How the Packers Offense Played In Each Game Without Davante Adams

Aaron Jones and Allen Lazard were the primary options when Adams didn't play

The Green Bay Packers are going to face a new offensive reality starting in 2022: the necessity to play without Davante Adams. While it’s true that it’s different to build a full-season offense without their primary receiving weapon, the Packers have handled seven games without Adams in the Matt LaFleur Era, between 2019 and 2021, and those games may be a blueprint to what is going to happen next.
The Packers have won all seven games, scoring an average of 30.57 points per game. Aaron Jones and Allen Lazard were the most-used options when Adams didn’t play, and that trend might continue now. But it’s interesting to see LaFleur’s ability to adapt with different gameplans for different opponents, without the clear need to feed only one target in every game.

Packers 34-24 Cowboys (A), Week 5, 2019
Receiving leaders:
Aaron Jones 7 rec, 75 yds
Jimmy Graham 3 rec, 41 yds
Geronimo Allison 2 rec, 28 yds

That was the Aaron Jones’ Show. The gameplan built by Matt LaFleur highlighted Jones both as a runner and as a receiver, and he amassed 182 total yards and four rushing touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers was reliable, if unspectacular, with an 85.2 passer rating. Jamaal Williams also didn't play, so the second running back was Tra Carson, with six carries and four receptions. The Packers also relied on tight ends, with three receptions for Jimmy Graham, two for Marcedes Lewis, and one for Robert Tonyan.

Packers 23-22 Lions (H), Week 6, 2019
Receiving leaders:
Allen Lazard 4 rec, 65 yds, TD
Marcedes Lewis 2 rec, 50 yds
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 2 rec, 48 yds
Geronimo Alisson 3 rec, 40 yds

The game against the Detroit Lions was the worst offensive performance by the Packers without Davante Adams since Matt LaFleur was hired as the head coach. The offense scored just 23 points, and the Packers were behind the Lions all game, until Mason Crosby hit the game-winning field goal as the clock expired. That was the Allen Lazard breakout game, and the new primary wide receiver for the Packers showed a glimpse of his potential. Running backs (four receptions for each of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams) and tight ends (two for Lewis, two for Jimmy Graham) were significant parts of the passing gameplan, but the wide receivers were much more important than in the previous game.

Packers 42-24 Raiders (H), Week 7, 2019
Receiving leaders:
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 2 rec, 133 yds, TD
Jimmy Graham 4 rec, 65 yds, TD
Jake Kumerow 2 rec, 54 yds, TD

The game against the Oakland Raiders was the best without Adams, and it was everything you could hope for in terms of target share without a dominant receiver. MVS had two big-plays, tight end Jimmy Graham was effective, and running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams combined for eight receptions and two receiving touchdowns. It was a perfect game for Aaron Rodgers, with 25/31, 429 yards, five touchdowns and a passer rating of 158.3.

Packers 31-24 Chiefs (A), Week 8, 2019
Receiving leaders:
Aaron Jones 7 rec, 159 yds, 2 TDs
Jake Kumerow 2 rec, 48 yds
Allen Lazard 5 rec, 42 yds

The Aaron Jones’ Show was back for the game against the Chiefs in Kansas City. The Chiefs were playing without Patrick Mahomes, but Matt Moore was pretty efficient. For the Packers, Jones had 159 receiving yards and two touchdowns, plus 67 rushing yards. Jamaal Williams also had one receiving touchdown (that amazing pass from Rodgers targeting the corner of the endzone). The big-bodied receivers were heavily utilized, as Allen Lazard and Jake Kumerow combined for seven receptions. Against an aggressive pass rush organized by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Rodgers was sacked five times. That was the last game without Adams in 2019.

Packers 30-27 Saints (A), Week 3, 2020
Receiving leaders:
Allen Lazard 6 rec, 146 yds, TD
Robert Tonyan 5 rec, 50 yds, TD
Jace Sternberger 3 rec, 36 yds

In a difficult game against the Saints in New Orleans, Lazard showed he could be a true WR1, at least for some games. With six receptions, 146 yards and one touchdown, with a couple of big plays sprinkled in, he dominated Marshon Lattimore and helped the Packers win the away game. Tight ends were also big parts of the gameplan, with nine receptions and two touchdowns combined between Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger, and Marcedes Lewis. The bad news was that Lazard also got injured in this game.

Packers 30-16 Falcons (H), Week 4, 2020
Receiving leaders:
Robert Tonyan 6 rec, 98 yds, 3 TDs
Jamaal Williams 8 rec, 95 yds
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 4 rec, 45 yds
Aaron Jones 5 rec, 40 yds, TD

Without Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, the gameplan had to be different than it had been the week prior. And, in fact, running backs and tight ends were heavily involved again. Robert Tonyan ended up having a career game, with three touchdowns. Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones combined for 13 receptions, and there was space for depth receivers to play — Darrius Shepherd and Malik Taylor combined for three receptions and 41 yards.

