Three days later, the anger hadn’t settled. Davante Adams, standing at his locker, knew what was coming Sunday night. The questions. The interrogation. He was ready.
But he wasn’t happy. “Pissed off,” Adams described himself. His cover-your-eyes performance against the Chicago Bears was still fresh. After three days, Adams couldn’t shake it.
“It’s hard to let it go,” Adams said. “You really want to have that, they call it, the DB (defensive back) mentality. Just let it go, and go to the next play. Forget about it. But it’s hard.”
No game hinges on one player, but Adams, the second-year wide receiver, was a significant reason the Green Bay Packers lost to their rival at home Thanksgiving night.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw 11 passes his way. Adams dropped more (three) than he caught (two). One drop, on a post pattern, could have gone for a 47-yard touchdown.
In a four-point loss, those “missed opportunities” are hard to forget.
“I try not to drop any ball,” Adams said. “It’s not a great feeling. You don’t want to have moments like this where that’s all they’re talking about now.”
Adams dodged that moment Thursday night. After the game, while teammates answered for their own mistakes, he couldn’t be found in the Packers’ locker room. No interviews. The emotions were too raw.
Even worse, Adams was mostly a no-show on the field. Publicly, his head coach said Adams struggled. Too many mental errors, Mike McCarthy said. Too little production. Adams was Rodgers’ most-targeted receiver against the Bears, and the quarterback had a zero passer rating on his 11 throws.
Clearly, Adams was among the players Rodgers referred to when the quarterback said he and his receivers were “on different pages” Thursday night. The Packers were driving in the fourth quarter, pushing the football to midfield with 3:23 left. Rodgers targeted Adams, whom he expected to run a quick slant. Instead, Adams curled his route behind Bears safety Chris Prosinksi.
Rodgers’ pass, thrown directly to Bears cornerback Tracy Porter, became his fourth interception of the season. It wasn’t the Packers’ death nail, but it altered the game.
“Obviously,” Adams said, “Aaron was thinking something. He was hoping I was going to come out of it a little quicker. I tried to get around (Prosinksi), ran into him and that's what happened.”
Miscommunication with Rodgers doesn’t help receivers earn future targets. Adams understands the significance – and difficulty – of keeping his quarterback’s trust. Nothing is more important. Without that connection, receivers turn invisible. Passes stop coming their way. Their role in the offense diminishes.
Adams admitted it’s been a challenge finding rhythm in the passing game. From play to play, he said, there are “different variables” hampering communication.
“Each play is different,” Adams said. “It’s not going to be perfect, like we draw it up and do it in practice. Nobody is hitting Aaron. So I’m going to be able to get my depth – do this, do that – and he’s going to be able to throw a better ball than if he’s getting pressure. And I’m going to be able to catch it better than if somebody is over my back.
“It's not going to be a perfect route every time. It's not going to be perfect. We've got to click on the opportunities that we do have and get on the same page as much as possible.”
It’s unlikely Adams’ role in the offense will be reduced much. He isn’t the only receiver struggling to get on the same page with Rodgers.
James Jones caught none of his six targets against the Bears. Jeff Janis still hasn’t carved a role for himself in the passing game. Ty Montgomery, through no fault of his own, has missed the past five games with a sprained ankle.
Behind Randall Cobb, who’s having a productive if unspectacular season, the Packers don’t appear to be deep with viable receiving options. Which is how Adams got a team-high 11 targets despite a dreadful performance. A heavy workload is necessary.
Earlier this month, there was hope Adams would be the Packers’ savior. He missed all of October – almost four full games – with a sprained ankle. The offense cratered in his absence.
Adams has had his moments since returning Nov. 1. He has 31 catches for 230 yards in the past eight games, second to Cobb. Still, Adams has yet to score a touchdown this season, and his overall production has made little difference. The Packers’ offense is averaging fewer than 20 points per game since Adams’ return, and the team has lost four of the past five.
“It’s tough to play consistently,” Rodgers said, “when you’re dealing with an injury. I think that’s been hampering him a little bit, but I don’t think anybody’s lost confidence in him. He’s just got to go out there and continue do the things he’s been doing and showing us all year, and just try to be as consistent as possible.”
It’s also tough to be consistent when dwelling on the past. The Packers, playing consecutive games on Thursdays, are in the midst of a strange week. How strange? On Sunday, the team had its typical Wednesday practice and game plan installation.
Adams knows he needs to let last week go. There’s nothing he can do to change what happened. At his locker Sunday, the disappointment in his voice palpable, Adams wished he didn’t have to wait three more days before his next opportunity.
“I could play right now,” he said. “Obviously, you get down on yourself a little bit, because you know you want to perform better than you did, but I'm ready to get out there and have a better game than I did last time.”
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