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Dousing the Coals On The Jeff Janis Express

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Dousing the Coals On The Jeff Janis Express

The Jeff Janis Hype Train hasn't left the station yet, but the conductor has absolutely yelled "All aboard!"

Mike McCarthy has spent the offseason throwing coal in the engine by talking up Janis every chance he gets. This is after Janis caught 2 passes for 16 yards his rookie year, despite seemingly every Packers fan on social media calling for him to be "unleashed" every single week.

(Seriously, I got Tweets every. single. week. asking if this was the week the Packers would unleash the super secret weapon out of Saginaw Valley State. Ok, they didn't put it exactly like that, but you get what I mean.)

Undoubtedly, plays like this in the preseason had Packers fans excited. 

Far be it from me to throw water on the fire, but Janis has one big hurdle he needs to clear before we can expect to see him getting any kind of meaningful snaps this season. 

McCarthy knows it. Rodgers knows it. And, thankfully, it seems Janis knows it. 

From Lori Nickel over at JSOnline:

Rodgers doesn't tolerate mental errors — a message he chose to reiterate in front his locker Wednesday, as the Packers wind down the off-season with a mandatory veteran minicamp next week. Then they're off until the season begins.

"If you can't mentally get it together, then it's going to be hard for myself and the offensive staff to trust putting you out there with the ones."

Janis said all the right things Wednesday. He feels more comfortable on the field and with the playbook. And he has made some nice catches. 

"I really think I've gotten better at running routes," Janis said.

Yet, despite praise from coaches, Janis played just three games in 2014 and caught just two passes. 

Janis may have been open in a couple of games, but the passes went to the veterans or Adams, who got more playing time right away.

"You know, he just couldn't trust me at the time," Janis said. "Building that trust — I really feel like I have been doing that. Hopefully that will make something happen."

Like I said, Janis seems to understand. 

Because one only needs to set the Wayback Machine to last summer's training camp to see why Janis didn't see the field at all for most of the year. 

Fine. It's one play. One tiny moment in time. Shake it off rookie, come back tomorrow and learn from your mistake.


Look, Janis has all the ability in the world to be successful in this offense, but until he shows he can be trusted 100% of the time, he won't see the field in any kind of meaningful way.

The good thing is, he seems to understand this. Packers fans can look forward to Janis making his case for more playing time in roughly seven weeks.

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Evan's picture

"Look, Janis has all the ability in the world to be successful in this offense, but until he shows he can be trusted 100% of the time, he won't see the field in any kind of meaningful way."

No doubt. But, at the same time, I can remember many, many times Rodgers and Adams weren't on the same page last year and he never had any issues staying on the field (to the best of my memory).

PackerAaron's picture

Yup, but notice how team-wide that problem was last year. I just sent this out yesterday.

Communication was a problem all year long with everyone, even Jordy, Cobb, etc.

It's one thing to be off in games. In practice, where the coaches control nearly every aspect of what happens and how they want things run, you better show up and know what you're doing. That's one of the main reasons Bostick could never get on the field last year. He kept screwing up in practice. From all accounts, Adams was great in practice last year. Janis needs to be if he wants to see the field.

Evan's picture

That's true. Maybe - probably - Janis was just a disaster in practice. I'm not in the "unleash the secret weapon!" camp, but I still would have liked to see him have gotten more opportunities. Hell, Boykin got into 13 games (and started 3) and he was about as useless as a player can be.

DrealynWilliams's picture

"I'm not in the "unleash the secret weapon!" camp"

Sh*t, I was. Not at WR, but at on ST. Harris was HORRIBLE all year.

Evan's picture

Good point. I wasn't even thinking special teams. But, yeah, if Boykin at WR was the biggest waste of playing time last year, Harris at KR was a close second. And far less opportunities for miscommunication back there - catch ball and run forward.

Spud Rapids's picture

Speed doesn't always translate into a successful return man. Don't you think if Janis would've improved the return game they would have had him back there? Sam Shields is one of the fastest guys in the NFL and returned kicks in college so why don't we have him back there? I trust the Packers know what they are doing

RCPackerFan's picture

I am not sure, but I don't recall Harris ever having a return like this.

