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Davante: Sublimely Talented, Yet Seriously Limited

Packers’ star receiver Davante Adams is arguably the best receiver in the NFL; without argument he ranks in the top three. Unfortunately, however, on Sunday Davante not only did not star against the Chiefs, you might say he was a hindrance. Here’s what you might have missed in Green Bay’s good team effort in Kansas City.

Many factors went into the Packers coming away with a loss on Sunday: the special teams’ awful performance, Love’s inaccuracy, the Chiefs’ blitzing, the crowd noise, still more injuries to key players (Eric Stokes and Kenny King). Perhaps at the top of the list, however, I’d put: the inefficiency of the Love-Adams passing connection.

Jordan Love threw to Adams 14 times on Sunday; the result was six completions for a gain of 42 yards. His yards per target wound up being an even 3.0. The duo also failed to complete a pass of more than 14 yards. This is anemic productivity for any receiver. When not throwing to Adams, Love fared much better. Of the 32 times he targeted other receivers, those plays produced 190 yards – just about double the production (5.94 ypt) that Jordan achieved when throwing to Davante.

This passing futility bears scrutiny. Was Love simply not in synch with Adams? Did the Chiefs employ a defense designed to suffocate Adams? Was the play-calling not suited to a quarterback partaking in his first NFL start? Did the loud crowd prevent the Packers from making check downs when the Chiefs revealed their defensive formations? Was Love tunable to change plays as he got over center and saw the defensive alignment? Was Adams, just coming off of Covid-19 protocols, not yet 100 percent healthy (assuming he had tested positive)?

Nov 7, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (38) intercepts a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Adams’ Unique Physical Traits

Being an NFL Combine junkie, I’d start there. Most of Davante’s eleven combine numbers were around average or a bit better. His best ranking was for his vertical jump, which was at the 89th percentile, and his weight, which at 212 pound was at the 74th percentile.

Other than “hand size,” Davante’s lowest percentile ranking was for – you guessed it – the 40-yard dash, where he came in at 29th percentile among his receiver peers. We’ve seen his jumping ability in action, and we’ve seen how he can maneuver his strong upper body to come away with contested catches.

We’re also aware that he’s got among the league’s quickest feet, meaning he can burst away from the line of scrimmage, and change his direction, extremely quickly. This comes as somewhat of a surprise, because Adams’ agility scores at the combine were about average.

It’s common knowledge that Adams lacks blazing speed, though I don’t think most fans realize that his speed is well below that of even an average NFL receiver. What makes Adams almost unique in the NFL is that he is such a great receiver despite lacking great speed.

After Sunday’s game, Adams has slipped to being fourth in receiving yardage in the NFL. Other high-ranking receivers, and their dash times, are: 1st, Cooper Kupp (4.62); 2nd, Deebo Samuel (4.48); 3rd, Ja’Marr Chase (4.34); 5th, Tyreek Hill (4.29 Pro Day); 6th Marquise Brown; 7th, D.J. Moore (4.42); 8th, Chris Godwin (4.42); 9th Michael Pittman (4.52); 10th Brandin Cooks (4.33). Though the Ravens’ Brown didn’t record a dash time at the 2019 Combine, the 166-pound former Florida high school track star is blazing fast.

As you can see, Davante is almost unique, as to his lack of speed, among top NFL receivers. The other notable exception is the Rams’ Cooper Kupp, who wasn’t drafted out of Eastern Washington until the third round in 2017. Much like Adams, it took Kupp several years to become an elite pro, but he’s busted out in this his fifth season. With 924 receiving yards after eight games, he’s on pace to have over 1,960 yards by year’s end. Packer fans will get to see this meteoric star at Lambeau on November 28.

The Chiefs’ Defensive Plan

How did Adams come to fare so poorly in Sunday’s contest? The answer appears to lie in the game plan devised by the wily old (63) head coach and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo (61). Someone noted that the Chiefs blitzed Love 17 times on Sunday. Many of these blitzes featured multiple linebackers or defensive backs going all out to sack or harass the first-time starting QB, and many of them occurred on third down plays.

Aaron Rodgers would never have faced such pressure, as he has the experience and talent to hit a receiver in the spot that has been vacated by a blitzer. Given the onslaught that Love faced, he deserves a lot of credit for getting sacked just once, as well as suffering just one interception – and that pick was the result of a jump ball play in which Adams usually comes down with the ball. Unfortunately, it ended a 14-play 68-yard drive that featured Love looking his best.

