A Brief History of Packers “Making the Jump”
The Green Bay Packers have been resistant to proclaiming that someone has “made the jump” or that a particular player is the offseason MVP, this year. There’s a very good reason for that. It hasn’t worked out so well in the past.
The local media — the trained dogs that they are — have also been quiet on this front. So, it made me cringe a little bit when Shawn went and labeled receiver Jeff Janis this year’s offseason MVP.
Perhaps the only saving grace here is that we said it and the Packers or the local media didn’t. We haven’t torpedoed anyone’s season under the crushing weight of expectations like they have.
What are we talking about, exactly?
We went back five years and looked at the list of players who were said to be “making the jump,” “making the leap,” or were named “offseason MVP.” It’s pretty ugly.
Here’s who received one of those labels at one time or another and how they fared during that season.
2015: Davante Adams, Richard Rodgers, Andrew Quarless
A real murderer’s row there. Adams was actually labeled the offseason MVP by coach Mike McCarthy, so that’s where we get that stupid label from. When the lights came on, Adams actually managed to regress from season one to season two. He caught 50 balls for just 483 yards (9.7 ypc) and one touchdown.
Things went similarly for Rodgers, who McCarthy said had “taken a step.” Rodgers proved you can’t teach speed over and over again in 2015, turning in 58 catches for 510 yards and eight touchdowns. While the eight touchdowns were a nice number, the pathetic 8.8 per catch was not.
Quarless, meanwhile, drew raves from both himself and Aaron Rodgers, who claimed the tight end was “taking the jump.” Then he went out and got arrested on this very weekend, last year. Quarless sprained his MCL in September and spent two tours on injured reserve. When he wasn’t on the shelf, Quarless played in just five games, catching four passes for 31 yards. He’s currently unsigned, so it appears as if he’s taken the jump right out of football.
2014: Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd
The Packers actually went 1-for-3 on their “jump” predictions in 2014. The guy who actually came through was defensive end Mike Daniels.
Daniels posted a then career high in tackles (41) and added 5.5 sacks, while establishing himself as a defensive leader and rising star. That ascension continued in 2015.
It didn’t go too well for the other defensive linemen on the list. It was obvious the Packers expected 2013 first-round pick Datone Jones to make a jump in his second season. They handed him a starting job. He ended up making just three starts. In 13 games, Jones posted 21 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
The Packers were also reportedly going to carve our a larger role for Boyd in 2014 based on his offseason performance. McCarthy said he expected Boyd to take a huge step in his second season. That didn’t really happen. Boyd started four games and played in 15, but managed just 21 tackles and didn’t record a single sack. The Packers released him this offseason.
2013: Andrew Quarless, Brad Jones
Here’s another beaut of a list.
Brad Jones… well, you’ve certainly experienced the nightmare of watching Brad Jones play. Jones was coming off a season in which he started 10 games and turned in 77 tackles and two sacks. The sky must be the limit for this guy, right?
Jones started 12 games in 2013, recorded 84 tackles and three sacks. He’d get only one start in 2014 and was released following the season.
And let’s not forget about God’s Gifts. Andrew Quarless was supposed to break out numerous times. What did he do in 2013? Quarless caught 32 balls for 312 yards (9.8 ypg) and two touchdowns.
2012: Jamari Lattimore, M.D. Jennings
We all had high hopes for linebacker Jamari Lattimore at one time or another. He was said to be making the jump during the 2012 offseason. He recorded just seven tackles during that season.
Lattimore was a part-time starter in 2013 and 2014, but never could quite put it together. He’d flash play-making ability one minute and then blow an assignment the next. The Packers didn’t re-sign him following the 2014 campaign.
While Lattimore flashed occasional potential, safety M.D. Jennings pretty much always looked mediocre. Except during OTAs in 2012, that is. Jennings was the star of those proceedings. Jennings — along with the equally craptacular Jerron McMillian — were forced into the starting lineup in 2012 because the Packers decided not to adequately replace Nick Collins. Jennings had 52 tackles and one interception in 10 starts.
He played one more season with the Packers and has been on the street since. Jennings will primarily be remembered as the guy who made the interception that wasn’t on the Fail Mary.
Thankfully, for those of us who hate stories about guys making the jump, there was no offseason program in 2011. Players were locked out as a new collective bargaining agreement was being hammered out.
2010: Brandon Underwood, Jordy Nelson
A lot of people don’t remember, but it took a while for Jordy Nelson to make a real impact with the Packers. In his first two seasons, Nelson had 55 catches, 686 yards and four touchdowns combined. Entering his third season, the Packers were looking for big things from Nelson. They didn’t really get it.
Although Nelson improved in his third year, he wasn’t exactly the Jordy Nelson we now know. He finished the 2010 season with 45 catches for 582 yards and two touchdowns. Nelson’s breakout season didn’t come until 2011, his first with 1,000 yards receiving.
Finally, Brandon Underwood. This is the story I always like to tell when someone brings up the “jump” or gets enamored with a player’s offseason body of work. The one guy who consistently was singled out by the coaching staff during the 2010 offseason was Underwood.
Apparently, Underwood wanted to celebrate his great offseason and ended up getting arrested for an incident with a prostitute before training camp. Other than the legal proceedings, we never heard Underwood’s name again. He never started a game for the Packers and finished the 2010 season with just 10 tackles.
His NFL body of work consists of just two seasons, 21 tackles and no interceptions.
Buy hey, he won one offseason MVP award!