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Fan favorite Janis needs to stand out on special teams

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Fan favorite Janis needs to stand out on special teams

Almost every season in the NFL, one team or another has to make the tough decision to part ways with a player who has come to be adored by fans of said team. Many times, that decision is made easier by dwindling performance brought on by age. Other times, however, the player is forced out by a combination of roster numbers and skill prioritization.

Over the past three years, Jeff Janis has become a major object of fascination for many Packer fans. His speed and size mesmerized when he broke into the league, and fans clamored for his inclusion on the game day roster even as he spent most of his first season on the practice squad. As time wore on, it became clear the coaching staff wasn’t high enough on his receiving acumen to use him in a feature role.

He got the opportunity to flex his muscles as a kick returner in 2015, and when he caught two Hail Mary passes in the final minutes of the Packers’ playoff loss to Arizaon, Janis Fever took the fan base by storm once again. In 2016, we saw the first signs Green Bay was scheming specifically to his skill set when he carried the ball on what amounted to a jet-sweep.

Where Janis probably performed most admirably, though, was in punt coverage. His straight line speed and solid build made him a nightmare for perimeter blockers to contain, and he even showed a serviceable ability to make tackles.

Unfortunately for the fourth-year man from Saginaw Valley State, he may have to hope the Packers value his abilities as a gunner enough to designate a roster spot for him.

As has been discussed plenty over the course of this offseason, the Packers are hardly in a bind to field a competent group of wide receivers. Even before the draft, Green Bay wasn’t weak at the position. Then they added two bodies to the group anyway. That kind of depth, combined with the inevitability of the Packers using more two-tight end sets in 2017 (i.e. one less receiver on the field), means it’s going to be awfully hard for the less established wideouts to crack the 53.

Realistically, it’s safe to assume Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams have roster spots sealed up. Geronimo Allison’s emergence late last season makes him a strong candidate to grab another. That’s four spots all but locked up.

Assuming the Packers keep a maximum of seven receivers on the active roster, that leaves three open spots for, as of right now, seven other players the team will be bringing to camp. Janis, Trevor Davis and Max McCaffrey are the non-rookies. Draft selections DeAngelo Yancey and Malachi Dupre, along with undrafted rookies Montay Crockett and Michael Clark, round out the current group.

Davis will have a lot to prove after an underwhelming rookie season, though it’s clear the organization likes the potential he brings to the table, which probably gives him an edge to secure on more roster spot.

After that, it really appears to be anyone’s ballgame. Though it’s extremely difficult to make any judgements before seeing them on the field, Yancey and Dupre seem to be better pure receivers than Janis. It would also be extremely foolish to count out the undrafted rookies, as Allison proved just a year ago.

The competition for the final two or three roster spots at wide receiver are likely going to come down to who can bring the most overall tools to the table. For Jeff Janis, that could mean turning into the type of special teams demon the Packers can’t afford to cut; the kind who is a threat to return every kickoff for a touchdown and can make every open field tackle. If someone else proves they can be as effective in that role while simultaneously offering more as a receiver, Janis Fever will be eradicated from Green Bay for good.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (66) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

dobber's picture

"Realistically, it’s safe to assume Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams have roster spots sealed up. Geronimo Allison’s emergence late last season makes him a strong candidate to grab another. That’s four spots all but locked up."

Realistically, what's the chance that all four of those guys make it out of camp unhurt? These are the Packers we're talking about here...

croatpackfan's picture

I already spit 3 times to remove this ugly spell you put on them by your post...

marpag1's picture

In my mind, the only receivers that have any leg up at all on a roster spot are Nelson, Adams and Cobb. Other than that, everyone has to earn it in camp, including Allison.

gr7070's picture

I don't think Cobb is completely safe either. It would be a surprise, but not shocking.

marpag1's picture

Yeah, you could be right.... because of his salary, not so much because of his play. But I'd still say that Cobb "has a leg up" on a roster spot because of his play. He's clearly better than the Janis crowd. I don't really think that Allison's play has distinguished him as clearly better than the other guys.

That said, I definitely expect Cobb to be on the roster.

stockholder's picture

WRONG! Cobb is Insurance. Plain and simple.