When he was able to beat the pressure, his passes tended to be crisp and accurate. He simply didn’t have time to have a receiver break open on a bunch of plays in which he got a heavy rush.

Another positive for Packer fans was Love’s decisions to run with the ball. He chose to leave a crumbling pocket five times, avoiding sacks and gaining 23 yards in the process. He also became more effective, and looked more composed, as the game went on.

In his post-game remarks, coach LaFleur, as is his habit, accepted most of the blame:

“We always ask our players to be critical of themselves, and this one falls on me, squarely. . .It just comes down to the play calls and having answers to be able to protect against some of that. Anytime you go against zero pressure, if you don’t make a team pay, they’re going to keep running it. . .And unfortunately we didn’t make them pay until late in the game. So, I would anticipate that we’re probably going to see some more zero blitz until we get it corrected.”

LaFleur was referring to the full-out blitzes that the Chiefs used in almost every third down situation; the Packers failed to pick up the first down on the first nine such tries. Instead of having a quick bail-out option, LaFleur said that called too many slow-developing plays which were thwarted by the Chiefs heavy pressure on Love. Both Love and LaFleur will learn from this game, and be the better for it going forward.

Nov 7, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) throws a pass to wide receiver Davante Adams (17) during the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Critique of Jordan Love

I liked what I saw of Love in his first taste of real NFL football. Prior to the game I recall (I believe) a national sports analyst saying that if Love doesn’t play well in this game then GM Gutekunst’s bold experiment will have failed – a bit over the top, wouldn’t you say. There were many factors working against a QB in Love’s shoes: a loud and hostile stadium, the sixth out of nine games played on the road, having game planning compromised by players just being released to practice and play, the continued drama and national press coverage surrounding Rodgers, and facing some of the best minds in football in head coach Reid and DC Spagnuolo. I’m very encouraged about Love’s prospects going forward.

Of all those factors, the most telling might have been Love’s lack of practice time with the team’s starting receivers. As mentioned above, Love and Adams hooked up on only 43 percent of their 14 targets. Meanwhile, when Love threw to Cobb, Dillon, Lazard, MVS, Deguara, and Lewis, he completed 87% of those throws (14 of 16). Go figure.

I suspect the reason for this disparity has to do with Adams’ style of route-running. He’s very precise, and he breaks open in an instant, but that window also closes rapidly because most defenders are faster than he is. Therefore, a quarterback needs to anticipate Davante’s moves and deliver the ball to him the instant he breaks free.

It took Rodgers and Adams five years before Adams recorded a 1,000-yard receiving season, and it took the duo seven years of familiarity before Adams got All-Pro acclaim last season. Considerable time will have to be spent before Love and Adams develop anywhere near the symbiotic relationship that Rodgers and Adams have.

One final note. It was no surprise to me that Adams was not about to extend his contract with Green Bay while the Rodgers drama was playing out. This pair has a closeness and familiarity that each would be foolish to break up. I do believe that whatever team Rodgers plays for in 2022, Davante will be on that same roster. It’s something we’ve seen before: the Brady and Gronkowski connection in Tampa Bay.

Tags:
Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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33 Comments

  1. Jason Parker November 8, 2021

    Thanks, Rob, for helping “class up the joint”, as Monty would say

    Reply
    1. PF4L November 14, 2021

      I agree…
      .
      It’s needed after reading continuous post of hatred for Rodgers.
      .
      As if Rodgers hasn’t done anything for the Packers or us fans.
      .
      You ungrateful “fans” don’t seem to have a fucking clue what Rodgers has meant to this team.
      .
      Keep crying your tears.
      .
      You let us Packer fans acknowledge excellence and be greatful for what we’ve had.
      .
      You Rodgers haters unite and bathe in the ignorance of your miserable live’s.

      Reply
  2. Empacador November 8, 2021

    If only there were some way to predict blitzing on 3rd downs, or completion percentages to anyone not named Adams in real time as the game wears on instead of stating the obvious after the fact. Once again the Packers will be better off without Adams. In game adjustments seemed to have left with Holmgren when Holmgren went to Seattle 20+ years ago.

    Reply
  3. PF4L November 8, 2021

    Rob is right….
    Davante, was limited with a 1st time starter.
    .
    Just as all Packer receivers were limited under Brett Huntley.
    .
    I know this is hard to fathom for some…. but a lot of these QB’s arent going to make you forget Aaron Rodgers skill level.
    .
    Rodgers isn’t going to be a 1st ballot HOF’er…..by accident, or because he….got lucky.

