Packers Training Camp Countdown: 17 Days

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. What's the bigger problem for the passing game: the line giving up sacks or the playmakers dropping passes?

When critics eye the Green Bay Packers' passing game, the first — and, frequently, only — trouble spot pointed out is the alarming sack totals.

Another number has been too high, as well: dropped passes.

Actually, dropped passes have been a bigger problem than sacks.

A dropped pass, like beauty, often is in the eye of the beholder. Nonetheless, ProFootballFocus.com and STATS are in relative agreement that the Packers' pass-catching targets had too much butter on their fingers in 2012. According to STATS, the Packers had the seventh-most drops with 36. ProFootballFocus.com, a tougher grader, had the Packers down for 46 drops. That was the sixth-most in the league.

STATS only makes its numbers available for the current season. Relying on ProFootballFocus.com, the Packers tied for the second-most drops in 2011 (46), tied for 14th-most drops in 2010 (33), had the most in 2009 (46) and the fourth-most in 2008 (43).

That's an average ranking of 5.6 over the five seasons.


TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN


32 DAYS: Red-hot Finley's 32 catches

31 DAYS: Our most powerful stat on fumbles

30 DAYS: Burnett quietly one of the best

29 DAYS: 29 points per game not good enough

28 DAYS: Packers dominate FA era

27 DAYS: Beyond ‘Big Three,' it's only Boykin's 27 yards

26 DAYS: Undrafted impact

25 DAYS: No running game without No. 25

24 DAYS: Masthay among best at eliminating returns

23 DAYS: Rodgers on third down

22 DAYS: Rodgers in the red zone

21 DAYS: Rodgers vs. the blitz

20 DAYS: Scoring from outside red zone

19 DAYS: Underappreciated McCarthy

18 DAYS: Cobb for 100 might be modest

Compare that to sacks allowed, with Green Bay ranking second in 2012, tied for 11th in 2011, tied for 12th in 2010, first in 2009 and 14th in 2008. That's an average ranking of 8.0.

Jermichael Finley is an obvious target when it comes to dropped passes. According to ProFootballFocus.com, he dropped nine in 2012 and 12 in 2011. Before that, though, he had been exceptional. He didn't drop any passes in 2010 (21 catches) and dropped four (55 catches) in 2009. He had two drops in limited action as a rookie in 2008.

That gives Finley 27 drops and 198 catches, a rate of 7.33 receptions per drop for his five seasons. That's not the worst rate on the team, though.

Randall Cobb had 11 drops in 2012 and four in 2011, giving him 15 drops and 105 receptions in his career. That's a rate of 7.00 catches per drop — worst among the team's primary playmakers.

Donald Driver had three drops in 2012, eight in 2011, six in 2010, eight in 2009 and nine in 2008, giving him 34 receptions and 240 receptions. That's a rate of 7.06 catches per drop.

James Jones had three drops in 2012, six in 2011, six in 2010, nine in 2009 and four in 2008, giving him 28 drops and 204 receptions. That's a rate of 7.29 catches per drop. In 2012, Jones had a breakout year with 21.33 receptions per drop.

Jordy Nelson had eight drops in 2012, two in 2011, seven in 2010, three in 2009 and three in 2008, giving him 23 drops and 217 receptions. That's a rate of 9.43 catches per drop. While Jones' career rate looks bad compared to last season, Nelson's career rate looks great compared to 2012, when he caught 6.13 passes per drop.

Greg Jennings had two drops in 2012, four in 2011, seven in 2010, four in 2009 and 10 in 2008, giving him 27 drops and 327 receptions. That's a rate of 12.11 catches per drop.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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