No player embodies the high highs and low lows of the Green Bay Packers more than Marquez Valdes-Scantling. A player who is dripping with top end speed, eye popping measurables and effortless fluidity, perpetually one play away from taking the top off of a defense.
Perpetually one play away…
As a football fan it is so incredibly frustrating to watch a player like MVS, who has all the tools to become a high end #2 wide receiver in the NFL but is seemingly stuck in neutral due to persistent drops and concentration issues. Imagine the scenario: Rodgers scrambling, MVS streaking down the sideline having cooked his defender with a double move, 10 yards from the nearest defensive back. Ball is perfectly thrown, should be a walk in TD but it clangs off the wideouts hands. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory yet again.
Not all is doom and gloom with the fourth year man from the University of South Florida, in fact it’s quite the opposite. After re-watching the critical plays from 2020 involving MVS, it’s obvious that he’s a real asset to the passing attack and brings a dimension to the offense (buoyed by his league leading 20.9 yards per catch) that no one else in the wide receiver room can duplicate. In addition, a dialed in MVS is someone that opposing defensive coordinators must account for, leaving Davante Adams with less bracketed coverage and more opportunities for success.
It’s easy to fixate on the lowlights with MVS and there is no doubt that his career catch percentage of 50.5% shows significant room for improvement, but the ceiling for a player with MVS skillset is limitless. In the very recent past the Packers top pass catcher Adams was being cast aside as another WR bust who couldn’t catch a cold. Admittedly I’ve revised history a bit when I think of Adams early career but you can’t help but draw a parallel between the two pass catchers, both supremely talented but couldn’t quite put it together early on. Is 2021 the year where MVS breaks through or will it be another season filled with moments of joy and agony sprinkled in?
What’s in store for MVS in 2021 and beyond?
MVS enters the 2021 NFL season in the last year of his rookie contract with a large question mark as to who will be throwing him the football. Further complicating an already contentious off season, Brian Gutekunst is going to have to decide sooner rather than later if MVS is fool’s gold or worthy of a hefty new contract. Do you work out a new contract with MVS now and hope that he puts it all together this season, or do you play the waiting game and see how he performs in 2021 and hope he hasn’t priced himself out of your market? If you hand Davante a WR market resetting deal, can you afford to sign MVS at all?
Regardless of his contract situation, MVS needs to show up and perform for the 2021 Packers to match or surpass their success of the previous season. I think an uptick in targets at all depths on the field will aid MVS’ confidence, and I think he could be a real asset in the Jet Motion package. You want the ball in your playmakers hands, keep feeding MVS and I think we’ll find that the big plays are even more numerous and the mistakes are fewer and farther between.
The lasting memory from the 2020 season for MVS is a good one, the one guy who showed up and balled out in the NFC championship game. Ahead of the 2021 season I’m pushing my chips to the middle and betting on the hard off-season work MVS has put in gelling with his natural ability.