Oddly, Adams’ Return Meant Jones – And Overall Production – Vanished

The Green Bay Packers' inexplicable offensive demise
Publish date:

You know what’s stranger than the NFL’s post-bye blues?

The Green Bay Packers’ offensive production with and without Davante Adams.

In the first four games of the season with Adams in the lineup, the Packers averaged 21.3 points per game with high-game totals of 27 point vs. Denver in Week 3 and again against Philadelphia in Week 4. The Packers went 3-1 in those games.

In four games with Adams sidelined by a toe injury, the Packers averaged 32.5 points per game. Only Houston, which averaged 33.5 points per game, scored more during that span. Green Bay scored at least 31 points in three of those games – its only three games of 30-plus points all season – with a low-game total of 23 points vs. Detroit. The Packers went undefeated.

In three games with Adams back in the lineup, the Packers have averaged 14.3 points per game, including a mere touchdown in a 37-8 massacre at San Francisco on Sunday night. Green Bay is 1-2 since Adams’ return, with a high-game total of 24 points in the win vs. Carolina.

Without Adams, the Packers leaned heavily on running back Aaron Jones, and he delivered as a rusher and receiver. From Game 5 through Game 8, Jones’ 4.93-yard rushing average ranked seventh among all players with at least 30 carries. It was as a receiver where Jones really made his mark. Jones led the team with 22 receptions, 280 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Jimmy Graham and Allen Lazard were next with 12 receptions, Marquez Valdes-Scantling was next with 203 yards, and fellow running back Jamaal Williams tied Jones with three touchdowns; nobody else had more than one.

Added together, Jones was third in the NFL with 551 yards from scrimmage during the second quarter of the season. Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey was first with 615 yards, though his 64-yard advantage came with 19 more touches. Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook was second with 592 yards from scrimmage but that came with 22 more touches.

Jones had a team-high 27 targets during that span. During the past three games, Jones has been targeted just four times in the passing game. He caught one of those passes for minus-1 yard. He was targeted only once against the 49ers, a third-down throw that was broken up.

From Game 5 through Game 8, Jones ranked second in the league with 2.79 yards per pass route among backs targeted at least 10 times, according to Pro Football Focus. In Games 1 through 4 and 9 through 11, that is down to just 1.21.

Some of that is based on opponent. The last two defenses, Carolina and San Francisco, are tied for the third-fewest receptions allowed to running backs. As he's consistently done, coach Matt LaFleur pointed the finger at himself. 

“That falls on me right there,” LaFleur said. “I’ve got to do a better job of making sure he’s in the game when some of those plays are called for the halfbacks.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers has steered the passing attack sharply through Adams. From Game 9 through Game 11, Adams was targeted 33 times – fourth-most in the league and almost as many as the next three Packers combined (Williams, 15; Lazard, 12; Geronimo Allison, nine; for a total of 36). The payoff hasn’t been there individually (Adams ranks 24th over the past three games with 202 receiving yards) or for the team (Green Bay is 28th in scoring).

How can the addition of a premier player actually make the unit worse?

“I think there’s multiple variables to that question,” LaFleur said. “I think some of it is we’ve played two of the better defenses in the league, and that’s never an excuse. You still have to perform on offense, but that is a credit to a couple of the teams we’ve played. I do think we’ve maybe been overly reliant to put him in spots to get the ball. I just think we have to do a better job as a staff.”

Offensive production with and without Adams

Games 1-4 (with Adams)

Green Bay scoring: 21.3 (17th)

Rodgers’ passer rating: 95.4 (15th)


Games 5-8 (without Adams)

Green Bay scoring: 32.5 (second)

Rodgers’ passer rating: 118.7 (second)


Games 9-11 (with Adams)

Green Bay scoring: 14.3 (28th)

Rodgers’ passer rating: 81.9 (16th)