Packers: Why Aaron Rodgers’ target distribution is unimportant

Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

Much has been made of Aaron Rodgers‘ target distribution through the Green Bay Packers‘ first five games of the season.

The lack of targets for players not named Davante Adams has been surprisingly low. And while it’s understandable to want to see other players more involved in the offense (MVS, Robert Tonyan, Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard), it’s not completely necessary – as the Packers have already shown.

Before we get into why, it’s important we understand the current breakdown of the team’s target share.

Targets among wide receivers: 106 total targets for position group

  • Davante Adams | 61 targets | 57% target share among position group
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling | 15 targets | 14% target share among position group
  • Randall Cobb | 14 targets | 13% target share among position group
  • Allen Lazard | 10 targets | 9% target share among position group
  • Malik Taylor | 3 targets | 2% target share among position group
  • Equinimeous St. Brown | 2 targets | 1% target share among position group
  • Amari Rodgers | 1 target | .009% target share among position group

Targets among tight ends: 23 total targets for position group

  • Robert Tonyan | 17 targets | 74% target share among position group
  • Marcedes Lewis | 5 targets | 21% target share among position group
  • Josiah Deguara | 1 target | 5% target share among position group

Targets among running backs: 30 total targets for position group

  • Aaron Jones | 19 targets | 63% target share among position group
  • AJ Dillon | 10 targets | 33% target share among position group
  • Kylin Hill | 1 target | 3.3% target share among position group

So with this breakdown of targets in mind, Adams is certainly carrying the lion’s share of the targets in his position group. However, in terms of targets distributed to the entirety of the offense – Adams is seeing a 38% target share, which seems about right for the best receiver in all of football.

It has also become apparent that teams have keyed in on the play-action bootleg the Packers used last season to get Tonyan the ball so often. He’s also garnered a considerable amount of attention in the red zone. So while it would be nice to see Tonyan more involved in the offense, it also doesn’t make sense to force him the ball either.

I won’t discuss MVS in great detail, because prior to going on the IR MVS had absolutely been doing his job. He’s gotten open downfield often and 12 just hasn’t put the ball where it needs to be. If Rodgers was able to connect on some of the downfield shots we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

Randall Cobb’s role is continuing to grow in this offense, and has proved to be an absolute menace on third down – which is where he’s going to earn his money. Cobb is a trusted target of Aaron Rodgers and is someone he’s absolutely willing to throw the ball when it matters most – evidenced by Cobb having converted six of his eight third-down targets into first downs.

It’s also worth mentioning that he’s second on the Packers in receiving yards, tired for second in TDs, and his 14.3 YPC is the highest on the team. All while not having played more than 20 snaps in a game until Week 3.

Somewhat surprising is the lack of targets for Allen Lazard. I didn’t expect him to be a focal point by any means, but he’s proven to be a reliable pass catcher. He has gotten plenty of snaps though because as a blocker he provides significant value to this offense.

I will say that Rodgers’ tendency to look Davante’s way has caused him to miss some easy underneath throws that will certainly have to be cleaned up. Every receiver in this group knows exactly what their role is and they are still having a big impact on the game – the stats are unimportant.

The best 1-2 punch in the league

You simply cannot ask for much more than the league’s best quarterback-receiver tandem through this point in the season. Adams leads the NFL in receiving yards (579), yards per game (115.8), and catches per game (8.4) – in other words he’s top two and he’s not two.

As it stands, Davante Adams is on pace to beat Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record. If he’s able to maintain his 116 yards-per-game average over the remaining 12 games the record will be his – and it’s entirely possible.

So if you have the best wide receiver in football, why not target him the 38% he’s currently seeing? He’s a match-up nightmare for opposing corners because he can beat them in so many ways. Davante’s release package is elite and improving all the time, making him impossible to prepare for – which is why he seemingly always finds a way to get open.

What I’m trying to say is, what’s the point in straying from what has been proven to work in effort to get everyone more “involved”? I put that in air quotes because these wide receivers are producing in many ways that don’t show up in the stat sheet, which is unfortunate because they’ll never get the credit they deserve.

Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams is a lethal combination that the Packers can and should continue to lean on to find success. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.