Now the rest of the media is all over the story, but Total Packers has been harping on this theme for a good three years: a Green Bay receiver has to develop a copacetic relationship with the future Hall-of-Famer QB if he wants to get thrown to.
Early in Aaron Rodgers’ career as a starter (2008-2010), Aaron had yet to develop his system of favoritism. He had plenty of talent, and he used them all: Jennings, James Jones, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley, and an emerging Jordy Nelson.
Jennings opted to leave, as did Javon Walker a few years earlier – thereby wrecking their NFL careers. Finley succumbed to a career-ending injury. Donald Driver was the exception: he enjoyed a long and fulfilling career with the Packers.
The first sign that Green Bay’s front office didn’t fully appreciate the requirement that receivers bond with Rodgers came regarding Jones. Though he never had a 1,000-yard season, James had seven fruitful years here, from 2007-13.
Showing no love, the Packers’ execs allowed him to sign on with the Raiders. That affair lasted only until the Raiders released him one year later. Jones returned to the Packers – only because he was desperately needed when Nelson underwent ACL surgery – and had his best year ever: 50 catches, 890 yards, 8 TDs. The Packers personnel guys responded by again letting Rodgers’ favorite receiver go.
Jordy Nelson was Rodgers’ preferred target from 2011 through 2017 (except for missing 2015 with an ACL tear, and for Aaron missing half of 2017 due to a broken clavicle). Jordy and Aaron appeared to be the ideal pairing. Why then did the front office make no attempt to retain Jordy prior to the 2018 season? That remains one of the great mysteries in all of Packers’ lore.
Though most don’t realize it, Jordy had a fine season for Oakland in 2018 (see here). If for no other reason than the Jordy-Aaron bond, the Packers should have kept Nelson through the current season – he’s still only 34 years old.
The next lucky guy to get Aaron’s stamp of approval was Randall Cobb, who was Aaron’s off-season BFF too. Cobb spent eight seasons with Green Bay. By any measure, his three final years, 2016-18, were disappointing – I’ve yet to see an adequate explanation for this fall-off of production. The Packers somewhat understandably abandoned him after the 2018 season.
The Cowboys picked him up on a 1-year deal for $5 million – he’s only 29 years old. Through 12 games (11 played), Randall’s numbers are 42 catches for 640 yards (a hefty 15.1 average for a slot receiver) and three TDs. The Cowboys are happy – Randall could yet have a 1,000-yard season if he finishes strong. This begs the question: how did Randall (in his prime) and Aaron manage averaging only 549 yards of completions from 2016 through 2018? Was the bond broken?
Aaron’s latest receiver love affair after Jones, Nelson, and Cobb, is of course Davante Adams. Given Aaron’s quirks, how in the world were the first three allowed to leave Green Bay before their usefulness was at an end?
Without Aaron’s love, a horde of Green Bay receivers have fallen into statistical mediocrity, including: Jarrett Boykin, Jared Abbrederis, Jeff Janis, Ty Montgomery, Trevor Davis, Geronimo Allison, J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Jake Kumerow, and Darrius Shepherd.
Tight ends have fared even worse in seeking to become targeted by Aaron, such as Richard Rodgers, Jared Cook, Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, and Robert Tonyan. Will Jase Sternberger be the team’s next underutilized tight end? I’d like to see what he can do, right now, before the playoffs.
I just grit my teeth every time I hear that a Green Bay receiver must “earn” Aaron’s trust before he can expect to get many throws – and that this process often takes years (Adams being the exception). That’s BS, and it’s time Rodgers gets over this notion, though he seems to concur with it when reporters bring it up.
Remember when the NFL played pro bowl games that were somewhat serious and competitive? Dan Marino, Joe Montana, John Elway, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and the like would put on their shorts (since 1979 in Hawaii) and spend maybe two or three practice sessions with receivers from other teams, and you’d never know they hadn’t been teammates for years.
Talented and experienced quarterbacks and receivers need only days, not years, to get in sync with each other. Pass and catch – it’s not rocket science.
Three-quarters of the way through this regular season, it’s clear the Packers don’t have an air attack that will take them far into the playoffs – one trusted receiver doesn’t hack it.
Allen Lazard might not be a future All-Pro, though he’s displayed enough raw talent in the opportunities he’s had that it’s not too farfetched a dream. The Packers need to commit, right now, to seeing just how good he is and what he can do to rejuvenate the Packers’ passing game. This receiver group needs help. Let’s break off the Marquez, Geronimo, and Jake experimentation, and go with the guy who’s hot.
Just featuring him as a primary target alongside Adams should relieve Davante of much of the pressure and overplaying he’s been getting from opposing defenses.
