Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Will The Packers Have Three 1,000 Yard Receivers?

I don't think it's important to the Green Bay Packers' offense that their top three receivers each have 1,000 yards receiving in a single season, but it's fun to discuss. From, here's what WR James Jones said recently about the subject:

"I think a 100-catch receiver is gone out of our offense just because Aaron (Rodgers) spreads the ball around so much," he said. "If anybody had a shot to get 100 catches, I'd probably say Randall because he's in the slot and he'll probably get a lot more targets.
"I can see me, Jordy and Randall getting about 80 catches a piece. I can see us all having over 1,000 yards."

In his defense, he did clearly point out that QB Aaron Rodgers targets many different receivers. Which would seem to make it difficult for three specific receivers to hog so many targets. And the Packers have had only had one 1,000 receiver in the past two seasons (WR Jordy Nelson in 2011).

But his point is still valid. Especially if TE Jermichael Finley doesn't return next season, because he's been targeted on average 90 times per season over the past two years. While Jones himself only had 784 yards on 98 targets last season, WR Randall Cobb came close with 954 yards on 104 targets. Nelson had 1,263 yards on 96 targets in 2011 and WR Greg Jennings just missed the century mark with 949 yards on 101 targets in 2011.

The key is health. If Jones, Cobb, and Nelson each played all 16 games next season and they each had 110 targets next season (about 7 per game) then they'll be right around 1,000 yard goal. Arguably the only thing that prevented Nelson and Jennings from 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons was that they both missed games due to injury.

The other big problem is the opposing defense. Last season, Rodgers' yards per attempt was only 7.8, down from 9.2 in 2011. Defenses couldn't stop him, but they could hope to contain him. Nelson and Jones each saw a drop of 3 to 4 yards per reception as defenses took away the deep sideline routes. Their opponents were willing to open up the middle of the field for slants to Cobb and short passes to Finley (88 targets in 2012) in exchange for taking away the big play. And the Packers are probably going to have to take what the defense gives them again next season.

At first I thought Jones was just talking big, but his theory is possible. Still, it doesn't seem likely due to health and defenses' strategies.

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