    Reply
  4. Veej November 8, 2021

    It was Monty’s birthday recently. Thinking of him.
    Really fine article/ analysis.

    Reply
    1. PF4L November 10, 2021

      What i liked about Monty was that if his site had a glitch, he fixed the f***** thing. He didn’t let the glitch linger for a half a f….. year.

      Reply
      1. Howard November 11, 2021

        Funny. When Monty was around I would occasionally get a comment back that said “slow down your posting to fast” or something like that. My thought was how the Hell do you know how fast I’m posting. All you do is push a post comment button. As a student of cyber security maybe Jason can explain?

        Reply
  5. Mick November 9, 2021

    Good article Rob! The point you made about Love not being in tune with the starting receivers is a legitimate one. During the pre-season none of those starters played; or played very little. Plus, I don’t think Love gets many snaps with the starters during the weeks of practice. Rodgers knows when Adams makes his breaks, Love does not. I put a lot of blame on the KC loss on LaFleur. KC blitzed, or showed the intention to blitz a better part of the game. Having an empty backfield, and calling 5 to 7 step drop backs in the game plan, knowing KC was blitz crazy; doesn’t make any sense. Once again, the coach gives up on the run game (he even admitted it in his presser—— again). Having an empty backfield is just inviting the blitz! Point is Love isn’t the only reason GB lost that game. With that being said, I don’t think Love will be a quality starter in the NFL, let alone, a franchise QB. I hope I’m wrong.

    Reply
    1. Empacador November 10, 2021

      Well stated Mick. Love isn’t solely to blame. Kind of like Brian Brohm/Matt Flynn. They can’t help where they were drafted or how successful their careers were or were not. Flynn was the cup of coffee looksie and Brohm was the NFL ready guy. I completely agree Love won’t be a quality starter in his career. And that’s a shame because you don’t hear anything about him cocking off to the media about how he will make teams pay for bypassing him in the draft ala Hundley. Maybe he will prove us all wrong but I haven’t seen anything that will distinguish him as anything more than a career journeyman.

      Reply
  6. PF4L November 10, 2021

    Just so nobody gets it twisted…..
    .
    I don’t blame Jordan Love for his performance….not everyone is ready right away. He needed stuff to work on, and he clearly needs to continue to do so.
    He isn’t that different than most. Some make it, a lot don’t. It’s a fact of life wanting to be a starting QB in the NFL.
    One start doesn’t make you a HOF QB, nor does a bad start eliminate you from being a valuable starting QB in this league.
    .
    Jordan Loves day will come where he can prove himself worthy or not. That is up to him, not us.
    .
    I don’t hate or have any ill will toward Love. I have a problem with the timing and the overall cost of the pick itself.
    .
    I wish the kid luck, whether in Green Bay or wherever the opportunity will come for him.
    He just isn’t quite ready yet, as most scout reports tell you.
    Or as MLF keeps saying….he has a ways to go.
    .
    The thing i liked about MLF concerning Love…is he took the blame for his QB. He just didn’t call in the QB’s coach and fire him to take the heat off himself like that other fat bastard clown did.

    Reply
  7. Tom M November 11, 2021

    I recall hearing a story many years ago from a player who was in the huddle with a young Brett Favre and Sterling Sharpe. As the offense was huddled up, Sharp was is Favre’s ear about not getting the ball. Favre replied by telling Sharpe to, “STFU, I decide where I’ll throw the ball not you.” Whether that exchange ever happened I can’t say for sure. It’s certainly inline with Favre’s personality. Because his teammates loved him, Favre could get away with it. Jordan Love doesn’t have Brett Favre’s personality. Love was clearly better when he threw to all his receivers and when he had time. I’ve said this before, a big time WR isn’t always a young QB’s best friend. Not if that WR can manipulate their young QB. Baker Mayfield was always better without OBJ. These diva WR’s almost always need a big time QB to keep them in check. But I agree, I think wherever Rodgers and Adams land next year, they’ll be together. And Rodgers will take less money to make it happen. “Micheal and Scottie” need each other to pad their stats.

    Reply
  8. Mick November 11, 2021

    According to Brandon Carwiles’ article on Packers Wire; the Packers have offered a vet minimum salary to Odell Beckham Jr. (reportedly 500K) He is in his 8th year in the league, 2 time all-pro with 5- 1000 yard seasons. He has narrowed down his choice of teams between the Packers, Saints and the Chiefs. (Cough) ————-Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Mitch Anthony November 11, 2021

      A 16 year old chick with a tire fire raging between her ears, not only no but hell NO. This would be the second coming of a Marty type personality brought to a Packer locker room. Someone who overdoses on Vitamin “I” and wants everything about I, me, my. I guess I never thought the talent outweighed the baggage you get with OBJ.

