Play Action Goes Through Jordy Nelson

As Packers fans we’re used to getting fed PC, beat-around-the-bush statements when it comes to team publicity.  From Ted Thompson to the UDRFAs on the roster bubble, everyone (outside maybe Jermichael Finley) have towed the company line when it comes to giving statements for public consumption.  So it was quite interested that quarterback Aaron Rodgers was so candid on the loss of Jordy Nelson on the inaugural recording of the Wilde and Tausch show, which replaces Green and Gold Today on ESPN.

“No it didn't surprise me; you’re taking nearly 100 catches, 1,500 yards and 10+ touchdowns every year out of the offense.  The thing he does is that we have specific packages for him that we just didn’t have a guy to fill those packages, and it was a lot play action stuff, where we’re taking 8 man protections and taking shots down the field, and we didn’t have a guy who could take that spot. “

It’s rather unusual for Rodgers to be so forthcoming, especially when it comes to highlighting the loss of a specific player, since it inevitably focuses attention on the players (namely Randall Cobb and Davante Adams) who couldn’t fill the role of “next man up”. 

While I’ve written in other articles that I felt that Aaron Rodgers uncharacteristic inaccuracy and his receivers dropping passes were more at fault than the loss of Jordy Nelson, I hadn’t considered how losing an effective play-action passing game could effect the rest of the passing game and the offense in general. 

According to Football Outsiders, the Packers was the worst play-action passing team in the NFL in 2015, which is rather remarkable given they were second in the league in 2014.  Perhaps more importantly, Rodgers comments are verified by Football Outsiders showing that without Jordy Nelson they simply ran play-action less, going from 24% (8th in the league) of passes in 2014 to 16% in 2015. 

In the end, I still think that the regression of the Packers offense in 2015 cannot be solely attributed to the loss of Jordy Nelson.  Nelson’s absence might be significantly more important than I had initially assumed but football is still a team sport and there are 10 other guys on the field that also didn’t do their jobs in 2015.  

 

  

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Comments (17)

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

August 12, 2016 at 12:44 pm

I would be shocked if this years offense is not well ahead of last years. Lets put it this way it had better be.

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hobbes's picture

August 12, 2016 at 03:17 pm

Last year was a statistical aberration; given how many years the Packers offense has been one of the most effective in the league, "regression to the mean" is actually a good thing in this case.

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stockholder's picture

August 12, 2016 at 03:12 pm

I'm not buying the "peter principle". I don't think TT would either. He drafted players just for making the offense better. While draft and development is in place. Jordy Nelson is not the entire offense. They needed a tandem to make the WRs effective! When Cobb went down, nelson had a big year, but A-rod still missed Cobb. When Finley went down, it was even worse. You also still had Jones to help Nelson. ( Players in their prime. ) The Te position was crap. Last year Adams dropped balls. Monty was hurt. Abbey and janis really still were rookies. Jones saved A-rods bacon. But we still made the playoffs when MM made the calls. When Cobb got hurt no one gave the packers a chance in hell. But yet somebody Caught the ball. And Who Didn't? Look whose Gone, James Jones, Kuhn, and Lacy got criticized. How can you look at Adams or any of the backups, and say their going to be the next Great Offense. Someone better make plays incase A-rod goes down.

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hobbes's picture

August 12, 2016 at 03:20 pm

If A-Rod goes down the season is effectively over, which is basically the case for any team with a super star quarterback. There's basically nothing you can do to avoid it or any way to plan around it (unless you just so happen to have a unknown superstar quarterback on the bench).

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Amanofthenorth's picture

August 12, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Dude, Adams is 23.

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al bundy's picture

August 15, 2016 at 08:21 pm

Now that ther is puny.

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stockholder's picture

August 12, 2016 at 05:49 pm

Hold on there D. Adams got his butt reamed for how he was playing, live along the sidelines. He then showed the promise that was expected in a 2 nd round pick. He's never equaled that. He still has not caught a pass above his shoulders over the middle. The production or comprehension, just has not been there for the packers. Didn't you listen to the announcers during his rookie year. Not to mention NFL toughness. Not to mention that A-Rod puts everything in his bread basket. Why do you think they Signed Jones. Because Adams never showed them anything else but Hype. Cobb is excellent, and would be the #1 if Nelson was not. I didn't say you called them the next great offense, I referred that , none have showed they will be. After Nelson,Cobb, and A-rod, this team is in trouble. You don't need a crystal ball to see that.

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hobbes's picture

August 12, 2016 at 03:16 pm

I've been plenty wrong before, and I'm not about to go refuting what Rodgers says about his offense.

While I have no defense against Cobb not being able to be a #1 receiver in replacement of Nelson, Adams had a pretty serious injury (serious enough that Rodgers pretty much absolved him from his crappy play in the same interview); I'm a little surprise how much vitriol surrounds Adams, yes he had a terrible season, but so did Cobb and the rest of the receiving corps.

I'd also argue that the coaching staff did try to alter the game plan, as I mentioned, the Packers ran play-action passing plays a lot less frequently in 2015 because it wasn't working. What they didn't manage to do was to replace it with plays that were as effective.

