Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers become Packers' record-setting connection
GREEN BAY – Long before Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams was gobbling up touchdown passes on a weekly basis from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Adams was a third stringer. In his 2014 rookie season, Adams was third on Rodgers’ target priority list behind Pro Bowl receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
Seven years later, both Adams and Rodgers are ticking off individual milestones, breaking records set by the men whose names are plastered to the walls of Lambeau Field. Together, Adams and Rodgers immortalized themselves as the most prolific duo in team history in completions during the Packers’ win over the Tennessee Titans.
“I've said for so long that Charles (Woodson) was the best player that I've played with,” Rodgers said. “And Charles could dominate in a way that I've never seen a nickel corner dominate before. It's probably time to start putting Davante in that conversation because he's that type of player. He's a special player.”
Adams’ 11 receptions, 142 yards and three touchdowns against the Titans boosted the Adams-Rodgers connection to 492 completions in seven seasons. The tandem beat quarterback Brett Favre and wide receiver Donald Driver, who connected for 486 completions in their nine seasons together. Rodgers and Nelson trail with 469 completions over a nine-season period as well.
When Adams faces single coverage against any defensive back, he creates a desirable matchup for the Packers’ offense. The Titans gave Adams his opportunities Sunday, which sparked the Adams-Rodgers connection. On Adams’ second touchdown of the night, Rodgers hit Adams on a fade route with cornerback Adoree’ Jackson running in his wake.
“The thing that helped us is you play against a really solid defense, solid team like that, it's actually better for a player like me because they naturally have more confidence in their guys and say we'll let him, even though they didn't play too much man to start off the game first half or even into the third, they weren't playing a whole lot of man coverage,” Adams said. “But I noticed that I get a lot less doubles when we start playing against good teams like this because they say, hey, just go out there and cover this guy.”
Adams faced single coverage again in the fourth quarter on 3rd and 10 at the Titans’ 41-yard line. Lined up across from cornerback Malcom Butler, Adams released quickly from the line of scrimmage on a go route. Adams laid out to haul in Rodgers’ pass, picking up a 32-yard completion and a new set of downs on what would ultimately become a scoring drive.
“We had a draw called with an option to get to a pass and I kind of alerted a slightly different adjustment on that one,” Rodgers said. "I wanted to take a shot with Davante. I figured they were either going to play super soft or up big time, I didn’t think there was going to be any in-between. And based on the pre-snap I could tell that there was something coming and they brought heavy pressure.
“I just tried to get the ball up early to Davante. He made a spectacular catch. I mean, it’s a spectacular catch in September, but we’re talking about Dec. 27 in this type of weather. It’s cold, the ball is slick. He’s a special, special player.”
With three touchdowns against the Titans, Adams became the third player in NFL history to have 100+ receptions and 16+ receiving touchdowns in a season, according to NFL Research. He joins Pro Football Hall of Fame receivers Cris Carter (1995) and Randy Moss (2003) as the players to do so.
Adams’ accomplishments carry significance at home, too. His 17 touchdowns this season ties wide receiver Don Hutson (1942) for the second-most in franchise history. He’s just one away from tying Sterling Sharpe (1994).
But the individual successes aren’t earned alone. Every connection that Adams has made with Rodgers, all 492 of them, has helped him chase records among the league’s all-time best.
“Being with (Rodgers), it's allowed me to know what true greatness is,” Adams said. “I don't get too excited off minor things at this point just seeing how he is. He goes out and throws the ball a little bit behind me and I catch it and get 15 yards. He's apologizing and pissed off at himself that he didn't lead me to be able to get a touchdown.
“So just being around him has just made it so much better for me, made this game so much more fun and obviously the success has come due to having a strong guy like him being able to throw me the ball as well.”
Rodgers excelled against the Titans, too – he notched his 13th game with a 100+ passer rating this season, which tied his performance in his 2011 MVP year. He was nearly perfect when targeting Adams, save for one pass that resulted in an interception.
Together, the Adams-Rodgers connection has helped put the Packers’ offense at the top of the league in scoring (474 points) as they eye a deep playoff run.
“I have a ton of respect for him as a person, I think he’s a fantastic human being and it’s an honor to play with him,” Rodgers said. “I love his approach. He’s such a great competitor. He’s very hard on himself but he has positive self-talk which I think is a great combination. He’s a sponge and he’s always been a sponge. He soaks up so many things from all the interactions and it’s just fun to be able to have the unspoken communication with a guy like that.”