      Reply
      1. Mick November 12, 2021

        Good stuff Mitch! My thought was that the last thing LaFleur and his team needed, was another distraction to come to town. I watched a couple of Browns games and witnessed OBJ attempting to catch passes with alligator arms. He couldn’t mesh with Manning in NY or Mayfield in Cleveland. That temper tantrum he threw in NY a few years ago, is forever etched in my head. Even though he was injured part of last year, his production has declined every year since he was a rookie. I remember reading that somewhere, just can’t put my brain on it. That’s saying something considering he is now in his 8th year.

        Reply
  9. Deepsky November 12, 2021

    Rodgers first 4 games he started, Greg Jennings had 3 100+ games, a total of 482 yards of offense. Favre’s first 3 games, Sterling Sharpe had 2 100+ games and 309 yards of offense. Rodgers got a lot of practice time with Jennings, but I doubt Favre got much as Majjkowski was still the starting QB in early 1992. Sterling Sharpe broke the single season reception record in 1992 with Favre, a QB he never practiced with. I think there can be something said about the game plan and not accounting for all the blitzing, but I really think it comes down to game speed and arm accuracy. I’m not willing to write off Love yet, heck even Tom Brady looked pretty bad his first few games, but so far he looks like a lot of the flop QBs the packers had in the 70s and 80s. Maybe the Packer luck is over and its time for another generation of ugly games.

    Reply
    1. PF4L November 12, 2021

      Real talent……generational talent…..HOF talent…..
      .
      Is born and proven…… over the long hall, years and years, and years of trials, tribulations, failures, success’s.
      *****************
      In the grand scheme of things, what somebody did his first 4 starts, or his first 2 starts, is one tiny notch above useless information, when judging a mans career in the the NFL.

      Reply
  10. Tom M November 13, 2021

    OBJ played in NY and Cleveland. His final choice came down to LA or GB. With both teams SB chances equal. It isn’t surprising then he chose the Rams. A bigger market to fit his bigger personality. I’m fine with that. However, now we have to listen to clueless Aaron Rodgers fanboys tell us, “Brian Gutekunst didn’t do enough to help by getting Rodgers another weapon and signing OBJ.” Sure, Rodgers doesn’t bother to help himself by getting vaccinated and costs us a game. But I’m sure that’s somehow Brian Gutekunst fault too. Not sure OBJ and Rodgers could co exist on the same team. Both with such massive egos. And just how would that effect “Michael and Scottie’s” bromance? Especially in a contract year when stats always mean more than championships. Just what we would have needed, more drama. No thanks. That win in Arizona seems ages ago.

    Reply
    1. PF4L November 13, 2021

      Funny…i haven’t seen any post blasting Gute for not getting OBJ.
      .
      But then again, much of what you write has no basis in reality.

      Reply
    2. Dean November 13, 2021

      Tom, Adams was vaccinated and missed a game with Covid — did you blast Adams for getting covid?
      .
      Just stop dissing people that exercise their right to choose to pass on a vaccine that even the companies that make them do not want liability for. Why is it that the companies will not stand behind the vaccines if they are so safe?
      .
      Doing my part to keep the USA the home of the free and the brave.

      Reply
      1. Empacador November 13, 2021

        Of course he won’t blast Adams Dean. He chose the Gutekunst route to get his digs in at Rodgers. Like Gutekunst is some sort of genius who can do no wrong. Sounds familiar doesn’t it, simply change the name and a new fanboi is born. See how that works? There’s enough of his post history to see the pattern. His sole objective for being here is to shit on Rodgers at every opportunity while feebly attempting to butt heads with PF4L and many of the other long time posters here who don’t see the world through his green n gold colored lenses.

        Reply
      2. Jason Parker November 13, 2021

        Adams isn’t an attention whore liar about it though. Key distinction.

