Ed Zurga/Associated Press
How about Triple A?
That’s what we should call the triplets who are primed to bring the Green Bay Packers on a Super Bowl run this winter.
Aaron (Rodgers), Aaron (Jones) and (Davante) Adams have actually been together for several years in Green Bay, obviously, but they’ve rarely been healthy and properly utilized together. And now, it looks like that’s about to change.
Right now, Rodgers and Jones are in such a deep groove that it’s scary to think what the Packers offense will be capable of when Adams returns from the toe injury that has cost him four consecutive games. It sounds like he’s close, which is bad news for the rest of the league. The Packers are 4-0 without him after Sunday night’s 31-24 road victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, and they’ve averaged 32.5 points per game in those outings.
The personnel has become noticeably more comfortable in new head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense. And after LaFleur’s predecessor continually underutilized Jones, he and Rodgers are going out of their way to get the ball into the hands of a playmaker with game-changing speed.
The result Sunday was a 226-yard performance on the ground (13 carries, 67 yards) and through the air (seven catches, 159 yards) for Jones, who with two scores became the first player in the NFL this season with more than 10 touchdowns.
Rob Demovsky @RobDemovsky
Aaron Jones said he caught thousands of passes at home this offseason to prepare for how much running backs will be receivers in Matt LaFleur’s offense. “I caught good balls, bad balls, high balls, low balls,” Jones said. https://t.co/5WUEvuvyGW
Per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the 24-year-old became the first Green Bay back to compile 150 yards receiving in a game since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger and just the fifth back with 150 receiving yards and two touchdown catches in an outing since 1989.
He now has 551 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns in the last four weeks, which is remarkable considering that opposing defenses haven’t had to worry about Adams in any of those games. He’s averaged a strong 4.9 yards per carry during that stretch, and he had two more touchdowns overturned in Kansas City.
Rodgers is as healthy as he’s been since 2017, and the numbers indicate he’s grown more comfortable with a more innovative offense. In the last two weeks, he’s completed 75 percent of his passes, averaged 11.5 yards per attempt, thrown eight touchdown passes to zero interceptions, and his passer rating is 152.0.
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
And again, that’s without Adams. When Adams was last on the field—before the offense truly began to click—he caught 10 passes for 180 yards.
We already knew what Rodgers and Adams brought to the table—one is the highest-rated passer in NFL history, the other is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons—and we’ve seen glimpses of Jones. But it’s refreshing to see the Packers finding new and unique ways to exploit defenses with players not named Rodgers or Adams.
“I didn’t know coming in I was going to be used that much in the pass game,” Jones told NBC’s Michele Tafoya following the game, “but Coach LaFleur saw something [in the film], he took advantage, and he did a great job—him and Aaron.”
Zach Kruse @zachkruse2
Aaron Rodgers tonight: 23/33 for 305 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 129.0 passer rating. Ran for 29 yards too
Rodgers to Michelle Tafoya: “I didn’t do a whole lot besides get the ball to (Aaron Jones) and let him do his thing.”
Jones: 226 total yards, 2 TDs
“He’s a special guy.”
It all bodes well for Green Bay’s prospects entering the second half of the season at 7-1.
Following an offseason spending spree, the defense is considerably more talented than it was at the end of the Mike McCarthy era. And while that unit had trouble in a hostile environment against an exceptionally fast and well-coached offense Sunday night, the Packers entered Sunday tied for fourth in the league in takeaways. They’ve surrendered just 20.4 points per game, and through seven weeks, the D had the seventh-best DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders.
Throw in the veteran leadership they have along the offensive line and the valuable experience peripheral receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Geronimo Allison, Allen Lazard and Jake Kumerow have gained with Adams out, and it looks like Green Bay’s offensive triplets have the requisite support for a special season.
Reinsert Adams and it’s fair to place the Packers with the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers, who are the only other NFC teams with seven wins. They’re probably a cut above the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. And they should have Adams back well before they have to travel to San Francisco in Week 12.
In fact, there’s a chance Adams will return for what should feel like a home game against a Los Angeles Chargers team that lacks a fanbase in L.A. next weekend. They’ll certainly be favored there, just as they’ll be expected to beat the vulnerable Carolina Panthers back at Lambeau ahead of a Week 11 bye.
So start thinking about the Packers as a Super Bowl-caliber team. I know it’s been a couple of years since they’ve even been to the playoffs, but this team has a different feel. And it starts with that Big Three, which is about to explode under the tutelage of a coach who isn’t taking his “Triple A” for granted.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012.