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Cory's Corner: Jeff Janis was wasted on the bench

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Cory's Corner: Jeff Janis was wasted on the bench

For the third straight year, the Packers lost another playoff heartbreaker.

But underneath the 26-20 overtime loss at the hands of Arizona in the NFC divisional playoff, lays Jeff Janis.

He’s easily been the most talked about non-starter for the Packers all season. His speed set him apart. His route running and precision held him back.

“I thought he struggled in the preseason frankly,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who has lost five of seven playoff games on the final play. “I had him in my office for film and so forth and I thought he picked it up on special teams. I thought he had a hell of year playing special teams.”

Janis was an excellent special teams player this year, so good in fact that he drew comparisons to legendary Bills gunner Steve Tasker.

However, with no Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery the Packers needed the seventh round pick.

And he delivered big time.

Coming into the rematch with Arizona, Janis had been targeted 12 times and made two grabs for 79 yards. He got behind the secondary, fought for 50-50 balls and showed off his hands en route to seven catches, 145 yards and two touchdowns. 

“Jeff, very limited opportunities all season and catches his first career touchdown on a scramble play to put us up 13-7,” said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who targeted Janis 11 times. “And the two plays where he gets behind the guys and goes up and makes a play to put us on their side of the field. Obviously the catch at the end was fantastic.”

So where has the athleticism, dynamic play-making ability and versatility been all year? Because after watching Janis torch a pretty good secondary, he was a weapon that could’ve been used.

I’m not saying that Janis is a magic elixir that needs to start as soon as possible. I’m not going to that far. If he would’ve flattened out his route early in the second quarter, the Packers get a 10-yard touchdown instead of a field goal.

What I am saying though is, I sincerely hope that Janis wasn’t being held back because McCarthy or Rodgers didn’t trust him or didn’t like him. If that was the case, it held the Packers back because as you can see, Janis is a weapon. And in a season where they were looking for weapons all year, it’s just screams of stubbornness.

“As a receiver, he was inconsistent,” McCarthy said. “Had some chances, you know up and down. I really think he learned from those experiences and just had a tremendous game against Arizona.”

Granted, the Cardinals’ game is a one-game sample size, because Janis doesn’t exactly have a deep playing resume. But when he was thrust into scant action this year, he drew a pass interference penalty and had a speed element that was sadly lacking from this team.

We all know that Rodgers is a perfectionist. And if you’re not doing everything precisely the way he wants it, you’re not in his circle of trust and you’re not getting many looks on gameday.

Janis still has plenty of work to do. With all that speed, he could be a master of double moves or he could be an intern at the Nelson Sideline Catching School.

Either way, the Packers had a weapon on their team this year — and they barely fired it.




Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (127) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

Oh this should be fuuuuun to watch!

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yeah, too bad all the injuries ruined Mac and ARodg's secret vendetta against Janis.

dobber's picture

If there was a "vendetta" against Janis he wouldn't have been active on game days.

The TKstinator's picture

I am outraged.
Many of us probably remember the scandal of Ezra Johnson eating a hot dog on the bench years ago during a preseason game. That pales in comparison to this.
If Janis was REALLY "wasted" on the bench, he needs immediate disciplinary action as well as enrollment in the substance abuse program. Only after he's clean will he be able to realize his vast potential.

Amanofthenorth's picture

I'm not so sure. He really had very little responsibility, so I don't see a problem with a player having a bunch of beers and a toke or two during games. Sorry TK, on this one we'll have to disagree.

The TKstinator's picture

Gotta admit you have a point there.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah. I agree. I have been saying much of the same stuff all year. I wasn't asking for them to play him down after down. Just find a role for him.

What I don't get is why they couldn't have found a role for him. Put a package in for him to use his speed. Obviously his route running needs work, and he is far from a finished product. But he had one thing that no other WR had on the roster, and that is size and speed. He is a big play waiting to happen.

'I’m not saying that Janis is a magic elixir that needs to start as soon as possible. I’m not going to that far. If he would’ve flattened out his route early in the second quarter, the Packers get a 10-yard touchdown instead of a field goal.'
This is something that I have been thinking about since the game. Had Janis been playing all season and received some on field reps with Rodgers, would he have flattened that route out on Saturday?

I think McCarthy did the team a major disservice in not finding ways to use his players strengths. Not just Janis, Abbrederis proved he can play in this league, and he could have been contributing a lot more then what he did.

Horse's picture

His role on offense would have been Go out for a pass. Really, at some point fans might be better off trusting QB1 and the GB coaches. They always seem to know a lot more than we do.
BTW, he didn't finish his post pattern in the EZ early in the AZ game. That could have been a TD instead of a created opportunity for AZ to INT QB1.

RCPackerFan's picture

I trust the coaches. Does it mean they are always right, and fans can't disagree with them?

Janis needs a lot of work. Really does. I'm not disagreeing with that. But during the season, we saw Adams drop pass after pass. Can't tell me Janis would have done much worse?

Which play are you talking about?

Horse's picture

Pass to the right EZ sideline. I think this was it:
3rd and 8 at ARI 10
(11:31 - 2nd) (No Huddle, Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to J.Janis
In any case Janis just stopped and looked for the ball before he got to where the pass was targeted. It wouldn't have been defendable.

RCPackerFan's picture

yeah, that is the play I was talking about. Janis needed flatten his route out (where Rodgers threw the ball) but he ran a corner route.

My question with that play, is if he had received more experience during the year, does he run the right route? Perhaps he would have learned from his mistake earlier in the year.

Sometimes players learn differently. Some learn on the practice field, some learn from the book, some learn out on the field during game days.

Michael Filipelli's picture

And winning teams do not let a guy 'learn on game day.' Practice is repetitive - doing the same thing over and over. Saginaw St only required that he A) run fast and B) get in the neighborhood of the ball. The observations about Janis above are spot on. His route running is inconsistent in comparison to the other Packers. As such if Rodgers does not know where he is going to be, or more to the point if Janis does not know where he is supposed to be incompletions or worse interceptions occur. Keep in mind "potential" is a long French word that means "ain't worth a damn yet".

