You thought it couldn’t get anymore insane, right? I’m talking of course about the Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers, and Davante Adams ménage à trois
For the third year in a row, the Green Bay Packers head coach and sainted quarterback have endlessly gushed about the abilities of Adams, the 2014 second-round draft pick wide receiver out of Fresno State. Though he’s utterly failed to live up to expectations – in three years of preseason games and through two years and two games of regular season play – the love affair continues. It’s why the Packers lost to the Minnesota Vikings last night.
Outside of McCarthy and Rodgers, does anyone still believe that Adams is the answer to the Packers’ passing woes?
Just prior to this season, we rounded up a bunch of quotes from national analytics experts, showing just how god awful Adams’ performance has been throughout his NFL career.
To update that conversation, I just went back and listened to the September 7 podcast of Matt Kelley and Davis Mattek, two opinionated analytics analysts and fantasy football forecasters. They led off their discussion by saying their listeners still want them to talk about Jeff Janis, even though he’s got a cast on his right hand.
The conversation, however, quickly turned into an indictment of Davante Adams.
Mattek said he really believes that McCarthy and Rodgers think that Davante can play, though he can’t fathom why. Heading into the 2016 season, he felt the team would once again rely heavily on Adams, but that this time around they would finally have had their fill of that strategy after maybe a month.
To paraphrase their discussion, they said the misplaced trust in Adams is mostly Aaron Rodgers’ fault. It’s Rodgers who continually sings Adams’ praises and wants him on the field. Mattek feels that all Rodgers needs to do is to tell McCarthy that Adams doesn’t give the team its best chance to win, and McCarthy will acquiesce. But according to Mattek, Aaron is a company man, a member of the old guard. Rodgers doesn’t seem to know what’s good for him or the team, when it comes to Adams.
Mattek flat-out said Adams was the worst player in the league. Kelley said he didn’t see any outlook for Davante Adams having NFL success.
Mattek predicted that there would again be Janis buzz by October, or as soon as the cast comes off his right hand. McCarthy knows he has something in Janis, according to the podcasters, which is why he hasn’t waived him or put him on the practice squad – where he’d be picked off by a smarter team.
Now, for anyone who didn’t get to watch last night’s game, let’s recap. Adams again showed some capability at running a short slant route – that’s the extent of his talent. He was shadowed all game long by Minnesota’s defensive backs, resulting in his customary three catches out of seven throws, the same stat as the week before.
Guarding Adams one-on-one most of the night was second-year cornerback Trae Waynes, the 11th overall pick in the 2015 draft. He possesses 4.31 40-yard dash speed – the fastest cornerback time at the 2015 NFL combine, and tied for seventh fastest since 2003. Waynes, who saw little action in 2015, got his chance this season due to a hamstring injury to starting cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
Even though Waynes is still a work in progress, Adams – with his 4.56 speed – was hopelessly overmatched.
Though Waynes got called at least twice for interfering with Adams, it was only because he had such tight coverage he tended to get too hands-on, and he often failed to look back to see if the ball was coming. The few times Adams gained a sliver of separation, Waynes immediately recovered and draped himself all over the frustrated receiver.
At one point the TV commentators commented that the Packers were “picking on” Waynes. I saw just the opposite.
So, despite another substandard passing game, the Packers found themselves on a final drive and in a position to tie or win this game.
What play did they call? Who did they look to? They used their best receivers, Nelson and Cobb, as decoys on the right side. They put Jared Cook, the massive and inviting new target, in the backfield to block. And they isolated Adams on the left side, in single coverage with Waynes.
McCarthy and Rodgers once again showed that “In Adams We Trust.” Rodgers never hesitated, he looked left, threw left, easy interception, game over.
That’s the play calling and decision-making Packers fans and critics have come to expect. If you were surprised by the result, then you haven’t been paying attention for the last 13 games.
Following the Packers loss to the Cardinals in last year’s playoffs, a number of national commentators openly stated that it was time for the team to move on from McCarthy. Respected long-time local beat reporter Bob McGinn even said that it’s been “25 years or more since a coach in Green Bay made more errors in allocating playing time than Mike McCarthy did this year.”
Nothing has changed this year. The Packers have more than a problem – they are in a crisis, as McCarthy is contracted through 2018. The magnitude of Green Bay’s offensive slump can no longer be glossed over or ignored.