While still the No. 1 receiving option in Green Bay, Davante Adams has not been having quite the season he or the Packers hoped for coming off a career-best year in 2018.
The star wideout made a near-record 111 catches for 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns last season in his first as the go-to option in the Packers passing game, earning him the first Pro Bowl selection of his career and seeming to pave the way for his future. But between the turf toe injury that kept him sidelined for four games and the variety of other playmakers in the Packers offense, Adams has come up significantly short from his previous marks this season.
Adams comes into Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings with just 63 receptions for 788 yards and four touchdowns through 10 performances, four of which he caught for more than 100 yards. Though, head coach Matt LaFleur hasn’t stopped searching for more ways to make the most of one of the greatest offensive weapons on his roster, including shifting him into the slot against some of Chicago’s coverages in Week 15’s win.
“I think it’s just all on a player’s ability to learn all concepts,” LaFleur told reporters last week. “I think it just speaks to his versatility, the ability to put him in there. It certainly I think can be a little change-up for the defense, so you’re not quite sure where he’s going to align. We’d like to do that with most of our guys just so you don’t get a bead on exactly where they’re going to line up on each snap.
“To be honest with you, I don’t really see any drawbacks from it. We’ve just got to make sure that we’re doing a good job of mixing in whether it’s runs or passes, so you don’t get predictable when he is in there.”
Moving around Adams also helps open up more opportunities for some of the younger receivers behind him, particularly Allen Lazard and Jake Kumerow. LaFleur has mentioned in recent weeks he wants to create more chances for both players in his system after each has continued to deliver when called upon in big moments for the Packers.
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Aaron Rodgers All For Shifting Adams Around
Aaron Rodgers got a taste of what moving Adams around to different alignments to do during last Sunday’s win against the Bears, connecting with his favorite passing target for a crucial 29-yard touchdown on fourth down that came during one of the 15 snaps where Adams lined up in the slot.
On the touchdown, Adams was lined up in the slot at the “2” receiver position in the trips-left formation, with Geronimo Allison outside at the “1” and Jake Kumerow in the “3” closest to the line of scrimmage.
Faced with a fourth-and-4, the package usually calls for three in-breaking routes but the Bears shifted into a single-high safety coverage when Eddie Jackson dropped down to cover Kumerow at the line of scrimmage.
Instead of cutting inside, the check called for Adams to go vertical with his route, and he beat Chicago nickel cornerback Buster Skrine for the first score of the afternoon and the receiver’s fourth touchdown catch in as many games.
“I think that’s the beauty in what we did last week, especially with Matt getting (Adams) ‘2’ in the slot,” Rodgers told reporters Thursday afternoon. “There’s been times over the years where we’ve put him at ‘3’ and I think ‘3’ is a dangerous spot, but you know ‘2’ can really be a dangerous spot if teams are going to play more two-high because you have to worry about some of the seam stuff that he’s so talented at doing.
“But I think him at ‘2’ or ‘3’ is a little harder for the defense to double him and he’s kind of at a danger spot there, which we like.”