Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jordy Nelson Is Number One, But Spreading The Ball Around Has Made The Packers Offense Better

Sam Monson has written the definitive post about the Green Bay Packers first game with Clay Matthews at inside linebacker (don't call him an inside linebacker!) and should be read by anyone interested in his new position/role on defense.

Another interesting point raised this week was that QB Aaron Rodgers threw two of his six touchdown passes against the Bears to tight ends, which doubled the number of touchdown passes thrown to tight ends this season. He has been throwing more passes in general to TEs Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers in recent weeks and he's been spreading the ball around to the benefit of the offense.

Below are the number of targets to their top receivers so far this season, pro-rated out to 16 games in the next column, and compared to the number of times each player was targeted in 2013.
Receiver 2014 Targets 2014 Projected 2013 Targets
Nelson 84 149 126
Cobb 60 107 46
Lacy 30 53 44
Adams 37 66 0
Quarless 27 48 54
Richard Rodgers 14 25 0
Jones 0 0 93
Boykin 8 14 82
Finley 0 0 34
One interesting note is that overall the Packers haven't run as many offensive plays this season. So when you combine the projected number of targets to Quarless and Rodgers (73) and compare that to the total targets in 2013 to Quarless and Jermichael Finley (88), it's down but overall the number of plays are down anyway.

The number of pass attempts to Eddie Lacy is up slightly, and passes that last year went to James Jones and Jarrett Boykin (so much for his breakout season) have gone to a healthy Randall Cobb and rookie Davante Adams, though not as many. However, the one player that jumps out is Jordy Nelson.
29% of all pass attempts have been targeted at Nelson, which leads the team by a wide margin. Early in the season, Nelson was targeted 40% of the time, so he's actually been less featured in recent weeks. He's also had to play against two teams (Lions and Saints) who were very determined to shut him down with double coverage.

Whatever they're doing this season its working in the passing game, Aaron Rodgers moved ahead of Peyton Manning in ESPN's QBR this week, so this is not a complaint. I'm just tracking how the passing game is being used as the season goes on.

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