On a short week, while on the road, and against a 7-0 Arizona Cardinals team, the Green Bay Packers are going to have find a way to come away with the win without Davante Adams. On Monday, Adams was placed on the reserve/COVID list.
Now it goes without saying, there is no replacing Adams. That’s an impossible task. But it’s worth noting that Green Bay is 6-0 during the Matt LaFleur era when they’ve been without Adams.
As always, there’s no one reason behind that 6-0 record, but a big factor has been Green Bay relying on their other playmaker Aaron Jones.
In the passing game over those six games, Jones has been targeted 36 times and caught 29 of them for 337 yards and five touchdowns. Jones is also averaging over 14 rushing attempts per game and nearly 70 yards on the ground during that span. For those without a calculator, that’s about 125 all-purpose yards per game.
This coming Thursday against Arizona, we should expect a similar formula from the Green Bay Packers.
Against Washington, we saw the Green Bay Packers rely heavily on the passing game. With a stout defensive front, the Packers attacked the Washington secondary that was allowing 309.5 passing yards per game—the most in football. As a result, Jones had just six carries—but that won’t be the case this week.
While the Arizona defense is allowing the fewest points per game this season, they are also giving up 5.0 yards per carry, which ranks 31st. Finding success on the ground will also help mitigate a Cardinals pass-rush that ranks eighth in pressure rate and allow Green Bay to control the clock—something that will be a very important aspect against this Arizona offense.
This should also mean we see more of AJ Dillon as well, but naturally, it will be Jones who is the focal point. Through the air, Arizona is allowing almost six receptions per game to running backs and 41 total yards—both of which rank around the middle of the pack.
Last season, Jones finished eighth in targets among running backs, 12th in yards, and had two touchdowns. This season he ranks in the top-10 in each of those categories, including first in receiving touchdowns with four, according to PFF ($$).
“I’ll tell you, he’s special. It’s one of those things,” Nathaniel Hackett said via the Wisconsin State Journal. “When it comes to his size, you don’t think that he would have that power that he has. But his balance is unbelievable and his ability to have his foot in the ground and still be able to take impacts and bounce off people, it’s pretty incredible.
“He’s got this innate slashing ability to put his foot in the ground, get downhill and get positive yards. Also, he can catch out of the backfield. There’s so many things he can do.”
In addition to leaning heavily on Jones in these games, Matt LaFleur has done a very good job of scheming other players open to take advantage of any weak points in the defense. In 2020, Allen Lazard had 146 receiving yards and a touchdown against New Orleans. While the following week, Robert Tonyan had three touchdowns against Atlanta.
During these games, we’ve also seen Aaron Rodgers also play much more in rhythm and within the confines of the offense when he doesn’t have Adams to rely on.
Again, I’ll reiterate, this won’t be an easy task, and past performances are not indicative of future results, as they say. But through the game plan drawn up by LaFleur and the heavy utilization of Aaron Jones, the Green Bay Packers have been able to be successful.