Packers 24-21 Cardinals (A), Week 8, 2021
Receiving leaders:
Aaron Jones 7 rec, 51 yds
Robert Tonyan 3 rec, 49 yds
Juwann Winfree 4 rec, 30 yds
Randall Cobb 3 rec, 15 yds, 2 TDs

The only game without Davante Adams in 2021 was a total mess. Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling were also out, so the Packers had a combination of Randall Cobb and a bunch of unproven young players. Once more, Aaron Jones and Robert Tonyan were the focus of the offense, but Tonyan also left the game with an ACL injury. Cobb had two touchdowns, but Winfree ended up being the leading wide receiver in yards.

Total stats

 

Receiving leaders in the seven games without Davante Adams between 2019 and 2021:

Aaron Jones - 7 games, 36 rec, 388 yds, 4 TDs
Allen Lazard - 5 games, 18 rec, 295 yds, 2 TDs
Marquez Valdes-Scantling - 6 games, 11 rec 253 yds, 1 TD
Robert Tonyan - 4 games, 15 rec, 220 yds, 4 TDs
Jamaal Williams - 5 games, 20 rec, 170 yds, 3 TDs
Jimmy Graham - 4 games, 12 rec, 143 yds, 1 TD
Jake Kumerow - 4 games, 7 rec, 128 yds, 1 TD
Geronimo Allison - 4 games, 10 rec, 108 yds
Marcedes Lewis - 6 games, 6 rec, 96 yds, 1 TD

Photo: Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

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Wendell Ferreira covers the Green Bay Packers for Zone Coverage and Cheesehead TV. He is a Brazilian journalist with over a decade of experience covering the NFL, soccer, NBA, and MMA. Follow him on twitter at @wendellfp  

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6 points

Comments (10)

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ricky's picture

July 12, 2022 at 09:42 am

Preaching to the choir. The problem, particularly in the playoffs, is that Rodgers would be laser focused on Adams, especially in clutch situations. Rodgers would throw to Adams in these situations, even if Adams was double covered, while other receivers were running free. Will Rodgers have another MVP worthy season this year? I believe so. Will Adams have as much success without Rodgers consistently force-feeding him the ball? We'll see.

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LLCHESTY's picture

July 12, 2022 at 09:11 pm

Adams had 11 targets in the playoff game while Jones had 10. I wish Rodgers would quit forcefeeding Jones the ball so much!!

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T7Steve's picture

July 12, 2022 at 10:09 am

The defenses will now study and have allot of film now to adjust to what the offense is doing. Not just one game stuck here or there. The Packers just have to control the games and dictate what they're going to do. "Stop us if you can, we're doing what we want not what you leave us" mentality.

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splitpea1's picture

July 12, 2022 at 11:13 am

The games chronicled really aren't a blueprint for the future because many of those receiving options are no longer with the team.

The only thing we can probably count on for sure is more even ball distribution, but how it all plays out depends on how fast the rookies can get up to speed and whether or not Tyler Davis can make an impact.

There may be some early struggles, but in the long term it's good not to be overly reliant on one receiver. This is a great opportunity for MLF to showcase what he can do with a restructured offense.

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Packer_Fan's picture

July 12, 2022 at 12:03 pm

Good analysis. Thank you.

I see for this year more reliance on the RB's and TE's. At least beginning the year. I will like to see a bit more work with Rodgers and the 1st team during the preseason to get an assessment pf how well the wr will do this year.

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Lphill's picture

July 12, 2022 at 12:43 pm

Brian Urlacher said recently on a podcast that it doesn't matter who the receiver is as long as Rodgers is the QB.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

July 12, 2022 at 12:55 pm

Awesome!

Now, as long as Adams does not return to be a Packer, Green Bay will not lose any more games! 😜

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NoNonsense's picture

July 13, 2022 at 01:01 am

Great work on the article Wendell, it certainly shows the offense can get it done without a true #1 receiver. Rodgers just needs to make quick decisions, move the chains, control the clock and score points.

It is my opinion that the parts around Rodgers have improved vs the last 7 games without Adams. They still have Jones, Dillon Lazard,Cobb and they will have Tonyan back at some point.

They are missing MVS but there is every expectation that Watson will be an upgrade to him at the very least. They also have Watkins, Rodgers, Doubs and maybe Toure.

With an improved defense and hopefully an improved special teams, the offense shouldn't need to carry the day every game. Rodgers just needs to throw to the open man not a name or a jersey number.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 13, 2022 at 02:23 am

This was a nice idea for an article and it was well executed.

I couldn't help but notice how big Jake Kumerow came up in the games without Adams available. Well, that happens: some guys like Adams block the development of younger players all the time.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

July 14, 2022 at 07:48 am

That was very true for Tonyan when Graham was with the team and already a shadow of his former self. Same goes for Love with that guy 'Rodgers' hanging around.....

:)

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