DAVANTE ADAMS TROTTED Back to Green Bay, he barked an order at Aaron Rodgers.
Throw it again he remembers screaming.
Aaron Jones recalls a more concerned Adams that night in October 2017. In Jones’ version of events, both Adams and Rodgers tapped their jerseys and silently apologized. My mistake, they wanted to say. But Rodgers? He’s getting closer to Adams’ account. He smiles and remembers the specific instruction from his broad recipient. Throw. It. Once again.
“He didn’t just want the ball,” Rodgers says to Adams now, a few years, and a few hundred passes later. “But he wanted me to throw it a little better.”
So forgive Adams for his decency because Rodgers clearly does and because the Packers at JerryWorld were between 31 and 28 and time was getting very tight. Then zoom in. This mostly unforgettable game This mostly unforgettable night shows how the best quarterback-wide receiver tandem of the season was forged.
Rodgers had thrown a dissolve on the left in Adams’ direction on the first and tenth of the 12-yard line in Dallas. But it was low and inside, and the best Adams could do was knock the ball away from his defender so it couldn’t be intercepted as it was in a tangle of limbs. But he wanted that ball again, just higher and outside of this time. Right here, Rodgers lofted it on Take 2. The Packers let it rewind 16 seconds before the end, a fade on the left, and this time Adams jumped, grabbed the soccer ball, pirouetted in mid-air, then landed both feet in the blue endzone color for a touchdown. In celebration, he threw so much mustard on the ball that it could have hit Jerry Jones’ Texas-sized video board if he’d had the foresight to set it that way.
Here’s the moral of this story: Adams brings up Rodgers in a way so scary it borders on witchcraft, and this was when their wizardry was exposed. Interview almost everyone in the field that night. Jordy Nelson says so. Jones too. Rodgers does three.
Just don’t ask Davante Adams.
IT IS NOT THAT Adams doesn’t appreciate why so many point out his touchdown against Dallas that day as Exhibit A, which makes his connection with Rodgers special and different and, yes, a little creepy. He told Aaron Rodgers, the former Super Bowl MVP, what to do! And Aaron Rodgers, future gold jacket wearer, listened!
It’s just that there’s another piece – on the same drive, in fact – that he thinks is more symbolic of that bizarre, synchronized magic he’s been into over the years with Rodgers. Rewind the tape. Before the game-winning touchdown on the high and outside levels faded, before the missed connection on the low and inside levels faded, the Packers took the field back on their own 25 with a minute and switched to leave. The offense had idled the game at 8:43 a.m. – a damn near eternity in regular ole time – and watched the Cowboys drove 79 yards over 17 games to take the lead.
Back on the field for the first time in ages, Rodgers looked at Adams at the opening game of the drive and then at the defender guarding him. Adams, mind reader – or just an extraordinarily adept interpreter of gazes directed at defensive backs – got it. “He was looking at DB in a certain way,” explains Adams. He kind of explains it. At least he tries to explain. “Almost to say this is a situation where I have to throw that back-and-shoulder ball like I did earlier in the game.”
Adams, who was now (sort of) crystal clear about what Rodgers meant (but didn’t say) exactly, was publishing much further than he normally would have otherwise. And in not trying to get to the top as instructed (apparently), Rodgers tossed a perfect back-and-shoulder ball that fell into Adam’s arms before the broad receiver made a half-turn, burst a few feet forward, and then got out of hand for an initial descent of 14 meters.
He and Rodgers didn’t need prosaic things like words to talk to each other. No, her mind wandered about osmosis, or at least the hyper-understanding and knowledge that many years together offer. And so Adams still puts this piece on a pedestal that is not advertised by anyone but himself.
“I think this one was a little more impressive than the nonverbals,” he says. “Just one look and knowing what he wanted.”
There’s a hazy, quasi-mystical aura that lays over every spirit discourse that Adams has started with Rodgers since arriving in Green Bay in 2014. It’s “hard to explain” and “can’t really be understood.” , “and” it just kind of happens, “and, oh yes, it’s” hard to explain. “Their wordless connection seems, perhaps appropriate, to defy words, or at least words that explain a lot.
But that’s the point too. If only someone could understand these dark arts, anyone could be a wizard. When Adams and Rodgers break out of the crowd, their inner thoughts remain fused, one and the only people who could plausibly know those inner thoughts are Adams and Rodgers. Jones, for example, will be on the field, hearing a run-pass option called out in the group, and then seconds later watching a completely different RPO unfold.
“You just nod to each other and something big happens,” says Jones. “They’re in each other’s minds.”
