GREEN BAY – Davante Adams will admit he’s impatient.
Both a realist and a true believer in what this Packers offense can do, Adams knows it was only the first game, and the struggles can get worked out. But he’s also hoping others share his desire to push for progress, and pronto.
“We’ve got plenty of time,” Adams said after practice Wednesday, before quickly stopping himself. “I try not to think about that – we’ve got time – because that tends to make people drag their feet. I’m an urgent guy. I like to get better quick. I like to see results fast.”
He’s not alone in that regard, as Head Coach Matt LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have told each other they need to be better than they were last week in Chicago, starting Sunday in the home opener vs. Minnesota.
Adams is readily taking his share of the responsibility, too, because when he has just four catches for 36 yards and the team scores only 10 points, he naturally wants to do more.
Not in a “feed me the ball” sense, because that’s not Adams’ style. But as a leader in the locker room, in the receiver room and on the practice field, Adams is very aware of the large-scale impact he can and does make. So if the offense doesn’t live up to his own expectations, which were high heading into Week 1, it’s going to bother him and he’s going to feel the need to do something about it.
“It’s no secret I’m a big part of this offense and how it moves,” he said. “If I’m not in a position where I can make a play … I’ll never complain and say I need the ball more, me-me-me. But I’m one of the ones who puts the ball in the end zone, and I like to do it a lot.
“It gets to me because I expect a lot from this offense with the personnel that we have.”
That other personnel may need to threaten defenses more for Adams to do his thing. On one play against the Bears, he looked across the line of scrimmage and saw three defenders in position to guard him on a crossing route. He’s going to command that type of attention at times.
One benefit in Chicago was Marquez Valdes-Scantling getting single coverage deep on the offense’s biggest play of the game, a 47-yard bomb to open the second quarter. Green Bay’s three tight ends – Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan – also combined for five catches, 72 yards and a score. But the production was more erratic than consistent.
This Sunday, how much help the Vikings give top corner Xavier Rhodes on Adams will be watched closely, particularly by Rodgers. Adams and Rhodes have gone head-to-head before, battles Adams says are built on “mutual respect,” but Rodgers won’t hesitate to give him a chance when he’s one-on-one.
Last week, Rhodes and the Vikings limited Atlanta’s Julio Jones to just 31 yards on six catches, keeping him out of the end zone until a minute remained in Minnesota’s blowout win. If he’s drawing safety help or the eyes of zone defenders as he traverses the middle of the field, Adams wants to be asked to make plays anyway.
“It means a lot but I still want the ball,” he said of seeing defensive schemes targeting him. “Obviously it means they’re concerned with where I am on the field, but it’s no excuse. It happens to Julio, it happens to a bunch of people, so we still have to find ways to move the ball.”
For LaFleur, his focus in that regard is improving on third down after a frustrating 2-for-12 showing against the Bears. He felt the downfall was too many long-yardage situations, with six of the 12 conversion attempts requiring 10-plus yards, including four straight in the second half (15, 15, 17, 12), all failures.
By contrast, in the second quarter, when the Packers needed between four and seven yards on a string of four third downs, they went 2-for-4.
“We know that’s going to be an important part of this game is staying ahead of the chains on first and second down so we can get in those third-and-manageable situations,” LaFleur said. “So you can stay on the grass, and so you can sustain drives.”
There’s a lot to iron out. LaFleur has spoken of the tempo in and out of the huddle, to allow for some surveying at the line of scrimmage, or for quick snaps when a rhythm is found.
Better third-down opportunities also come down to getting the ground game going and avoiding flags. Each of the six series that resulted in third-and-10-plus included a run for zero or negative yards, a penalty, or both.
“I think we have to run the ball a little better,” Rodgers said. “Obviously in this offense, when it’s most effective you’re running the football really well and the action comes off those runs.
“We have to start a little faster. You’d expect to at home without the crowd noise being an issue. So we look to start fast in the run game this week.”
Running back Aaron Jones had four rushes of five or more yards against the Bears, but they all came in the second half. A couple of those drives reached or crossed midfield before stalling out.
But, “close doesn’t get you anything,” Rodgers said.
Sounds like the No. 1 receiver may not be the only impatient one.
“That’s not how we operate around here,” Adams said. “We like to see the results. If we want to look at the silver lining, there were some things within the film that we liked, but this is about results so we have to make sure we produce those.”