By now, the dust has started to settle after last week’s blockbuster trade shipping WR Davante Adams to Las Vegas. The Packers plans are far from finalized at the receiver position, but reading the tea leaves – it’s looking like MVS, another veteran, and a draft pick will likely round out the roster. We knew the Packers WR room would look different next year, but the Adams trade ensures that the Packers offense as a whole will be entirely different.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Last year’s playoff game was the perfect example of why an offense relying on a single weapon is less than ideal. Adams finished that game with just over 40% of total targets, including 11/13 among wide receivers. And the film matched these numbers. It was clear that Rodgers was force-feeding Adams, with no play illustrating this more than the last pass of the game.
Rodgers heaves a ball to Adams in double coverage, bypassing Allen Lazard who is coming wide open on a deep over route across the middle of the field. This game was extreme example of this, but the theme has been the same in the regular season. Adams leads all receivers in target share over the past 4 seasons at 27.6%.
Now – to be clear, I am in no way saying that having a superstar WR who commands 10+ targets per game is a bad thing. No matter what veteran or draft pick the Packers bring in, they will miss his ability to instantly win his matchup. But in the past 2 postseasons Rodgers has shown that old habits die hard. He has reverted to more “hero ball” and clearly zoning in on Adams. In their last 2 playoff losses – Adams has out-targeted all other receivers combined 26 to 15.
The great thing, too, is that Matt LaFleur has shown he is perfectly capable of designing an offense predicated on spreading the ball around. In 2020, the Packers were a historically efficient offense. And Adams had a great year, with over 1300 yards and 18 TDs. The Packers also led the entire NFL in average yards of separation at 3.9 – ahead of the Chiefs and Patriots at 3.8 and 3.7 yards, respectively. But Adams (3.2) was only 3rd on the Packers in this category – with both Robert Tonyan (4.2) and Allen Lazard (3.7) ahead of him. This obviously speaks more to play design than pure route running prowess.
So with that in mind, it becomes more clear what to expect from the Packers in 2022. Both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will be heavily involved on the ground and through the air. They will also likely rely on heavier personnel with Allen Lazard, Josiah Deguara, Robert Tonyan to run the ball, and set-up a few shot plays when the defense permits. And with one of the most efficient quarterbacks in league history, the Packers won’t need to rely on a deep passing attack to put points on the board.——————
Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.