No doubt Janis has speed and potential. Jordy didn't get much playing time until he showed he could and in his case a strong argument could have been made that he, too, was too inconsistent. i.e. in the Super Bowl Nelson dropped his first THREE passes - but was fortunate enough to show he could be a gamer.

Listen to McCarthy talk about how much timer he has spent on film w Janis, but don't forget he's a 7th rounder. So was Donald Driver and he had to earn his spot and Favre's trust. It took Driver a few years to settle into a spot and he, just as Janis needs to do, did the work to show he was ready. Push them before they are ready and you have a guy out of the NFL.

Janis was in out of necessity just as Jordy was in the SB when Driver was hurt. He capitalized on it and now, like Jordy, he needs to improve the details of his craft to advance.

RCPackerFan's picture

While I agree with a lot of what you are saying. I don't think its completely fair to compare Driver and Jordy's situations to Janis's. The biggest reason why Jordy didn't play more was because the talent level above him was greater.
The biggest reason why most fans wanted to see more playing time this year for Janis (not asking for 50 plays a game), was because of the injuries to the WR position this year. And to be honest the need for Janis's speed on the field. If Nelson, Cobb, Adams, Montgomery all don't get hurt, there wouldn't be as many people asking to see Janis.

I agree that you don't want to force a player to play before he is ready. At the same time, you can still find ways to use those players, and use them in roles that they are comfortable in.

Now that we saw Janis step up and play well, he needs to use that as motivation for the offseason. He needs to learn the nuances of the WR position. If he can master his route running, and play book, he could be set up for a bigger role next year.

Tundraboy's picture

Your so right. Rather than beating a dead horse by targeting Adams so much. Both Abby and Janis could have gotten more game action experience, which of course would have been a small price to pay and would only have helped them and in turn the team down the road. Hell I kept waiting for MM to use them and Ripkowski in some packages just to give other team's something to think about later in the year and even into the playoffs. As someone else pointed out they are more weapons and we use concepts as weapons,, still they are weapons nonetheless.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

To me this is the correct take. Driver was a 7th rounder and took three seasons to develop even though you could see the latent talent. Let's hope Janis is the same.

croatpackfan's picture

Maybe you are right. Jordy was needed 3 year to shine, too. So, as I already stated, with bad or down year for Aaron, expect him back in the best ever edition we have witness in the past. With Jordy, healthy: Randall, Ty, Davante (Davante was playing hurt most of the season - ankle injury that side lined Ty) and Jeff and Abby we can only add another one WR (either James Jones, or this season PS guy, or new guy got from draft). That would be atomic offense again! It is not to overlook TE Mitchell Henry (PS) if he will justify how coaches and TT thinks of him. I can not wait already!

RCPackerFan's picture

exactly right. And Jordy Nelson took 3 years to really become the player we see now.

In this offense it takes a while to master it. I don't expect Janis to know it all. He has a steeper learning curve coming from a small school. We do need to be patient with him.

The problem was this year, they had so many injuries to the position. Losing Nelson, Montgomery to season ending injuries. Cobb was injured at the beginning of the year and Adams was injured and then ineffective for most of the year.
I like many others thought Janis would get a bit of an increased role after the San Diego game. Where he showed the speed that we were missing.
Problem was he wasn't used until Arizona when he was forced to play.

While he wasn't ready for a full time role, they really should have tried finding a role for him. 5-10 plays a game he could have came in and given them something.

Bearmeat's picture

While Jordy was a 2nd round pick and obviously a lot close to NFL ready coming out of KS, he was a LOT better by the end of 2010 than Janis is now. I'm thinking Jeff might be on the 4 year plan. :)

Horse's picture

Jordy Nelson interview w/ Ryan Wood, posted today

Q: Aaron Rodgers talked all season about the process of trust with receivers. Why do you think there were more chemistry struggles this season between him and receivers in years past?

A: They’re young guys. I mean, besides James and Randall, everyone is two years and under. I think that’s the impact. There’s a lot of time, it takes three, four or five years to fully get that trust. You’re having those guys playing a lot of downs, a lot of plays in key moments, and it takes time. You need the practice reps, you need the years just to accumulate. You need the meetings to accumulate, and that will happen.

Tundraboy's picture

I think he was on the 4yr plan, but plans changed this past year. . Question is will he take this experience and speed up his progress, or stall.

Tundraboy's picture

My thoughts exactly. In particular, maybe if he played more in previous games, he would have made less mistakes the last one. Have to learn on the job as well and practice makes perfect.

Ripkowski was wasted as well. Why didn't he play more?

As the year went on, there were more opportunities and we can all agree there were plenty of times the team needed a spark. Somewhere anywhere.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, I agree. I really do wonder if he had played more in the regular season if he wouldn't have made the route running mistakes in this game.

I thought they definitely could have used Ripkowski a lot more then they did. I still would have liked to have seen him and Kuhn together in the backfield with Lacy or Starks behind them.
Another I would have liked to have seen given a few more opportunities was John Crockett. That game against the Lions he provided a spark. After that he really wasn't used at all. Lacy basically did nothing and Starks was benched for fumbling, well why couldn't they have used Crockett to see if he could have given them a lift.

Oh definitely. They needed a spark or a big play to get them going. Really what got the offense going in the playoffs was the 34 yard pass to James Jones. After that the offense got going. Sometimes the team just needs a play to take off...

Tundraboy's picture

Yes Crockett too. Forgot about him. Brings to mind a play with Ripkowski early in the year. It was very successful and I also remember thinking at the time, this is Great! The team will only be better for it and MM now has another tool to add to the playbook. Never saw it again. Much like the NO game using Lacy in the passing game. Another dimension but rarely or never seen again. Sigh

RCPackerFan's picture

The thing I don't get with Crockett was why they didn't use him a little more when Starks was fumbling and Lacy was majorly ineffective. For example the first Arizona game, Lacy was completely ineffective and Starks fumbled on the opening drive in the 2nd half and was benched. Why not put Crockett in there to try and give the team something. Not that it was going to change the outcome. But he maybe would have proved to be another weapon.

Yes that Ripkowski play was great. I was surprised they didn't try that play again.

I just don't think the coaches did enough to use everything they had.

