NFL Countdown #25: Davante Adams was inevitable in 2020, serving as the
first and last look every time MVP Aaron Rodgers dropped back to pass.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Davante Adams is good at playing football. He’s established a seamless mind-meld with one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game, and just ripped off one of the more dominant seasons we’ve ever seen at wide receiver. Adams’ connection with Aaron Rodgers cannot be understated, as his presence in Green Bay might just be the only reason the reigning league MVP even picked up the phone this summer when GM Brian Gutekunst called.
Fans outside of Green Bay might be surprised by this, but Davante Adams hasn’t always been the reliable target machine we now know him to be. After his first two seasons in the NFL, Adams had a very good chance of being cut from the Packers roster. The 2014 second round pick posted a PFF grade of 50.1 in 2015, putting him at 108th out of 120 qualified receivers. Adams caught just 54% of passes thrown his way that year, and looked even worse playing alongside Randall Cobb and James Jones in his expanded role with Jordy Nelson out for the season. Turning 50 catches into 483 yards and just one touchdown in 2015, many Packers fans wanted to cut bait on Davante Adams and turn to promising rookies Ty Montgomery and Jared Abbrederis.
It sounds ridiculous now that Packers fans would prefer Jared Abbrederis to Davante Adams, but I promise you that was a prevailing narrative when I watched games with my family in 2015. We cursed Davante’s name every time he touched the ball and would have bet our souls that he wouldn’t make it past 2016 in Green Bay.
Adams heard the doubters and used their criticism as fuel, flipping a switch we didn’t know existed and just missed the coveted 1000-yard mark by three yards in 2016. He came down with 12 touchdowns and for the first time looked like a consistent weapon in a scary Packers offense that also heavily featured Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Remember when the Packers ran out of runningbacks and somehow Ty Montgomery ran for 5.9 yards per carry with the jersey number 88? That also happened during Davante Adams’ 2016 breakout season.
The Green Bay offense cratered in 2017 when Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, with the only bright spot being Davante Adams’ ascension to the casual fan’s radar as he was the only Packer to establish some chemistry with backup QB Brett Hundley. Adams was the lone offensive probowler on that 7-9 team, and has been selected to the pro bowl every year since.
With five 100+ target seasons under his belt, the 28-year old may be looking for his next home after the 2021 season. Amid contract disputes with the Packers front office, Adams and Aaron Rodgers posted matching cryptic Instagram stories likening themselves to Jordan and Pippen. Packers fans had been so disheartened by the Rodgers situation at that point that there was almost uniform excitement that we would get just one more season of watching this historic duo in action. Rodgers channeled his anger from the Packers using their 2020 first round draft pick on his eventual replacement, setting career-highs in touchdowns, completion percentage, and QBR en route to his third NFL MVP award. Aaron Rodgers was on fire last year and Davante Adams was the fuel that kept him burning, so the rest of the NFL should be very afraid for what this duo can accomplish in their last dance with the Packers.
If you want to learn more about Davante Adams' mindset surrounding the game of football and it's place in his life, I highly recommend this article from Mirin Fader at the Athletic.