Forward ahead to about the 1 minute mark.

This is why many of the fans were calling for Janis to play. Coudl he have really done any worse then Harris as a KR or Boykin as a WR?

PackerBacker's picture

I don't know that it was his better or worse skills as a return man that kept him off the game-day roster. The Packers picked the 3rd runningback over the 5th receiver. That's what kept him out. Harris provided more insurance in case of injury than Janis did.

DrealynWilliams's picture

@Spud Rapids I agree that speed doesn't always equate to being a good returner -- but damn, we needed some type of rotation or try out. SOMETHING. I remember when we started Jarret Bush because (I believe it was Sam Shields) wasn't committed to tackling. The coaches made an example out of Shields and it worked.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

"Don't you think if Janis would've improved the return game they would have had him back there?"

Unfortunately, Spud, I trust MM to play a veteran he knows even though that veteran is playing poorly over an unknown. The point that Harris offered insurance as the third RB over Janis as the 4th or 5th receiver is the only explanation acceptable to me that has been offered so far.

Spud Rapids's picture

That logic is flawed... If Janis improves the return game then he is more valuable then having Harris on the game day roster as "insurance". Don't forget you have Kuhn who could run the ball behind Starks and Lacy if they got injured. You could also use Cobb out of the backfield. Why would McCarthy put more stake in someone who might be used if they experience injuries when he could improve the return game. I don't see it.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I didn't forget Kuhn. I just barely consider him to be a running back other than short yardage. I suppose one could argue that if just one of Lacy and Starks got injured, GB could get by with Kuhn and Cobb, though I don't think I'd agree and would tend to doubt it. I certainly don't think Kuhn and Cobb could have filled in if both Lacy and Starks had been lost for any length of time during a game. I am inclined to think that MM is just stubborn about these things. Remember, Harris was so bad that he was not even worth signing as an exclusive rights FA. Anyone who didn't fumble would have been better.

Tundraboy's picture

Exactly. Thought it would at a minimum have given other teams something to think about as well.

sva's picture

You got a recent Packer comparable for Janis, not in terms of talent or game, but as a bench guy who gets non-stop hype? Trying to think of someone like him that made good on it.

Evan's picture

Charles Johnson jumps to mind. Ton of hype around him (maybe not as much as Janis, but similar - tons of talent and great size and speed but raw) and now look at him.

RCPackerFan's picture

Ughh, Charles Johnson.

ScottH's picture

You mean THIS Charles Johnson?

Vikings OC Norv Turner said Charles Johnson is "far and away our best receiver." -ESPN

DrealynWilliams's picture

Well, you can look at that 2 different ways.

ScottH's picture

I know, it ain't saying much.

egbertsouse's picture

I always marvel at the bandwagons that build for these marginal, project guys; Colt Lyerla, Janis, Moses, So'oto....

I see Janis as a Bill Schroeder type guy; if he works hard and gets lucky he can have a few solid years as a No. 3. I don't see him as the second coming of Jerry Rice.

Evan's picture

Lyerla - another good call.

Guilty as charged.

Tarynfor12's picture

Perhaps a little 'stick-um' would help (a lot) but I don't believe anyone on the Janis bandwagon every mentioned Rice in comparison,a second coming of Jordy has been uttered but never Rice.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Bill Schroeder Stats:
1998: 36 rec 451 yards, 14.6 ave
1999: 74 rec 1051 yards, 14.2 ave
2000: 65 rec 999 yards, 15.4 ave
2001: 53 rec 918 yards, 17.3 ave
2002 - signed by Detroit.

1997 punt returns: 33 for 342 and a 10.4 ave. Pedestrian KR 23.4 average.

Sign me up for Janis!

If Janis as a 7th rounder can replicate those stats for GB, that'd be great. Having a #3 WR gaining over 900 yards would have made a hell of a difference last year, and will next year, too, whether it is Adams as I expect or someone else. To be fair, Schroeder was the #2 WR mostly.

RCPackerFan's picture

I like Janis the same as many Packer fans. I'm not one that is saying he should be starting by any means though.
A lot of the hype started from the draft. Last year the draft experts said if last years draft would have been a normal year for WR's Janis likely would have went in the 4th-5th round area. They got him in the 7th.