TheVOR's picture

Cobb isn't going anywhere either, he's a 6.5M Dead Cap hit. The dude gets far to little respect, this offense wouldn't be as good without him in the starting lineup. He didn't have his best season last year, but the dude is a gamer. GB has some really decent WR prospects in camp this year, I think it's going to be a great competition for slots 4 - 6. IMO Trevor Davis is history, dude was lost, and I mean showed nothing as a rookie, be it returning kicks, or any game time. Dude has no clue at the NFL level. I'd be shocked if he makes the roster. I also bet they won't resign Devante Adams, and that's why I think this crop of rookies at WR is going to be fun to watch. 4-6 is wide open! Maybe even 3 - 6 seeing Adams is probably gone after this season.

egbertsouse's picture

The Dude abides...

dobber's picture

We rarely agree on anything, but I'll give ya a thumbs up on that...

Nick Perry's picture

I disagree on Adams, I think he'll be signed before the end of the 2017 season unless he reverts back to 2015 form which I doubt. Rodgers really likes Adams and since he just turned 24 I can't see Thompson letting his 2nd best WR walk. The "sticky" part of keeping Adams will be the money (when isn't it). Nelson and Cobb will count over $25 million of the cap in 2018 already so Adams would have to be signed to a deal like Perry was this year where the 1st year on the contract is relatively cheap.

Cobb's is a tough position this year. Even if he stays healthy he'll have a hard time justifying his $12.75 million dollar salary for 2018. With Nelson playing in the slot even more and the 2 TE sets Cobb's numbers are bound to suffer. I like Cobb too, I just don't think he'll be making that much money in 2018. Redoing his deal isn't a given either, that all depends if Cobb even wants to renegotiate.

I have my doubts Allison is going anywhere either because he really played well last year. Then again if Allison is going to start being a problem Thompson has set himself up well with guys like Yancy and Dupre to take his spot. If Allison wants to play in GB he better figure out what's more important, playing with Rodgers or smoking weed.

dobber's picture

I just don't see Cobb's contract situation impacting Adams very much. You have to keep the cupboard stocked for ARod, and Adams is a younger, longer-term commitment. Cobb has all the leverage right now. He knows he's not going to get cut this season, so the Packers can't force his hand to renegotiate. It's a contract they just have to live with for at least 2017, but they can't allow it to endanger the long-term health of the club by not signing a productive, ascending player like Adams.

I still think Allison is completely replaceable. The fact that he showed well in 2016 in limited work and that ARod seems to like him helps him out. I think his foot is in the door for 2017, but if these younger guys show well, he's not a lock.

justjoe's picture

I also doubt Allison is going anywhere. He has show he can play, he "should" be getting better over the next year or two and he is dirt cheap.

chugwater's picture

I agree. He did well for a rookie especially late in the season at DET and DAL. Arrow is pointing up.

DThomas's picture

TheVor: "Cobb isn't going anywhere either, he's a 6.5M Dead Cap hit." But his cap number is over $12M, so if he were waived or traded it would free up cap space. The reason he'll still be in Green Bay this season has nothing to do with the cap.

dobber's picture

"The reason he'll still be in Green Bay this season has nothing to do with the cap."

Yup. It has everything to do with the fact that if Nelson were to get hurt again, the Packers would have Adams and Allison and one of Janis/Yancey/Dupre in their 11 personnel package. They'd be splitting Kendricks and/or Bennett out a LOT and likely be lining #88 out wide more often than in the backfield.

Tundraboy's picture

Lol. My biggest worry with any promising talent is injury. Hoping this year is different.

stockholder's picture

Janis is as good as gone. Much to the happiness of Drop Adams and A-Rod. Davis will battle Allison. I see 6 Wrs this year. nelson, Cobb, Adams, Allison ,Davis and Dupre if one respected scout is correct.

