Packers Will Need “Other” Receivers to Thrive Against the Rams

The Packers opening playoff game against the Rams features an outstanding matchup between Packers All Pro wide receiver Davante Adams and Rams All Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. While that will be a critical battle and an interesting game within a game, how the Packers “other” receivers play on Saturday may be a major factor in determining who wins the game and advances to the NFC Championship Game.

There is no doubt that Aaron Rodgers will try to get Adams involved in the game early and throw to him often, but if the Packers hope to move the ball consistently on the Rams top-ranked pass defense, Rodgers will also have to involve his secondary targets in the passing game.

Many opposing defenses try to eliminate the most dangerous weapon they face. For the Rams, that will be Adams. But to be successful, offenses must have an alternative way of moving the football down the field. The Packers were able to do this most of the season. The result was the that the Packers led the NFL in scoring offense, averaging 31.8 points per game. The Packers scored 30 or more points in 12 of their 16 games this season, an indication of the consistency of the Green Bay offense.

The Packers offense works best when they distribute the ball around and don’t rely entirely on Adams. They also need to run the ball enough, especially in the cold of Green Bay in January and they need to spread the ball around and get many receivers involved. Although critics have called the receiving corps into question before and during the season, the group was effective this season despite injuries that effected the unit at various times during the campaign.

The Packers targeted Adams on 34 percent of their passes this season in the games he played in according to pro-football-reference.com. That means that roughly two of every three attempts went to other receivers. The Packers need these other receivers to be effective for the offense to work at high efficiency.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling is one of the most dangerous deep threats in the game. MVS finished the season with a league-leading 20.9-yard average per catch and made 33 catches for 690 yards and six touchdowns on the season.

The big issue with Valdes-Scantling is consistency. The speedster had seven drops and had a completion percentage of just 52.4 percent according to pro-football-reference.com. If MVS gets involved early and plays to his potential, the Packers offense will have a deep threat who can make big, game-turning plays.

The Packers are 4-0 this season in games when Valdes-Scantling has four or more catches.

Allen Lazard is more of a consistent performer than Valdes-Scantling. He is presently dealing with a wrist injury which has slowed him in recent weeks. He also missed significant time earlier this season with a core muscle injury that placed him on IR and caused him to miss six full games.

Lazard is a reliable receiver who Rodgers often looks to when he needs to keep the chains moving. In fact, 23 of his 33 catches resulted in first downs.

Lazard’s best game this season came against the Saints in Week 3 when Adams was out with an injury. Lazard caught six passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.

Tight end Robert Tonyan has become a favorite of Rodgers in the red zone. He caught 11 touchdown passes this season and in games Tonyan caught a touchdown, the Packers were 8-1.

Tonyan caught 52 passes this season on 59 targets, a catch percentage of 88.1 according to pro-football-reference. His ability to get open underneath has been a big reason the Packers have been so consistent on offense.

The Packers also need to involve their running backs in the passing game. Aaron Jones caught 47 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns. By getting him the ball in space, the Packers can take advantage of his speed and elusiveness. Jones is a threat to break a big play any time he touches the ball and can easily turn a short pass into a long gain.

Jamaal Williams played on 40 percent of the Packers offensive snaps this season and made 31 catches for 236 yards and a touchdown. Williams is the Packers most reliable receiver out of the backfield and their best pass blocker. He can play an important role in the passing game in helping to protect Rodgers and providing him with a check down target when no downfield options are available.

Other players like Marcedes Lewis, Jace Sternberger, Equanimeous St. Brown, Malik Taylor and A.J. Dillon may also contribute to the passing game. Each of these players may make only one or two catches in a game but they could be key plays that help sustain pivotal drives.

