On a night when Aaron Rodgers set a team-record with 39 completions, Jordy Nelson caught only one pass on Thursday vs. Chicago.
It was Nelson’s fewest catches in a game since he caught one pass vs. Minnesota in Week 4 of the 2014 season. At least he took that one 66 yards for a touchdown. His 9 yards vs. the Bears were his fewest since he was injured on the opening series of a 2012 game against Arizona.
You know what? Maybe that’s good for the Green Bay Packers’ offense.
The Packers dominated the Bears 26-10, even with Nelson being a nonfactor.
In the first four games of the season, Nelson was targeted 38 times. It was a big number, and it made sense given the circumstances. Nelson missed the entire 2015 season and sat out the 2016 preseason. To get that famous Rodgers-Nelson chemistry going, a bit of force-feeding probably was necessary.
While Nelson scored five times in those first four games, it didn’t do the offense a whole lot of good. Rodgers exited those first four games with the worst completion percentage in the NFL.
The formula changed a bit against Dallas — Nelson caught 5-of-7 passes in the 30-16 loss — and then was flipped on its head vs. Chicago. Davante Adams caught 13-of-16 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns. He was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week by tying the legendary Don Hutson for the second-most receptions in franchise history. Randall Cobb caught 11-of-15 passes for 95 yards. Ty Montgomery caught 10-of-13 passes for 66 yards. The Packers became the second team in NFL history with three players with at least 10 catches in a game. New England did it in 1994 but that game went into overtime.
The Packers enter this week’s games as one of four teams that have three receivers with at least 25 receptions. Cobb has 27 receptions in the past three games alone. Adams is coming off a long-awaited breakout game. Montgomery is the first Packers player since Sterling Sharpe in 1993 to have consecutive 10-catch games.
Perhaps all of that production from receivers other than Nelson will help Nelson deliver the big-play production this offense needs.
“I don’t know. We’ll find out,” Nelson said. “As long as everyone goes out there and does their job and gets open and makes plays, we’ll be in a good situation. I don’t think anyone is worried about who it is, as long as someone’s doing it. It’s great to see those guys go out and do it. Hopefully they can carry it over and we’ll put it on Aaron and what he needs to do to get it to the guy who’s open. As long as we’re making plays, we’re in a good situation.”
For the first time this season, perhaps the Packers’ passing attack has something to build on. Throughout his career, Rodgers has been about matchups rather than go-to receivers. Survey the field. Find the best matchup. Complete the pass. With Adams and Montgomery joining the established duo of Nelson and Cobb, the Packers might be in position to dictate the action on offense.
“If they’re worried about (Adams), then we’re going to go to Jordy. If they’re worried about Jordy, we’ll find somebody. If they’re worried about Randall, we’ll find somebody,” Rodgers said. “That’s the beauty of having guys who can play different spots and are unselfish. I would assume if you talk to a guy like Jordy after that game, he was happy for Randall and Ty and Davante — as they are when he’s breaking out and catching a ton of balls and a ton of yards. That’s a tribute to those guys as teammates and players but also as people, and I’m really proud of the way those guys are unselfish and care about each other.”
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.