But Jones is in the same field. He’s in the same group. He saw the same nod. Doesn’t he seem to have a clue what happened ?!
“Not the exact game,” he admits. “I just know that something special is going to happen.”
So it makes sense that no one but Adams – except maybe Rodgers – Rolodex remembers a 3-year-old, visually unspectacular, otherwise commonplace pass-and-catch in Dallas week 5.Adams and Rodgers’ mind-reading antics have touchdowns to (many ; 18 scored by Adams in 2020, a franchise record) and catches (also many; 115 this year) led. break a franchise record) and memes (Rodgers confused face after Adams caught a pass with one hand while a defender tore the glove from his other hand). It hides in all clarity, this language is spoken and understood by two people and cannot be deciphered by the rest of us Simpletons. To teammates like Aaron Jones. To former teammates like Jordy Nelson, who once spoke his own language with Rodgers.
Adams spent the formative years of his NFL career – his first four seasons – watching the Jordy and Aaron Show while he was dubbing it to see how Nelson, one of Green Bay’s original mind readers, could communicate with Rodgers without speaking of how he became an extension of Rodgers, as if Rodgers had spawned an alien but useful third arm. (And what a show it was. Nelson and Rodgers finished Green Bay’s second most productive duo of all time with 469 degrees – until Adams came along and dwarfed them. and The Brett Favre-Donald Driver Connector (486) with the best 498 catches – and counts – from Rodgers.
They eventually got so entangled that the line where Rodgers ended and Nelson began became so blurry that young recipients had a question for Rodgers – What did he think? What kind of route did he want to run? – Rodgers would postpone it to Nelson to hear Nelson’s attitude and then offer quick confirmation: Yes what he said. Adams saw this, saw that Nelson could make a mistake once – he kept running through a zone and Rodgers threw the ball thinking Nelson had stopped – and then never made that mistake again without a word from Rodgers himself.
Most of the time, he saw Rodgers reacting to Nelson in those moments. Rodgers perked up. His body language changed. So Adams filed that for later use and then returned to the business of finding his place in that league as a young recipient. Mainly because he was a young recipient who – spoiler alert – wasn’t doing so well.
Adams didn’t want to be Rodger’s best friend forever or anything. There was no loss of confidence. No nightly confessions, a campfire crackled in front of them. (“Honestly, I don’t think they spend much time together outside of the facility,” says Marquez Valdes-Scantling, fellow recipient at Green Bay.)
It didn’t have to be, Adams had learned. Nelson and Rodgers acted like identical twins with a cosmic connection, but their bromance was always an air of dramatization. “This is going to be awesome for some people, but I’ve never had a glass of scotch with him,” says Nelson. “I played golf with him. We made dinner. But it wasn’t like every Thursday night when we went out.”
So Adams and Rodgers didn’t need to be attached to the waist. They just had to think for who they were. So Adams did the mundane, tedious job of watching Rodgers, listening to Rodgers, and remembering what Rodgers had done and said. How do you remember how to walk It’s muscle memory. So it was with the art of reading Rodgers.
“We can go back to a game from 2015 and he’ll say, ‘Do it this way when it was third and tenth and you had the stutter,” says Adams. “And I’ll know exactly what he’s talking about . “
How to do it.
In other words, they are in the most perfect marriage in the world. A blissful who finish each other’s sentences can’t get enough of each other. And the way to Super Bowl LV this year leads through Lambeau – first the Rams – just as Adams and Rodgers play their best, most synchronized football as a duo.
FULL TRANSPARENCY ALARM: Adams and Rodgers did not meet at Lambeau Field, nor did they form an Insta connection. Adams didn’t fly to Green Bay from the Bay Area and revealed the secrets of Aaron Rodgers’ beautiful mind. No, for a moment their partnership was fruitless enough that Adams descended into the underworld of the NFL bust.
His mother, Pamela Brown, who eschews the advice of anyone who has ever existed on social media, reads the comments section. In Adams’ sophomore year in the league, she came across a tweet from a Green Bay fan who described her son as the worst recipient in the NFL. Brown replied (“I just went in and said a bunch of things that I probably shouldn’t”) and a few hours later Adams texted her: “Mom.” That was the last time she hired the haters.
But if the discussion of the bust was premature, it was at least based on legitimate concern. Adams wasn’t very good. In fact, it was pretty bad.
“It was just a show,” he says.