Tundraboy's picture

Yes I liked that play, especially because it was a change of pace from our usual style of play. Something to put in the other team's minds. Who knows maybe next year we will be healthy and have a diverse O once again.

RCPackerFan's picture

I would love to have a healthy year for the entire team.

Horse's picture

Maybe it was the WR coaching breakdown. But the very basic Finish your route concept isn't that hard to grasp. Janis tends to stop and look for the ball in the air before he gets to where the ball's supposed to be thrown. He's finished his 2nd season, had lots of practice time, watched the other receivers, and no doubt has been told what the problem is over and over. Blaming anyone or anything besides Janis at this point seems a bit far fetched to me.
When you don't finish your route, besides not making a play, you open the door to INT.

Michael Filipelli's picture

Ripkowski did not play more because there is an All Pro in front of him. And Kun is now signing a series of one year deals so Rip gets to learn from one of the best and when Kuhn hangs em up the Pack will not have to draft and develop a FB on the fly. How many more years does Kuhn have? Hard to say.. one, maybe two. But when he is gone Rip will be fully ready to assume the role.

Tundraboy's picture

True but I think he should have been used more than what, about two plays in 16 games.

Pucky Nye's picture

I agree totally. It was pretty clear by mid season Adams wasn't getting the job done. They knew Janis had the speed. There is such a thing as a "gamer", and Janis proved that, unfortunately too late. The minute Jordy went down, Thompson should've went shopping. You can't replace a Jordy Nelson with a 2nd or 3rd string receiver. Being stubborn and trying to make due with what you have doesn't always work. Will Thompson and McCarthy learn from this in the future? I highly doubt it.

dobber's picture

"You can't replace a Jordy Nelson with a 2nd or 3rd string receiver. "

But where are you going to get a legit #1 later in camp (because you want to see if your guys can perform, first) that isn't going to cripple your future drafts?

DrealynWilliams's picture

All of the back and forth of if he should have played more or not is pointless now. There's evidence to debate both.

He now has crunch time Playoff experience (vs a Top 10 Defense) and the arrow is definitely pointing up. From here on out it's only up to him if he wants to take advantage of his opportunities.

I'm confident the coaches ANNNND Aaron Rodgers will give him chance after chance to earn a role in Offense, but he has to get a greater understanding of the intricacies of being a Packers WR. Remember, he will be fighting for snaps with Ty, Abby and maybe Adams.

With that being said, I'm predicting Rodgers best season ever. I'm also predicting the first ever 3 WRs with 1,000+ receiving yards and double digit TDs.

And another SB ring....

Tundraboy's picture

Your right. It's all good. Abby and Janis got valuable experience, and we now know what they bring. Hope they all study hard and come back healthy.and that all your predictions come to pass. Don't know about three 1000 yard receivers with so many to throw the ball around. I would love to see that.

bears suck forever's picture

Sitting on the bench might be the only reason he was healthy enough to play.

Bearmeat's picture

In all seriousness, both Janis and Abby should have been used much earlier than they were - regardless of a seeming inability to grasp nuances of the MM/AR timing offense. Put simply, the home losses to the NFCN foes were embarrassing and every single one of them sat directly at the feet of an atrocious offense.

It was already broken. Nothing was working. And the kids made plays. So why the hell not? What is there to lose?

Tundraboy's picture

Ditto. Part of learning is to play in live game action. There were plenty of games where he and Abby should have played and gotten more opportunities. Just dumb. It's like benching Starks for fumbling. Cut off your nose to spite your face. With Starks it's a bit different as he's not a second year player or a rookie, but benching him does not make him fumble less, it's punishment which is counterproductive. I'm sure he does not want to fumble, so yes take him out for a play, but don't take away talent from the team for a half or a whole game. Otherwise why is he on the roster, if not to be used.

4thand10's picture

^^^^This. 100% agree.

Patrick Helms's picture

They bench Starks for a fumble but keep throwing to Adams, drop after drop.....makes no sense at

croatpackfan's picture

Cory, very nice article in which I almost agree with all facts you put in. So, your conclusion is little out of what you where writing.
I wrote (maybe on, I do not remember any more) that this last game showed that it was good not to push Jeff Janis to soon into the fire. When he finally broke and start to play more he showed us that confidence built in him, but also some flashes of his inconsistancy. He had some bad route runnings during this game.
Abby did not get that much space in reports as Jeff, mostly because he became no factor in 2nd half, by many reporters. I will disagree on that estimation. Abby was the x factor which allows Jeff to shine. Abby's lack of chances to get bal thrown to him was not because Abby was staying on the field, but because Cardinals made adjustments to take him out of game. They did, but that is why Jeff Janis get better opportunities...

Tundraboy's picture

Great point about Abby and Janis dynamic in Cardinals game. Another example of why they should have played more.

Michael Filipelli's picture

Excellent analysis croatpackfan. The pros make halftime adjustments college teams can't make due to an overall skill set. The Cards did a much better job of clamping down on Abby in the 2nd half and Janis's long routes were. to be fair. straight out fly patterns. He outran his man. But his sloppy route running was subtly costly... good job pointing that out.

W/O Jordy it was obvious that 1) Cobb is not a #1 WR. 2) Adams wasn't ready fill Jordy's role (which is WHY you don't push the young 'uns before they're ready. The downside is it can kill their confidence and career.) 3) Abby's skill set makes him more of a Wes Welker type who, like Cobb, is better in the slot and making plays in space. 4) There was no full season threat from the TE position to draw a LB into coverage and hit the seam routes to allow the WR's to play on the edges.

And most folks are missing something incredibly obvious - how many other teams could have gone this far WIOTHOUT their top FOUR wide receivers? How about the Cards without Fitz, Floyd, Brown and Brown? Think they'd have had a prayer?

Given their roster limitations and the fact Green Bay was on the road facing the # 2 seed, the #1 offense and the # 5 defense I'd say the coaching staff did a tremendous job of putting together a game plan that gave the Pack a legitimate shot to win. And think about this - had the Packers somehow pulled it out it would have meant going into Carolina with only 3 WR's. Cobb would have never made it onto the field. And still somehow Green Bay hung tough. The future still looks bright.