The biggest hurdle for Janis is to catch up to the NFL level mentally. He has all the physical tools in the world, but he needs to catch up mentally to play. With an offseason we should start seeing him catching up mentally.

Another reason why the hype has been built up is because of Janis' preseason performance.

As seen here, he made some exciting plays. Another not shown was his 60 yard KR.

PackerBacker's picture

The second one against the Rams is the one I remember from last year. His acceleration after the catch was unbelievable. Most of those guys are so fast that you don't even notice anymore, but when I saw him catch that pass and then pull away i physically sat up in my chair. It's fun to see players with that kind of athleticism. Really hoping he makes the advances in the mental part of the game to become a regular contributor this year.

lou's picture

I was at the open OTA yesterday and the only WR (Jordy appeared cautious on his first practice) that was more physically impressive than Janis was Cobb. Cobb was so quick off the ball and explosive coming out of his cuts that he had hands clapping by the rail birds on Hinkle Field. Janis future is up to him, I don't agree with the Bill Schroeder comment because Janis is much stronger and appears to enjoy contact which Schroeder dreaded (he was the out of bounds sideline missle). I would have loved to see Montgomery who did not participate, competition for WR has to be the keenest on the team. The only one who didn't catch the ball well yesterday was Rajon Neal who had to do pushups after drops. It was my grand kids first practice session and they loved it.

PackerAaron's picture

Fantastic stuff Lou. Thanks for checking in.

Clay Zombo's picture

The hype on Janis is well deserved. I think people tend to forget that even guys like Jordy and Randall didnt play a whole lot their first year at WR in GB. Rodgers demands perfection and its not surprising that a guy from Saginaw Valley State wouldnt come into the NFL ready to absorb an NFL playbook let alone all the checks and route adjustments this offense has in particular.

This guy is as explosive as they come and with guys like Jordy, Randall and even Adams to help him with the mental part of the game, I see no reason not to be excited about this guys future. I only hope the future is now and we get to see a lot more of him on the field this season.

30 rec 550 yrds and 5 Tds, thats about the most we can hope for this year with the other 3 in front of him.

Spud Rapids's picture

I don't see it... We got to remember that Janis still had to make the team! He's competing with Montgomery and Abbredaris for that 4th spot. Whose to say that one of those two don't emerge has in the preseason? Not to mention that the 4th receiver spot may go to someone with return abilities. I think things are far from settled.

In addition, I think we all forget that Richard Rodgers will be improved this year and eat into the catches/TD's of the receivers.

PackerBacker's picture

Montgomery is a rookie and Abby is coming off of a ACL injury. You have to agree that Janis has the inside track on the #4 spot.
And lets face it, with Jordy's off season hip surgery and Cobb normally missing a game or two with an injury, playing time for the 4th man isn't too hard to see.
I think everyone would be pretty happy if he hit the 30 catch mark.

lou's picture

A good sign at the OTA yesterday was that Abby did not have a brace or any kind of sleeve/wrap on his injured knee, I was surprised at that because the team has been so cautious with injured players. I was also surprised at how thin Abby's legs were compared to the other WR's, much like Driver's.

Spud Rapids's picture

PackerBacker that's all speculation... who says Jordy isn't going to 100% by season start and that Cobb will miss time. If our #4 gets 30 catches it probably means that Cobb, Nelson, or Adams got hurt... I wouldn't be happy to see that

DrealynWilliams's picture

4-WR set w/Ty in the backfield.

Jordy and Janis on the outside
Randall and Davante inside.

My Madden dream. You can even swap Ty and Randall.

What defensive formation do you throw at that???

Tundraboy's picture

See MM doing just that. Look out this year!

Nick Perry's picture

That's exactly what I've been thinking since they drafted him. I live in Los Angeles and see several of the Stanford Games out here. The guy was unbelievable in 2013, a Consensus All American. In 2014 he always seemed to have some lingering injury holding him up a bit. He still played but the numbers just weren't the same.

