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What’s the Story on Marquez Valdes-Scantling?

Something has gone wrong – very wrong – in the two years since Green Bay made MVS a fifth-round draft choice in 2018. The guy has gone from one who has flashed with brilliance to being an afterthought on a team desperate for even moderately skilled and reliable receivers. I’ve yet to see anyone in the organization provide a reasonable explanation for his stunning letdown.

MVS certainly possesses some outstanding physical abilities. The guy is a lanky 6’4” with a 40-yard dash time of 4.37 – a dynamite combination of traits. It is true that he passed on doing the two agility tests at the NFL Combine, suggesting that he might have poor ability at changing directions and/or stop-and-go maneuvers.

Injuries don’t provide an explanation. He played in every game in 2019 (and 2018) and was only listed as questionable once – and in that game, against Oakland, he had catches of 74 with 59 yards.

A look at his game-by-game stats reveals a pattern that might be telling. From Games 4 through 9 of his rookie season, MVS rang up 38 receptions for 399 yards. But in the final seven games of the year, all he managed was 15 catches for 179 yards.

Last season, when so many were expecting him to have a break-out year, his streakiness was even more evident. In his first seven games he caught 21 passes for 416 yards; in his final eight games, however, he dropped off a cliff: 5 catches for 36 yards. In those early games, the guy’s deep-ball threat was on full display; then in the final eight games, he had only one catch of over 7 yards, an 11-yarder in the final regular season game.

Could it be that QB Aaron Rodgers began looking elsewhere when wanting to throw? There’s strong evidence this was the case: in the nine games from October 14 through December 23, MVS was targeted only 17 tunes, and had only seven catches – that would be a decent one-game production for Davante Adams.

Did Aaron lose faith in MVS? Did he decide to shun him for some reason? Or did Aaron look elsewhere only because MVS wasn’t running good routes or gaining separation?

Did play caller Matt LaFleur stop calling his number? Is the lack of statistical success due to the coaches cutting back his playing time? In the middle of his terrible slump, MVS reached a low point of being in on only 17 percent of the offensive plays against Carolina in Week 10.

Do MVS’s problems have to do with the mental side of the game? Maybe he’s developed an attitudinal problem. Maybe he’s the one who has lost faith and confidence – in himself. Perhaps he hasn’t taken well to having his playing time reduced.

MVS

Sep 5, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83) reacts after making a catch in front of Chicago Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara (20) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Descent

When the team assembled for training camp in July, QB Rodgers said this in an interview with James Jones:

“I think one guy that has really jumped out, in the spring, was Marquez. He’s always timing really fast. Now he’s playing to his time. Marquez is starting to play with more confidence, and that’s pretty good to see.”

As the season got underway, MVS was the clear choice as the WR2 behind Adams, but by mid-season Allen Lazard had surpassed him.

As the 2019 season was winding down last December, head coach LaFleur insisted he and the other offensive coaches needed to do more to keep Valdes-Scantling involved:

“We’ve got to look critically at ourselves and what we’re asking him to do, and making sure we’re putting him in position to get some of those balls. Because he does have a great talent. Shoot, he’s a guy that when he comes off the ball, he’s tough to defend, because he can run so well. So we have to make sure we put him in positions where he can use that to his advantage. You can’t coach or teach that speed.”

If that’s what was needed, the coaches failed miserably at positioning MVS, because in the two playoff games his total output was one 8-yard reception.

Also in mid-December, receivers coach Alvis Whitted took a crack at identifying the problem:

“I think for him, this is the first time he’s actually been in some adversity. He’s battling through some stuff. He’s got some ankle and knee injuries and he’s just fighting to try to get back to himself. He’s done a good job of really working through that stuff in practice, fighting through it in the games, but he’s just slowly getting back to himself. He’s in his second year, he’s never really faced adversity like that, but this is the National Football League.”

It sounds like Whitted is describing a player who lacks maturity. MVS will turn 26, in October, however – about the time by which Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, and Greg Jennings had busted out. He’s also approaching the peak of his athleticism, which I consider to be age 27.

On the Other Hand. . .

Maybe the fact that MVS went undrafted until overall pick # 174 provides us with a clue to his downfall. Rotoworld had some harsh scouting assessments after MVS finished his college career at South Florida:

“Beyond the straight-ahead run [speed], though, Valdes-Scantling is an inconsistent route runner and remains raw on many technical levels. Consider him a possible Day 3 project. At the very least, his speed and size combo is intriguing.”