Nick Perry's picture

I LOVE this piece Cory, it points out what I felt were some of the problems with the Packers this year.

MM says "He was inconsistent", "Had some chances, you now up and down" Janis was thrown to 12 times in the season!!! That hardly qualifies as chances does it? At least when you consider the number of chances Adams had. Or what about all the droped passes by Adams. I don't know what the official total was but it sure seemed like MORE than 12, the number of "Chances" Janis had to catch a ball. I wonder how many of those 12 chances were balls that Rodgers overthrew? MM stubburness was EXACTLY what kept Janis on the bench this season. Keep playing Adams Mike, it only took until week 17 to have an okay game!!!
I get he didn't impress in practice, didn't run crisp routes, but when he caught the damn ball he did something with it! All 2 catches! That's something Adams didn't do at any time this year really.

I love Rodgers, he won me over quickly back in 2008 when he replaced Favre who IMO was the player most responsible for turning a losing franchise into a perennial winner. I love he's a perfectionist, we've be able to witness first hand his drive to be perfect with winning seasons, 2 MVP's, a SB Title, and a SB MVP. But this year Rodgers was perfect, far from it. You have practice what you preach and Rodgers couldn't hit one of those 40 yard throws down the sideline if his life depended on it this year.

What I'd like to see is Edgar Bennett back in charge of WR, and a fresh Offensive mind to come in and blend some "New Ideas" in with McCarthys offense that's been the same for years.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, you and I have been on the same page with this for a while.

'What I'd like to see is Edgar Bennett back in charge of WR, and a fresh Offensive mind to come in and blend some "New Ideas" in with McCarthys offense that's been the same for years.'
I would love to see Bennett in charge of the WR's too, but I don't see him doing that. I hope at the very least that they hire a WR coach.

I have thought about that too. It would be nice to bring someone else in to bring some new ideas or ways of thinking to the offense. Not saying changing the scheme, just saying it would be nice to bring in some new concepts and wrinkles to the offense.

Tundraboy's picture

Agree . All valid points. Some players may be raw, but they are football players. Know what to do with the ball. Reading your post only added to my frustration with MM and Rodgers as well, and something popped up in my mind. There is a fine line between being a perfectionist and a control freak.

sheppercheeser's picture

I had felt during the year that AR had something against Janis and yes, maybe his routes weren't crisp, but Jeff would have been SO much better than Davante. What good is running good routes if you can't catch (i.e. Adams)?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Davante's routes weren't very good either.

WKUPackFan's picture

I think we have a fundamental misunderstanding of how football coaches operate, especially in the NFL. MM certainly isn't the only coach to keep less experienced guys on the bench.

One example: Arians and David Johnson. Just like Janis, the public was screaming for D. Johnson over C. Johnson (who wouldn't?) and Ellington. It seemed all D. Johnson did at the beginning of the year was score touchdowns. Yet, Arians plainly stated that he preferred playing the vets. Thus, D. Johnson got very few carries until C. Johnson and Ellington went down.

Paul Ott Carruth's picture

Most coaches prefer vets....not all. Fans were not clamoring for Janis to start on a full time basis and get 50 snaps a game. They wanted to see him used in different personnel packages to take advantage of his skill set. It became increasingly louder as Adams continued to drop balls.

Chris Johnson was averaging 4.2 yds. per carry and was on his way to over 1000 yds on the season so it would stand to reason David Johnson would see limited touches. Chris Johnson, while not spectacular, was productive. Adams wasn't. The Cardinals were also 9-2 during that time. Understandable why they didn't change much. Furthermore, Ellington had 24 carries in a 7 game stretch from Oct. 11 thru Nov. 29. Comparatively, David Johnson had 22 carries in that same time span. I didn't look at receiving stats or total number of snaps but this sample size suggests David Johnson had the similar opportunities as the veteran Ellington.

The other difference between the two situations you aren't recognizing is the fact that C. Johnson and Ellington had significant years in the league compared to D. Johnson who was a rookie. Janis and Adams have the same amount of vested years. Adams has more experience by virtue of playing ahead of Janis in their rookie seasons. What many fans were saying, and rightfully so, was Janis, by comparison to Adams should have been given an opportunity based on the poor performance of Adams. There wasn't anything in Adams performance to suggest he should be given increased snaps. After Montgomery went down it became even more evident Janis should have had more opportunities.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, you pretty much summed up what I have been saying for a long time.

IMO this was a big mistake by the coaches.

A lot of people want to bring up that Jordy didn't play much for the first 3 years. The biggest difference with that was the talent he had ahead of him at the time. He had Jennings, Driver, James Jones all ahead of him. This year after Montgomery went down Janis had Cobb, Jones, Adams, and Abbrederis above him. That's a big difference.

I don't see any reason why Janis shouldn't have been used more.

Tundraboy's picture

Another great point. We were very deep and the talent above him was incredible with Jordy. This year it was not like the starters were setting the world on fire.

RCPackerFan's picture

exactly. And like Paul said, its not like Adams has more experience or anything. He struggled mightily and didn't deserve the amount of playing he got.

Tundraboy's picture

POCS. Curious to know what your take on using Ripkowski is.?

WKUPackFan's picture

I believe it was implied that "most" coaches prefer veterans, but if you want to nitpick word economy be my guest. Also, I didn't fail to "recognize" anything. The point was that other coaches operate in the same manner as MM.

Don't you get enough praise here without having to be an a*s?

Tundraboy's picture

Exactly. Noone ever said start him, just play him, Find ways to use his skills, some of which the team could use.

Handsback's picture

I saw it written that when TT brought in JJ as a FA, it would impact in a negative way the growth of the young receivers...Janis and Abby. It did and while they won games in the front end, Jones couldn't make the difference in the back end of the schedule and w/o game day experience Janis and Abby suffered.
So probably the team thought both young receivers would develop during the year and contribute in the playoffs.
The problem I have is that Janis didn't have a good TC, his second where he's supposed to make the biggest development leap. Abby didn't because of injuries. Both of these players need a strong preseason so they can contribute this year. Think how scary it would be to have Nelson, Janis, Cobb, and Adams in a line-up? Abby, Montgomery and even Rodgers able to be plugged in after a few go patterns have worn out the defense. Looking forward to next year!