I keep thinking of the New England game only with Montgomery in the backfield. Montgomery might be more dangerous on those running plays because of his size, he has what 25 pounds on Cobb. They could line both Cobb and Adams up behind Rodgers. Could you imagine both coming out with a 2 way break?

The combinations are limitless

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Can't wait to see this against Seattle.

Imma Fubared's picture

When I first heard about his speed size and abilities, like most I too expected sleeper here. Wondering why no playing time may have been due to the comp but once I read, can't learn the playbook and can't run routes -sounds like a couple of prima donna's on the Vikes as well.

Now I'm no longer convinced in this guy. When I hear learning difficulties, play book and route running in the same paragraph I say no way.

I mean common. How long does it take to learn a freekin play book with just routes you need to run? Certainly not a year.

PackerAaron's picture

"How long does it take to learn a freekin play book with just routes you need to run? "

This comment may have been true 25 years ago. Offenses have gone into lightspeed since then. Receivers now have to read defenses - on the fly, and adjust their routes accordingly - almost as well as quarterbacks.

Tundraboy's picture

Like to think that has always been the case. That has to me always been about having intelligent players that are on the same page. Especially WRs and the QB.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

They don't even have 'a' route to run any more, they have a route tree. The actual route they run is based on a combination of QB line calls and the actual coverage that only emerges after the snap. It's complicated.

zeke's picture

Paint chips and paste. Or, as Viking fans know it, "breakfast."

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

It was no surprise that a rookie receiver from Saginaw State had difficulties learning the playbook, especially with a demanding QB. I expected Janis to play sparingly if at all last season. Aaron Rodgers ignored Richard Rodgers for a substantial time last season due to lack of trust, but due to a total dearth of talent at TE, R. Rodgers was thrown into the fire, and eventually showed signs of responding.

Showing the clips from August of 2014 is a decent reminder of Janis' issues with the checks, and some never learn those adjustments well enough to play. I'm more interested in where he is this year. So far, so good, as far as I've heard.

Janis, Adams and Nelson are all outside receivers. Cobb, Montgomery and Abbrederis seem better suited to the slot, with Nelson having the versatility to play the slot well. It is always harder to find outside WRs than slot guys. So I am pulling for Janis and looking forward to seeing what Montgomery can show.

Amanofthenorth's picture

This thread reminds me that preseason games can be interesting as hell. That Chiefs game was not only a fun way to kill a summer evening but it has a legacy.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I need to see Janis pluck the ball with his hands. I've never seen him do anything but body catch like an 9th grader with 7 inch hands. In 30 years of watching football I have not seen any successful NFL WRs get away with that.

sonomaca's picture

I watched Janis' college highlight tape from 2012. He rarely catches the ball with his hands. He's very large (6' 3" and 220), however, and super fast. I don't think this guy is going to be a prototypical edge receiver. He hasn't shown that he's got the hands for it.

However, I do think, after watching his tape, he's very difficult to stop once he's got a head of steam. I think there will be creative ways to use him effectively.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

For the record I like everything about him but his hands. I think he can learn to catch properly. When you are 5 yards open because you just physically outclass the division II CB then you can body catch. NFL CB's will fight you for the football and bodycatchers loose those fights almost every time.

sonomaca's picture

You raise an interesting question: are you born with good hands, or can you acquire them through practice? I think receivers can probably improve, but that there are limits. There aren't many Jordy Nelson's around.

PackEyedOptimist's picture

I have hopes for Janis, but I also am certain they do not need him. Adams had a reputation for being a great route runner in college, and his college highlights reminded me of a taller, leaner Greg Jennings. Interestingly, the guy whose highlights interested me this year was Larry Pinkard. Put him in a Packers 80 and you'd swear you were watching Donald Driver. In any case, I'm positive the Packers are going to have a full complement of talented receivers on this year's squad.

PackEyedOptimist's picture
PackEyedOptimist's picture

Speaking of highlight videos, I don't know why some of you think Janis has bad hands or body catches everything. He makes lots of hands catches in this college highlight video, and I haven't seen him dropping passes from Rodgers.

He probably has had difficulty learning all of the advanced receiver tree progressions that the Packers use, but he's only had one year, and bottom-of-the-pecking-order players get a lot less reps than the starters.

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