ATLANTA, Ga. (WBAY) - We start on this Super Bowl Sunday with a disclaimer: Davante Adams is a great receiver.
Adams is worthy of accolades, and maybe even an All-Pro nod after finishing the season 2nd in touchdown catches, 5th in catches, and 7th in receiving yards among wide receivers.
Adams in undeniably talented and professional.
“You know when you play with the Packers and are real close with Davante you can come across as biased,” said former Packers receiver James Jones. “When you talk about receivers, if you truly watch Davante Adams in the last couple of years, I mean he is arguably a top-three receiver in this league right now. I don’t think there is any cornerback that wants to guard Davante Adams man. He is a special talent. He is coming into his own. He has been fun to watch. And every time I talk to him I say we want more. Because he can do more. I don’t think people have seen his full potential yet. He is a special talent.”
“When I get a chance to watch him play, I don’t see him all the time, but I see he’s a great player,” said Packers Super Bowl-winning former coach Mike Holmgren. “And he has the advantage of working with a great quarterback. That is the sort of combination and developing that rapport that will be great for the Packers.”
But now, we get to the crux of this story, and an analysis of what types of teams win Super Bowls, like the one played Sunday night.
Having an All-Pro receiver doesn’t guarantee success. In fact, it appears to have an inverse effect.
In the last 20 years, only 3 receivers have been named All-Pro and won a Super Bowl in the same season.
Victor Cruz was the most recent in 2011, Marvin Harrison – the only 1st teamer in the group – in 2006, and Isaac Bruce in 1999.
It’s a similar story to the fact that no MVP was won the Super Bowl the same season since 1999. When a team is too reliant on one weapon, it’s tough to win when you run into championship-level opposition.
While only 3 All-Pro receivers have lifted Lombardi trophies in the last 2 decades, nearly every other position group has seen a positive correlation between star-power and success. 11 safeties, 9 edge rushers, and 9 offensive linemen ended seasons as All-Pros and ultimate champions in the last 20 years.
In fact, while only 3 All-Pro receivers have won, only 3 teams without an All-Pro defender have come out on top.
“You can scheme a receiver out of the game defensively, if you are willing to commit to that,” said The MMQB’s Andy Benoit. “A great receiver in and of himself is usually not enough for an offense.”
“Guys usually get to the Pro Bowl because of the number of catches,” Holmgren said. “If you have a good offensive team that can spread the catches around, and those numbers go down just a little bit (for a single receiver), but still that player knows that you were trying to get him the ball, then it works in the best of ways.”
“When you get to games like this, like I said about Belichick, he is never going to let your number one guy beat him,” Jones said. “If it is the game plan to take away Davante Adams, you want to have other guys. That’s why we were so potent when we had our offense. It was like OK, if you want to take Donald Driver then Jordy (Nelson) is going to kill you. Or J.J. is going to kill you. Or Greg (Jennings) is going to kill you. It is good to have all those weapons and I think that is what makes the offense more dynamic.”
This year was a great example. 2 All-Pro receivers made it to the conference title games, but Tyreek Hill’s Chiefs lost after he was held to a single catch, and Michael Thomas’ Saints fell after he gained only 36 yards.
Beyond a reliance factor, for All-Pro wide receivers, you often get the diva types. Adams is far from being a diva. But you see Antonio Brown going A.W.O.L. from practice in Pittsburgh in an important Week 17. And Odell Beckham, for all his talent, has won nothing beyond personal accolades. Bringing balance to the Packers offensive force would portend better things. And James Jones thinks Rodgers’ young receivers are on the verge of serious success.
“I felt I was on the same page with Aaron going into our second year of preseason,” Jones said. “I assume they were getting better and better and better as the season went along. This year they will have the OTA’s, a whole ‘nother off-season, training camp and all that, and I think the chemistry will be much better.”