“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
– Judy Garland – Wizard of Oz
Jordy Nelson is as good a man – and player – as we fans are ever going to witness coming out of the Lambeau Field tunnel, resplendent in the green and gold.
This man of men developed his character and honed his skills growing up in the Midwest wheat fields. Jordy was born in Manhattan – Kansas, not New York. He didn’t even have to leave town for college – he was a star at Kansas State.
More precisely, Jordy grew up in Riley, Kansas, 20 miles east of the big metropolis. The population was around 800 when Jordy was growing up – it’s now pushing 1,000. He was raised on the Nelson farm, which was established by his great-great-grandfather, who immigrated there from Sweden. Jordy some time ago purchased land back home, as his well-laid plans were to return to full-time wheat-farming when his football days were over. He helps his brother on his farm during his off-seasons.
Of course he was a storied high school athlete, excelling at football (quarterback), basketball, and track. Jordy has worked for all he’s gotten. He was both a redshirt and a walk-on at Kansas State, and didn’t break out until his senior year of 2007, when he suddenly became a first-team All-Big 12 and a consensus All-American.
He was drafted by Green Bay with the 36th overall pick. Someone in Titletown must have envisioned the quiet Midwesterner as having similar potential to the quarterback they drafted 24th overall in 2005.
Jordy must have felt like he was in an alien world when he encountered all the self-absorbed, self-seeking, and self-promoting personalities that predominate in the modern NFL. Green Bay was likely the best of all NFL cities for him to land at.
It took three years for Jordy to crack the starting lineup – and even in 2010, he only had four starts during the regular season. He still was a backup as the 2010 playoffs got underway, but he was given the start in the second post-season game – in which he caught eight of eight throws for 79 yards and a touchdown. In the next game he caught four of five for 67 yards.
Then came the Super Bowl, played against the Steelers in Cowboys Stadium. Jordy caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. The other wideouts, Jennings, Driver, and James Jones, combined for 142 yards. Aaron Rodgers had a fine game (111.1 passer rating) and was named MVP. I’d say though, that Jordy made the difference in the 6-point victory. Had it not been for Jordy. . .no ring?
Some will say: Jordy is a nice guy, but not a top-tier receiver. Presumably this group includes those who pick the All-Pro and Pro Bowl players.
As smart fans know, however, these voters occasionally pass over non-glitzy, non-showboat players, and they almost always rely on those at the top of the main statistical charts, which tend on the offense to be the guys who got the most carries, caught the most passes, or threw the most balls.
Jordy suffered in this regard, in part because he had to share receptions with a bunch of talented teammates (Jennings, Driver, Cobb, James Jones). Still, I can say conclusively that Jordy was the most productive and efficient receiver in the NFL during his prime years – and by a wide margin.
In fact I did say that, back on August 23, 2016. Duo Is One for the Ages, 8/23/16 To briefly summarize, in 2014 a Washington Post feature called “Fancy Stats” did a three-year study (2011-13), which compared the passer ratings of the top NFL quarterback-receiver duos, based on the passer ratings when a specific QB threw to a specific receiver.
It wasn’t even close. Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson came in fifth; Matt Ryan to Julio Jones was fourth (108.7); Tony Romo to Dez Bryant ranked third (112.0); Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas was runner-up (112.0).
Way out ahead was Aaron to Jordy, with a passer rating of 143.9. Not only that, this study didn’t include Jordy’s monumental 2014 season: 98 catches, 1,519 yards, 13 touchdowns, and a 15.5 yards per catch average. This statistic is a great way to assess the true value of a receiver.
Digging a bit deeper, consider: In the six years from 2012-17, Demaryius Thomas was targeted by Manning anywhere from 140 to 184 times per year. In Jordy’s entire career he was only targeted more than 127 times twice, and never more than 152 times. Who got the honors? Thomas has been named Second-team All-Pro twice, and selected to the Pro Bowl five times. Jordy’s lone honor was being named to the Pro Bowl in 2014.
