James Jones continues to amaze.
Picked up off the scrap heap after being release by the Giants, Jones has had a remarkable first four games back with the Green Bay Packers.
Sunday’s 38-yard catch against San Francisco was a thing of beauty, from Aaron Rodgers’ amazing throw to Jones’ to toe-tapping catch on the sideline.
“Well, I don’t know the degree (of difficulty), it was a heck of a throw and a heck of a catch,” associated head coach Tom Clements said on Monday evening. “When you slow the film down, it’s pretty impressive because his feet are in and he’s staring at the ball as he’s about to go out of bounds. So it was a great throw and a great catch.”
Jones got each foot down inbounds twice, making an incredibly difficult catch look incredibly easy.
“A-Rod gave me a shot and I saw the ball,” Jones said after the game. “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.”
Plays like that are why Jones is back with the Packers. Rodgers and Jones spent seven years together, and the trust didn’t evaporate during Jones’ one season in Oakland. If Rodgers didn’t trust Jones to at least break up an interception, he likely wouldn’t have thrown the pass. Instead, knowing that Jones would bail him out if the pass were even a little off-target, Rodgers gave his veteran a chance to make a play on third-and-7.
“A lot of throws during the course of the game are trust throws because in the NFL guys aren’t usually wide open,” Clements said. “You have to throw them open, you have to throw the ball into tight windows, so you have to have trust that the receiver is going to be where he’s supposed to be and make a play for you.”
Among receivers with at least three catches per game, Jones ranks fourth with an average of 18.6 yards per reception. With four touchdowns, he’s one behind Larry Fitzgerald’s league-leading figure.
“When I look at James Jones' production, I feel like James has kind of picked up where he left off,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday. “Last time when he was here in 2013, he had a huge year. I look at James as just as jumping back in a groove with Aaron and, frankly, with the way our receiver group is put together today with some of the injuries and the way the game flows, he's getting a lot of opportunities and he's definitely cashing in on those.”
Without Jordy Nelson, the Packers’ offensive might be in trouble without Jones. Instead, it’s been humming along during the team’s 4-0 start.
“I’m so happy to have him back,” Rodgers said on Sunday. “I told him in the locker room, they broke the mold when they made him. He’s a different type of player.”