is seemingly no development or patience. Produce immediately or you’re a bust. That’s the message to young wide receivers from the instant-gratification world of the NFL.
That’s not realistic. What Ja’Marr Chase did last season with the Cincinnati Bengals isn’t normal. And that shouldn’t be the standard for rookie wide receivers.
Watson will be fine. He didn’t lose any confidence because of one drop.
#Packers rookie Christian Watson on his dropped TD: "I just know it's a play I'm going to make 99 times out of 100. I would have said 100 out of 100 if it wasn't for today. It's a play I know I can make. Going forward, I'm going to make that play every single time."— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) September 12, 2022
Even Rodgers took the drop in stride, acknowledging that it’s a play that has to be made, but also accepting that drops are part of football — just like bad throws.
“We knew there was going to be growing pains,” Rodgers said. “This is real football. It counts. It’s different. There’s nerves. I thought Christian ran a great route to start the game. We talked about it during the week, do you really want to start off with a bomb shot?
“I said, ‘What the hell, yeah, why not, this kid can really fly, let’s give him a chance.’ I was teasing Patrick (Peterson) after the game that we got him. He said, ‘Yeah, I wasn’t quite warmed up yet.’ But we’ve got to make those plays. But those are going to happen.”
That one play isn’t going to define Watson’s career, so why should it define him now?
Go easy on the rookie, he’s going to help the Packers win a lot of games.
Featured image via Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports