GREEN BAY, Wis. – On a deep and diverse Green Bay Packers offense, Marquez Valdes-Scantling has a unique skill.
Speed that can’t be taught.
That was evident on his 75-yard touchdown catch during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss at Minnesota. In blowing away safety Xavier Woods, Valdes-Scantling reached 22.09 mph. That’s the fastest by any ball-carrier in the NFL this season, according to Zebra Technologies. Zebra’s RFID technology is what powers Next Gen Stats.
“Quez, he’s so important to this offense,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said on Wednesday. “Obviously, the speed, his ability to stretch the field and it was great to get him involved in the passing game, create some explosive plays. It gives the defense somebody else in the passing game to worry about other than Tae.”
From 2018, when he entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick, through 2020, the speedster led the NFL with his 17.8-yard average and was second in 40-yard touchdowns (seven) and 40-yard catches (15). In 2020, among all players with at least 32 receptions, he led the NFL with a 20.9-yard average. Of his career-high six touchdowns, four covered 40-plus yards. He added a 50-yard touchdown in the NFC Championship Game.
From 2019 through 2021, he has a league-leading four touchdown receptions of 70-plus yards.
The Packers missed that element when he missed five games with a hamstring injury. He returned to catch one pass vs. Seattle before catching four passes for 123 yards vs. the Vikings. Valdes-Scantling averaged 15.1 air yards per target and owned 56.7 percent of the Packers’ targeted air yards, according to Zebra.
“What he’s able to do with his size and speed, the pressure he can put on defenses,” receiver Davante Adams said. “If they don’t want to respect it, you can see he can make you pay for it down the field vertically. He’s a guy that may slip between the cracks because he’s not getting 10 targets a game or he may go a couple games every few weeks with just like one catch or two catches, but you can see he definitely has it. If you want to disrespect it, you can go right ahead and he’ll just run by you and make plays like what he did last week.”
Also according to Zebra:
Davante Adams caught four of his five targets for 53 yards and two touchdowns when facing off coverage (5-plus yards of cushion). He’s been targeted on 45 percent of plays in which the defensive gives him 5 or more yards of cushion, making him the only player to be targeted on more than 35 percent of off-coverage routes (minimum 100 routes). For the season, Adams is averaging 5.2 yards of cushion, the ninth-smallest.
Aaron Rodgers was at his best when “in rhythm” (2.5 to 4 seconds of time to throw), completing 16 of 19 passes for 303 yards and two scores. He averaged 15.9 yards per attempt when throwing in rhythm. In all, he averaged 8.6 air yards per attempt in Week 11.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins excelled under pressure, completing 7-of-13 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns. He was pressured on 40.5 percent of his dropbacks.
Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson caught 4-of-5 targets on passes thrown 10-plus yards downfield. He turned those passes into 143 yards – a career high – and the winning touchdown.