Adams basically spent all of 2015 playing on one ankle, which isn’t ideal for any recipient, especially one like him who relies on misdirection and keeps his feet out of his scope. But his hands were also broken, although they were unharmed. He dropped six of the 92 passes thrown at him that season, finishing seventh in the league. Pro Football Focus ranked him 118 out of 119 recipients who played in at least 25% of their team’s Snaps. (The Fed-Up Green Bay Twitter user wasn’t all that bad in hindsight.) Overall, Adams and Rodgers connected 57.2% of the attempts in the wide receiver’s first two seasons.
Rodgers, Adams says, was one of the people who circled the wagons around him back then and helped him regain his balance when the ground shook below. So it makes some sense that Rodgers went from a firm hand to the loudest Davante Adams champion in the world. This season, in no particular order, Rodgers has said that he has climbed Jordy Nelson-like heights in his association with Adams; proclaimed Adams dominant at the Charles Woodson level; and quite enthusiastic about Adams completes it. “I’m better about him,” Rodgers said last month. “As a person and as a quarterback.”
If Rodgers feels starry-eyed these days, it has something to do with it: Adams ended the year with four games recording 10 receptions, 100 yards and two touchdowns, an NFL record for a season. Meanwhile, Adams and Rodgers bond. And connect and connect. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Adams had 63 more receptions than any other packer, the largest gap between the top two pass catchers on a team in 2020; It was targeted on 34% of its routes, the highest rate among broadband receivers since 2012. Rodgers and Adams combined 76.7% of attempts that season, the second highest rate in the last 20 years among quarterback-wide receiver duos with at least 150 attempts . They’re not the first duo to achieve mind-boggling synergies (Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison, most blatantly), but they scale similar heights.
Ask the people around Adams – his coaches, his teammates, his former teammates – beyond his ESP with Rodgers, what sets Adams apart from other receivers in this league and they will tell you it’s … literally a breakup. His ability to make room for the defender, his talent for being open: everyone. The. Time.
“Here lies the man who has never given a DB a break,” Adams imagines his future career tombstone. “Every single route I take, I take a million percent seriously. I’ll try to abuse you on every single route.”
To mention the obvious, these are athletes who are exceptional in their performance. You would be fine, mind-melding or no mind-melding. Adams would still be separated from the line like no other recipient in the league. And the famous cerebral rodgers? Does he need someone who gets to his level?
“He does not do it need it, “says Nelson. He is Aaron Rodgersis what he doesn’t say. Of course not need it. “But it makes life a lot easier,” he adds.
The point on Adams’ mind is that it is these two with this connection. Would you be great without her? Sure. Would you leave a reservoir unused without it? Sure.
“He’s the best quarterback in the NFL and I’m the best wide receiver in the NFL,” said Adams. “And the way we yell, I don’t think anyone else does it the way we do.”
LONG BEFORE ADAMS When he could read Rodgers at a glance or dust off a year-old piece that his quarterback referred to in a flash, his preschool teachers later gave a plausible explanation as to why he would keep doing mental gymnastics with serenity.
He had a photographic memory, the educators at Stanford’s Bing Nursery School told Brown about their 5-year-old son. He remembered pretty much everything he read.
“Maybe it goes back to that photographic memory,” says Brown, trying to guess how Adams achieved one-brain status with Rodgers. “When he studies someone, he remembers everything. I think he studies him.”
In truth, he’s been playing mind games for almost as long as he’s been at it. He convinced his mother to let him play football at around the age of 10 thanks to a peer pressure offensive. Adams called Brown one day from his after-school program and asked him to join his friend’s Pop Warner practice. This friend’s father drove him home with an application to join the league. Despite numerous reservations (Davante, you’re too frail, you’re going to be destroyed out there. Davante, I can’t even afford studs), she gave in. For one thing, her reservations were answered with rebuttals: Adams promised that if he ever cried, she would have his blessing to remove him from football altogether; His friend’s father offered to tune in for equipment like studs. Second, Brown thought the surest way to keep her son safe from the dangers of East Palo Alto was to keep him busy with sports. Their city was small but difficult to beat. In 1992, the same year Adams was born, East Palo Alto recorded more per capita murders than any other city in the United States.
“There’s a lot of talent from East Palo Alto,” said Josh Harper, Adams’ old Fresno teammate who grew up in nearby Union City, California. “But there is a lot of talent that doesn’t make it either.”
So she stuck to Adam’s newfound zeal for football, frailty and everything. (“He’s always been like his father’s family,” says Brown. “My family, we have meat on our bones. His father’s family is tall and slim.”) And they cared for him through broken bones in his left arm. broken three times in exactly the same place – twice while playing football; once in a Pickup basketball game – Then he ran athletics while his arm healed to keep him active.
