Adams is by far the best wide receiver in football, and he’s been Rodgers’ favorite target for years now. With Adams now with the Las Vegas Raiders, wouldn’t Rodgers be primed for some regression?
On the contrary, Green Bay trading Adams will help Rodgers win his third-straight MVP and fifth overall.
Aaron Rodgers had become too reliant on Davante Adams
Adams and Rodgers had become arguably one of the best wide receiver/quarterback combinations in NFL history and they were undoubtedly the top duo the Packers have ever seen.
From Adams’ ability to run just about any route to perfection to his chemistry with Rodgers, Adams has been the top target in Green Bay for some time now. And yes, it makes sense to feed the literal best wide receiver in football. Rodgers has keyed in on Adams too much at times, though, especially when under pressure.
That made Green Bay’s offense both stagnant and predictable, and it’s hurt the Packers in big moments.
You have to wonder how an offense with Rodgers and Adams ever stalls, but ironically, it has historically been because the four-time MVP is notoriously stingy in who he trusts, and for far too often, only Adams has risen to the occasion.
That has made it easy for defenses to key in on Adams in big spots, using double and sometimes even triple teams to keep him under wraps. The presence of multiple defenders on one player means that others have to be wide open, and usually, that’s a good thing for an offense. The strange thing in Green Bay is that for as otherwordly as Rodgers has been over the years, his one weakness has been forcing it to Adams in those situations instead of trusting the players who have been schemed open to make the (sometimes less explosive) play.
For proof of this downfall, look no further than Green Bay’s playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The offense stalled out in the second half, and Rodgers couldn’t get his eyes off Adams…even with other players open.
By taking away Adams, the Packers have taken away Rodgers’ safety-net, and often-times, his crutch.
While that may be an adjustment at first, even a quarterback like Rodgers can benefit from something so basic as going through his progressions and trusting his reads.
Rodgers will be forced to trust Matt LaFleur’s scheme more often
This is really point 1B to point 1A above.
For the first time in years, Rodgers doesn’t (yet) have a true No. 1 receiver that he trusts above all else. While that may initially seem like a disadvantage for the Packers, the loss of Adams will actually force Rodgers to rely more on Matt LaFleur’s scheme, and that can only lead to good things for Green Bay’s offense.
In fact, believe it or not, when Adams wasn’t on the field over the past three seasons, Green Bay’s offense ran much smoother. Without Adams, Rodgers was forced to spread the ball around and put trust into an offensive scheme that simply provides wide-open targets when it’s clicking on all cylinders.
No, they won’t’ all be deep fades to Adams down the sidelines anymore, but LaFleur has proven that his scheme works much in the same way as it does in Los Angeles for Sean McVay or in San Francisco for Kyle Shanahan. He comes from their coaching trees, after-all, and if Shanahan got to the Super Bowl with Jimmy Garoppolo and McVay did the same with Jared Goff, what could the Packers do if they got complete buy-in from Rodgers?
With no Adams to lean on, Rodgers will be forced to take the dump-off in the flats for an easy first or the five-yard drag on third and four instead of a deep 50/50 pass to Adams.
The explosive plays may not be there at first like they were in the Adams/Rodgers heyday, but we’ve seen that when Rodgers works within the system, he makes the game look incredibly easy.
In fact, Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated recently dug up an impressive stat. The Packers actually won seven-straight games without Adams in the LaFleur era. Green Bay averaged 31.6 points without Adams in those seven games. In all other LaFleur-coached games with Adams? The Packers averaged 27.2
“Of course, as the famous investment disclosure states, past performance is not indicative of future results. Scheming around Adams’ absence for a few games is one thing. Scheming around Adams’ permanent is quite another,” Huber wrote. “Adams is a Hall of Fame-caliber receiver because of his talent, competitive fire and uncanny connection with Rodgers. No draft pick will have what Adams brings to the party.
“However, it is worth noting the Packers are only 5-4 when Adams has 140-plus receiving yards. And when Rodgers ignored just about everyone else in the playoff game vs. San Francisco in January, the Packers lost 13-10.”
The Green Bay Packers will undoubtedly invest in getting Rodgers more weapons
For the first time in seemingly a long time, the Packers have a plethora of picks at the top of the draft. The Raiders traded No. 22 and No. 53 overall to the Packers for Adams, meaning the Packers now have two picks in the first round and two in the second. Throw in the third-round pick, No. 92 overall, and Green Bay has five total picks in the Top 100 of the draft.
That’s a heck of a way to retool if you’re general manager Brian Gutekunst.
Using the draft to find a top receiver is always a popular sentiment in Green Bay around mock draft time, but this year is the first in many where it’s realistic for Rodgers to get some first-round talent to throw to.
The Packers also cleared a ton of cap room by trading Adams, meaning Green Bay currently has $22.9 million to spend, and there are several free-agent receivers still out there.
Keep in mind, Rodgers has won back-to-back MVP awards with just one elite receiver and several role players. Losing Adams is tough, but imagine what Rodgers can do with several good receivers to throw to, including potentially a first-round pick (or two) and a veteran pickup like…Jarvis Landry…for example.
Rodgers still has MVP talent. He’s proven that over the past two seasons.
Now, even without Adams, he has a realistic shot at getting his third straight and fifth overall.
- He can’t key in on Adams anymore to the detriment of the offense.
- He’s going to be forced to trust LaFleur’s offense even more.
- The Packers should finally invest some significant draft and free agency capital on getting him some fresh talent at wideout.
Perhaps this shakeup will be enough to get the Packers over the hump and back to the Super Bowl as well, but let’s take it one step at a time.