It’s when his receivers get the ball in their hands that the real magic happens.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Green Bay ranked third in the NFL last season with missed tackles forced in the passing game. That was accomplished with Jermichael Finley missing the final 10 games — he tied for seventh among tight ends despite his lengthy absence — and the lack of a Jamaal Charles or LeSean McCoy adding that elusive presence out of the backfield.
The strength was in the wide receivers. Even with Randall Cobb missing 10 games with a broken leg, the Packers’ receivers led the NFL by forcing 43 missed tackles. Cincinnati and Indianapolis were a distant second with 34, according to Pro Football Focus. Jordy Nelson (12), Jarrett Boykin (12) and James Jones (10) formed the only wide receiver trio in the league to force at least 10 missed tackles. In fact, only Cincinnati and San Diego had two receivers in double digits.
“That’s one of our goals, continue to improve in the one-on-one battles, make the most of every opportunity,” receivers coach Edgar Bennett said last year. “When you look at yards after the catch, that’s a big part of it. Obviously, catching the ball is primary, you have to do that first. But then what? What are we getting on our own? That’s what we’re measured by.”
YAC is a badge of honor for the receivers. Get tackled by the first guy, and he’s sure to be badgered.
“Oh, yeah, definitely. You don’t want to be tackled by the first guy,” Nelson said. “You’ll get more grief about that than anything. You want to make sure you do your best to make the first guy miss.”
Green Bay also led the league with a combined 58 missed tackles from their receivers and tight ends. Assuming he’s not re-signed, Finley will be missed in this area. Finley forced 10 misses in 25 catches. Quarless (three in 32 catches), Brandon Bostick (two in seven catches) and Ryan Taylor (zero in six catches) combined for five missed tackles in 45 receptions.
In the backfield, Lacy tied for 33rd with five, even while finishing seventh in the NFL (all positions) in yards after the catch per catch. Green Bay got a combined nine misses from its backs in the passing game. Twenty-two individual backs forced at least that many, led by McCoy and Pierre Thomas with 22 apiece.
The chart, with numbers from ProFootballFocus.com, shows missed tackles forced by receivers, tight ends and running backs. Teams are listed in order of the combined receiver-tight end total. Running backs are taken into account in the final two columns.
Source: Pro Football Focus
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.