Because of that annoying, always fragile limb, he left football for a moment, but football never really left him. Jake Halas, who coached Palo Alto High’s freshman soccer team when Adams was a ninth grader, recalls Adams dwell in training and throwing himself a soccer ball with his one good arm. He lurked in the crowd at times as Halas broke the team down for the day, and the coach thought to himself: Who is this guy, but let him sneak anyway while the rest of the newbies got on their knees and heard Hala’s pontificate of the day’s soccer exploits.
Adams eventually officially returned to the game as a junior in high school – not just late in the Wild West college football recruitment, but practically a no-show. That delayed reentry toppled one domino hitting another hitting another, leaving Adams late for the party at each new time.
A largely unknown wide receiver in high school, he received a total of two college football grants, the second of which he received only from Fresno State for venturing north to enlighten Adams’ faster counterpart on the wide receiver . “I was a one-star recruit,” Adams once joked.
So he made his way to Fresno State for his first year as a red shirt in 2011. In a short space of time, he was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year in 2012, and in 2013, his second season as a red shirt, he racked up 1,718 yards. Setting a Fresno State Recordand 24 touchdowns, the most in the country this year. But Fresno state is not Ohio state, Alabama state, or Clemson state. In the spring of his mother’s house, he watched the first round of the 2014 design come and go without his name ever being mentioned, and the next day he had his family dressed in all black. His point: “This will be everyone’s funeral, and they will eventually pay for it.”
And they did, even if the other 31 teams didn’t realize it was her funeral until five or six or maybe even seven years after her death. When the Packers finally drafted Adams in the second round, they teamed him up with a quarterback who also knew the trick of a draft-day nudge, and landed a broad receiver who in the past had done exactly what he was going to get to Lambeau in a few years.
In Paly he came late but came quickly. He’s charged up his connection with his high school quarterback, and Christoph Bono recalls that to this day, after training with Adams, he talked about what Bono saw as a passerby and what Adams saw as a receiver, the two dying to merge those visions into one . Adams repeated these efforts in Fresno state, where he quickly became Derek Carr’s preferred roommate for away games and brain sharer.
“Derek would look at Tae and give him that little eye contact and he would know exactly what to do,” says Harper.
It’s the catchy catch of the catchy song that sets the soundtrack to Adam’s career: he knew exactly what to do. At a glance. With a nod. With nothing.
Once with Bono? Kind of neat. Twice with Carr? An accident. Three times with Rodgers? This is a mature pattern.
IN EARLY DECEMBER Rodgers stood across the border, a shadow less than ten yards from Philadelphia’s end zone. The playcall was a jet sweep, and Adams didn’t expect to get the ball in the first place, but broad receiver Allen Lazard pointed to the right, bringing the Eagles defense with him, leaving only one man behind – Darius Slay, who pulled back a couple Yards back – covered Adams on the left.
Adams saw it all – the movement; the retreat – and thought, “This could be an advantage for us,” and what do you know, his quarterback had the same attitude.
Rodgers ditched the jet sweep and shot Adams instead. Another (wordless) exchange, another touchdown – the 400th of Rodger’s career.
Fittingly, this milestone was perhaps achieved more through Adams’s brute force than Rodger’s lightning-quick thinking. After letting it fly, Adams had to move nine meters down the sideline with a defender draped over him like a cloak. But that’s exactly what can happen when you’re playing with a Hall of Famer, especially a Hall of Fame quarterback especially a Hall of Fame quarterback in Green Bay. He extinguishes the sun.
“It’s always’ What a great litter from Rodgers!” Valdes-Scantling says. “You don’t get the ‘What a great catch from Davante!’ It’s a gift and a curse. “
His admission comes with a number of footnotes, pearls of clarification, that he MUCH VALUES TO PLAY WITH AARON RODGERS. He couldn’t ask for a better quarterback. It’s a high-class problem. But it’s a reality that’s set in Lambeau right now.
“It’s definitely a thing,” says Adams. “It’s not really difficult for me. It’s just one of the risks you take with a Hall of Fame guy like that tossing you the ball.”
If the prevailing wisdom, as Nelson points out, is that Rodgers can make any broad receiver look like a pro bowler, the receiver might be late to get his guilt. It could take a year like 2020 before public awareness is finally and irrevocably breached. Even if he’s had an average of over 1,000 yards per season since 2016. Even if this recipient is a pro bowler because of that As He works with Rodgers, not only The He works with Rodgers.
After Adams fought his way to the end zone, he reunited with his quarterback and knelt as he handed him the cue ball to show his respect. Rodgers laughed at the gesture and told his broad recipient to stand up.
He wanted Adams to be on his level.