Sometimes you have to lose a battle to win a war.
Aaron Rodgers seemed to be using a national television platform on Thanksgiving night to expose just how woefully unprepared Davante Adams is at wide receiver right now.
Adams has plenty of talent of course and was supposed to take a huge step forward in his career this season, especially after All-Pro wideout Jordy Nelson went down with a torn ACL in the preseason.
The second-year player from Fresno State has been underwhelming and a large part of the problem is his preparation. He and the game’s best quarterback are often on different pages, a reality that came through again and again on Thursday as Chicago stunned the Packers, 17-13, at Lambeau Field, sending Green Bay tumbling back to second place in the NFC North after losing for the fourth time in five games.
Gone are the days where Rodgers puts up other worldly numbers from week to week. The reigning MVP connected on just 22-of-43 passes for 202 yards with a touchdown and an interception against a pedestrian Bears defense as he force-fed Adams and James Jones to limited benefit.
“I’m obviously going to have to make sure my preparation is as high as it’s ever been because we need to get on the same page, the passing game,” Rodgers said. “We’re just on different pages. When you miss throws, when I’m throwing at a certain depth, when receivers are running at certain depth — we’re obviously on different pages.”
Obviously Rodgers is being diplomatic there because this is his offense.
Much has been made of Mike McCarthy giving up the play calling this season to Tom Clements after a disastrous NFC Championship Game, but the Packers offense is Rodgers’ page so it’s incumbent for the receivers to get on it. No one has ever done it better than Nelson, although plenty of others like Randall Cobb, Jones and Greg Jennings turned from good to really good with A-Rod throwing them the football.
Adams, on the other hand, is a mediocre receiver right now that’s prone to drops. And if you are average with Rodgers throwing you the football, that’s a pretty good indication you would be having a lot of issues with a run-of-the-mill NFL signal caller delivering the ball.
Adams’ poor route running against the Bears even resulted in the ultra-rare Rodgers interception at Lambeau and his failure to come back to the football on a 4th-and-everything play in the waning seconds forced Rodgers to hum a fastball that Adams could only flail at in desperation.
“It’s a basic route,” McCarthy said when talking about the INT. “It didn’t look like it was a very good route.”
That’s being kind and Rodgers had a difficult time hiding his anger when seeing Adams give up on the play.
So just how bad has Adams been?
Over the last three weeks, when Rodgers is targeting anyone other than the 22-year-old, his numbers aren’t MVP great, but he has an acceptable 90.2 passer rating. Conversely, when trying to get the football to Adams, he’s completed only 15-for-35 passes for 129 yards for a passer rating of 41.2.
“(Adams) didn’t have a very good day (against the Bears),” McCarthy admitted. “The consistency we’re getting in certain areas needs to pick up.”
During the game NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth revealed that Rodgers called a players-only meeting a few weeks back because he was unhappy with the work ethic and preparation of the younger players, most notably Adams.
“They had a little players-only meeting this past couple weeks ago before that Minnesota game,” Collinsworth said midway through the third quarter on the telecast. “I don’t think Aaron Rodgers was too happy with the preparation schedule of some of the young players on this team. A few too many video games being played and not enough homework.”
Turkey Day was another little attempt at tough love by exposing just how bad Adams is in this offense.
The next step is looking toward Jeff Janis or perhaps Ty Montgomery when the ex-Stanford star is deemed healthy and hoping they are not next to Adams on the couch manning the other joystick.
“We need to do a better job with the little things,” McCarthy said. “If we make plays on the ball tonight, the outcome has a really good chance to change. That’s the difference between winning and losing in this league.”
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
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