Nov 15, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiverRandall Cobb
(18) during the game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Detroit won 18-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Cobb – 5 catches, 53 receiving yards, 1 rush, -3 rush yards; 5.00 fantasy points
Adams – 10 catches, 79 receiving yards; 7.90 fantasy points
Jones – 0 catches, 0 receiving yards; 0.00 fantasy points
Montgomery – Inactive Due To Injury
Here’s the area of consternation.
There has been little consistency and a lot of underwhelming play from this group for about half of this season now; even when Green Bay was winning, you could see and hear of the issues plaguing them, especially on the outside.
Nov 15, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiverDavante Adams
(17) cannot catch a pass while defended by Detroit Lions cornerbackQuandre Diggs
(28) in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
This unit has been wholly unable to force their way open, no matter the opponent. It was understandable against teams like Denver, Carolina and St. Louis (#1, #2 & #5 in Pass Defense DVOA, respectively), but the same separation issues were painfully evident in matchups against San Diego, Detroit and San Francisco (#27, #28 & #31 in Pass Defense DVOA, respectively).
In case you haven’t come across why this may be happening, here’s some insight I’ve constructed through my own search for answers to this consistent problem: Teams are lining straight-up on guys, playing physically, and staying active on them until the whistle blows to end the play.
Teams can do this because they don’t fear the deep ball right now; there just isn’t anyone on the team with deep speed receiving snaps since Jordy went out in the preseason. Not fearing the deep ball lets defensive backs play much closer up on guys. Earlier in the year, guys could get open after Aaron Rodgers would extend plays, but that only works if the defenders lose focus — something they have done less and less as the season has gone on.
All isn’t lost and adjustments will be attempted, but all the ones tried so far haven’t amounted to much.
Cobb is consistently the main focus for defenses now, but seeing as he works mostly in the slot it is much easier to double-cover or shadow him on routes. He still has gotten a decent average number of touches, but they rarely go for much; he’s had little room to do much after the catch, and that’s the only way he’s really capable of making a big play occur.
Adams got plenty of targets last week — an insane 21 of them! — but he caught only 10, and those only went for 79 yards. Trying to focus a ton of passes on the outside to open things up everywhere else makes sense in theory, but you have to complete those passes for it to matter. It also helps if the receiver holds onto the ball.
Part of what finally got things sparking for the offense last week was involving Jared Abbrederis in things; his underneath speed/elusiveness combination gave him some of that desired separation. Unfortunately, he’s gone for at least a few weeks because he got hurt in the process (something that’s as much a trait for him as anything else).
It eternally perplexes me why the coaching staff refuses to put Jeff Janis to work here; he has received snaps and made big plays already this season (namely, his two catches for 70+ yards total against San Diego) and could be that speed option. It feels to me that the coaches are just being stubborn and suffering from a bit of hubris or overconfidence in their own initial judgments of him in terms of how they are evaluating him, but whatever the reason and however valid it may or may not be, he just hasn’t earned their trust outside of emergency situations.
Nov 15, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiverJames Jones
(89) and Detroit Lions cornerbackDarius Slay
(23) reach for the ball during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Detroit won 18-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Keeping that in mind, I wouldn’t expect him to be inserted into the lineup in a meaningful way. Something will change in their attack though; I’m just not sure what exactly it might be as of yet.
For now at least, I don’t really think anyone here is all that reliable of an option. If you’re playing them, it is based on big-play potential or an expected high-volume workload.
Cobb is the likeliest to get a large workload, but as with most games lately I doubt he will have much space to make anything happen once he gets the ball.
Adams could be the big-play threat. The coaches and Rodgers have already shown they are fine with the idea of targeting him a bunch; he’ll just need to actually produce something out of it. Seeing as he’s more of an outside guy, those targets may not come as often or connect as many times as the passes thrown to Cobb, but the ones that do get completed to him are likely to produce larger gains due to where he would be on the field.
Jones is a possession receiver at best; he isn’t going to outrun anybody at this stage of his career. He can be someone to grab some contested passes though; that’s something to think about with the constantly looming issue of these receivers gaining any separation. Rodgers has at times this year already put the ball into tight areas, trusting Jones to come away with it somehow — and in multiple instances he has done so. It isn’t something to count on as a major piece of the offensive gameplan, but seeing a couple of them along the scope of the game wouldn’t be the worst course of action attempted by the team to overcome the issues they are stuck with here.
Week 11 Predictions:
Cobb – 5 catches, 40 receiving yards; 4.00 fantasy points
Adams – 5 catches, 60 yards, 1 TD; 12.00 fantasy points
Jones – 2 catch, 20 receiving yards; 2.00 fantasy points
Montgomery – Likely Out
Verdicts: High Targets, Low Production (Cobb); Big-Play Threat (Adams); Contester (Jones); Come Back Soon (Montgomery)
Next: Tight Ends