After Sunday’s victory over the 49ers, Aaron Rodgers noted the one obvious weakness in the Green Bay Packers’ offense.
Without Jordy Nelson, the Packers lack a game-breaking, deep-ball threat.
Fortunately for Rodgers, James Jones is back to pick up more slack than anyone could have reasonably imagined.
On a day when the offense only rarely resembled the outfit that entered the game ranked fourth in scoring, Jones caught five passes for 98 yards. One of those was an incredible toe-tapping grab on a heave by Rodgers on third-and-7 for a gain of 38 to the 49ers’ 8-yard line. Jones got each foot down twice to make it a no-doubt-about-it grab.
“A-Rod gave me a shot and I saw the ball,” Jones said. “I didn’t know where I was at. If you don’t know where you’re at, you have to get your feet down fast and I was able to catch it.”
The big play set up John Kuhn’s 1-yard touchdown run that gave Green Bay a 14-3 lead midway through the third quarter.
“I didn’t see the catch,” Rodgers said. “All I heard was in my helmet that we need to get up to the line, so I was yelling and screaming that we need to run a play and force them to challenge it if it was close. And then I heard right as I got up to the center, ‘He caught it! He caught it!’ So, I backed off and got us in a different play. He’s a great player. I don’t think he was 100 percent out there today but he pushed through and made a nice catch and run. He still runs out of bounds too much — maybe he’s saving himself a little bit. But I’m so happy to have him back. I told him in the locker room, they broke the mold when they made him. He’s a different type of player.”
Last season, Jones averaged just 9.1 yards per reception. Through four games this season, Jones is averaging 18.6 yards per reception. Among players with at least 10 catches, Jones ranks fourth in the NFL.
Jones has the five-longest receptions by the Packers this season. He had the only two receptions of longer than 20 yards against the 49ers as it was up to the defense to send the Packers to their fourth win in as many chances.
“That’s a good defense,” Jones said. “They’re at home in front of their home crowd and are coming off a tough loss last week. We knew they were going to come out with some extra juice. We got their best shot. It was a grinder. It’s the pros. They get paid, too.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.