This is why the Green Bay Packers didn’t draft a receiver this year.
More specifically, Allen Lazard is the reason.
Six catches for 146 yards and a touchdown is the reason.
Without Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams (held out because of a hamstring injury), quarterback Aaron Rodgers went to his No. 2. And yes, Lazard proved in Sunday night’s 37-30 win at the New Orleans Saints that he’s worthy of No. 2 status.
While his Hall of Fame counterpart Drew Brees dinked and dunked his way down the field, Rodgers aired it out.
Lazard caught a 48-yarder that traveled 52.2 yards in the air. He topped that with a 72-yarder in the third quarter on a pass that carried 52.3 yards in the air. Lazard is the only player this season with a pair of catches of air-distance throws of 50-plus yards in the same game, according to ESPN Stats & Information research and NFL Next Gen Stats.
Rodgers’ success deep through three games has matched his total from all of last season. He improved to 5-for-7 on throws this year with an air distance of 50-plus yards. He was 5-for-22 on such passes all of last season.
Coach Matt LaFleur’s offense has become so dynamic that Adams seemingly hasn’t been missed when he’s been out. The Packers, 3-0 this season and 16-3 in LaFleur’s first 19 regular-season games as a head coach, went 4-0 last season while Adams sat because of turf toe.
Those who pined for more help for Rodgers perhaps should have wished for help on the other side of the ball. Had they found someone who could tackle Saints running back Alvin Kamara, it wouldn’t have been as close as it was Sunday night. Exhibit A was Kamara’s 52-yard touchdown catch-and-run — with the emphasis on run. Brees, like he did most of the game, dinked a short throw to Kamara in the flat. Five missed tackles later — including one by Will Redmond that could have stuffed it for little or no gain — Kamara tied the game at 27-27.
Breakout performance: Kingsley Keke showed flashes of an improved pass rush during the abbreviated training camp when he posted the fifth-best winning percentage among Packers defensive players in the one-on-one pass-rushing drill, winning nine of 19 reps (47.4%) in a drill that favors the offensive player. With Kenny Clark (groin) inactive for a second straight game, the second-year defensive tackle saw his playing time spike. So did his production. He recorded the first two sacks of his career — both in the first half, and one came on third down. Last year, Kingsley played 108 snaps all season.
Promising trend: Even when he doesn’t put up massive yardage totals — like he did last week with 236 total yards from scrimmage — running back Aaron Jones manages to find the end zone. He showed off the power aspect of his game when he barreled into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard on the opening drive of the third quarter. It was his fifth touchdown of the season and his 24th since the start of last season, most in the NFL. The Saints ran their streak of consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher to 46 games, but Jones still made an impact with 86 total yards and a touchdown.