For the Packers offense to get the job done against the league’s best defense on Saturday, they will have to have all their weapons involved and not just rely on Rodger and Adams. The success of the season may depend on it.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (34)

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mnbadger's picture

January 14, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Great summary Gil. You have to be confident that we'll pick up a half step based on weather and field conditions. There's a major weather system hitting MN today, pounding us for 24 hours or more I'm told. High winds and accumulating snow, 10" or more. If it sustains straight across to GB, this could be an instant classic. Pack wins 23-19. GPG

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 01:29 pm

Bring the winter weather, mnbadger. That certainly won't hurt. I think your score is pretty close to my prediction. As long as they win. Thanks for the kind words and for commenting.

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gkarl's picture

January 14, 2021 at 12:26 pm

Its been obvious we've been a much better offense this year when we maintain a run/pass balance and spread the ball to multiply pass catchers. I wouldn't expect anything different to happen this week. No TO's, protect 12, manage down and distance and we'll score enough to win. On D choke off the run early and make Goff beat us. I don't think he can. 28-17 good guys.

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 01:31 pm

I'd love to see that gkarl. I think the balance is important. If it's cold, I think we'll see the Packers run the ball more than they usually do. The Packers are the better team. If they don't turn the ball over and the offense even has an average day, it should be enough to get past the Rams. Thanks for the comment, always good to hear from you.

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Swisch's picture

January 14, 2021 at 12:39 pm

I agree that, while it's important to feature Davante as our primary receiver, it's also necessary to get other guys involved.
We're fortunate in that the Packers seem to have so many unselfish receivers who are willing to defer to Davante, but also try to be ready to make their own important plays in limited opportunities.
I think these supporting receivers are underrated, and will make big contributions if given possibilities.
It does help so much for a guy to get a target early; it naturally raises his energy level and mental focus.
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Take the quick throws early to set up longer throws from time to time.
It seems crossing routes are difficult for defenses to cover, especially with two or more guys going in the same or opposite directions. No need for picks.
I like our running backs as safety valves for Rodgers, perhaps after initially blocking in the backfield.
It may also be good to roll out Rodgers occasionally to give him better angles on passes to the sidelines; the option to run the ball out of bounds to pick up first downs; and even to be able to throw away the ball without a penalty for intentional grounding. Rodgers can even slide down for a small loss late in the game if no one is open, if it's important to keep the clock running.
Also, on third and long, once or twice a game, look to throw the deep ball to a faster MVS or a taller Lazard. Have the other receivers running behind in case of an interception -- which, if tackled right away, would be about the same as a punt. This seems a good risk-reward.
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We have such a strong variety of guys who can catch the ball effectively that we should be able to outmaneuver the Rams coverage side to side and short to long.
While it's only right that Rodgers focuses mainly on our superstar in Davante, let's hope he has somewhat of a point-guard mentality in distributing the ball to get our other receivers involved and to keep the Rams guessing.

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 01:33 pm

Great analysis Swisch. I think scheming these receivers open and moving Davante into the slot on several plays will help create opportunities for everybody in this game. Protecting Rodgers will also be a key. I like Tonyan and Lazard in particular to have good days against the Rams. Thanks for the insightful comment.

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hobowilly's picture

January 14, 2021 at 02:16 pm

Mr. Swisch, nice post. I think another element to notice are the play calls on second down-these need to be productive too. But, honestly...who hasn't noticed much improved play calling these past couple years (i learned to despise MM for idiotic/telegraphed calls on critical downs). Clearly, the key in the game is whether Mr. 3rd time MVP will continue with his mastery of the offense whilst his unmatched skill in taking apart defenses. What a joy and privilege to watch both his cleverness and accuracy!! His consistent ability to take whatever is given is a sight to behold as he distributes the ball like he does. This is a special phenomenon to reveal in, within the game-just a fabulous treat! A great teammate/leader!

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fastmoving's picture

January 14, 2021 at 03:55 pm

Sounds like a cult or something, like you post it, not the Green Bay Packers football team. AR12 is great but he cant win alon. Thats not basketball......
We got even other Aarons on the team, who can win that game for us......

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 04:07 pm

No way Rodgers can win alone. It's beautiful watching him play at a high level but the play of the offensive line, receivers and backs cannot be ignored either. Looking forward to seeing what the offense does against the Rams top-ranked defense on Saturday. Thanks for the comment, fastmoving.

