The Green Bay Packers won 13 games and reached the NFC championship in 2019, but their offense by and large disappointed. They ranked 18th in total offense and 17th in passing—despite rostering two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers leaned on the strength of their defense to guide them to a deep playoff run. But in order to replicate and even expand on their team success, the offense must be better. The Packers lacked a consistent second option in the passing game to complement three-time Pro Bowler Davante Adams. They need someone to fill that role desperately.
Enter Allen Lazard, the former undrafted receiver who Rodgers talked up this spring. Lazard was the favorite for the WR2 job—especially since the team elected not to select a wideout in the 2020 NFL Draft—but it looks all but solidified after Devin Funchess opted out of the upcoming season. Funchess signed with the Packers as a free agent in the offseason.
Lazard, the 6-4, third-year wide receiver, showed flashes of strong play last year, albeit in a short sample size. He failed to make the opening roster out of training camp, but was kept on the practice squad. When his number was finally called, he made an immediate impact.
After seeing a mere 21 snaps over the first five games of the season, Lazard earned 17 snaps in a Week 6 comeback win over the Lions. Despite being on the field for only 23% of the snaps in the contest, he led the Packers in catches (four) and receiving yards (65). He snagged his first career TD on a 35-yard pass from Rodgers. Rodgers had a perfect passer rating (158.3) when targeting Lazard.
ALLEN LAZARD WITH HIS FIRST NFL TOUCHDOWN WHAT A PLAY!!! 🌪🚨 pic.twitter.com/NT10pN2U0N
— OutCYde the Lines (@OutCYdetheLines) October 15, 2019
Lazard ended the year with 35 catches for 477 yards and three TDs. His best statistical game of the season came in the Packers’ Week 12 blowout of the New York Giants. Lazard caught three passes for 103 yards and a score. For the second time of the season, Rodgers mustered a perfect passer rating when targeting Lazard.
Allen Lazard was the highest graded (87.8) player from offense for the #Packers in their win over the Giants.
— PFF GB Packers (@PFF_Packers) December 2, 2019
For the season, Lazard played just 44 percent of the snaps. That number is sure to be much higher this year, given the success rate Rodgers enjoyed when throwing to Lazard.
Feels like a great time to remind everyone that Aaron Rodgers was at his best when targeting Allen Lazard last year: pic.twitter.com/0DWfgy5CQt
— John Daigle (@notJDaigle) July 28, 2020
Rodgers had a passer rating of 116.7 last season when targeting Lazard. Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded Lazard as the fourth-best receiver when targeted in single coverage last year. With Adams likely to draw multiple double-teams from opposing defenses, Lazard will have plenty of 1-on-1 situations to capitalize on.
👏 Highest receiving grade when targeted vs. single coverage in 2019 per PFF:
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) July 27, 2020
Lazard also proved to be a dependable blocker. According to PFF, he was fourth among WRs last year in run blocking grade (82.0). There are plenty of other analytical statistics in Lazard’s favor. Football Outsiders ranked Lazard 18th among all receivers in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average). He averaged 1.62 yards per route run, ranking 44th among qualifying receivers by PFF’s metrics.
A big-play threat, Lazard’s three touchdowns last season came on receptions of 20 yards or more. He posted 13.6 yards per catch. Despite limited playing time, Lazard registered 13 third-down receptions, the second-most on the Packers. He has gained Rodgers’ trust and looks primed for a breakout campaign in 2020.