Davante Adams was the Green Bay Packers’ offseason MVP.
That seems like ancient history.
After missing about four-and-a-half games with a sprained ankle, Adams has caught 23 out of 49 targeted passes (46.9 percent) for 230 yards while playing more than 90 percent of the snaps over the past six games. He was “pissed off” after Thursday night’s loss to Chicago, a game in which Adams could hardly have played worse.
With five games left in the regular season, quarterbacks/receivers coach Alex Van Pelt’s solution is to start over.
“Sometimes, when those things happen to young players, you’ve got to hit the reset button. That’s kind of what we did this week.”
The Packers need Adams. Veteran James Jones has caught more than two passes in one of his last seven games. Ty Montgomery can’t get past a high-ankle sprain and appears set to miss a sixth consecutive game. Jeff Janis hasn’t earned a major role in the offense. Jared Abbrederis hasn’t shown he can stay healthy. Richard Rodgers has added no explosive element at tight end.
So, the Packers need the Adams who put up big numbers against the Dolphins, Saints, Patriots and Cowboys last year, and who appeared poised to be a breakout star this season, to step to the forefront.
“Obviously, you get down on yourself a little bit because you know you want to perform better than you did, but I'm ready to get out there and have a better game than I did last time,” Adams said.
There’s nowhere to go but up. Adams was thrown 11 passes against the Bears. He caught two of them for 14 yards. He dropped a potential touchdown pass in the first quarter and a receiver screen in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, he got knocked off his route on a slant and the pass was intercepted. Then, on fourth-and-goal at the end of the game, he stepped in front of Aaron Rodgers’ pass to Randall Cobb and the ball whistled through his hands for a game-killing incompletion.
“It’s hard to let it go because when it really means a lot to you, you’re so passionate about the game and each opportunity,” Adams said. “I really value every time the ball is thrown to me, so it’s hard to let it go, so you really want to have that, they call it the DB mentality, just let it go and go to the next play. Forget about it. But it’s hard, especially when I really care about it.”
That’s Van Pelt’s solution, though. There’s no sense in stewing over what happened. For an offense that’s averaged 19.3 points during a 1-4 slump, the Packers need Adams.
“A lot of it’s confidence,” Van Pelt said. “A lot of it’s just the ebbs and flows of the season. Right now he’s in a little bit of a slump. We had a good conversation early in the week. We’re wiping the slate clean and we’re starting fresh. He’s had a very impressive week of practice. He’s put the work in. It looks like he’s feeling better about things. He caught every ball that was thrown to him at practice this week and has run crisp routes.”
Rodgers might as well have been the president of the Davante Adams Fan Club during the offseason practices. He said Adams had a “humongous upside” and an “approach and focus (that) you can’t teach.” With the season winding down, Adams hasn’t gotten close to reaching those lofty expectations.
“It’s tough to play consistently when you’re dealing with an injury,” Rodgers said this week. “I think that’s been hampering him a little bit but I don’t think anybody’s lost confidence in him. He’s just got to go out there and continue do the things he’s been doing and showing us all year.”
Van Pelt’s hope is this week of practice carries over to Thursday night’s game at Detroit, where Adams will make a confidence-boosting play to get his season back on track.
“It’s like anything else. Success obviously builds confidence,” Van Pelt said.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.