In the last seven games, Lazard has 22 catches out of 29 throws, for 330 yards and 2 TDs. His catch percentage is 76 percent, and these haven’t been short dump-offs. He’s averaging 15 yards per catch – he stretches the field, and poses serious challenges for defenses. I can’t recall any drops, penalties, or botched assignments, and he’s a damn good blocker too.
We’ve learned a bit more about Allen from all the interviews he’s had following the Giants’ game. He’s supremely confident. His remedy for the Packers’ so-so offense: just get him the ball.
Here’s an idea: let’s reward guys who are playing well. Someone in charge of this team needs to demand, not recommend, that Aaron direct the ball to Allen, a lot, over the next few games. Let’s find out what we have in this player, who finished up as the Iowa State Cyclone’s career leader in both receptions and receiving yardage.
I don’t believe the NFL is too big a stage for Allen Lazard.
Excellent article. I know some people are getting tired of my Aaron criticism as of late but look; anyone who doenst think this is another sign of Aarons arrogance the last 3 to 4 years is nuts. It goes right along with his running Mccarthy out of town (though good riddance) and his absolute refusal to throw into tight windows and make plays to covered receivers. Hes too worried about his precious stat line so he refuses to take risks. The result: he holds the ball too long and it looks like no one is ever open. Oh and he ruins the timing of the offense and takes too many sacks.
I honestly do not think it will change. He is what he is now. Remember hes a So-Cal boy.
Hopefully he “likes” Lazzard and we can at least get some big plays from him. Then this upcoming draft we get a big name guy and he gels well with Aaron personally and we can breathe a little easier.
I have been saying this for a while now. Watch the strip sack play vs SF. Everyone is open! Adams gets 20-25 yards if Rodgers just fires to him. As time goes by, my fondness for Rodgers wanes as it grows for fearless Favre.
When i think of Fearless Favre, the 2007 NFCCG against the Giants comes to mind, along with a NFCCG against the Saints. But i knew Favre was truly fearless long before then. I knew it watching him throw 6 interceptions in one game against the Rams in a 2001 playoff game that they lost 17-45….Yes, i said 6 picks, in one game. Who does that? I remember where i was, who i was with, and how pissed off i was.
More? ok……after 1997, right after Favre’s glory years. Favre’s Packer playoff record was 3 wins- 6 losses. I guess he did so…Fearlessly.
Wouldn’t you rather go down slinging than watching your guys bust there ass for nothing just so you could keep that selfish and inflated ego and stat line of yours. Cmon PF4L love your posts but bust that arod chub for a second. Huge arod fan myself but we cant be naive when its a repeated process game in and game out….most commonly against the leagues best.
Aaron Rodgers doesn’t fancy throwing it towards the middle of the field. That’s why you won’t see GB TEs being the most productive at their position, vs other offenses that do utilize TEs.
Of course, the statement is hyperbolic and you will be able to find a few instances where a GB TE caught a pass near the middle (not those outs or flats).
I wasn’t sure whether this was McCarthy’s offense, but he’s gone, so…
I am not saying “let’s cut Rodgers”. But stats no longer make him top five. Our OL is better than average, though no team has five starter-quality linemen, let alone depth. Besides, we do have a couple of interesting pieces on offense: Adams, Jones and Williams. Maybe add Lazard and Kumerow in a pinch. Other teams throw it to rookies or second tier players, as it’s very rare to have a “Calvin Johnson – Julio Jones – Antonio Brown” combo as your starting WRs. I can even recall a newly arrived Bradford throwing it to Vikes’ receivers he had just met. Looks like even mediocre QBs develop trust quickly.
Bradford in 2016 is a fine example of my point. The Vikings’ Teddy Bridgewater tore his ACL on August 30. In a panic, on September 3 Minnesota acquired Bradford, who had become the Eagles’ backup to their top draft pick, Carson Wentz. Bradford then started his first game for the Vikes on September 15 – which happened to be the inaugural game in their new stadium – against the Packers. Sam out-dueled Aaron and the Packers (passer ratings 121.2 and 70.7 respectively), in a 17-14 win – Stefon Diggs had nine catches for 182 yards. He had his new team on their way, with a 5-0 record. Ironically, as he became more familiar with his receivers, the team went south and their 8-8 finish left them out of the playoffs. Sam is currently a free agent – I’ve previously advocated that the Packers acquire him as Aaron’s backup.
This article for me is like a buffet for a fat man who hasn’t eaten in 4 days.
I’ll apologize ahead of time.
Bring it on, Big Dog (Big Dog! Big Dog!).
I’ll go through this piece by piece when time allows.