        Reply
        1. PF4L November 14, 2021

          Awe..still hurt feelings?
          Sniffle…..
          .
          Real men get over petty issues.
          .
          Key distinction

          Reply
      3. Tom M November 14, 2021

        Dean, once again, Aaron Rodgers lied to everyone. He put everyone one at risk for blatantly not following NFL protocol due to that lie. And he was fined by the NFL accordingly. He thinks he’s smarter than everyone else and is above the rules. That’s my issue. Davante Adams didn’t play the “immunized” card and certainly wasn’t fined by the NFL. Nor did Adams go off on a pseudo science rant and quote MLK to justify his lies. Notice the difference? I don’t believe that the vaccine should be mandated. Just tell me where you stand and follow the rules one way or the other. That seems fair to me. I work in the medical field. I understand you can get COVID after getting the vaccine. I’m exposed to COVID every day at the hospital at which I work. I see first hand how devastating it can be to the unvaccinated. But that’s your risk if you choose politics or “internet research” over science. Now, to address Empacador’s point. You can’t be an Aaron Rodgers fanboy without having someone to blame when the self proclaimed “Micheal Jordan” of the NFL fails. And he always does. That whipping boy is always Brian Gutekunst. Aaron Rodgers fanboys will tell you, “ Rodgers may not win championships, but look at his pretty stats!” And, “if we only had a competent GM that would help Aaron.” These are the recurring themes you hear over and over here. I’m of the opinion that Brian Gutekunst is a very good GM. And that Aaron is more stat whore than GOAT. He’s far more Drew Brees than Tom Brady. I understand that’s blasphemy to most. Aaron Rodgers never took ownership of his shitty performance in the 4th quarter of the NFCC game. Anymore than he took ownership of his unvaccinated status by telling us he was “immunized.” Notice a pattern here? When you compare yourself to Micheal Jordan then you automatically set yourself up to be judged by a higher standard. I therefore Judge Aaron Rodgers by that higher standard even if Aaron Rodgers fan boys do not. Rodgers is no Micheal Jordan. Aaron Rodgers could bite the head off a baby kitten as part of some satanic ritual and Aaron Rodgers fan boys wouldn’t bat an eye as long as Rodgers threw for 300 yards and 3 TD’s today against the Seahawks. We can respectfully disagree Empacador or you can turn it into personal attacks. Just don’t cry like a little girl the way PF4L does when it comes right back at ya…..

        Reply
        1. PF4L November 14, 2021

          How long do you Ladies plan on whining about Rodgers. Repeating the same shit over and over and over.
          .
          Weeks? Months?..Years?
          .
          Consider putting on your big boy pants ladies.
          .
          Do the right thing and pray your Vikings can finish the season at 8-9.
          .
          SKOL

          Reply
  11. Tom M November 13, 2021

    And there shouldn’t be PF4L. But that doesn’t mean you, Ferris, MMSUCKS, and Cheese won’t start. You and your girlfriends have been singing that song for two years now. Here’s reality sweetheart. Brian Gutekunst has put together a championship defense. The best RB combo in the league in Jones and Dillion. With Dillion emerging as a star. Completely revamped the OL, with Rodgers still having the best WR in the game. He has much more than most NFL QB’s and if your the self proclaimed “Michael Jordan” of the NFL. That should be plenty. Before he came down with COVID, Aaron Rodgers went of the Pat MacAfee podcast and proclaimed the communication with Brian Gutekunst was “great.” Maybe tinker bell is starting to realize this is a pretty good gig here in Wisconsin. And that his best bet is to try and stay right where he’s at. One thing is certain. They’ll be no adoring fans in Denver or Pittsburgh that will hang on every word like the ones who post here. He’s been universally mocked and criticized for his COVID actions. With only clueless Packer fans to defend him. Little Aaron may realize, there’s no place like home….

    Reply
    1. PF4L November 14, 2021

      G D Viking fans.
      .
      Never shut up or know where they aren’t welcome.
      .
      SKOL

      Reply
      1. PF4L November 14, 2021

        Let me translate every Tommi and JP post concerning Rodgers.
        Which is all of them.
        .
        Translation…..
        .
        Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

        Reply
        1. Jason Parker November 14, 2021

          Haven’t triggered you in awhile. I miss this sweet, sweet taste I am tasting at this moment. I must savor it.

          Reply
          1. PF4L November 14, 2021

            Well…can you stop whining long enough to savor it?
            .
            I’m more concerned you two will run out of tissues

            Reply
          2. Jason Parker November 14, 2021

            That’s right. Let it out. This is a safe place.

            Reply
          3. PF4L November 15, 2021

            Holy shit….
            .
            Somebody call the burn unit!!

            Reply
  12. Ed November 14, 2021

    I thought that there was an agreement to ignore Tommy,
    with the hope he’d eventually crawl back in his hole.

    Reply
    1. Ferris November 14, 2021

      That is what I thought too. He continues with his horrible grammar and I have said nothing. He mentions me in his post and I say nothing. I will continue to resist.

      Reply

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