It’s not just nostalgia that should cause every Packer fan to salute Jordy Nelson as he readies his quest to be the best goldarn wheat farmer in Riley County. He should go down as one of the Packers all-time greats.
Some of us got to know Emily Nelson a little on “The Better Half” TV show – what a perfect match they make.
Best wishes to Jordy, Emily, their two boys, Royal and Brooks, and their adopted daughter, Adda Jo.
Correction: the Manning to Thomas rating was 123.0. Whether the Packers (and the Raiders) failed to appreciate what they had is an issue for another time. When Jordy joins the Packers HOF, it ought to be a hell of a celebration.
I wrote it in another post a while back regarding Jordy that to me he was “Mr. Packer” as he epitomized everything Packer fans loved in their players. Sadly his exit from Green Bay was,… mishandled.
Now as the old saying goes: If you want to make a small fortune in farming, then start with a big one. Jordy will have a great head start with all his NFL money to enjoy the rest of his life on the land. All the best to one of the best.
I read somewhere the Nelson’s farm 4,000 acres and 1,000 head of cattle. They’ve got a good head-start on that big thing.
87 will always be Jordy. I never saw Willie Davis play.
87 = Jordy Nelson and the play action 60 yard bomb with him 10 yards past the defense. White Chocolate as Ike Taylor said.
Retire #87, and put the name Willie Nelson under it on the walls of Lambeau.
Willie Davis probably would have, by far, the Packer record for sacks if they actually counted them as sacks in the 60s. Clay Matthews leads the Packers with 83. According to the Professional Football Research Association Willie Davis actually had around 120 sacks for the Packers. He claims he had one season with 25 sacks, which would have been an NFL record today. Willie Davis was a 5 time NFL Champion. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
No way would I put Jordy Nelson above Willie Davis.
I’m sure they have video of all those games. I don’t know why they don’t go back to record all of those sacks and give credit where it is due.
Lang has now retired as well. Looking like the packers were right to have moved on from two aging players. Now if only they would have moved on from Perry before giving him that contract
Jordy is still more productive than every receiver on the Packers roster other than Davante and that’s only because Rodgers has tunnel vision for #17. That’s either a statement about Davante or a statement about the rest of the receiving core.
Yep, damn well looked like they were right, the Packers have been so successful the last couple years without them.
Didn’t have any use for those two yahoo’s.
Lesson learned…Great management = great decisions.
Good post Kato.
The right decision was moving on from those players.
The wrong decision is who they replaced them with and in the case of Nelson how they moved on from him.
It is not the same thing like you insinuate.
One year ago……….
Gute: Hey Mark, i want to get rid of either Nelson or Cobb, what do you think.
Murphy: I don’t know, it’s your decision to make, as long as i agree with it.
Gute: Well, Jordy and Rodgers have been a league leading prolific scoring duo. But i kind of like Cobb, he’s had 3 down seasons but i think he’s going to bust out this season.
Murphy: Yea…plus it seems that Nelson forgot how to play, i think he’s getting long in the tooth, he looked like he lost a step the second i heard Rodgers collarbone snap.
Murphy: How about we keep both, and have Cobb restructure and take a cut?
Gute: I tried that already, he told me he had a great thing going here and he won’t redo his deal.
Murphy: I can’t argue with that, he got us pretty good on that last deal, lets keep him, he’s only 28.
Gute: That’s why you make the big money Sir, Keep the younger guy, That makes so much sense to me, Especially if Cobb doesn’t go to Dallas when he’s 29.
Gute: Now what about tight end?
Murphy: Good question, wish we would have kept Cook, Ted sure as hell f’d up that position.
Murphy:I GOT IT GUTE!! Offer Jimmy Graham 6 million more than the Saints, he can’t refuse that.
Gute: Are you sure Russ will go for that?
