Davante Adams believes he shouldn’t just be in the best-wide-receiver-in-the-NFL conversation. He should start and end the conversation.
Adams, the Green Bay Packers’ three-time Pro Bowler, made his case once again Thursday night.
First, he made it on the field in a 34-17 victory at the San Francisco 49ers that pushed the Packers to 6-2 at the midway point of the season: 10 catches for 173 yards and his league-leading eighth touchdown reception.
Then, as humbly as possible, he made it with his postgame comments:
“I think that’s fair to say,” Adams said when asked if he’s the best wide receiver in the league. “I think that’s not being conceited; that’s just being confident. I think obviously what I’ve done and what I’m going to continue to do is going to prove that to anybody who isn’t on board with that.”
Here’s the evidence so far from this season:
He’s the first player with three games of at least 10 catches and 150 yards in his team’s first eight games of a season, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
He’s the second player in NFL history with three games of 10 catches, 150 yards and a touchdown in a single season, joining Calvin Johnson (2012). Johnson’s Detroit Lions went 0-3 in those games. The Packers are 3-0 in Adams’ games.
Adams has played in only six of the Packers’ eight games this season. He missed Weeks 3-4 because of a hamstring injury. The knock on the Packers’ offense has been that it lacks weapons outside of Adams and running back Aaron Jones, who returned Thursday after a two-game absence because of a calf injury and had 79 yards of total offense. But as long as quarterback Aaron Rodgers has Adams, it might not matter.
Rodgers has completed 76% of his targets to Adams this season. He has more completions (53) and touchdowns (eight) to Adams than he does to the rest of the Packers’ wideouts combined (41 completions and six touchdowns — two of which came Thursday with Marquez Valdes-Scantling).
“He’s such a great player,” said Rodgers, who completed 25 of 31 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns. “He’s tough on matchups. He’s able to create so much space with his release pattern, and he’s got enough speed to get on top so you can’t necessarily play low and expect certain routes. We hit him with a lot of different things tonight. Hit him on the first possession with a go ball that he made a nice adjustment on. On the last possession we were in on an inside go route. He’s so talented, he can do it all, handles himself the right way. Just a joy to play with. A special guy.”
Rodgers and Adams were especially sharp on deep throws against the 49ers. Rodgers matched a career best with four completions that traveled 25 or more yards in the air Thursday, and three of those were to Adams.
“When you have two great players like Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams and the line affords you the time to hang in the pocket and throw some deep, those were some dime balls that Aaron was throwing to Davante,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said.
Adams already has 675 yards receiving this season in six games. If he maintains that remarkable pace over the remaining eight games, he would finish with 1,575 yards. His career best of 1,386 yards receiving came in 2018. Twice, including in 2019, he has finished with 997 yards in a season.
“I truly believe that just based off of the work that I’ve put in [and] the connection I have between my quarterback,” Adams said, continuing to state his case while noting several times that he wanted to come across confident but not conceited.
“It’s not just about me just running a route. If the line isn’t protecting or if the quarterback doesn’t look your way or if the other receivers don’t do their part to pull defenders away, none of what I do can happen. So at the end of the day, I’ll tell you yes, absolutely, I think I’m the best wide receiver in the game, but there’s a lot of things that go into me being able to make that statement.”