Finwiz's picture

I wouldn't bet on that roster of WR's. Davis and Dupre have a lot to prove.

dobber's picture

I honestly don't think either Yancey or Dupre will make the 53. I think they end up on the PS (if they don't get scarfed up when released).

stockholder's picture

No way TT lets a 4.4 punt returner go. He was hurt. Dupree only has to show he can run the route tree. I would have taken him before Yancy. (draft insider)

Finwiz's picture

I know, but can he play without getting hurt?
Hopefully he got in the weight room and put on about 5-10 lbs.
Janis plays special teams and that's the wild card, plus you can't teach his speed. He came up big in that playoff game against AZ, so if he learns the O, he can be a big time contributor. I just think they like bigger receivers with a few exceptions. (Cobb)

dobber's picture

The thing about Janis is that he teases us just enough to make us want him to do well and dream about what he could be...he just can't play a true WR position. AZ is so far in the rearview that it's not really all that relevant anymore.

Get him the ball in space and on the move on a jet sweep or an underneath crosser and he makes things happen. But that's all he does in this offense. It's all ST for him, really, unless the Wizard came down from Oz this offseason and gave that Scarecrow a brain. It would be awesome to see him playing to the full extent of his physical talents, but I think that train has passed.

I wonder if he can play in the slot...

Finwiz's picture

I'd like to disagree with you on this, but the fact is I did pull the AZ game out of my azz - because that's ALL there is! LOL Unless you include the preseason TD's. Flashing a little bit, is better than no flash at all - (geez I'm really reaching now). Janis is one of those guys you just want to see succeed. All that potential. I don't know what it is that's so intriguing about this guy, but it just looks like there's something more there than what we are seeing.

dobber's picture

He is legitimately a good, down-to-earth, go hang out with, kind of guy (he's a local kid around here). I don't think there's any ego with this guy. You can't help but want to see him, with all his physical gifts, succeed.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

That covers it, Janis has the talent but has a disconnect when it comes to routes. Special teams on returns and when he tackles the opposing team punt return no one is better. Will it be enough this year to keep him, lots of players in camp how many can they keep, oh yeah 53 is Janis going to be one of them.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

That covers it, Janis has the talent but has a disconnect when it comes to routes. Special teams on returns and when he tackles the opposing team punt return no one is better. Will it be enough this year to keep him, lots of players in camp how many can they keep, oh yeah 53 is Janis going to be one of them.

worztik's picture

I would love for Clark to blow the top off with his height.. 6'6" ex basketball player and we all know how athletic BB players can be and are! It's a long shot but, I cheer for the underdog as long as it doesn't hurt our team. I felt the same about Janis when he came in as an UDFA and he's had his chances and it's time to move on!!! Cobb is one play away from being on injured reserve for the season and I guess I'm in the minority on Adams... I think he's gonna be really good this year!!! Yancy, Dupre and Clark along with Nelson, Adams and Cobby are a really nice (on paper) core. Let's find a position for Janis, i.e. Gunner... punt and kick returner and/7th WR and quit trying to turn him into a great WR... which he's NOT... Just sayn'... let the thumbs down begin!!!!!!

The TKstinator's picture

(Seinfeld voice): Again with the "just sayin'"? What does that add to a message? Are you letting us know that you are saying what you're saying? As opposed to NOT saying what you're saying? Or you are saying what you're saying but not saying anything that you are leaving unsaid? Or maybe you're just saying it rather than shouting it or singing it? Or you're just saying it even though you don't believe it?

Is there any more useless expression than "just sayin'"?

Ranks right up there with the timeless classic "it is what it is".


(Seinfeld out.)

worztik's picture

You are quite the critic my NOT friend!!! Sorry it bugs ya so, kiss my firm, but pliant ass, a-hole!!! Just sayin'!!!!!

worztik's picture

Must be a Queens fan who hates the world!!!

worztik's picture


phillythedane's picture

TK, you forgot to add (Seinfeld voice), "Again with the exclamation points!!!!! What's with the exclamation points? 'I decided to go for a walk. It was cold outside, so I put on a sweater!!!!'"

Okay, so now we're piling on. Sorry, Worztik. We can blame TK for causing an irresistible urge to reference the GOAT sitcom.

The TKstinator's picture

Heh heh heh....

And now to quote the immortal Andrew Bernard from The Office after he punched a hole in the wall:

"That was an over-reaction"

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Well, it is what it is.

The TKstinator's picture

And that's all it will ever be.

