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Packers film room: Rookie WR Romeo Doubs stands out in Packers preseason debut

Doubs continued to separate himself from the rest of the pack with some excellent plays last Friday.

Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs found himself among the Green Bay Packers’ starting receiver group on Friday night versus the 49ers in Santa Clara while receivers Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Sammy Watkins did not suit up. The former Nevada Wolfpack wideout was used in a variety of roles that allowed him to showcase his ability to win versus press coverage off the line and get open versus man coverage.

He finished the night with three receptions for 45 yards and one touchdown in his NFL preseason debut, had one drop and could not hang onto a bad pass from quarterback Jordan Love that was declared an interception after review. But the Packers largely liked what they saw in him.

“Nobody knows his ceiling,” Randall Cobb said on Monday after practice. Cobb also mentioned that Doubs excels on 50/50 contested throws and has largely been consistent with practices to this point so far. It paid off for him on Friday night though Matt LaFleur did allude to the fact that he thought Doubs was mostly responsible for the interception and also said receivers on two of Love’s interceptions ran the wrong routes but made no mention of who or what.

Vertical threat

The Packers called two versions of the same play from different personnel groupings, a play they used to beat this very same coverage on the last two seasons, their “Double Go Y Reader” concept, famously also known as “989” in the Air Coryell system.

On this concept, the outside receivers are running go routes while the inside receiver, usually a tight end, is running a “reader” route. On a reader route, the receiver will break straight across the formation versus a middle of the field closed (MOFC) single high safety defense, and will turn their route into a post route versus a middle of the field open (MOFO) two-high safety shell.

The first way they ran the concept was out of 21 personnel with Love under center in an “I Left” formation with the tight end to the left. Doubs is out wide to the right versus 49ers corner Ka’Dar Hollman, himself a former Packers draft pick. Doubs is being pressed up tight in man coverage by Hollman but gives him a quick hesitation release (the move that Davante Adams perfected in his time in Green Bay) to beat Hollman off the line and create some separation.

Doubs puts nothing but green grass in front him as he “stacks” Hollman behind him near the top of his stem downfield. “Stacking” the defender puts the defender immediately behind the receiver where he has no leverage and gives the quarterback space in front of him to throw. However, Love threw the pass too far inside and away from Doubs just missing him by a few yards.

Later on the same drive, the Packers came back to the same concept but this time from a 3x2 empty formation. They ran this play from this formation a few times versus the 49ers last season and every time they get to this look, the 49ers counter with press man single high coverage. And every time it was a recipe for disaster.

Instead of the vertical passing routes being run from the outside receivers, the Packers run the double go routes from the inside slot receivers and the reader route from #3 in the trips. The two outermost receivers run short “smoke” that hold their coverage defenders short so they cannot peel off and play the verticals downfield.

Since Doubs is inside the numbers in the slot, he uses the same hesitation release off the line but takes an outside release this time. He’s being covered in the slot by safety Tarvarius Moore (No. 33). This time he doesn’t even really need to stack the defender. He uses his straight line speed to run past the defender to open space and this time Love drops in a dime to him at the five yard line and then in for the touchdown.

It’s easy to imagine Aaron Rodgers throwing this pass to Doubs in the slot this season.

Quick game

Doubs caught two more passes in this one and came on a quick slant where he can use his big frame to shield the pass from defenders.

Doubs is lined up out wide to the right running a quick slant on a “dragon spacing” concept. He’s lined up against press coverage and gives the corner, Deommodore Lenoir (No. 38), a hesitation jab at the top of stem before his cut on the quick slant. Love plants the ball in his chest with a nice throw.

Slot receiver

While he can run verticals from the slot, the Packers also lined him up there to run choice routes where he can try to win 1-on-1 versus an overhang defender or slower linebacker.

In high leverage situations, this can be a valuable position for the rookie receiver as he can win at the catch point and convert short yardage third downs to first downs.

With the Saints in town for joint practices and preseason game this Friday, there’s a good chance we may get to see Doubs in other roles in the offense, particularly in the red zone. If the below clip is any indication, the Packers look to have added to his arsenal of responsibilities as a receiver.

It appears that Doubs is running what the Shanahan tree calls a “Nebraska,” which is a quick out and then up on double move route with a stop attached to it. Aaron Rodgers fires it in almost blind for a quick score.

Doubs will have to work on his drops to to further solidify his status and it may be the one thing that keeps him from starting with the top three receivers.

He dropped an easy pass on a crossing route versus the 49ers and then dropped that one above in the joint practice on Tuesday that Rodgers dropped in the bucket. Either way, the Packers might have found a gem in the middle of the draft.