RCPackerFan's picture

A local radio show that I listen to a lot said the exact same thing when they signed Jones. That it would have a negative affect on the young players. I didn't believe him at the time, but in the end he was right.

I am looking forward to next year to have Nelson, Cobb, Adams, Montgomery, Abbrederis, Janis all together.

dobber's picture

It was a move the team needed to make to win games now. If you're a team trying to improve and finish .500, maybe you don't make that move. If you're a team that feels it's competing for a championship, you do... just my thought.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, that is exactly how I felt. It was a move they had to make. Would they have started 6-0 without Jones? I doubt it.

But as the season wore on I do think they made a mistake in not working the young WR's in more.

I'm not saying he was completely right, but what he said had a lot of truth to it. If they didn't sign Jones, it would have forced Janis and Abbrederis to play more. By them playing more it maybe would have benefited the team at the end of the season as they would have been more experienced. But at the same time maybe they wouldn't have been in the same position at the end of the year without Jones.

Tundraboy's picture

There was a balance of the two needs in there. Starting after the bye.

Razer's picture

I don't buy it. James Jones is a vet that taught those guys a lot through his preparation and tough play. He also gave the Packers breathing room to get the young guys ready. The fact that MM and the coaches didn't sprinkle the young guys in throughout the season is a coaching issue. The fact that MM kept Davante Adams in there when he wasn't producing had more to do with retarding the growth of the other young WRs.

In the final analysis it played out quite well for the long-term. Adams regained his confidence and people saw that the team has your back. Janis and Abby got a taste of success without the setback of sinking rather than swimming.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

James Jones: 50 receptions, 890 yards, 17.8 yard average and 8 TDs. That includes no less than 10 games with at least one explosive play - a gain of at least 22 yards, and 3 more games with a long reception of 16, 17, and 19. Some of it was ugly, not a little of it was forced. Wow, that would have been a lot of yards to squeeze out of Montgomery, Abby, and Janis.

Agree with the comments above: we lose a couple of early games w/o Jones, but the coaches should have sprinkled in Monty, Abby and Janis more, mostly at Adams' expense, but some at JJ's expense.

Tundraboy's picture

In the final analysis it played out quite well for the long-term. Adams regained his confidence and people saw that the team has your back. Janis and Abby got a taste of success without the setback of sinking rather than swimming."

And it all bodes well for the future.

Lacy's picture

With the way Adams played all year and the struggles in the passing games , there is no excuse for not giving JJ more opportunities...teams were playing man to man press coverage on us since the Denver game and we had no answer ... Or did we? Most teams don't have a DB as fast as Janis..and all the experts were saying we had no deep threat all year, no one to take the top off the defense and keep the safety honest... Oh yes we did, but he was on the bench!

pacman's picture

Finally, a full article on this topic. All good points. Why is it that one fumble by a running back on your on the bench. But drop a BUNCH of passes and they come right back to you.

Janis didn't need to learn all the routes perfectly. Just perfect a few for now. Send him deep. Out run the first defender and draw 2 man coverage every time.

Only positive is that now MM will be forced to give him chances. I don't know if Adams will settle down but Ty looked very good in his few chances. So we won't have to waste any draft picks on WR's and we will be able to focus on defensive line (and one TE).

OT: How is it that the Packers didn't know about Lacy's weight problem. Don't they keep tabs on their players in the off season?

dobber's picture

"Only positive is that now MM will be forced to give him chances."

MM won't be forced to do anything. I fully expect Janis to be on the roster bubble when we hit the end of August next year. People can point to this one game all they want, but Janis will still be hidden behind two big contracts for proven players (Nelson and Cobb), two recent, higher draft picks with upside (Adams and Montgomery), and potentially another draft pick come April. His bread and butter will be special teams, and he'll still have to wait for his chances.

Razer's picture

I doubt that he will be on the roster bubble. He made big strides this year and everybody knows it - especially Janis. If he applies himself this off-season, he will be a force that will take a position regardless of contracts or draft ranking. The only thing that McCarthy needs to do is open up this offense and let the horses run.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I agree Razer. Janis made some big strides, but regardless of how he looks at WR next year, he looks like a great gunner and pretty good KR. If he is cut and the punt coverage team takes a dump, there will be lots of fingers pointed at MM and TT.

dobber's picture

While there are sentiments here in this article that I agree with, I don't really see the point in it, anymore.

Is it possible that Janis playing more through the regular season might have meant more productivity on Saturday? Maybe. It could be that he would have emerged and become such a threat that defenses would have completely taken him away, too. Would he have made two games worth of difference in the standings and potentially given the Packers a bye? Maybe. Would he have been the magic touch that saved Bakhtiari's, Linsley's, or Bulaga's ankles. Probably not.

But in the end, he WAS on the field on Saturday and, to his credit he played well. The Packers still lost.

Let's be looking ahead, and not looking back and playing coulda-shoulda-woulda on Janis (or Abbrederis).

RCPackerFan's picture

The biggest question I have and we will never know is: If Janis received more playing time in the regular season, would he have been been able to learn from mistakes that he would have made then and corrected them for this game. Like that route he ran in the endzone on 3rd down. If he has that experience maybe he runs the right route.

The other thing, if he played more does he and Rodgers get their timing down better? There was a couple of deep throws Rodgers made to Janis. one Janis had his guy beat, and would have had an easy TD, but Rodgers under threw him and it allowed the DB to make a play on the ball. Perhaps if Janis had played more Rodgers timing would have been better and that would have been a TD.

Right now is a good time to reflect on the season that was.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I'm a little surprised by this post, Dobber. We look back and evaluate the players and the decisions made by coaches and by TT after the season, don't we? I am not in the fire MM category, but I am not nearly as enthusiastic about MM as I used to be. Nor was I a fan of Fontenot, Darren Perry (jury is out on him), or Winston Moss.

egbertsouse's picture

Another example of MM's lack of creativity. "We don't play young guys until they prove themselves." Meanwhile, we get a man-crush on Dropvante Adams and watch him play like crap game after game.

