One needn’t have watched a lot of the Packers offense to realize the connection Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams formed over their eight years together. The countless back shoulder throws and freelanced routes showed a chemistry that only thousands of hours of preparation can produce. And the numbers certainly speak for themselves. But for a QB/WR tandem, nothing shows more trust than third downs.
Rodgers repeatedly counted on his best playmaker on third down. Adams had 23 catches on third down resulting in conversions – good for 5th in the NFL. His releases off the line and ability to win quickly made him an easy safety net. This skillset is something no one on the current roster can replicate.
And with two rookie pass catchers likely to play a role, it is harder to find options that Rodgers can count on. But Green Bay will still have opportunity to replicate their third down success without Adams. One of those comes with Allen Lazard, who stepped into a WR2 role a season ago and had his best year as a pro. Lazard has reliable hands and is a smooth route runner. And though he cant create separation like Adams can, he proved just as reliable when it mattered. 70% of Lazard’s catches in 2021 resulted in first downs (16th in the NFL). And this held up on a per target basis, where he was 12th in the league.
Add into the mix Rodgers’ good friend Randall Cobb. He had somewhat of a resurgence in 2021 before missing time with a core muscle injury that required surgery. But 21 of his 28 catches resulted in first downs, and his rapport with Rodgers can’t be disputed.
The big key to the Packers third down success in 2022 comes from their run game. With one of the top RB tandems in the league, they will likely continue to try and put themselves in manageable third down situations by staying ahead of the chains. And in 2021, they were able to do just that, ranking 7th in first down success rate.
Clearly, there is no one player that is going to replace the production of Davante Adams. But without a true WR1 it will be an all hands on deck approach to replicate their third down success. And with an offense that will likely depend on long methodical drives, this becomes an even more important task.——————
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.