“Valdes-Scantling is a work in progress who hasn’t learned how to create leverage within his linear routes and doesn’t have the ball skills he will need to win downfield.” The 6-foot-4, 206-pound wideout did impress in Indianapolis at the combine with a 4.37 second 40 yard dash, but his inconsistent production right in 2017 makes him a late-round prospect right now.”

“Valdes-Scantling’s sheer size and speed give him Devery Henderson-like potential, but his ball skills and route running are both well below average on tape. Valdes-Scantling is a one-trick pony, and isn’t great at the one trick.”

I must take exception to that snarky “isn’t great” comment. Despite diminishing playing time, in each of his two years MVS has five receptions of 38 yards or longer – the man is a substantial deep threat.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Oct 27, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83) observes the national anthem before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Gutekunst’s Dilemma

The person in Green Bay who’s most disappointed in MVS’s descent is probably GM Brian Gutekunst. I’m convinced the reason he failed to draft a wide receiver last season was because he was counting on MVS to have a breakout second year in the league.

Gutekunst might now feel forced to select a receiver in Rounds 1 or 2 of the upcoming draft. I see some are saying that Funchess is just a one-year band-aid – and he was given just a 1-year deal. If Gutey drafts a receiver, and chooses well, that probably knocks MVS another step down on the depth chart: behind Adams, Lazard, and Funchess.

I view MVS’s meltdown as the single biggest reason the 2019 Packers offense wound up with only the 18th best yardage: 345.5 per game. It threw off the receiver rotation, slowed the emergence of Lazard, and denied opportunities to Kumerow.

The one positive: he reduced Geronimo’s playing time. Pro Football Focus gave MVS a player grade that ranked him 103 out of 122 qualifying receivers (Adams was 4th, Lazard 58th, Kumerow 87th, and Allison 111th). He was targeted 56 times in 2018, but hauled in only 26, a terrible 46.4 catch percentage.

Last season was such a downer for Marquez that he might never again earn sufficient playing time to regain the team’s trust. I hope MVS didn’t squander his big NFL opportunity, but he needs to rebound with a great preseason (if there is one) if he has any chance of being in the starting lineup in September.

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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14 Comments

  1. DanM April 15, 2020

    He needs to start a meditation program to clear his head. There is no better time than now.

  2. Skinny April 15, 2020

    The story? He sucks. How the fuck you work with Randy Moss in the off seasons and not learn a damn thing? Thats like me in college wanting style points with professors because i went to the writing center for my papers.

  3. PF4L April 16, 2020

    ” I’ve yet to see anyone in the organization provide a reasonable explanation for his stunning letdown.” I couldn’t agree more.
    *
    But then again, nobody is going to go negative about him in front of a microphone usually. Maybe it’s the mental part of it, when that’s usually the case over physical traits. That reminds me, i still need tires.
    *
    Lastly…i wouldn’t be shocked if working with Moss hasn’t hurt his development. That and learning a new offense put him behind mentally over his first season. Maybe LeFleur gave him a lot more to digest than the Pack gave him his first year. It’s judgement year for him as it is with many, but i’m still pulling for him, but i’m losing grip. we’ll see what happens.

  4. Howard April 16, 2020

    One explanation the Packers provided for the letdown in MVS is LaFleur fired his first year WR coach. It is just one piece of the puzzle, but it says LaFleur must have believed his WR coach was not getting the most out of the WR group, or was not properly implementing LaFleur’s requirements and passing concepts to the WR group.
    You could say a player like Lazard excelled, but how many younger players regressed, including MVS? I don’t know anything about the new WR coach, Vrable. I do think it is telling that LaFleur added the title and responsibility of Pass game Coordinator to Luke Getsy who is also QB coach.
    My observation of MVS is he does not read the defense very well at the line, but more so on the fly. There were several deep routes that MVS ran last year when MVS had the DB turned with no over help and MVS would stop running. Likewise when a DB was over MVS and the route adjustment may be to cut off your route MVS would keep running the go. Those mistakes are more clear on the go routes and you could see Rodgers was frustrated with MVS’s adjustments or lack thereof. The same goes for some of the quick outs. Those are the easy ones to see.
    I’m with PF4L I’m still pulling for MVS. I think he can be a type of player to produce big plays, he just needs to be way more consistent. One thing that MVS did in 2018 and a lesser amount in 2019 that he gets little credit for is he can draw a lot of pass interference penalties. In the 2018 Jets game I don’t think the Packers win (and it may have been best if they didn’t) if MVS hadn’t have drawn, I believe, three Pass interference penalties.