Packer Fan's picture

There is a logjam at wide receiver. Someone is going to lose out. How about making Janis a CB? Because if he can't get better with a contract year after this one, why would GB keep him around? Looks like Ted is clearing out old stock.

dobber's picture

I agree: we're in the middle of a roster makeover. I think Davis is in far more danger than Janis, though.

marpag1's picture

Outside of Nelson/Adams/Cobb, I don't really see it as a "logjam" at all... unless we mean that it's a logjam of toothpicks. What we need is for someone other than "the big three" to step up and be a significant contributor. Otherwise, these are just bottom-feeder, end-of-the-depth chart sort of guys, and that really isn't much of a "logjam." Given the paltry contributions we've seen from guys like Janis and Davis, if none of them can step up and improve their game, I see absolutely no reason to keep more than five receivers on the roster.

ironman3169's picture

How about depth? 5 receivers one play away from thin at the position.

The TKstinator's picture

"Toothpick jam", then?

dobber's picture

I rushed the stage at a Toothpick Jam concert in the 90s...

The TKstinator's picture

Crazy scene, dude!
Were you the one wearing tie dyed bandana do-rag?

MarkinMadison's picture

I think the air went out of the Janis balloon for most fans last year when he didn't really take a step forward. Much like Christine Michael, what is between the ears will keep him from ever really developing into an offensive mainstay Allison reminds me so much of Boykin that I can't really get my hopes up. Davis, on the other hand, has a chance to show he is taking a step forward. Or not. Maybe this is what drafting two WRs really says - not much confidence in any of the above.

Matt Gonzales's picture

Janis reminds me a lot of the Devin Hester, Josh Cribbs, Percy Harvin, type players (at least for their offensive output). Get them the ball and something special *can* happen. The problem is them getting the ball. Loved the Janis end around last year as it added a new wrinkle to the offense, but gimmicks get figured out quickly. Unless this TC/PS he has proven he finally is putting all the pieces together I think Janis could be done. You can't have player specific packages because the player can only succeed in a few limited roles

Spock's picture

Matt G. I think you nailed it with the "get them the ball". Janis isn't dumb (scored in the 30+ range on the football test) but doesn't seem to have "game speed" decision making ability. He also doesn't seem to have a very good feel for tracking the ball (gets open and can't find the ball when it's thrown to him). I still think if he can get his ST mojo back ( the hand injury and some questionable decisions on ST in 2016 made him less of a lock) he SHOULD make the 53. However, if some of the new guys show ST ability and on the field ability he could be gone.

egbertsouse's picture

Janis is big and can run really fast but he's a meathead. He can't learn the routes and it's not exactly rocket science.

I predict he goes bye-bye.

flackcatcher's picture

Long time lurker here. JANIS!(sorry could not help myself) has become a difference maker on special teams. Especially during the run last year on both punt and coverage teams. The lost of Hyde is bad, cutting Janis without a quality replacement is flat out dumb. While some of you may disagree, T.T. is not dumb. The Packers will make room for Janis, he is just too valuable.

Dzehren's picture

The Janis Hype train is rolling again. Rodgers doesn't seem to trust him. Ace on special teams & that gives him a chance to make the 53. The 2 new tight ends and 3 new RB's could take a roster spot away from WR

Grandfathered's picture

After 2014 MM fired the special teams coordinator, promoted the OC to play calling, and declared he would take over special teams and that more starters would play ST. If that still holds water, then a starter can replace a ST specialist. I think the era of carrying a ST specialist like Bush is over.

Ferrari Driver's picture

Janis has a Wonderlic score of 30 while a person of average intelligence would score around 20. His score is higher than many of the starting quarterbacks in the league (not Rodgers, of course). He also speaks very well during interviews which tends to corroborate his intellect.

I simply don't understand why he hasn't mastered his position requirements. He has all the physical talent you could hope for and a high IQ.

Janis is simply an enigma to me; he should be pushing for a position on the All Pro roster and yet he is a bubble player.

dobber's picture

There's a difference between book smarts and street smarts. I think he's just working on a 386 processor...the game just won't slow down for him.

CJ Bauckham's picture

I think he's just not overly concerned with football. He'll bank his checks, stay til they cut him, then hunt and fish and do whatever modest things he'd like for the rest of forever

Kind of genius, really

MarkinMadison's picture

Being book smart doesn't make you street dumb, but certainly there are different kinds of intelligence, and he appear to be not so blessed with one. But throw smarts out the window and what you are still left with is a guy with marginal hands for an NFL receiver. Maybe it all comes together for him this year - Lord knows we'd all be cheering for him if it did (even though I've never been on the Janis train). I'm just not holding my breath.

