Six catches for 74 yards and zero touchdowns on nine targets in the last two games. That’s not a stat line befitting an elite and one of the league’s best wide receivers in the Las Vegas Raiders’ Davante Adams.
But let’s add onto that figure with a third game — Week 4. Tally it all together and you get: 14 catches for 157 yards and zero touchdowns on 22 targets. That may not seem like meager numbers when put altogether, but it sure looks miniscule when considering in the Raiders’ Week 4 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Adams produced a 172-yard, two-touchdown performance on a Sunday night football explosion. He was targeted 20 times that tilt and caught 13 passes.
Comparatively, what Adams got the following three weeks is no bueno.
So what gives? Is the opposition ramping up its efforts to take Adams out of the game plan, or is Las Vegas missing something on their end when it comes to getting the ultra-productive wideout more involved? To hear Raiders head coach and offensive play caller Josh McDaniels and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi the answer is both.
“I think that’s more about us, just making sure we’re doing all the right things so that he can impact the game the way that he needs to and should and deserves to, whether that’s through the scheme and or the execution of the play,” McDaniels began during his Monday press conference when asked if the dip in production Adams’ production is due to the injury he’s dealing with. “There’s definitely sometimes where there is no way you can throw it to him based on what they do. I mean, there was a couple plays yesterday where there were three people running around chasing him and the (Tre) Tucker play only happens because the free safety double-teamed him, you know what I mean? So, there’s a balance between being very smart with the ball and seeing the defense and not doing enough to put the ball in his hands.”
There’s merit to what McDaniels explained. Adams does divert attention from other Raiders receiving targets by drawing bracket coverage with a corner shadowing him and a safety lurking over the top. McDaniels, likely very keen on the New England Patriots defensive tendencies due to his own long-term experience with the organization, took advantage of the extra attention paid to Adams by having speedster rookie Tre Tucker run a long post route drawing one-on-one coverage. This created the space for Tucker and quarterback Brian Hoyer saw this and pulled the trigger with a bomb — 48 yard gain just like that.
That said, Adams was still a frequent target in the offense and on Wednesday, during his media availability, the wide receiver expressed his frustration, noting he has high standards for himself and the Raiders offense.
“I’m not here to just hangout, I came here to win.— Logan Reever (@loganreever) October 18, 2023
Davante Adams talks about his usage on offense.
Says he “can make it a much better picture” and if he’s not part of that plan, he’s going to be frustrated.#RaiderNation #Raiders pic.twitter.com/Txnb7xvH1S
Adams exploits are so well known that he saw triple coverage at times with the Green Bay Packers and now Raiders. McDaniels added that coaching receiving options like Randy Moss, Brandon Marshall and Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) makes him attune to the nature defenses do all they can to limit or stop them. But the Raiders head coach noted there are instances where teams haven’t taken him away — namely the rare one-on-one coverage with just a cornerback on Adams. And the Raiders must take advantage by executing.
“And you just have to really do a good job of being disciplined because you may only get a few opportunities a quarter, but you got to take advantage of them,” McDaniels noted. “And there’s some execution that goes along with that on everybody’s part, but there’s chances and we need to do a better job.”
Lombardi was asked about getting Adams more involved and the coordinator noted Adams remains a focal point.
“Yeah, we’ll go in every week and try to assess the game plan, and say, ‘Hey, how can we get our skill players the football?’ We have a lot of skill players and Davante is a very good one for us. And he’s had production for us this past year and a half and he will continue to do that,” Lombardi said during his Tuesday media session. “Every game plan meeting we have, every situation we go into, we look at, ‘Hey, what is the best position we can put them in, not only to score points and get first downs, but how can we get everybody involved?’ And Davante is at the epicenter of that all the time.”
The Raider have lined up Adams at different spots in various formations. They’ve even put the three-time all-pro wide receiver in motion. While, yes, it’s true that opponents will commit more than one defender on Adams, it’s also equally factual that he’s drawn single coverage and didn’t get a throw his way, and when he’s gotten the favorable matchup, the passes haven’t been as accurate as they can be. Adams did get hit hard which forced the ball loose into the air for a red zone interception against the Patriots this past Sunday.
But regardless of who the quarterback is this coming Sunday against the Bears (Jimmy Garoppolo left last Sunday’s win with a back injury and it’s unclear if he’s a full go for Week 7), the Raiders signal caller has to look at Adams often. His 16-game career production against the Bears reads: 81 receptions, 1,024 yards, and 10 touchdowns on 134 targets. The last time he matched up against Chicago was with Green Bay on Dec. 12, 2021 (Week 14) where he produced 121 yards and two touchdowns on 13 targets. Adams and Green Bay were 14-2 against the Bears during those 16 meetings.
Aaron Rodgers made it a career of being a Bears killer with his 24-5 overall record against the franchise, but his partner in crime for 16 of those tilts was Adams, and both flourished against Chicago.
For the Raiders to do the same this Sunday, another signature performance from Adams would be a tremendous boon.