Bojan Glisic's picture

That is absurd. Why would they keep him if they don't like him? I would say that they love him so much even when they think he can't help a lot at the moment.

daveh's picture

My take on Adams was how Rodgers was praising him in the offseason. I hope the Pack keep Starks and Kuhn..they always give it all. The Pakers biggest concern in the Defense , a good pass rusher and versatile middle line backer. Keep Crosby and punt the punter, already depressed waiting for August..GO PACK

dobber's picture

As I look at the upcoming draft (which is what I'm more excited about than breaking down player usage in the past season), we keep pointing to needs on the defensive side of the ball, and I agree: they're going to need a pass rusher, they're going to need help in the middle of the defense--maybe BOTH on the DL and ILB. I think they're probably going to need another CB.

But what we saw this year were the frailties on offense and the fact that this team needs an influx of talent on that side of the ball, not just to elevate current play, but to lay the groundwork for turnover. How TT utilizes his picks to make these agendas happen will be the story of the offseason--because I think we all expect the second story of the offseason to be his ongoing disdain for signing external FA.

paxbak's picture

Janis was awesome on special teams, I think his special teams play represented the biggest jump of anybody from last year. That's a sad comment by the way.... Am I missing anybody that got a lot better from 2014? I'm trying to think, but nothing is happening. : )

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Janis on STs as a gunner and as a KR. HHCD, depending on the definition of the phrase a lot. Burnett, arguably. Pennel, not by a lot, perhaps, but noticeable.

That is all I can think of.

Shorty1973's picture

Why not a sub package with Janis in the backfield instead of Cobb. I agree that Janis and Abbey need to be played more and targeted more in order to develop. And I would put Janis on punt returns as well his speed is great. Next year they should run 4 receiver set Janis and Nelson down the sides, Cobb and Abbey in the slots, guess that leaves Adams out. I like Ty and he deserves playing time, but you can't keep hiding Janis on special teams

RCPackerFan's picture

I thought Janis would have been great on a reverse or Jet Sweep.

I hope next year they come up with some different packages to use all their weapons.

To add to yours, Janis/Nelson outside. Cobb/Abbrederis inside, and how about putting Montgomery in the backfield.

Shorty1973's picture

Why not a sub package with Janis in the backfield instead of Cobb. I agree that Janis and Abbey need to be played more and targeted more in order to develop. And I would put Janis on punt returns as well his speed is great. Next year they should run 4 receiver set Janis and Nelson down the sides, Cobb and Abbey in the slots, guess that leaves Adams out. I like Ty and he deserves playing time, but you can't keep hiding Janis on special teams

mnklitzke's picture

Janis would have played more but is pad level just wasn't there... MM has favorites and if your not one of them good luck playing.. How the hell else to do explain not giving Janis or Abby a shot when Cobb, Adams, Jones couldn't do ANYTHING... Janis was active all year but cause MM thought his pad level was wrong he doesn't get a shot. He would rather save him for special teams...

lou's picture

There had to be some personal issues as to why Janis did not play more as the others continued to flounder at WR, his only chance came when basically THERE WERE NO OTHER OPTIONS. There is too much loyalty in the coaching staff and with the players (Bob McGinn touched on this a few weeks ago) and I would assume that Mark Murphy ensures that this is addressed as we especially see changes in the offensive coaching staff soon. We have seen these types of things before, how in the Hell could Desmond Bishop sit behind A.J. Hawk and others as long as he did, same instance, THERE WERE NO OTHER OPTIONS when he finally got a chance, and like Janis in the playoffs he shined. Time to make some moves ASAP.

Spud Rapids's picture

Janis had the lowest catch rate in the league in 2015. He was targeted 12 times had 1 drop and only caught 2 passes. The NFL is a league where you have to make the most of every opportunity. Does anyone remember the slant on the goal line that went right through his hands? What about the fact that his big reception against San Diego wasn't even meant for him.

I trust the coaching staff and think it was right that he didn't play. He was pressed into action in Arizona and made some big plays yes, however, the route he flattened is indicative of his lack of preparation or the fact he hasn't mastered the offense yet as a WR. That play is what makes the difference between Jordy Nelson and Jeff Janis.

Look at what the scouting reports said. It's gonna take him a while. From the Journal Sentinel:

AFC scout: "Big, strong guy. Little straight-line. He's got straight-line speed so he can run by people. But when he starts having to run routes, he struggles a little bit in and out of his breaks."

AFC scout: "He's horrible."

NFC scout: "Free agent. I don't think he's going to be much better than that. He's no Jordy Nelson, all right?"

NFC scout: "He's a good small-school player. Raw."

AFC scout: "He ran real well at the combine but I didn't like him down there in Mobile."

AFC scout: "No, he's not a player. He caught 1,000 passes but he had 1,000 chances, too."

Evan's picture

"AFC scout: "No, he's not a player. He caught 1,000 passes but he had 1,000 chances, too."

So he caught 1,000 out of 1,000 balls thrown at him? Is that not good?

As for his 2 catches on 12 targets this year (or whatever the stat was), how many of those were fly routes that Rodgers just overthrew (as he did regularly throughout the year).

lou's picture

Obviously you didn't watch Adams play a single snap all season - Come On Man he was horrible, no separation the worst drop rate fro a starting WR per Pro Football Focus and missed blocks to boot. The only time you noticed him at all was when he couldn't get open and catch the ball and THREW A FIT THAT NO FLAG WAS THROWN. Who cares what the scouts have to say, seeing is believing.

Spud Rapids's picture

Well I think I'd value you a scouts opinion over your casual sunday viewership opinion

lou's picture

I would not call my high school, college, and military football background as "casual viewership" as well as attending 5-6 practices per year. Again, "seeing is believing".

sonomaca's picture

Those quotes are from 2014. Little dated.

Here's a thought experiment: Let's say Janis was in this year's draft. In what round would he go? I'm guessing no lower than 3rd, maybe 2nd.

If I'm McCarthy, I'm giving Janis lots of off-season homework on route running. He may never be Nelson, but he should certainly improve. I think the Arizona game will give him confidence and motivation. After all, top flight NFL receivers make lots of dough.

