Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it’s time to buy into the Romeo Doubs hype. He is for real.
You may have rolled your eyes — there is a sense of “fool me twice” about this. But this isn’t just taking the same ride to disappointment as last season.
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Firstly, last year wasn’t a complete figment of everybody’s imagination. Doubs was the best receiver in Green Bay Packers camp, and he did flash in the preseason, tying for the league lead with two touchdowns and catching 60% of his contested targets across three games.
As a fourth-round rookie, he was making way more plays than expected and looking better than anticipated for a Day 3 selection.
The problem was that it reset expectations unrealistically high. In a post-Davante Adams landscape, Packers fans needed a new No. 1 receiver, and with Doubs tearing it up in camp and Christian Watson coming along more slowly, Doubs became the player expected to step into those very big shoes and produce.
That was just asking too much, and the change in expectations was unfair to a player who was always going to need a transition period at the NFL level.
Romeo Doubs | 2022 Regular Season
|PFF Grade||62.6 (T-84th/103)|
|Contested Catch %||33.3%|
Despite coming up short of those lofty expectations, Doubs still had three games with five or more catches and two with a PFF game grade of 88.4 or better, all while flashing route-running and catch-point skills.
This season, the script has been repeating — except he already has a year of experience in the NFL.
Doubs again tore it up in training camp, including when the Packers scrimmaged other teams. And while the team largely kept him under wraps this preseason, he caught all four passes thrown his way, one for a touchdown.
The circumstances for Doubs are different now than they were a year ago and they’re better for his outlook in almost every difference.
While Doubs having Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback seemed like a great thing a year ago, Rodgers has a notoriously hard time trusting and developing instant chemistry with young receivers. Every elite receiver he had in Green Bay (and he had a remarkable run of them from Donald Driver to Greg Jennings to Jordy Nelson to Davante Adams) overlapped and allowed him to develop a rapport with the next guy before the top dog was done barking.
Last season, Rodgers was forced to rely on a pair of rookies and produce, and it had a negative effect on them all. Jordan Love almost certainly won’t be as good as Rodgers across the board, but he probably won’t have the same hangups about trusting his young receivers and will give them more of a chance to make plays.
There is also more help around Doubs this year. Christian Watson did emerge late last season as a dynamic big-play threat, scoring seven touchdowns in four games in the middle of the year and finishing with 2.26 yards per route run for his rookie season. Watson has also developed over the past 12 months and looks a lot more ready to produce an all-around performance than he was as a rookie.
Rookie tight end Luke Musgrave is also very low on experience, even in college, but has elite dynamism and the team looks set to feature him heavily in the game plan. If Watson and Musgrave can be playmakers, Doubs has the room to simply lean into what he does well — route running, separation and body control at the catch point — rather than trying to be something he may never be.
Green Bay should also have the offensive line to allow the entire offense to flourish. New starting quarterback Jordan Love was barely touched across his limited preseason action, and the group has consistently been good during Rodgers’ time as the quarterback.
Being burned by the failure of Doubs to produce last season has caused an over-correction this offseason. Just because some rookies can dominate from day one doesn’t mean that should be the expectation in all circumstances. The fact that Doubs flashed what he did a year ago, and is repeating it this offseason, suggests he can be a real playmaker, and that his breakout might just come a year later than people wanted it to.
Buy into Romeo Doubs. What your eyes are seeing is very much for real.