In the Green Bay Packers’ 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, the one-on-one matchups loomed large. In particular, the matchup between Davante Adams and Jalen Ramsey hogged the spotlight from some of the less-heralded matchups. The output was largely disappointing, with Adams scoring most of his production against other defenders.
Trying to beat Jalen Ramsey straight up is a fool’s errand. Over the course of his career, his best moments have come when teams try to leverage their superstars and ask them to win on ability alone. Here are two examples, one against D.K. Metcalf in the Wild Card round and one against peak Antonio Brown:[videopress jxY56YYC]
PFF credited three catches for 27 yards to Ramsey’s coverage. Conspicuously missing from that total is Adams’ one-yard touchdown. That’s because that touchdown isn’t on Ramsey’s coverage, but rather, play design.[videopress QaTJ5aNB]
Unlike the Seattle Seahawks or the Pittsburgh Steelers several years ago, Green Bay didn’t ask Adams to beat Ramsey one on one. When they did, the assignments were ones that greatly advantage the receiver. One catch came on a quick swing pass designed to generate yards after the catch, and the other two came on slants.[videopress ZEcp9krG] [videopress vLUzRHVH]
Slants are so quick that it only takes one deceptive move, but Adams’s polished technique does a lot of work on them. Still, these two plays hardly decided the game, nor are they a great referendum on either Adams or Ramsey. These are textbook slant wins, for whatever that’s worth.
For as much hype as the matchup generated, the result is somewhat disappointing. LaFleur didn’t ask Adams to beat Ramsey because many a superstar has been shut down that way. It bore out to be a good strategy, as disappointing as it was to watch. Perhaps the Rams could have had more success if they asked Ramsey to shadow Adams, but that isn’t a common move for Brandon Staley. Consider us as disappointed as Adams himself.
Most of Green Bay’s production in this game came against L.A.’s younger, less experienced defensive backs. Adams specifically caught six of seven targets outside of Ramsey’s coverage for 39 yards and the touchdown. LaFleur moved Adams around with varied formations and alignments, as he always does. Rather than asking Ramsey to thrive in each of these environments, they played zone and let Aaron Rodgers pick them apart.
FOX executives may not have liked it, but Rodgers, Adams and LaFleur probably don’t have many complaints.