Davante Adams’ second season in the NFL could hardly be going worse.
When given opportunities as a rookie, he generally delivered, including a seven catch, 117-yard, one-touchdown performance in the playoffs against Dallas. He was hailed as an offseason MVP by coach Mike McCarthy and a budding star by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. When the offense started to falter after a hot start to this season, Rodgers thought Adams would be the guy to help get that unit rolling again.
However, Adams’ season was derailed by a Week 2 ankle injury. He’s been back in the lineup for two months but he hasn’t been able to get things back on track. He enters Sunday’s regular-season finale against Minnesota with 46 catches for 429 yards and one touchdown.
For perspective, there have been 98 wide receivers who have been targeted at least 40 times in the passing game. Of that group, Adams ranks 80th with a catch rate of 52.3 percent and 94th with 9.3 yards per reception. Among all players, according to STATS, Adams is tied for ninth with seven drops.
“When you’re a guy who it means a lot to you and you want to do well, it’s going to bother you a little bit,” Adams said on Wednesday. “I’ll do my best to look past it and really just focus on, ‘What can I do this week?’ rather than sitting there drowning in my tears about the previous week if I didn’t do what I wanted to out there on the field.”
And yet, Adams keeps playing — perhaps because he at least has shown he can do it in a game, unlike Jared Abbrederis or Jeff Janis. Other than the Week 3 game vs. Kansas City, when Adams dropped out after re-injuring the ankle on the third play of the game, he hasn’t played in less than 70 percent of the snaps in any game this season. In fact, in the nine games since his return from the ankle, he’s played more than 95 percent of the snaps four times.
“We do play-time reports as a coaching staff and, obviously, the week of preparation affects how the outlook is each and every week and then the game is played,” coach Mike McCarthy said before Wednesday’s practice. “So, as far as who plays, how they play and how much they play, it’s all part of your preparation and it’s part of the execution of a game.”
Not only has he gotten playing time but he’s gotten opportunities. Randall Cobb has received a team-high 121 targets, or 8.1 per game. Adams is next with 88, even while missing all of three games and most of another. In the other 11 games, he’s been targeted 86 times, or 7.8 per game.
“It’s the defense dictating the ball going to that spot,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “We’re a progression-read offense. It’s always been. In those situations, we had good matchups and good opportunities.”
Adams just hasn’t made the most of those opportunities. He dropped a pass in the end zone against Oakland — it wasn’t a great pass but the ball slipped between his hands — and again last week against Arizona. A month ago in the home loss to Chicago, he dropped what might have been a 47-yard touchdown. That’s three drops instead of three touchdowns. And that’s not even taking into account the last play of that Chicago game, when Rodgers’ bullet to Cobb went through Adams’ fingertrips.
“Really, I’m tired of talking about that because I don’t even understand what that has to do with anything right now,” Adams said of the drops. “But it plays a part in it and you obviously think about it a little bit but then you let it go and then it’s done.”
And then Adams walked away, even with reporters wanting more. No different than the Packers, who have been left wanting more for most of the season.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.