GREEN BAY — Luke Getsy has a unique perspective on what makes Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams so good together.
He’s the only person to coach both parts of the Green Bay Packers’ dynamic duo.
In 2016 and ’17, he coached Adams as the Packers’ wide receivers coach. Since 2019, he’s coached Rodgers as the Packers’ quarterbacks coach. And during the offseason, coach Matt LaFleur gave Getsy another title — offensive passing-game coordinator, meaning Getsy now, to some degree, coaches both Rodgers and Adams.
That means, in concert with LaFleur and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, it’s Getsy’s job to assess how effective and efficient the Packers’ passing game is — and whether Rodgers is relying too much on his top wide receiver so far this season.
Getsy’s short answer? No, he’s not.
“I would say ‘forcing’ it to somebody is something that you don’t want to do,” Getsy said as the Packers prepared for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, looking to extend their four-game winning streak. “But what’s happened so far is, I think, the execution of both of them and the other guys around them has been really good.
“I don’t think targeting somebody ‘too much’ is an issue. But I do think forcing the ball to somebody (is). But there is a comfort level there, and (Rodgers) just likes throwing to guys that he has that comfort level with. And obviously Tae and him are clicking at a high level.”
Five games into the 2021 season, no wide receiver in the NFL had been targeted more than Adams (61). No receiver had caught more passes (42) than Adams. No receiver had gained more yardage (579) than Adams. No receiver had generated more pass plays of 20 yards or more (10) than Adams. (The one area where Adams’ numbers are lagging is in touchdowns, as he has just two TD receptions this season after scoring 18 TDs a year ago.)
Meanwhile, the Packers’ other nine wide receivers and tight ends with at least one reception have combined for 68 targets, 42 receptions and 509 receiving yards: Randall Cobb (14 targets, 11 receptions, 157 yards); Robert Tonyan (17 targets, nine receptions, 82 yards); Allen Lazard (10 targets, seven receptions, 97 yards); Marquez Valdes-Scantling (16 targets, six receptions, 76 yards); Marcedes Lewis (five targets, four receptions, 60 yards); Malik Taylor (three targets, two receptions, 14 yards); Amari Rodgers (one target, one reception, 19 yards); Josiah Deguara (one target, one reception, 4 yards); and Equanimeous St. Brown (one target, one reception, 0 yards).
Adams enters Sunday’s game against the Bears averaging 8.4 catches and 115.8 yards per game, putting him on a 16-game pace (134 receptions for 1,852 yards) that would surpass his numbers from last season. With a 17th game this season, he’s on pace for 142 catches for 1,968 yards if he stays healthy.
A year ago, Adams caught 115 passes for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns despite missing 2½ games with a hamstring injury early in the year, breaking Sterling Sharpe’s Packers single-season reception record (112 in 1993) and tying Sharpe’s franchise record for touchdown catches, set in 1994. Adams wound up 145 yards shy of Jordy Nelson’s yardage record (1,519 in 2014).
“If you’re forcing the ball into spots too often, then maybe you are trying to feed a guy too much. I don’t feel like I am,” Rodgers said. “I feel like the targets I’ve given him, for the most part, are high-percentage targets. I don’t feel like I’m forcing the ball to him. I take my chances with ‘17’ just about every snap. Because he’s generally open, and open to him is different than other players. So, I don’t feel like I’m forcing the ball to him.
“He gets open, and I like throwing it to the open guy.”
That Adams gets open as often as he does despite defenses’ best efforts speaks to just how transcendent of a player he is, wide receivers coach Jason Vrable said. But it also speaks to the selflessness the other receivers show, he believes.
“Obviously, we game plan for him. Everybody knows around the league that we try to get him the ball,” Vrable said. “But the completion percentage is there, and he’s coming down with the ball. He’s playing at a high level, he’s confident and the trust factor (between Adams and Rodgers) is there.
“Some games, maybe he gets 15 targets, and we can win. And there’s some games he gets five and we win. Obviously, in our room, some guys kind of laugh. They’re like, ‘Oh my gosh. Aaron and him they’re on pace to break connection records and all that stuff.’ (But) I truly believe in our room, because I’ve been on the other side where there has been that jealousy and that animosity in the room where you can feel the tension.”
Adams went into last week’s win against the Bengals anticipating more 1-on-1 opportunities than he usually gets, based on the Cincinnati defense’s film. He was right, and he capitalized on them — catching 11 passes for a single-game career-best 206 yards and a touchdown.
But Adams understands that won’t be the case every week, and while he appreciates the extra effort the coaches put in to find creative ways to get him the ball despite defenses being hell-bent on stopping him — “I feel like it’s a credit to Matt and 12 for coming up with some plays to still get me some opportunities down the field,” Adams said — Rodgers doesn’t think the Packers are doing anything out of the ordinary for a superstar pass-catcher.
The Packers’ game plans always are predicated on getting Adams and running back Aaron Jones as involved as possible, and to Rodgers, that’s just simple logic.
“I love that (Adams) has that impression. I don’t know that that’s necessarily going on,” Rodgers said of the additional effort. “Anytime the plan comes together, we’re thinking about ‘17’ and ‘33’ and how to get them in space. That’s where it often starts. But, I don’t feel like there’s any specific things we’re doing. It’s just naturally it happens within the flow of the creative process of the game plan. And then, once we get into the work week, adjusting things slightly if we feel like we need to put him on a certain route — or put him on a route that might draw some coverage and open up somebody else.”
Added Hackett, who is in charge of streamlining all the offensive ideas into a cogent game plan: “Davante is the best in the league. He’s unbelievable. All defenses, we know they know that and they want to try to take that away. ... We always expect that. We’re always understanding that they’re either going to cloud him or they’re going to double him. We think we can move him around, put him in different spots. The more we can do that, the more difficult it is to get those things done. We just have to do a great job of continually motioning him and continually putting him at the one spot, the two spot, the three spot, backside, inside, everywhere we can put him. As long as we do that, it just makes it more difficult (for the defense).”
Whether Adams can keep up this pace — especially since, after what he did against the Bengals, it’s hard to imagine future opponents taking their chances with 1-on-1 matchups with him more than a few times a game — remains to be seen. But those who know him best believe he’s going to get open no matter what defenses throw at him.
“He’s special,” said veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis, one of Adams’ closest friends. “I’m honored every time I get to step on the field with him and whoop whoever it is in front of me so A-Rod can have some more time to throw the ball downfield, because I know something big is going to happen. He’s definitely different, and blessing, man.”