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 04:04 pm

Thanks for the comment, hobowilly. I love watching Rodgers play quarterback at such a high level. Hopefully it will continue against the Rams on Saturday. If it does, the Pack should find a way to win the game.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

January 14, 2021 at 03:02 pm

Very good points Swisch! I like your plan, especially the long pass on 3rd and long. Of course, I hope we never get to that situation, but the plan is solid.

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 04:09 pm

Third and long will happen occasionally at least, but hopefully not too often. I have confidence in Rodgers to get the ball out quickly if he needs to. I hope the offensive line can give him time to throw. Thanks as always for the comment, PewAuKeeFan.

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frankthefork's picture

January 14, 2021 at 01:10 pm

This game will be on AR12 to stay mobile and finding slants and crosses. If he chooses to spread the ball Packers win 31-17.
GPG

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 01:34 pm

Love to see it, frankthefork. I think the offense will get the job done and will score between 24 and 31 points and win the game. Thanks for the comment.

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 14, 2021 at 01:36 pm

I really have a feeling Lazard has a big game. All the focus lately has been on Adams and MVS. Lazard is really good in the run game, but he hasn't really had a lot of throws come his way. I think that changes this game. I think he puts up over 100 yards and has some crucial 3rd down plays.

I also think Austin will provide a boost as well. I wouldn't be surprised if they try and get a deep shot with him. They haven't used him that way yet, but I think they may take a shot with him.

Another sleeper to me is Daffney. He has really shown up the last few games. Rodgers has said that he has impressed in practice. I would not be surprised if they get him plays as that FB/TE tweener.

The great part about this offense is, its more scheme dependent then player. Obviously players have to make the plays but it isn't like our old McCarthy system where they essentially relied on the players winning 1 on 1 battles every down. Now plays are schemed to look the same so you can't tell if its a run or pass. And then they add the motion which creates hesitation in players. It creates openings for players to be open more easily. But also LaFleur and the coaches have done an amazing job of finding the best role for players. Finding the best way to use them and use them in their role.

The scheme is really good but it still does take players to make plays. I believe that we have enough players that are capable of doing so.

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hobowilly's picture

January 14, 2021 at 02:23 pm

Dear RC, i think you were giving big props to Gutey here, "we have enough players that are capable of doing"! Loved that you brought up Daffney! Who is looking for him to slide off the line and make a couple plays? Not too many, espec. when you have Mercedes and ole big Bob Tonyan. Skillful distribution has always been a stellar skill for Mr. Rodgers and it'll continue to be as he speeds through his checkdowns!

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 04:12 pm

I think that Lazard could be a big factor especially if the emphasis is placed on shorter, quicker passes to contain Donald and the Rams pass rush. I hope he's getting closer to 100 percent.

Austin has yet to produce much offensively, just a few short plays, but hopefully he is able to come through and be productive if they need him to be.
Thanks for the comment, RCPackerFan, good stuff.

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Coldworld's picture

January 14, 2021 at 04:33 pm

Lazard’s potential depends on recovery. He hasn’t been the same recently as noted. I think it’s significant that the injury designation still lists his core not just wrist. That fits with the restricted usesge we’ve seen of him recently.

I’d look to see a few scripted plays for EQ that get the ball in his hands s couple of times. Most importantly, we need to take on their rush with power not just for yards but to tire. That means Dillon early to open things up later.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

January 14, 2021 at 02:11 pm

I think we score 30. How do the Rams score is the question? Our new D with the coach and players have upped their game; Great safety tandem, "shutdown" Jaire, Barnes "the answer" solving the MLB problem, Gary "the QB pressure cooker" who can also stop the run, Z, Snacks... I'm excited by a Packer D for the first time in years. Our offense will score. How will the Rams?

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hobowilly's picture

January 14, 2021 at 02:27 pm

Rams points: Johnny, not as many as the Packers!!; Goff will play but i'd bet a priority that the D will bring will be getting him off his spot. Yes, it appears they'll try to ride Akers, but they have a couple decent WR's as well. 31-17 Packers, in foul weather.

