Christian Watson’s family has grown tired of the criticism from the Green Bay Packers fan base and is speaking up in defense of the second-year receiver.
Watson struggled in the Packers’ latest loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10, catching a season-low 28.6% of his targets (two of seven) for 23 yards and drawing criticism from fans over his perceived lack of aggression on contested targets. On the 2023 season, he has caught just 14 of his 33 targets for 236 yards and a touchdown.
Watson’s father, Tazim Wajed, staunchly believes the criticism is unwarranted, though, and took shots back at the Packers fans, calling them “about as bad as it gets.”
“What amazes me about this Green Bay Packers fan base, and some of you reporters quite frankly, is the fact that this team, which is literally the youngest in the NFL, was not expected to even compete this season, yet have found a way to be in every game,” Wajed wrote on X (formerly Twitter) after Week 10’s loss on November 12.
“You all are about as bad as it gets, and I played in Philly with their schizophrenic fans.”
Watson’s brother, Tre Watson Sr., also fiercely defended his brother — and the Packers’ struggles in general — against critical fans on social media following the loss. At the same time, he also levied criticism against Packers quarterback Jordan Love, calling out instances of “bad ball placement” and “underthrown” passes to defend several of Watson’s misses.
“If there’s one thing we can count on with Packers Twitter, they’ll use ANY play to make a random point,” Watson wrote on X.
Christian Watson Gets (Some) Blame for 1st Interception
Packers fans who are already crying out that Watson is a bust probably need to chill out and recognize the process takes time. That said, Watson earned some of the criticism he received over his performance in Green Bay’s 23-19 loss in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Take, for example, Love’s first interception. The quarterback gets the blame for trying to force a deep ball to Watson with Steelers cornerback Patrick Peterson all over him. The veteran got a hand on Love’s pass and tipped it into the hands of Keanu Neal.
At the same time, both Watson and head coach Matt LaFleur agreed that Watson could have run a better route and made a better move against Peterson’s outside leverage.
“I think if [Love] throws a perfect ball, there’s an opportunity there,” LaFleur said on November 13. “I think there’s a lot of things that could have gone differently on that play. We’ve got to make sure when we’re running a double move, you want to always run the first move first and put your eyes back to the quarterback to maybe get a defender to bite.”
Matt LaFleur Wants Christian Watson to be ‘Decisive’
Watson flashed greatness during his rookie season with the Packers. While injuries kept him sidelined for three games and limited him in a few others, he finished the season with 41 receptions for 611 yards and emerged as one of Aaron Rodgers’ most reliable targets down the stretch, scoring eight touchdowns between Week 10 and Week 13.
Unfortunately, Watson has not continued his upward trajectory through the Packers’ first nine games of the 2023 season. He has scored just one touchdown and finished all but one of his performances with fewer than 40 receiving yards. His success rate on contested catches has fallen to just 2-of-12. He also missed the first three games of the season with another hamstring injury, a concern for a receiver known for his speed.
Watson certainly has other things working against him: Love has played unevenly as a first-year starter; the Packers’ offensive line has struggled to live up to expectations; the shortcomings of their defense have forced their offense to play from behind too often.
For a former No. 34 overall pick who many analysts believed would emerge as a true No. 1 receiver in 2023, though, Watson is coming along a little slower than expected.
“I think he just needs to go out there and play fast, play decisive and play confident,” LaFleur said. “Because he’s a guy that has all the ability. He’s a big guy that can run, and we need him to show that every opportunity on tape.”