Fordham Ram's picture

He proved his worth on special teams and if you don't have to use a starter on ST you shouldn't, the risk of injury is too high. He is valuable in this respect and for that reason he stays. Whoever bumps him off at WR will have to replace him in this role. I don't think we have one, The other wide receivers are unproven and too skinny.

Turophile's picture

I think Chris is behind the curve in regards to Janis being a 'fan favourite'. He certainly WAS one, when he started his career in Green Bay. There was a ton of hope that he could turn his great size/speed potential into becoming the deep threat the Packers would love to have.

Now going into his fourth year, he has never got his route running down, so it's just his ability as a gunner that has kept him on the team, and even that was worse last year, than before.

Most fans on the blogs I read seem to have relegated him to a guy that will never be the receiver they wanted him to be. Fascination with a player doesn't last long if he cannot produce what fans want him to.

I think it will be tough for him to stay on the team when cut-down time comes, the Packers have 11 receivers on the books, 4 of them are rookies (two drafted, two RFA's), plus 1 year 1 player (McCaffrey). Every one of them is looking to push his way onto the final 53.

Nick Perry's picture

"Now going into his fourth year, he has never got his route running down, so it's just his ability as a gunner that has kept him on the team, and even that was worse last year, than before."

I think the biggest reason for Janis's play on ST last season was that cast he was playing with earlier in the season. As soon as he lost the cast he was back to being "The Gunner From Hell". : )

Handsback's picture

Janis is always a great topic to discuss. He has the brains, athletic ability, but something else is keeping from being the player he can be. So if he continues to be the beast on ST play he can stick, but that may mean he has to return kickoffs as well. I don't know what the coaches think of him, I guess nobody commenting does. What I do think is he would be one heck of a LB but afraid that training ship has sailed at this point.

marpag1's picture

Now me, on the other hand..... I don't think Jeff Janis would be "one heck of a LB" even if he got to play in the Lingerie Football League.


DThomas's picture

Handsback: "He has the brains, athletic ability, but something else is keeping from being the player he can be."
What he lacks is football instincts. Some guys just know how to play the game, even if they don't have the measurables. Janis is the opposite - big, fast, 'wonderlic smart' but no knack for being an NFL WR. Here's how McGinn described him in last season's grading column: "Stiff, straight-line speed guy with rudimentary route-running skills and ordinary hands."

I thought he was excellent as a gunner on STs but I don't think that'll be enough for him to stick.

al bundy's picture

The fans loved the guy year one, less yr twp and now time to say adios. What 15 receps in three years. Bye

stockholder's picture

I agree, because its about his career! Not the packers now. He's just a player. TT knows that they screwed up his fan favorite appeal. All to prove Adams was better and not a wasted pick. It burns me that if Adams was not in front of him , things would have been Different. And nobody can say otherwise. Yes he had the fans. And they should have exploited that, and not a your f**ked in your head/ Janis. ( You'll do as your told.) Or your not getting the ball. I hope he leaves because this has been to blown out now.

dobber's picture

Dude, it's a little early to start drinkin'...

worztik's picture

Sorry I joined this little group of thin skinned, opinionated know nothings!!! I thought it may be a fun exchange of adult ideas but, once again, I'm wrong. Always some a-hole in the weeds that wants to bring themselves up by putting others down!!! That's how they get through life... by making themselves appear better than others by putting them down! Too bad!!! Karma's a bitch TKstinater... nice handle, too!!! Go watch your reruns of Stinkyfelt as you appear to idolize the dipstick!!! He isn't and never was funny... only in no-mind minds!!! So anyway, apparently others feel as you do with all the likes. I guess I'll just shed some scales and slip into my cave!!! Have a devastating life asshole!!!
Just sayin'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Finwiz's picture

I was forced into watching an episode on vacation once with in-laws.
Not funny - never understood it.

worztik's picture

Finwiz... I agree. Watched it once and that was once too much!!!

Oppy's picture

Jeff Janis is destined to be every Packers Fan's favorite Vikings player.

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