Murphy: I’ll take care of Russ, i just gave him a raise. This accomplishes two things Gute, Graham’s a red zone TD machine, he will make people forget all about Jordy Nelson. And our tight end position is finally solved. As a matter of fact, lets give Jimmy a 5 million dollar roster bonus before we start his second season, i’m sure he’ll earn it with his play.
Gute: You are pure genius Mark.
Murphy: Well, i’ve been in football all my life Gute.
Nothing you write there is incorrect. As stated… moving on from Jordy and Lang was fine…. their plan to replace past production of those players (production neither player would have achieved in 2018) was poor. Unless of course you believe Nelson and Lang were the 2 missing pieces to winning the super bowl.
They addressed a change that needed to be made…. then fucked up the change. I think the biggest critique one can have of the Pack is not ponying up for Mack. For what they spent on Graham/Cobb and the long term contracts to the two smiths and turn style turner…. Mack would have been a much sounder investment. The bears could have easily made and possibly won the super bowl last year had they not ignored the warning signs with their kicker. And mack was one of the biggest reasons.
Stiggy gets it.
Yea but….as long i keep learning, maybe someday i’ll get it also.
Cue the resign Morgan Burnett rants…before the Vikings sign yet another GB cast off. If GB cuts Mason Crosby he’ll be wearing purple 30 seconds later. Just in case someone claps back with the WE have Dan Bailey at one time the most accurate kicker of all time….he made 75% last year.
I posted this in 2016:
“There have been receivers who have successfully returned from a torn ACL but those that have were a lot younger. Wes Welker is probably the only case where the receiver was close to 30 and had a big year after recovering from a torn ACL. Even he only lasted two more years on the Patriots.
I expect Nelson will come back and play, but even if he remains healthy he’s not going to be the same guy.”
Nelson went from seasons of 1314, 1519, 1257 before the injury to seasons of 482 and 739, followed by retirement.
That 1257 with 14 TDs should be after the injury not before. 6 TDs and 290 yards in first six games in 2017 before Rodgers was injured. Those numbers are counting the game Rodgers was injured and the Atlanta game that I think Jordy missed the entire game except the first offensive plays/series.
oops…those pesky facts.
I realize chemistry is a thing… but how did Adams put up top notch numbers with Hundley while Nelson completely floundered?
My belief is because Rodgers was throwing him open.
Packers had a horrible scheme under mccarthy… Adam’s talent rose above the scheme.. Nelson’s age began to show after he lost #12 in the same manner many of other receivers fell off without 12 throwing them open.
Jordy had no issue being productive with Matt Flynn and whoever the other QB was that year. What was different with Hundley? Jordy’s YPC had been going down even with Rodgers playing QB. A pretty marked sign of a declining player.
Anyways, I am not giving up on Gutekunst, but I can’t help but think the packers royally screwed up by not bringing back Dorsey when they had the chance. I thought if there was any silver lining in keeping Ted on longer than they should have, is it allowed them to snatch Dorsey up after KC let him go.
What was different with Hundley?
I won’t respond to that unless i start getting paid for this shit.
Yea Jordy’s YPC were going down slightly. But i guess when you lead the league in TD passes, catch 20 TD’s in 21 games with Rodgers, Have the best scoring of a QB/receiver combo in the league. Maybe, just maybe….just maybe….a dip in YPC may be over looked considering he was a fucking scoring machine.
Kato..After all Jordy’s TD catches, did you jump up and scream…..”Yea, but his yards per catch are down!!!”
Here’s a news flash Kato, look at Cobb’s YPC the last 4 years….educate yourself.
Thank you for understanding
I think I will respond about what was different about Hundley. Below is a portion, and I emphasize portion of a comment from one scout about Hundley’s weaknesses prior to the draft and may I add remain with Hundley:
Internal clock is a mess. Has marginal anticipation, and appears to be lacking in ability to read defenses and create a pre-snap plan. Slow getting through progressions…
No question Jordy and Rodgers knew how the other was going to react based on coverage. If you have a defender over the top and the play call requires a go route Jordy would cut the route and guess what back shoulder. Etc.
