GREEN BAY — Clearly, there were more issues at play during the Green Bay Packers’ anemic offensive performance in Sunday’s 26-11 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. No one was suggesting it was a case of subtraction by addition.
Nevertheless, the clunker happened to come in the same game in which No. 1 wide receiver Davante Adams returned from his four-game layoff because of a turf toe injury. And the fact that the offense not only survived but thrived in his absence — the Packers went 4-0 and quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 68.6 percent of his passes for 1,255 yards with 10 touchdowns and only one interception (118.7 rating) — but suddenly laid an egg upon his return was clearly less than ideal. Targeted 11 times, Adams caught seven passes for just 41 yards.
But as the Packers shifted their focus to this Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field, Rodgers’ biggest concern wasn’t getting the ball to Adams more often — something the quarterback had politicked for during the early part of the season. Rather, Rodgers emphasized that getting the ball to running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, in the run and pass games, is vital.
“Yeah, we’d love to get Davante going, but we can’t get away from what’s got us to this point, especially the last three, four games before last Sunday,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got to find a way to get those guys involved, get them feeling good.”
They comprised a field-tilting duo during Adams’ absence, combining for 754 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns in that four-game span. And with Adams back, Rodgers doesn’t want that to stop. Against the Chargers, Jones and Williams had 17 total touches for 78 yards and a touchdown.
“We need to get them the touches,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got to get Aaron 15 to 20 touches and Jamaal 10 to 15 touches. I think that’s when we’re playing at our best, and (head coach/play-caller) Matt (LaFleur) knows that, and I think he said that as well. We just got kind of behind the sticks too many times and behind in the game, and it made us one-dimensional.”
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LaFleur admitted after the Packers ran just 49 offensive plays that he was “not patient enough” with the game plan and got away from the run game prematurely. Now, the challenge is to get Jones the ball enough while reintegrating Adams into the offense.
“Through those couple weeks (without Adams), we still found different ways to win, whether it be running the ball, throwing the ball,” Jones said. “So just when I say (we need to) ‘get back to us,’ (I mean) being explosive, not shooting ourselves in the foot and just out there having fun, when you can see all 11 guys out there having fun and enjoying it.”
For his part, Adams admitted he’s still not at 100 percent — “I wouldn’t quite say I’m quite there yet,” he said — but that he feels good enough to contribute more and more each week.
“We’ve been able to move the ball since I’ve been out, so the focus shouldn’t change on how we’re trying to do things,” Adams said. “Obviously, me being a big part of the offense, I’m going to get more looks here and there, and I’m going to do what I can with that, make the biggest impact I can for the team.
“It’s not about me being back, so nothing should change as far as how we try to beat teams. It’s not going to be some crazy air attack and have 15 targets every game. If that happens, I’ll do what I can with it. But other than that, we’ll let everybody else do what they’ve got to do to get that victory.”
For the second straight day, the Packers practiced outside in the unseasonably cold temperatures. “I think it’s been great. The field’s in pretty good condition and I think our guys embrace it,” LaFleur said. “We’re going to be playing out in the elements so you might as well practice in it.” … Asked whether he was concerned about the forecast calling for strong winds Sunday, LaFleur said Rodgers’ arm strength tends to mitigate it. “We’ve got a lot of confidence in the guy that’s slinging the ball around the field to be able to cut through that wind, so I don’t know how much it will affect us. It certainly could depending on which direction it’s going maybe in certain quarters but as far as the plan, it’s pretty much negligible.” … Safety Adrian Amos (hamstring) missed his second straight day of practice but was unwilling to discuss his injury with reporters. Amos is the only player on the injury report to not practice at all this week due to injury. Several veterans have had rest days this week, including tight end Marcedes Lewis, who did not practice Thursday.