Romeo Doubs' big day highlights a Packers receiving corps that proved it can be as gritty as diverse
TAMPA – Romeo Doubs had a feeling the ball was coming to him. The Green Bay Packers were on Tampa Bay's 5-yard line, looking to finish their first drive of the day with a touchdown. Based on the play call and the leverage he had against the Buccaneers defense, Doubs knew he had a chance.
On the back side of a stacked set, Doubs cut on a slant, nabbed the Aaron Rodgers pass, ran through “one, two, I don’t know how many guys, and scored,” Doubs said in the locker room Sunday. He kept the ball to give to his mom.
Doubs, in the third game of his rookie season, finished with a team-leading eight receptions (on eight targets) for 73 yards and a touchdown in the Packers' 14-12 win over Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
“We called some plays for him and he made some nice catches," Rodgers said. "The thing about Romeo that gives you confidence is the majority of the time, he catches the ball with his hands.
“A couple balls were off the frame today that he caught very nicely. He’s learning. I feel like his route-running, seemed like, was very solid today. But we’ll go back and look at the tape and see if there’s more opportunities I could’ve given him.”
He’s the first Packers receiver not named Davante Adams to record eight receptions in a game since Randall Cobb did it in Week 1 of 2018 (according to ESPN Stats and Info).
It’s a stat that made Rodgers' eyes go wide, as the quarterback let out a “wow.” But with Adams now in Las Vegas, the Packers knew they would have to find ways to spread the ball around more. They did that Sunday, as seven players caught a pass, with three accounting for four or more receptions each.
“Honestly, (it’s just) making plays when you’re called,” Doubs said.
In addition to Doubs' eight catches, Allen Lazard had four receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown, tight end Robert Tonyan had six catches for 37 yards, and tight end Tyler Davis hauled in two for 26 yards. Davis’ 23-yard reception moved the Packers into the red zone, leading to Lazard’s touchdown.
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"Third-and-Cobb" struck again on third-and-6 on the Packers first drive when Rodgers swung right to his veteran receiver. Cobb curled around the defender and picked up 17 yards to get the Packers into the red zone. From there, Doubs took over, with a great pickup to get inside the 5-yard line, then the touchdown.
“It's just gonna be a lot of spreading it out,” Tonyan said. “I think it’s kind of good that defenses can't pick up on tendencies with everyone getting their shots and the ball getting spread out a lot.”
Packers rookie Romeo Doubs takes advantage of opportunity
Even with the ball being spread around, it was clearly Doubs' day to shine. With fellow rookie Christian Watson held out due to a hamstring injury, and Lazard not practicing much during the week as he continues to recover from an ankle injury, there always was a chance this would be Doubs’ day. Coach Matt LaFleur said as much Friday.
But those in the locker room say it’s just how the Buccaneers defense unfolded for them. What mattered was how Doubs took advantage.
“Rome can handle whatever load that he needs to,” Lazard said. “I think he’s done a tremendous job up to this point in everything and continued to grow. So we're very proud of him to see his growth and to see him get his first touchdown today.
“I think the biggest thing that I notice is that when people fail, how do they respond? You see the way he responded. It really matters to him … so seeing him grow, it has been a privilege and it was great for him to get his first touchdown.”
Two of Allen Lazard's four catches this season are touchdowns
Lazard, for his part, has caught four passes in his two games. Two of those were for touchdowns. His readiness as a red zone target can be huge for Rodgers, and his knowledge of the play when the ball goes elsewhere can be just as crucial.
“Those are kind of staple Aaron Rodgers, run alerts,” Lazard said. “I feel like he's done a great job throughout his entire career throwing those."
After three dominant drives to open the game (two touchdowns and a drive that got to the 2-yard line before Aaron Jones fumbled on a hit), the offense faltered. They converted one of their final nine tries on third down as the vaunted Buccaneers defense adjusted, covering up Doubs more and running the Packers offense weary in the humid Florida heat. As soon as he finished scoring, Lazard ran to the sideline and emptied his stomach. Smiling after the game, he said he knew it was coming and just focused on finishing the drive.
Green Bay’s first two drives were enough as its defense held Tampa Bay to 12 points. Coupled with their ability to hold on to the ball for 33-plus minutes, finding 315 yards even when it was tough, made the difference in keeping the ball away from Brady.
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As the Packers head home 2-1 with a season shaping up eerily similar to 2021, they do so with a receiving corps that is finding its footing. Lazard described the group as gritty, willing to grind out the ugly yards and tough conversions.
“I think it’s just been the staple of the Packers wide receiver room in the past few years,” Lazard said. “It's just trusting your training. Obviously, that relationship that we have with 12 on the field plays a huge role in that; just going out there and just knowing that if we don't execute this, there'll be negative ramifications.”
Doubs felt it was more clutch than gritty. But Tonyan had a better word to describe a possibly deep and certainly diverse Packers pass-catching group.
This, he said, is now “normal.”