What impressed me on the final play: From the side view, it was clear Janis really got high off the ground. Given his height, plus his leaping ability, how many corners are going to be able to stay with him in the air?

Evan's picture

"Here's a thought experiment: Let's say Janis was in this year's draft. In what round would he go? I'm guessing no lower than 3rd, maybe 2nd."

That strikes me as a little over the top.

He went undrafted in one of the best WR draft classes ever. In a normal year, I could see him going 5-7th round.

RCPackerFan's picture

Janis was drafted in the 7th round...

Evan's picture're right.

But, yeah, in a normal year, maybe he jumps up a couple rounds. But not 2nd or 3rd.

sonomaca's picture

He's a 5th rounder just based on special teams work.

Evan's picture

Wait...are you saying he enters the draft this year but with his 2015 NFL experience added to his resume? Because I don't believe he had any substantial special teams experience in college.

sonomaca's picture

Let's say he played special teams in college and was outstanding at it.

RCPackerFan's picture

Take it for what it is, but when the Packers drafted Janis, Mel Kiper said Janis could have easily went in the 4th round. He had a 4th round grade on him. Due to the depth of the WR position that year it pushed everyone down.

Spud Rapids's picture

I think 3rd and 2nd is a stretch too... Janis has had the measurables from day one but that hail mary was the first catch i've seen with his hands... he always lets a pass get into his body which is recipe for a low catch rate on contested balls

I'll admit I could be wrong on Janis but at the same time everyone calling for him to play all the time could be wrong as well. None of us have the sample size to determine his legitimate ability, however, I do believe the coaching staff does

RCPackerFan's picture

Where did you get your stats from?

IMO, throw out the targeting stats. How many of those plays are deliberately being thrown out of bounds? In the last game alone just off the top of my head I remember 2 plays that Rodgers threw out of bounds in Janis's direction. So that gets put as a target to Janis, even though he was not attempting to actually complete a pass to him.

I remember against Kansas City earlier this year was the same thing. Rodgers threw the ball 5 yards out of bounds near Janis. It goes down as a target to Janis even though he wasn't trying to complete the pass..

Samson's picture

The last two catches by Janis were desperation throws by AR. -- A little luck involved, just maybe??

If Janis can't run routes next season, he won't be on the field. -- If AR doesn't trust Janis in 2016, he won't be on the field. If Janis doesn't have a great preseason, he won't make the 53 coming out of TC.

Jordy, RC, Jones, Ty, Adams are your 5 WRs in 2016. ------ Abby & Janis will be fighting for that 6th WR slot. (remember, they are both 7th round picks for a reason)

RCPackerFan's picture

Abbrederis was a 5th round pick, and Jones is a free agent.

Samson's picture

Abby - 5th round is correct. -- Jones being a FA means nothing. -- AR is close with JJ -- He looks at him like a "brother".

You've been pushing for Janis all season. -- Hey, buy his jersey & wear it. But, please, don't act like you have inside info. ----- I trust the QB & coaching staff to know who should be on the field. ---- Janis is a 7th round draft pick who obviously doesn't practice very well & doesn't have the trust of his QB. -- It's pretty simple.

Spud Rapids's picture

I think Janis is a lock because of his special teams play... it's the same reason we wondered why Jarrett Bush made the team every year

lou's picture

Using your logic then I would expected Kyhri Thornton, Jerel Worthy, Carl Bradford, Terrel Manning. and Jerron McMillon to be penciled in as starters next season along with 1st rounders Datone Jones and Nick Perry (if he resigns). Your logic is "flawed".

D Ernesto's picture

Where did you come up with all these names? I'm impressed.
Ted drafted Worthy and the analyst were quick to point out that he often went missing in game as MSU. Ya he went missing for two years with the Pack.
These genius fans forget that Ted gets it wrong more than he gets it right. R Rogers is a slow fat ass guy parading as a tight end 31 other teams passed over in the draft at least three times.
The thing to keep in mind is Ted wants the cheapest players he can get. Never met an undrafted rookie he didn't like.
Draft and development is another way of saying, I want to save the org a ton of money on cheap ass players no one else wanted.
Forget bringing in real free agent talent or drafting real Defensive Ends who can pass rush, no were saving that money for what no one knows. The problem with this team is Ted.

Tundraboy's picture

I don't see the next to last throw as luck, nor catching the Hail Mary.

4thand10's picture

Janis will have a spot on the team CAN keep players and pay them for mostly special teams...and he is a special teams demon. Just having him as a returner alone is worth it.

alaskan tundra's picture

Nice piece by Cory. Many have stated the same here for a while. Watching Adams struggle all year was frustrating for many of us. Not giving more reps to Janis and Abby bordered on stubborness. Same with Crockett. If youre benching Starks and Lacy is ineffective why wouldnt you use a player that for a limited basis, looked good? Yes , were not coaches or agents. We are passionate and generally astute football fans that question, to what alot of us see as common sense solutions, coaching decisions.

Tundraboy's picture

Yes it's not exactly rocket science.

Razer's picture

One of the posters said something to the affect that "one game doesn't make a season...". and ultimately I think that really applies to Janis. If the coaches weren't seeing consistent performance in practice then they wouldn't be inclined to trust him in game situations. I do have a couple of concerns with the validity of this explanation.

1. Rodgers complimented both Janis and Abracadabra on filling in, especially since they didn't practice the offense like the regulars.

2. McCarthy keeps referring to the plays that they run out of the 3 WR sets and formations.

How are new receivers going to get this offense if they aren't practicing it? Why are we so rigid in our receiver sets particularly when our WRs under performed most of the season? I won't say that Janis would have changed the outcome of this season but it is apparent that the coaches didn't expand the field of opportunity for these guys in a timely manner.

I am glad that Janis made enough noise at the end of the season to be recognized in time for an expanded role next year.

Tundraboy's picture

Final thought on Janis, Glad he had the opportunity in a high pressure playoff situation. The last two passes showed he can catch the ball when it counts. Now he has the whole off season to build off that.

I too wondered why we stuck with so many 3 WR sets, but I kind of know the answer.