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 04:22 pm

Rams passing game right now doesn't scare me much, although you're right about their receivers being talented and dangerous. It's Goff who doesn't scare me, because of his thumb, his mediocre play and his inexperience in the cold. Thanks for the comment.

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 04:20 pm

It will be tougher for the Rams to score a lot of points. There are two ways I can see the Rams scoring: running the ball very well and benefiting from a short field from turnovers or big plays on special teams. The Packers are the better team and the home team. Most of all, they cannot beat themselves. Thanks for the comment, JohnnyLogan.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 14, 2021 at 05:36 pm

Like to see the Pack run off around 70 plays and dominate the clock.

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cheesehead1's picture

January 14, 2021 at 02:34 pm

We must limit Akers. Seattle sure couldn’t and it cost them. Even though Rodgers was great against the Bears, he was fortunate not to have 2 picked off. Easier said than done but no turnovers. GPG!

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dobber's picture

January 14, 2021 at 02:43 pm

....and Seattle let Snacks go. Hmmm...

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 04:24 pm

Stopping the run will be critical for the Packers because I don't think the Rams can win by passing the ball extensively. Thanks for the comment, cheesehead1.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

January 14, 2021 at 03:28 pm

Gil, I'm hoping the Packers will run the ball right down their throat and Rodgers will have a field day with play action. The Rams have excellent pass rushers and some zone blocking up front should generate more than a few 10 plus runs by our fearsome threesome of Jones, Williams, and Dillon.

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 04:29 pm

I think the Packers will run the ball more than they did during the regular season, especially if the wind is strong. I hope the Packers will run enough to limit the effectiveness of Donald and the pass rush. Thanks as always for the comment, Ferrari-Driver.

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arizonayahoo07@gmail.com's picture

January 14, 2021 at 03:55 pm

I can see with the add on like Snacks,along with increasing menace of Rashard Gary. With the rest of the defense playing like they had never played before.. Kevin King has got to play at the level he was drafted for. And tackle, like he has never tackled before.. And further use of Dillon and Lazard, to freak the LA defense. Reducing Donald's effectiveness... By the Pack being unpredictably unpredictable. Which is what A Rod does when he has sky high rating games..

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GilMartin's picture

January 14, 2021 at 04:30 pm

I love predictably unpredictable. This is a game the Packers should win if they don't beat themselves with turnovers and sloppy play. Thanks for the comment, [email protected].

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SterlingSharpe's picture

January 14, 2021 at 06:49 pm

Right on the money, but the REAL key is going to be how the offensive line performs.
As great as Rodgers is, and Davante & Aaron Jones, when the OL gets beaten, well, we see what happened in Tampa Bay this year, and in San Francisco last year, and in San Diego (LA) last year, etc.
This Rams DL is better than TB DL is.
I still can't F believe we lost Bakh, in a practice: (

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Leatherhead's picture

January 14, 2021 at 09:14 pm

I agree completely. If this line gives Rodgers time to do his job, and opens holes in the run game, we win.

This offense presents a lot of challenges. I think the Rams secondary is going to have a hard time dealing with our size.

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sohankhan's picture

January 15, 2021 at 12:11 am

The Green Bay Packers come out of their bye week and hit the road to visit the Los Angeles Rams, who are the lone undefeated team in the NFL at 7-0. Here's a look at this series - past, present and future.

FOR FREE :https://kotvlive.blogspot.com/NFL/

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Charvid's picture

January 15, 2021 at 09:36 am

If we play like we did against the Titans, we win handily. I do not have the stats, but I’d be curious what our average first down gain was in that game. I remember thinking during that game that we were getting into a lot of 2nd and short or 3rd and short and our conversion rate was awesome. Versus the Rams, we need to keep the down and distance manageable. It understandably helped lead to what appeared to be their most complete game of the season. The converse is also true...get the Rams in 2nd and 3rd and long and force an inferior QB to beat us over the top.

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