Skip to main content
Publish date:

Defending Green Bay: Cardinals Understand Challenge, Even Without Davante Adams

The Arizona Cardinals host quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the 6-1 Green Bay Packers Thursday night.

The Green Bay Packers scored from 24 to 27 points in each of their last four games ahead of Thursday night's battle with the Arizona Cardinals. 

But they may take the field without the NFL's second-leading receiver, Davante Adams. He landed on the COVID-19 reserve list Monday.

No other Packers receiver has even a third of Adams' catches this season.

But Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has proven he can overcome this obstacle before. 

"(Rodgers has) missed I think six games with Adams and he's played really good ball at 6-0," Joseph said. "He's got 1,700 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, one interception and he's 6-0. I think those guys like Aaron, Tom (Brady), those guys when they don't have their main weapons, it falls back on those guys . . . Not having Adams, it's not good for them, but it's going to force Aaron to play a cleaner game."

Green Bay went 2-0 without its star target last year and 4-0 in 2019. 

Rodgers, the reigning MVP, has continued to play well over a current six-game winning streak. He is sixth in passer rating and fifth in completed air yards above expectation, according to Next Gen Stats. 

But Rodgers will be missing a teammate who constantly gets open, which will be especially tricky playing behind a banged up offensive line.

Green Bay lost center Josh Myers to a knee injury last week.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari returned to practice Oct. 20, but he remains on the physically unable to perform list. 

In addition, wideout Allen Lazard also landed on the COVID-19 list Tuesday afternoon. 

The Cardinals, meanwhile, will have edge rusher Chandler Jones back from the COVID-19 list this week, as confirmed by Joseph Tuesday.

Rodgers pointed out that the Cardinals front seven is one to take seriously. 

"The scheme is just a little different," Rodgers told local media Tuesday. "They do a number of different things, roll-through calls, different coverages. It starts with the front, real good front."

That being said, Rodgers is a future Hall of Famer and the Packers have a balanced offense. 

They throw the ball 58.8% of the time and incorporate run-pass options and play-action. 

"(Rodgers is) special, a guy who can make every single throw inside the pocket, outside the pocket, has a great relationship with his wide receivers," Arizona safety Budda Baker said. "(He's) one of those guys who's probably going to be in the Hall of Fame one day so (I'm) definitely excited to play against him."

Read More

Getting the run going will be especially important this week. 

They have two running backs with different skill sets, somewhat like Arizona with Chase Edmonds and James Conner. 

Aaron Jones is Green Bay's lead back. He's a smaller but elusive playmaker who can also be a threat in the passing game. 

A.J. Dillon is a power back who is more equipped to barrel through defenders. 

"Jones is a guy that's a home-run hitter," Joseph said. "He's faster to gaps and that's sometimes tougher than playing against big backs. We saw it against Dalvin Cook. I mean, those little fast backs get to those holes so fast. 

"The big guy, Dillon, he's 240, so it's two different types of backs, which makes it tough."

The two each average about 4.5 yards per carry.

Arizona's rush defense was its weak point earlier this season, but that has not been the case recently. It has allowed just 115 yards on the ground over the last two weeks. 

Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur calls the shots for the Packers offense. He comes from a coaching tree the Cardinals have seen often. 

He worked under both Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, NFC West coaches whom Joseph has faced numerous times.

"I think the foundation is very similar. It goes back to Shanahan and we've played that concept about five or six times already this year," Joseph said. "But every coach has his own version of it. But again, with Aaron, I mean, every play it looks different because of what he's doing on (the line of scrimmage)."

Joseph has been installing calls for this game for weeks now. 

The Cardinals defensive coordinator said its his job to give Rodgers looks he does not recognize and then it is up to the players to fill their gaps and cover. 

Joseph mentioned that he won't be able to confuse Rodgers for long, since the veteran has played 204 career games and has seen everything thrown at him. 

"It comes down to playing football, and that's the way it should be," Joseph said.

Stopping the run is a key every week. 

But without Adams, Lazard and without a full offensive line, the importance of putting Rodgers in throw-only downs could allow the pass rush to continue its recent success.