Spud Rapids's picture

In McCarthy's offense the 3 WR set is the base formation where the most plays can be ran out of. If you run 4 WR you take out a fullback or a TE or a running back. Why would you wan to do that? then you give your hand away your throwing and no one will play the run.

So many of us question McCarthy's play calling yet we fail to see simple things such as this.

Tundraboy's picture

There was a time when we didn't need to hide the pass we came at them daring them to stop us.

Handsback's picture

In your 2nd point you nailed it! If they aren't practicing with Aaron Rodgers, then they aren't going to be game ready. Janis isn't a natural receiver. I don't think Jordy was either. The difference was jordy played at KS. St. and became a very good player. Still raw, but not as much as Janis. I'm sorry, but if a coach can't take a guy with that natural ability and make him a receiver then you may have a coaching problem. That being said....I think Green Bay's WR coaching was very limited this year for whatever reason. Maybe that's why Abby and Janis didn't progress like they should.

D Ernesto's picture

If they don't let you practice or your time is very limited so the higher draft picks get to develop then you really were an after thought acquistion fill in person and your staying there.
What about our third string running back? Could have used him all year and sat Lacy. Didn't happen did it. Mike lets the higher draft picks play and everyone else is second thought fill in's.

D Ernesto's picture

Janis has been around a while now. We can all speculate, why is a 6'3 speedy receiver sitting on the bench after what two? Three years?
Its not like this team is stacked at the position this year.
My take in can only be one of two things: First, he's not bright enough to learn the playbook. Runs the wrong routes most of the time and frustrates Rogers.
Or, Mike plays favorites and must use Adams, et al who were much higher draft picks to appease Teds drafting. There is no other explanation.
Why you wouldn't have him on one side and Jordy on the other and add speed to the picture and strecth defenses is beyond comprehension but apparently mental mike can't see it.
Same reason Starks sits on bench and fat ass eddy was the feature back all year. What a mess.

packsmack's picture

One of the biggest things I see that no one has mentioned is how much less the NFL CBA allows these teams to practice, both in TC and throughout the year. Guys that are as raw as Janis really don't have an opportunity to get better unless they do it on their own. Janis may have been better off going to a team like Carolina or even Philadelphia, where they simplify route concepts and tend to treat their receivers more like weapons. Green Bay tries to use their offensive concepts as the weapon, instead of letting athletes just go make plays. I'm certainly not complaining about the way we operate, because obviously it works pretty well. But Janis is an athlete unlike any we've seen in Green Bay since probably Javon Walker, because Thompson has generally drafted guys that are better in a small space over guys that can stretch the field.

lou's picture

My compliments packsmack on some excellent observations.

packsmack's picture

Thanks Lou.

Tundraboy's picture


Sportspack's picture

Hmm, I don't believe the Packers run anything special in their passing game. How many times this season have you seen Rodgers not be on the same page with Cobb or Jones or Adams, yet it is Janis who gets singled out for being a poor route runner. The routes the Packers receivers run are pretty basic, as are the formations. Janis can get tips on running the routes properly from any defensive coordinator in the league.

packsmack's picture

The Packers run a timing based passing attack that relies heavily on option routes, check-with-mes, and back shoulder throws. Other teams run similar things, but not with the frequency that McCarthy runs out there. It's the biggest reason that man-press teams fluster the offense, since it throws off the timing and makes it harder for the QB and WR to be on the same page on the options.

marpag1's picture

Lots of people seem to be speaking based on hunches and perceptions which are not necessarily supported by facts.

Up until the Cardinals game, Janis played about 90 offensive snaps this year (not counting special teams). While that isn't much, it is something. What did he do during those 90 snaps? Two catches. Two!

Maybe he didn't get many targets, you say? You'd be right. According to FO, he was targeted 12 times. And in those 12 targets he only caught TWO balls.

He couldn't have been any worse than Adams, you say? Ummm.... Janis had 12 targets and 2 catches. Adams had 93 targets and 50 catches. In other words, a throw to Janis resulted in a catch 16.7% of the time. A throw to Adams resulted in a catch 53.7% of the time.

Hey, maybe Janis had his breakthrough. I'm hoping it's true. But when he was on the field - and he was - he showed virtually NOTHING to make coaches think he needed to have more playing time.

packsmack's picture

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Tundraboy's picture

Come on. 12 targets? That's less than 1 a game. And how many were really targets or catchable throws?

RCPackerFan's picture

Just off the top of my head, I know that one in Kansas City was just thrown out of bounds. If I remember right it was the first play of the game.

Another one he was targeted but badly under thrown and wasn't catchable was against the Raiders, when Woodson and another DB intercepted it.

That's why to me targets are a bad stat to base anything off of. I also want to know is in those targets how many were really catchable.

Tundraboy's picture

Thanks RC. I thought so. My cmon was in response to Marpags assertion.

marpag1's picture

Why is it that everyone wants to question the validity of the stats for Janis, but no one seems worried about the validity of the stats for Adams or any other receiver? Same guys are doing the counting right?

And if you are able very easily to know that ARod intentionally threw one away, do you think that maybe the stat guys were able to notice that too? A throwaway is not a target.

My point is that in the limited opportunities that Janis had, he did squat. Zero. Most NFL quarterbacks have terrific memories when it comes to this stuff. Remember how Favre used to talk to the press and they would ask him about one specific play, and Favre would go into great detail about every little thing that happened? He remembered all of it. I don't know that very many had the incredible memory that Favre had, but its pretty close. Manning is like that. Brady is like that.

If Janis is on the field for almost 100 offensive snaps, and if ARod throws to him 12 times, and in return the Packers don't get crap out of it, I think we can guarantee that a QB is going to remember that. The fact remains that even Adams, whom everyone is blasting as unreliable, caught the ball more than half of the time that ARod threw it to him. Distrust the stats if you want to, but there is no way that Janis was even remotely close to catching 50% of the balls.

RCPackerFan's picture

My whole thing is on Targets. (Not just targets for Janis but for any WR). Its just this article is on Janis.
Targets are not a good stat to look at and base any kind of conclusion on. There are a number of throws that are not intended to go to the WR. They are meant to be thrown away. Yet the 'target' goes to the closest WR.

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