Week after week, Rodgers piled up monster numbers in a passing attack that revolved around the big-play abilities of his sublime receivers. Their 189 receptions for 2,806 yards and 25 touchdowns ranked second, second and first, respectively, among receiver tandems.
However, in the two losses to Seattle, they combined for 27 receptions for just 274 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers led the league in scoring but scored just 38 points in two losses to the Seahawks. If the Packers are going to get past the Seattle hump and get to the Super Bowl, they’ll need more consistent contributions from receiver Davante Adams.
Adams, a second-round pick last year, had a solid rookie season of 38 receptions for 446 yards and three touchdowns. However, 24 of his catches came in four games. After those four big games, Adams caught just five passes for 48 yards. The same held true in the playoffs. After a huge day against Dallas — seven receptions for 117 yards and a career-best 46-yard touchdown — Adams managed just one reception for 7 yards in the loss to Seattle in the NFC Championship Game.
What does Adams have to do to take that next step?
“Not much,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on Wednesday.
In Rodgers’ opinion, the sporadic contributions were actually a good thing. To Rodgers, it pointed to a mature player who kept his nose to the grindstone even when the ball wasn’t coming his way.
“Look at the two guys in this room who had phenomenal seasons last year,” Rodgers said of Nelson and Cobb. “They both have a great approach to their job and you’re seeing Davante really do that. The biggest example to me of the kind of guy that he is is last year when he went through stretches where he didn’t catch the ball, has a huge game against New England, then goes through stretches again where he doesn’t get a lot of balls thrown his way, then has a big game against Dallas. That’s all about approach and focus and you can’t teach that.”
With intangibles meeting tangibles, big things could be in store.
“In my mind, he has humongous upside and he’s starting to reach that upside,” Rodgers said. “I think the opportunities are going to come for him. He’s got two great guys to play with. His attention to detail is very impressive (as) his approach. Obviously, the athleticism, as you see on Twitter with his 360 between-the-legs dunk is incredible.
“He brings a different set of skills to the field that we haven’t seen around here with his body type, his athleticism and his approach. If you look at the guys who’ve stuck around here and gotten second and third contracts, it’s guys who really understand how to make this work for them — the game within the game, the note-taking, the preparation, the study habits, the focus, the practice habits.”
Alex Van Pelt, who coached the quarterbacks last season and is coaching the quarterbacks and receivers this season, said Adams was “not quite ... ready to go” at the start of last season because of the challenges that come with playing the position. Along with that, he had to earn Rodgers’ trust — something that doesn’t come easily because the playbook version of the offense is different from the one Rodgers directs on game days.
Now that Adams is in Year 2 and has had all offseason to really sink his teeth into the offense, more games like he had against New England and Dallas will be the expectation. If Adams can become that kind of player, who knows how far this offense can take this team.
“I just want to keep evaluating my game,” Adams said recently. “I see a lot of guys around this locker room who have done some big things. I just want to be like that and take it to an even higher level and keep pushing myself to make sure I do what I have to do so I can be remembered like them. From a numbers standpoint, I don’t have any number goals like that. I just try to go out there and play. The more you think about numbers and all that stuff, that’s when you start thinking about you too much. If you don’t meet those exact numbers, you get discouraged and things like that. I just play ball.”
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