In a season marred by inconsistency and missed opportunities, there were few bright spots on the 2018 Green Bay Packers. One player stood above the rest as a model for this team. Coming off a two-year stretch where he posted 22 combined touchdowns, Davante Adams signed a four-year $58 million extension. After new general manager Brian Gutekunst released longtime premier receiver Jordy Nelson, Adams became the team’s de facto number one target. He did not disappoint. Starting all but one game, Adams accumulated nearly 1,400 yards and 13 touchdowns on 111 receptions. Let’s dive further into the impact Adams had during a disappointing 2018 season for the Green Bay Packers.
A Look at the 2018 Season of Wide Receiver Davante Adams
Somewhat Slow Start
The Packers had more receiving threats at the beginning of the year before injuries hurt the team’s depth. Randall Cobb was the star of week one against the Chicago Bears, scoring a 75-yard catch and run touchdown late in the fourth quarter. He would fight through various injuries the rest of the season, leading to the worst statistical year of his career. Adams still had a solid 5-88-1 line in that one, but most of his yardage came on a 51 yard bomb near the end of regulation. The next two weeks against the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins were nearly identical. Adams only posted 116 yards combined over those two games which was third on the team. A healthy Geronimo Allison was thriving in single coverage while Adams commanded double teams on the opposite side. Adams continued to show impressive agility and playmaking ability with the ball in his hands, though. He also had touchdowns in each of those first three games.
His touchdown streak ended in a week four victory over the Buffalo Bills. Adams posted 81 yards on eight catches but quarterback Aaron Rodgers was outraged that more plays weren’t schemed his way. That seemed to turn the tide as Adams began to go on a tear the rest of the year.
The three game stretch against the Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, and Los Angeles Rams was phenomenal for Adams. After Cobb and Allison went down, the Packers essentially had Adams, Jimmy Graham, and a slew of rookie receivers left catching passes. Every defender knew that Rodgers would turn towards Adams in the games’ biggest moments. Time and again Adams proved to be the superior talent, boxing out cornerbacks on jump balls and finding separation no matter the competition. He and Rodgers put the offense on their backs, willing the team into games against the Lions and 49ers and keeping them alive against the NFC Champion Rams. Adams posted 24 receptions for 405 yards and three touchdowns over that period. Although his yardage totals dipped, Adams posted another three touchdowns in a two week stretch against the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.
Game of the Year
On a Thursday night in Week 11, the Packers traveled to play the Seattle Seahawks for an important NFC showdown with a potential wild card spot on the line. Adams consistently roasted promising corners Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin on way to a career-high 166 yards while catching ten of 12 targets. He disengaged defensive backs well at the line of scrimmage, provided solid run after the catch on quick outs, and displayed strong hands on several deep routes over the middle. He was unguardable on comebacks and slants and was the team’s only receiver to step up in a must-win game. Surprisingly, Adams didn’t find the end zone, but he still almost single-handedly willed the Packers to an upset victory on the road.
Adams followed up his dominant performance in Week 11 with an adequate, if uneventful game in Minnesota. He did score another touchdown on an impressive back shoulder toss from Rodgers. He continued his touchdown streak at home against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13 and again against the Atlanta Falcons the following week. In an elimination game against the Bears in Week 15, Adams did all he could. He caught eight of 13 targets for 119 yards and a two-point conversion. Unfortunately, the offense failed to reach 20 points for the fifth time and the Packers were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
Rodgers and Adams decided to continue playing, showing strong leadership qualities in a lost season. They traveled to face the New York Jets in a Week 16 game perceived to be an easy Packer win. That was not the case, however, as the game turned into a very entertaining shootout. The Packers scored a season-high 44 points in an overtime victory that came down to the wire. Adams led the team with a whopping 18 targets. He caught only 11 of those passes for 71 yards but did haul in the walk off touchdown in overtime. He injured his knee early in the game but gritted it out because that’s the kind of player he is. Sadly, that knee caused Adams to miss the season finale against the Lions.
So Close to History
Adams finished just short of several major Packer receiving records in 2018. His 111 receptions were second in team history behind Sterling Sharpe’s 112 in 1993. He also only needed 133 yards to pass his former running mate and mentor Jordy Nelson’s 1,519 yards from 2014. Both could have been accomplished had he not injured his knee in that win against the Jets. This is also assuming Rodgers doesn’t get knocked out of the week 17 affair with a concussion in the first quarter. When both players were out of the game, it became painfully aware how inept this roster is. The team failed to score a single point in a 31-0 home thrashing by the Lions in the final week with Rodgers and Adams sidelined.
Adams was voted to the Pro Bowl for the second year in a row even after only appearing in 15 games. He played at an All-Pro level all year and almost received those honors as well. The Packers lack of success had more to do with Adams not making the team than his individual performance. Regardless, Adams is a building block for this team moving forward and his development has been extremely impressive. His ability to shed defenders at the line of scrimmage and production in the red zone are second-to-none. Adams continues to get better each year in the league and should be viewed as one of the game’s top five wide receivers.
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