    1. PF4L April 16, 2020

      I just wonder, when he works with Moss, then goes into Packer camps and works with the coaches there. Is it possible he’s being taught different theory’s and it gets in his head a bit? Plus he leaves Moss, then goes to camp and has to learn a new offense, verbiage, etc. I just think it might be too much. I’m grasping at straws because i’m not there, but…..
      *
      Also, you know how we sometimes say a player plays faster than his 40 time? It’s also possible that a player can play slower than his 40 time i would imagine.
      *
      Always a pleasure Howard..hope all is well with you.

      1. Howard April 17, 2020

        I agree that the message/training from Moss could be very different than that of the Packer WR coaches. This could be messing with MVS. Right now based on what happened with the last two Packer WR coaches, Moss may be a stabilizing presence for MVS??
        The short reception and long run by MVS against the Raiders indicates to me that MVS plays fast when the ball is in his hands. I do think MVS plays slower when trying to process what the defense is doing in coverage during a play, and what route adjustments he needs to make based on the coverage, so he can be on the same page as QB#1. Maybe MVS will improve with more experience, but for now I think the best use for MVS is make his routes simple and get him the ball when he is on the run. I also believe MVS needs to work on his hand strength. On contested balls MVS has a lot of drops.
        Hope all is going well with you. I would be doing better if I was not fighting with the Federal, State, and County Govt. over them wanting to take some of my land by Eminent Domain. This is the second time in the last 10 years. The last fight was with a City that I don’t even live in. For some reason everyone wants my land or a portion thereof. So far I’m one win and no loses. The current battle is still up in the air, and we are late in the 3rd quarter.

        1. PF4L April 19, 2020

          I agree with the theory of giving him simple routes, and he is supposed to have the speed to get open, flaunting a sub 4 second 40. But if i see him slow up while his pass is in the air this season i’m going to want Gute to send him packing.

          His one strength should be running a go route.

  5. Ferris April 16, 2020

    Can you teach someone at this point of their career to catch the ball? Drops, drops and more drops sums up his career. Get Davante to tell him how he stopped dropping passes and then call James Jones. They both had the drops at points. Maybe this has been addressed but what is ESB’s status? Howard please fill me in. I’m too lazy to Google it. Best name in the league.

    1. Ferris April 16, 2020

      Equanimeous Tristan Imhotep J. St. Brown. Man that’s a mouthful.

    2. Howard April 17, 2020

      Ferris, every since EQ went on IR it has been silent. Based on the type of injury it sounded like EQ could have come back if he wasn’t put on IR in the preseason. It was an odd move, but I do think LaFleur was asked about it some time during the season and LaFleur basically said the Packers did what was best for EQ’s long term health. I guess the injury was more severe than originally indicated as an approximate 6 week injury?
      I guess the next we might hear about EQ is if he is cleared for camp (whenever that may be) or starts out on the PUP list.

      1. Ferris April 19, 2020

        I knew I could count on you. Silence from within. Maybe no news is good news.

        1. PF4L April 20, 2020

          No silence….you referred to Howard and i respected that.

          I thought that it was curious that they didn’t wait a week or two and that he wasn’t designated for return, especially based on our wr situation. He had a high ankle sprain, which is painful, but i don’t consider it season ending. LeFleur shouldn’t be answering those questions, it’s not his call. Gute should be, it’s his call. Although he makes his presence known better than Ted did, it’s not by much.

          The more i see Gute’s work, the more he reminds me of Ted, sans free agency…but he kind of blew that free agency load all in one season, a year ago.

  6. joe jetson April 17, 2020

    Caddyshack- Ty Webb (Chevy Chase): “A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish. A receiver with no hands is MVS.”

    1. PF4L April 19, 2020

      Lol….Agree Joe….but again….a tall 6′ 4″, sub 4 second receiver doesn’t sit until the fifth round for no reason.

      The same way Jeff Janis (with all his speed) slipped to the 7th round. Despite having Julio Jones type metrics.

      Here i go again…reminding myself i need tires.