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L's picture

August 12, 2016 at 04:18 pm

Later in the season we finally started to see RB Screen Plays sprinkled-in a lot more and they proved to be pretty damn effective; especially, with our opponents more often than not pinning their proverbial ears back and pass rushing the hell out of Aaron Rodgers since they knew the team's primary WRs and TEs were not demonstrating an ability to get adequate separation 1-on-1 or an ability to get over the top of the defense. The ineffective running game also helped create that scenario, but the positive was that we were getting good quality positive plays from the Screen game on offense. Honestly, I hope the Packers decide to keep more of that as an offensive option going forward because well timed screen plays can net huge offensive gains and can make defenses a little more hesitant to go full steam after your QB.

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TarynsEyes's picture

August 12, 2016 at 03:49 pm

The simple motto of Belichek....Do your job....it shouldn't matter who is or isn't playing, playing bad etc....do your job regardless. The Packers as a whole and individually in many cases simply didn't.

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Archie's picture

August 12, 2016 at 03:57 pm

Yeah, count me as buying whatever AROD is selling. The guy has a great head for offensive football. Yes, Adams was disappointing but nobody expected him to be able to take Jordy's place and run Jordy's routes. At least they shouldn't have. Ditto Cobb. It's fact, We have only one Lordy-like WR and that is Jordy. The 7th pick WR that got away to the Vikes may have been able to do it but not the guys we have. That's why I would bet TT drafts a Jordy like WR in the first two rounds of the 2017 draft. This is a trademark of TT, not having replacements ready when we lose a guy. You can look at QBs a few years back, RBs pre-Lacy, TEs since J-Mike, S forever, ILB forever, a complement OLB to Clay, a replacement for Johnny Jolly, a 3rd OL who could play OT etc. The list goes on forever. TT usually doesn't have a young guy ready to step up to fill a vacancy and he is too often very slow to react to roster deficiencies, preferring to tell the media he likes what he's got. If he was a poker player, he'd be called every time i.e., he way over-rates what he's got. That's my read of this GM anyway.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

August 12, 2016 at 04:13 pm

Jordy is on PUP. If he isn't completely healed this season we will have the same problems since there is no one else who is a legitimate league #1 receiver on this team. Cobb is great when teamed with Jordy, but doesn't have the size speed package. Adams is too slow, can't separate from #1 corners, and drops too many balls. Monty is a slot receiver. Janis has trouble running routes. Abby is a terrific #3 but also can't separate from #1 corners. That leaves Davis and Allison, two tall fast receivers, but both rookies. So if Jordy stays down, what has changed from last year?

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JohnnyLogan's picture

August 12, 2016 at 05:03 pm

With Jordy down, who would line up outside as the #1 receiver? Tight end play and Lacy may be improved, but what will prevent corners and safeties from playing tight? We will again have no deep ball. I like Monty a lot, but not enough speed to beat league's top corners. And Adams sure isn't the answer. I think he'll be out of the lineup by week 3.

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Dr.Rodgers's picture

August 12, 2016 at 11:42 pm

The rebuilding is already starting. Don't tell the morons here the truth. Rodgers is God, Cook is going to chalkenge the middle, and some rookie receiver will break out. A bunch of guys will make the " second year leap" and Kenny,m Lowry, Frack, mand what's his name will be the "answer" at tackle, inside linebacker, blah,blah blah. Most of these discussions are pure bs. Ted Thompson is paid millions to make decisions most of you know squat about. The Packers were very average last year, and no one knows what this year will bring. Without Nelson, this could come down to having a potentially very good defense The offense is in transition. Lacy could be the key to its success.

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NickPerry's picture

August 13, 2016 at 11:21 am

This team is always rebuilding so I'm really no sure what you're talking about. Rodgers is a pretty damn good QB who last year lost his #1 Wr. His #2 was injured early and NOBODY knows what effect that shoulder injury had and for how long. Adams is a James Jones replacement, nothing more or less and wasn't right until the end of the season with the ankle. Montgomery REALLY could be something special, just look at weeks 1-5 and everything after. The stats don't always show what a football player brings, but the Packers were better in weeks 1-5 WITH him. The Packers sure as hell don't beat Seattle without Montgomery in week 2, that's for sure.
So Rodgers was working almost the whole season without a #1, his #2, 3, and 4 injured or out. His running game went from being feared and one of the better run games in the NFL to a joke. Then don't forget the Packers played Denver with several of the players on the OL who were playing in last nights preseasons game. In the 3rd and 4th quarters!
For then to be "Very Average" was a hell of an accomplishment if you ask me. No need to call us "Morons " either. You don't have to be paid millions to make SIMPLE conclusions.

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pipelinedave's picture

August 12, 2016 at 06:36 pm

Is there a place I can go online and watch the game for free. Or a station I can get on my phone somehow to listen to it. I'm working in southern illinois.

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al bundy's picture

August 15, 2016 at 08:25 pm

Hey when everyone was saying how many catches Adams had I was reading an analysis by one scout who said, he played in a spread offense, played slot, caught a lot of short passes over the middle and did not run routes much. So here we are putting him in a postion that he has to run routes and the passes are more than 5 to 10 yards. Thus, I for one wasn't expecting a lot from this guy and wondered why he was even available with the numbers he put up.

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