StaTuesday: Packers’ Hundley passing on Nelson for Adams

With Brett Hundley under center for the Green Bay Packers, there’s one thing for certain: Davante Adams is his favorite receiver.

Since Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury in Week 6 at Minnesota, the disparity of targets between Adams and Jordy Nelson has become quite apparent.

Since 2013, Nelson was the benefactor of many a Rodgers pass, compiling triple digits in targets and more than 1,250 receiving yards in each season he was healthy (reminder: Nelson missed all of 2015).

YEAR TGT REC YDS TGT/G Y/R TD
2013 127 85 1314 7.9 15.5 8
2014 151 98 1519 9.4 15.5 13
2016 152 97 1257 9.5 13.0 14

Truth be told, with the emergence of Adams last season, the pair of wide receivers had become more of a 1A and 1B with Rodgers. Adams averaged 8.7 targets per game in 2016 and had 997 yards (13.3 average) and 12 touchdowns.

This season with Rodgers at quarterback, not counting the game against Atlanta, in which Nelson was hurt early and Adams had eight catches on 10 targets for 99 yards and a TD, and the Vikings, when Rodgers was hurt and Hundley took over, Adams actually was averaging slightly more targets per game than Nelson — 7.3 to 7.0. In the four full games they played together with Rodgers, Nelson had 19 receptions for 230 yards and six TDs while Adams was at 14-186-3.

The tables have more than turned with Hundley at QB.

It’s not that Hundley hasn’t targeted Nelson, who has been second or tied for second in targets in each of Hundley’s five starts. But, especially in the last four games, Adams has been the guy. In those five games, Nelson has just 13 receptions for 103 yards (7.9 average) — Adams had more yards against the Ravens (126) and has yet to find the end zone. Adams has 27 receptions for 363 yards (13.4 average) with two TDs.

NELSON WITH HUNDLEY

OPP TGT REC YDS Y/R TD
Saints 4 1 13 13.0 0
Lions 7 4 35 8.8 0
Bears 4 3 20 6.7 0
Ravens 6 2 24 12.0 0
Steelers 5 3 11 3.7 0

ADAMS WITH HUNDLEY

OPP TGT REC YDS Y/R TD
Saints 5 2 12 6.0 0
Lions 10 7 53 7.6 0
Bears 8 5 90 18.0 1
Ravens 10 8 126 15.8 0
Steelers 9 5 82 16.4 1

Adams is averaging 8.4 targets per game with Hundley — which is just slightly down from the 8.6 he averaged with Rodgers last year.  However, Nelson is at 5.2 targets per game with Hundley. He hasn’t had that low of an average since 2010, when in his third season he was at 4.0 targets per contest.

However, note that with Rodgers, Nelson had been averaging just 7.0 targets per game (somewhat skewed by a four-target game vs. Dallas). Adams actually was averaging more targets than Nelson with Rodgers, at 7.8 per game (7.25 taking away the Atlanta game). Adams was even averaging more yards per reception (12.39 to 12.11), although Nelson had more scores (6 to 4), and as previously mentioned has yet to have a touchdown pass from Hundley.

In the final analysis, yes, Adams has easily been the No. 1 target for Hundley and Nelson’s production has slipped somewhat dramatically. But at the same point, there wasn’t really clear separation between the two with Rodgers at quarterback.

We’ll give the last word to Nelson.

“Brett feeling comfortable with Davante and being able to hit a couple big plays for him (is obvious),” Nelson said a couple week ago. “You see that, and I think you see that with any quarterback in connection with the receiver. If you’re able to make some big plays for him, you feel more and more comfortable with it.

“It’s just sometimes the way it goes as a receiver. The quarterback feels comfortable with certain guys or whatever it is. I’m not saying he doesn’t feel comfortable with me, but that’s the way the games play out sometimes. I’m not worried about it. I don’t want him to feel like he needs to try to get me the ball or anything. He just needs to continue doing what he’s doing.”

Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow, Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns