Rams present opportunity for Packers’ secondary weapons in passing game

Zach Kruse
·4 min read

The spotlight will shine brightly on Davante Adams and Jalen Ramsey during Saturday’s NFC Divisional Round playoff game at Lambeau Field. And rightfully so – Adams and Ramsey are both first-team All-Pros in 2020 and each could be the best player in the NFL at their respective position. This is, by any reasonable prognostication, a colossal individual matchup that could help decide the contest.

However, the showdown with Ramsey shouldn’t distract from the opportunity for the Green Bay Packers’ secondary weapons in the passing game to take some of the pressure off of Adams and keeping the offense humming against the No. 1 scoring defense in football.

Receivers Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, tight end Robert Tonyan and even running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams could play a pivotal role in the Packers passing the test presented by the Rams secondary on Saturday at Lambeau Field.

Adams will win some reps against Ramsey, and vice versa. These two are too good to not win a fair share of reps against each other. And the Packers will almost certainly move Adams around in an attempt to free him from Ramsey’s grasp.

It will fall on Matt LaFleur’s shoulders to get Adams looks but also establish his other pass-catchers in the game, especially if Ramsey is forcing a stalemate with Adams.

This is the beauty of the Packers’ passing game in 2020. Adams has been a star, catching 115 passes and scoring 18 touchdowns, but the secondary weapons have been used efficiently and smartly behind the No. 1 option, with the scheme helping create winning matchups for players that aren’t as individually talented as Adams.

Tonyan caught 11 touchdown passes, averaged 9.9 yards per target and caught nearly 90 percent of his total targets. He’s been a factor both in the boot-action game and down the field. Smart and athletic with reliable hands, Tonyan has emerged as a perfect fit with LaFleur in this system.

Lazard averaged 9.8 yards per target and was a go-to player both on third down and as a run-blocker. He also had his biggest game of the season without Adams, catching six passes for 146 yards and a touchdown during the Packers’ win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 3.

Valdes-Scantling averaged an NFL-best 20.9 yards per catch and tied for the most catches of 40-plus yards (six). The Rams haven’t given up many big plays in the passing game this season, and Valdes-Scantling has been inconsistent, but LaFleur talks all the time about the assists he provides with his threatening deep speed, which opens up other avenues underneath for others.

The Packers running backs weren’t as big of a factor in the passing game this season, but both Jones and Williams are capable receivers, both underneath and down the field. They combined for 78 catches in 2020. It’s possible LaFleur will want to find ways to get them matched up against the Rams linebackers, creating a path in the passing game that doesn’t involve challenging the secondary.

The Rams aren’t just Ramsey in the secondary. Darious Williams and Troy Hill are talented cover corners, and both John Johnson and Jordan Fuller had terrific seasons at safety. This is a deep and talented group capable of both containing Adams and taking away what the Packers offer behind him.

This could be the moment. Many, including us here at Packers Wire, wanted GM Brian Gutekunst to add help at receiver during free agency or the draft. The Packers passed. Massive progression from Rodgers and the passing game in the second year of LaFleur’s offense negated the perceived need. On Saturday, the Rams will challenge the Packers’ progression and put pressure on the secondary weapons. A meeting with the No. 1 scoring defense – featuring what could be the game’s best cornerback – is an opportunity for the Packers to prove, without any doubt, that they have enough weapons around Aaron Rodgers to win a Super Bowl right now.

List

Highlighting the amazing matchups that will define Packers vs. Rams

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
LA Rams
+260+6.5O 45.5
Green Bay
-323-6.5U 45.5