In the meantime..it seems as though Rodgers forgot how to play QB in the NFL. Because of that, if it was up to me, he deserves a good ass kicking. Like a hospital visit type of ass kicking. I don’t know who he thinks he is exactly, but he has a great group of receivers who are open 80% of the time. I say…it’s about G D time he started to trust them. I’ve just about had it with this Hollywood Diva.
Tried watching the Matt lafleur show yesterday…but larry Mccarens stupid fucking pinky ruins it and I turned it off after about a minute.
That guy should be given an ultimatum…get that stupid thing fixed or lose all association with the packers.
I’m sure McCarren is a nice enough guy. But i refuse to watch or listen to him. He brings homerism to a new level. But go figure, look who signs his paychecks.
Just cut the damn thing off so I can watch.
Brian Baldinger and McCarren need to compare pinky deformities.
I don’t have a problem with the veteran receivers the Packers released, rather the lack of effort to replace them- either by FA or the draft. Defense has consumed most of the choice draft capital the past…….decade? I plead guilty to preseason temporary insanity- all this WR talent, will we keep 7, or maybe 8? Was I (and Packers GM) wrong. There was 1 and only recently does it appear 1 more may be viable. Receiving corps needs a big makeover, starting with a fast playmaker for the slot (Ruggs from AL maybe?), and TEs, Lazard and ESB are enough big guys for next year. Gotta invest in receivers………..ILB, OL, DL, CB etc too.
The receiver group is strong, along with the O line. We need to invest in a new QB. Lets see if we can’t trade Rodgers and get a hungry young buck who doesn’t need to trust his receivers, and i would prefer a YES MAN who hasn’t learned how to do his own thinking. I don’t need a guy who thinks he’s smarter than everyone when it’s clearly not true.
There’s no doubt AR’s an elite QB, and can make some of the most dazzling throws the league’s seen or will see, but the obsession he has with interceptions, the trust thing, his need to play hero-ball, and the reticence to use the whole field serve to limit all the productivity available from that all-world talent.
Extreme exaggerations and sarcasm notwithstanding, it’s the gist of Rob’s point and a warranted island of criticism in a sea of slobbering praise.
So your complaint isn’t Rodgers skill, it’s your perceived perception he’s not changing his style trying to be more productive. If i’m understanding you.
I say that because nobody seemed to have had a problem with Rodgers style in years past. The trust thing, has everything to do with a receiving core being far less talented than he’s had in the past. Lets be real…QB’s in the NFL need to trust their receivers, this isn’t something exclusive with Aaron Rodgers. We also shouldn’t confuse the word trust, and talent. Will Rodgers throw more to Adams than Allison?…damn right he will. Did Rodgers throw me to Jordy than Jarrett Boykin, In the words of J P…Durr. The same can be said of all other QB’s in the league and their receivers. They have their “favorites” because they produce. That’s how it works.
Part of Cobb having a better season this year than his last three with the Packers could be due to health. Seemed like he was banged up a lot those last few years
Kato, after watching a few Cowboy games this season, i noticed very quickly that Cobb was playing clearly quicker, and running nice routes. Which shouldn’t be surprising going to a new team and putting forth the effort. It’s a natural motivator. He didn’t have that motivation in G B. What he did have was 10 mil/year. That was clearly enough for him.
“2018 was a strange year for Jordy Nelson. Yes, after a super year coming back from ACL surgery in 2016 (97 catches, 1,257 yards, 14 TDs), Jordy was a shadow of his former self in 2017 (53 catches, 487 yards, 6 TDs). I still don’t understand that decline.” – Robster
Maybe i can help….There is the fact that in the first 5 games with Rodgers in 2017, Jordy had 6 TD catches. Now…where i’m from, those are pro bowl numbers, on pace for 18,19 TD’s. Maybe he only gets what? 15 TD’s…i’ll take it right? So where is the decline that Rob doesn’t understand in 2017? I’ll go out on a limb, Brett Hundley?
So Jordy, after being insulted by Ball and Gute goes to the Raiders where he has 63 catches, 739 yards, and three touchdowns.
“With so-so quarterback Derek Carr doing the flinging, Jordy caught 38 passes, for 386 yards in his last five games. That’s more than double the catches and yardage in the first eleven games – what gives?” – Robster
Part of that reason Rob was the Raiders traded Amari Cooper to the Cowboys.
But Rob was right in the article, his stats were with Derek Carr, i have no doubt if Nelson was back with Rodgers in 2018 Nelson would have been his usual TD machine scoring self.
Now lets be real can we?….the problem with the offense started the day Gute let Jordy leave. Then Jimmy would pick up the slack right?..wrong….then 3 draft picks would pick up the slack right?….wrong. AND THAT’S WHERE THE RECEIVING CORE SITS…STILL TODAY.