Rodgers did throw Jordy open just as much as Jordy would adjust his route to become open. It is how a team works. You are able to anticipate what your teammate are going to do in a given situation. To me Rodgers and Graham never developed that chemistry last year.
When asked last year if Jordy could develop the same chemistry with Carr that He had with Rodgers, Jordy said it could not happen. Yet Jordy still averaged over 13 yards per catch with Carr. Why could Jordy do that with Hundley? I submit paragraph #2 above.
My recollection of the Hundley lead team, Jordy would come open, or just about come open in a zone and Hundley would not pull the trigger (marginal anticipation). It was clear that the Packers were starting to roll Adams into the #1 receiver. With that will be more play calls with the #1 receiver being the first option, after all the Packers were in negotiations with Adams for a big contract early in the 2017 season. With more play calls with Adams as the #1 and with Hundley lacking in ability to read defenses, create a pre-snap plan, and slow getting through progressions guess who was going to get the ball? The first option.
I remember at least three games were Jordy would get no targets, then at the start of the next game or the start of the next half Jordy would get 2 or 3 targets in a row, most short throws at or behind the line. The Packers could see Jordy was not receiving targets when he was the 2, 3, or 4 option. So to make the defense play honest the team had to purposely target Jordy. I’m sure the same occurred with all the receivers. If your not first option, the ball won’t be coming.
We should also not forget that Adams YPC also dropped after Rodgers was injured. Cobb’s YPC after Rodgers was injured was the only one of the three that increased.
I guess that means Cobb should be the only one of the the 3 still around?
Good points Howard.
Jordy didn’t even need to be thrown open, how many times did he have defensers draped over him and he comes away with the ball.
As far as Hundley, i’m not going to write forever about it, i shouldn’t need to. Besides all the points Howard brought up. McCarthy called a ton of plays for short high percentage passes, if he didn’t, Hundley’s completion percentage would have hovered in the high 40’s to mid 50’s (at best). Also explaining his 5,7 yard average.
Adams was an easy target besides he played the right side, a natural throwing lane with Hundley always trying to pretend he was Rodgers rolling out to his right. When he did that, he was only looking for Adams and occasionally Cobb, he wasn’t scanning left for Nelson. Even if he did, can you imagine the interceptions Hundley throws, throwing cross field against his body? McCarthy knew his limitations.
I’ve never seen a QB throw to a receiver (Nelson) behind the line of scrimmage or 1,2 or 3 yards past, as much as Hundley did. It seems some readers here just can’t seem to figure out why Jordy didn’t excell with Hundley.
It’s confusing….i understand.
Seattle was so impressed with Hundley they sent him packing.
Last place Arizona signed him in March. I don’t know if he makes their roster, but i will say….This is Hundley’s final leg on his say goodbye to the NFL tour.
Thank you Howard and PF4L for saying what I no longer have to spend my time trying to articulate, and making some great points that I wouldn’t have made.
Instead, I will just share this link once again in hopes that something finally starts to sink in.
Cheese…explaining some of this stuff to these fine people is like trying to teach the blind to drive. It’s maddening and it shouldn’t be anywhere near this hard.
Ugh, you’re right. Good point.
Jordy Nelson reaffirmed my White Privilege. I was privileged. I still am privileged, because im a white man & I watched Jordy Nelson play football.
I posted this in 2017….
December 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm
This team is perilously close to needing a full blown rebuild. I know it seems odd to say that having Rodgers, but the truth is, this team is always in worse shape than the year before and that’s a bad sign. This team has consistent need area’s, and bloated, under performing contracts, not a good combination.
Let’s acknowledge the author when deserved. Damn well done Rob! From the start with the history, to the ending with the well wishes. And all the pertinent information in between. Excellent comparison information, that is some stuff i wouldn’t even think of.
We may not always agree Rob, but when you want to, you can seriously bring it. I probably have underestimated you in the past, but know, that i’ll step up to acknowledge high level when deserved, no matter who it is.
Excellent, excellent piece.