After a drop in his first-ever NFL snap and multiple injuries, Watson had a hard time finding his footing at the pro level. That changed in Week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys when the rookie caught four passes for 107 yards and three touchdowns. Just a few days later on Thursday Night Football, Watson caught another pair of touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans.
Watson went from zero receiving touchdowns to leading all rookie wide receivers in a five-day span. He’s still trying to catch up with his peers in the yards and receptions departments, but he’s shown that he has the elite speed and size combination to help him find the end zone.
Now, the 23-year-old will have one of his toughest tests to date trying to keep his red-hot streak alive against the Eagles.
Per Football Outsiders, the Eagles have the fourth-best defense and third-best pass defense in the NFL. The defense is littered with talent, particularly in the secondary with playmakers like Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
The Eagles have two extremely reliable corners in coverage in Slay and Bradberry. According to Pro Football Focus, Slay is allowing a passer rating of just 51.0 when targeted, while Bradberry is only allowing a 43.7 passer rating. Both players will likely have opportunities to take on Watson in coverage to try and shut him down.
Watson will have his hands full with these matchups, but he’ll also need Aaron Rodgers to get him the ball. Despite the box score numbers from Rodgers last week against the Titans, he left too many throws on the table, missing wide-open receivers on throws he used to make with ease.
The broken thumb may be playing a factor, but Rodgers will also need a clean pocket to throw from on Sunday if he’s going to be able to get Watson the ball. That’s easier said than done going up against a team that ranks second in the league in PFF’s pass-rush grade.
Sunday’s contest won’t be easy for the Packers, but the same could have been said for the Cowboys game where Watson finally had his breakout performance. If the rookie can use his game-breaking speed to get open on Sunday, and Rodgers can hit him in stride, then the Packers have a chance to make this game competitive.