So if your expecting to see the same offense as 2011-2016.. Now if Rodgers can come close, keep his passer rating above 100, Give the man some credit.instead of shitting on him everyday.
Stephan A Smith once did a piece on how Rodgers should demand a trade. With Smith reasoning the Packers upper management is clueless.
A few thoughts on Rodgers and his trust issues. He came into a situation that the vast majority of new starting quarterbacks don’t have the luxury of: two good established recievers with Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. Also, in addition, James Jones was coming off a very good first year, all these guys being productive with Favre at quarterback. You add in Jordy Nelson to the mix, although he didn’t become the guy we knew to be a great receiver until the end of his 3rd season in the league. Fast forward a decade, and here we are. I half wonder if Rodgers didn’t have trust issues with those guys the first half of his career because he saw them be productive with Favre. In the NFL, people don’t get wide open a ton, a lot of times you have to make throws into fairly tight coverage, or throw them open. Rodgers can absolutely do this. I can think of several throws made to Jones and Nelson in particular where they were covered but Rodgers would make a great throw and they would make a great catch. I don’t think he trusts these guys to make plays on the ball in tighter coverage. I would love to see advanced statistics to see targets to guys like Nelson and Adams and the yards of separation, compared to when he targets these other guys, and how many yards of separation they have on average.
Ok, lets put this to bed….i respect Rob’s acknowledgement of miscues by Packer management regarding past productive receivers. Although sometimes it seems i’m one of the very few here who will acknowledge the` talent pool of the current receivers is pretty damn shallow…whatever, that’s fine.
Now`….this irks me….”Without Aaron’s love, a horde of Green Bay receivers have fallen into statistical mediocrity.. .”(followed by receivers by name).” Wtf does that`actually mean? If Rodgers loved them they’d become pro bowlers? If Rodgers loved them they would magically have more talent? . Seriously Rob?
Lets see..who are these receivers that didn’t have enough Rodgers love.
Boykin……..out of the NFL at age 26 after being with 5 teams in 6 years including the CFL.
Jared Abbrederis….out of the NFL at age 26.
Jeff Janis….out of the NFL at age 27 when Cleveland kicked him to the curb.
Ty Montgomery….switched to rb when he was 23. currently with the Jets where he has 15 carries this season.
Trevor Davis…..16 career receptions, is with 3rd team at age 26.
Geronimo Allison…Rodgers throws to him…but if Rodgers loved him more, maybe passes wouldn’t sail through his hands.
J’Mon Moore…4th round draft pick who lasted 1 season and the Packers saw enough and released him with 2 career receptions with 1 fumble, currently on the Browns practice squad. Maybe if Rodgers loved him more he wouldn’t be a body catcher and could catch a football.
MVS…he’s a rounder who is having trouble running routes…maybe if Rodgers loved him more he’d be a crisp route runner.
ESB….I don’t know if anyone loves him.
Lets review one more time why Rob thinks these receivers were held down by Rodgers, ready?
“Without Aaron’s love, a horde of Green Bay receivers have fallen into statistical mediocrity.. …..”
You’ve got me on this point. What that list (though not so much the tight end list) tends to show is the lack of support Aaron has received from GMs Thompson and Gutekunst, which few would dispute at this point. As to MVS, however. please see my upcoming post. I don’t think that being a marginal route runner, if true, can begin to explain the free fall that MVS has been on. Maybe you have additional thoughts on solving this riddle, or maybe the guy I’ve quoted extensively from has already solved it. At any rate, how the Pack fares the rest of the way might well rest on whether the team can jump-start MVS – or whether Lazard can fill that void.
I like MVS for what he is, a big gainer. His scouting reports seem to lend credence to his route running. A long 6′ 4″, fast wide receiver usually doesn’t drop to the 5th round if he has good hands and runs good routes.
I don’t know why his targets have fallen off, but here’s the thing. We don’t know why, because we are not there. Sure we can speculate, but we have to have some trust that there are reasons why. The same way we needed to trust on the Davante Adams issue years ago, because we weren’t there. They knew he had the talent, but some of us wanted him gone, and i know, you know what i’m talking about.
But i’m with you, i’d like to see MVS involved more and productive, along with Lazard, because this receiver situation is pretty dire. At the end of the day it falls on Gutenkunst, not Aaron Rodgers love.
I think MVS having a catch % under 50 is the reason for the lack of targets Rodgers AND lafleur don’t trust him because he hasn’t been trustworthy.
And I doubt he only drops balls in games either I think it more than likely started with him having a lot of drops in practice and then getting less in game opportunities due that.
Thats just my best guess but it seems like the most likely reason.