It was Davante Adams’ job to step up to the plate in 2015 for the Green bay Packers – and ‘disappointing’ would be a polite way to summarize his performance.
Touted as the preseason MVP by Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy, and relied upon to shoulder responsibility after a Jordy Nelson season-ending surgery, Adams did not live up to what seemed like manageable expectations.
As a result, in part, the Packers passing offense tied for 25th in the NFL and fell outside of the top 10 for the first time ever with Aaron Rodgers at starting quarterback.
So, let me pose this question: is our sample size large enough to call Adams a bust?
Statistically, the answer is yes.
Often times, Adams seemed a little like a scapegoat for the lack of offensive production – but the numbers indicate that he was among the least efficient receivers in the NFL.
According to Football Outsiders’ advanced metrics—Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) – Adams’ overall rating in 2015 was second-last among receivers who qualify (targeted at least 50 times), and better only than Tavon Austin of the St. Louis Rams.
In layman’s terms, DYAR ranks a wide receiver’s overall value, while DVOA ranks a wide receiver’s value-per-play. Of the 87 receivers targeted 50 or more times, Adams was No. 86 in DYAR and No. 84 in DVOA.
Adams’ yard-per-catch average (9.7) exceeded only Austin (9.1) and the Lions’ Golden Tate (9.0), and was the worst the Packers had seen since 1951.
Adams had just one touchdown reception in 2015 – a number that seems nearly impossible for a receiver that was healthy most of the season and the reigning NFL MVP throwing him the ball.
Although General Manager Ted Thompson has never missed on a WR/TE drafted in the top three rounds – Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb are among the pass catchers drafted in either Rd. 2 or Rd. 3 – it might be time we chalk up Adams as a miss.
I’m tempted to say that he deserves one more season to earn his keep, but with Nelson returning and the emergence of Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis, Adams’ productivity does not warrant playing time. There is also the potential of Ty Montgomery making an impact after an ankle injury cut his rookie campaign short, and the chance Thompson uses a Day 1 or Day 2 pick on a wide receiver.
One play in particular stands out to me in my “does-this-player-really-want-to-be-on-the-field?” evaluation of Adams.
Week 12. Thanksgiving night – Packers v. Bears. Brett Favre’s name and retired No. 4 jersey revealed on Lambeau Field’s North façade at halftime. An ailing, yet exuberant Bart Starr emerged from the tunnel to greet Favre and congratulate him.
The Packers trailed 17-13 with just over three minutes in the fourth quarter, but were driving on the Chicago defense and at midfield. Rodgers looked to Adams on a routine slant, and Adams was bumped off of his route by Chris Prosinksi, gave zero effort to fight through the screen and allowed an otherwise on-target pass from Rodgers to drift into the arms of Tracy Porter.
Remarkably, the Packers had another chance to take the lead with under 30 seconds to play. A fourth-and-goal pass thrown to Adams, that was objectively a touch high, went through the hands of Adams.
The Bears won 17-13.
I’ll admit, one play should not determine the fate of a player … but numbers indicate that Adams is consistently lackluster.
When factoring a healthy Jordy Nelson into any equation, there is no legitimate playing time that Adams should see. Though he’ll likely be on the 2016 Packers roster, we should not consider Adams as the Packers look to remedy their offense.