Since the Packers traded Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders in March, we have often heard fans and members of the media mention the Packers 7-0 record in the Matt LaFleur era in games that Adams has missed.
So, what can we learn from those seven games that we can apply to the upcoming season when Rodgers’ favorite target will no longer be with the team?
The seven games in question are:
2019 Week 5 at Dallas Packers 34, Dallas 34
2019 Week 6 vs Detroit Packers 23, Detroit 22
2019 Week 7 vs Oakland Packers 42, Oakland 24
2019 Week 8 at Kansas City Packers 31, Kansas City 24
2020 Week 3 at New Orleans Packers 37, New Orleans 30
2020 Week 4 at Atlanta Packers 30, Atlanta 16
2021 Week 8 at Arizona Packers 24, Arizona 21
The Packers averaged 31.6-points per game in these seven contests. Over the last three seasons, the Packers averaged 26.5 points per game in 2021, 31.8 points per game in 2020 and 23.5 points per game in 2019. The point totals were statistically higher without Adams in the lineup.
Rodgers total numbers were also comparable to his overall statistics. He completed 164-of-239 passes in those seven games which is a completion percentage of 68.6. He threw for 2,049 yards which is an average of 292.7-yards per game. He threw 18 touchdowns and just one interception while being sacked 12 times. In five of the seven games, his longest completion was 30-or-more yards.
In the seven games without Adams, Rodgers average yards per attempt was 8.6. In 2021, his average yards per attempt was 7.7 in 2020 8.2 and in 2019 7.0. Again, statistically, Rodgers had better numbers in Adams’ absence than when he was in the lineup.
Rodgers also threw the ball around more to different receivers without Adams in the lineup. In 2021, for example, Adams missed only one game. He had 169 targets, roughly 2.5 times more than the next highest player who was Aaron Jones with 65.
For the season, Rodgers targeted wide receivers (including Adams) 364 times, tight ends were targeted 99 times and running backs 106 times and Aaron Rodgers was officially targeted once when he caught a pass that was batted back to him. So, wide receivers were targeted 63.8 percent of the time for the entire season, tight ends 17.4 percent and running backs 18.6 percent.
In the seven games Adams was not in the lineup over the last three seasons, the numbers changed dramatically. Rodgers threw less frequently to his wide receivers, targeting them just 44.5 percent of the time. The running backs saw a big gain in targets to 35.2 percent of attempts and tight ends were up sightly to 20.3 percent of targets.
The Packers offense also had one receiver step up in nearly all these games. In six of the seven contests, a running back was targeted more than any other player. Four times, Aaron Jones was the most targeted player. Former Packers running back Jamaal Williams was the top target twice while Allen Lazard led the team in targets in one game.
Rodgers tended to spread the ball around more to different receivers more frequently rather than locking on to one player like he often did with Adams.
In those seven games, the Packers averaged 392 total yards of offense. In 2021, the team averaged 378 yards per game, in 2020 the average was 401.1 while in 2019 the team averaged 363.3. LaFleur and Rodgers found a way to keep gaining yards at roughly the same rate even without their top receiver.
The Packers have still had 100-plus yard games in Adams’ absence. Against New Orleans in 2020, Lazard caught six passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Against Atlanta a week later, nobody went over 100 yards, but both Williams and tight end Robert Tonyan were over 90 yards with Tonyan catching three touchdown passes.
When the Packers hosted the Raiders in 2019, Marquez Valdes-Scantling gained 133 yards on just two catches including a 74-yard scoring play.
One week later against the Chiefs, Jones caught seven passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Different receivers stepped up and had big games depending on who was available and who what the matchups were.
Obviously, seven games are a small sample size and I am not suggesting that the Packers are better off without Adams, who is one of the top receivers in the NFL if not the best. But the numbers show that the Packers offense is more than capable of putting up strong numbers without Adams being in the lineup.
To keep the production going, it will take skilled game planning by LaFleur and the coaching staff, good work by the offensive line to protect Rodgers and a willingness by the reigning MVP to spread the ball around and trust the system. The team’s receivers will also have to step up their game across the board. But the statistical evidence suggests the Packers can get the job done. Now they just need to go out and do it.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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