The Green Bay Packers have undoubtedly one of the best receiving corps in the game. And for the past four years, wide receiver James Jones has been a big part of that.
The problem with James Jones, however, is that last year he was not a big part of that.
“He should be priority No. 1 and I mean that with all my heart. He really should be priority No. 1. We don’t win the Super Bowl without him and we need him.” - said Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers
This author simply disagrees.
James made some big plays last year, and that is true. But it is also true that he had many opportunities to make more plays, and came up short.
It's surprising to learn that he didn't actually drop the ball any more than any of his teammates did. But the ones he did drop were very key, and potentially fatal.
In the waning moments of Week Three against Chicago, Green Bay looked like it had the chance to go down the field, score and end the game.
Instead of holding onto the ball like a fourth-year pro should, Urlacher easily stripped Jones of the ball, in what was surely the game-saver for the Chicago Bears.
Mike McCarthy didn't help when he kept the Bears from scoring the TD, and saving himself enough time to command his offense down the field again.
But James Jones deserves an equal amount of blame.
In the fourth quarter against the New York Jets, Jones dropped a deep pass that seemed to some like it was impossible to catch . This author believes it was well within reach, and it was a clear run for the end zone had he caught it.
But we'll leave that one up for discussion.
In Week 16, the Packers were leading 31-17 against the New York Giants, so there may have been little to worry about. However, if the Packers lost they would have been out of contention, and missed the playoffs.
It was a clear pass, and clear run for the end zone. But James Jones simply let the ball fly straight through his hands.
Wild Card Round
And maybe the most notorious of them all was in the Wild Card round against the Philadelphia Eagles. Just before the half, Aaron Rodgers threw a dart to James Jones that would have had Green Bay leading the game on a comfortable 21-3 lead.
The fact that he didn't get the touchdown was not as depressing as the way he dropped it. That ball was in his hands. The ball didn’t slip through his hands, he had at least a grasp on the ball.. Had he had any more of a handle on it, the refs might have declared it a fumble.
Super Bowl XLV
And our last drop is one that this author, in all fairness, cannot complain too much about. Yes, it was a drop, and it was another clear run for the end zone had he simply caught the ball. But the Green Bay Packers won that game, and that game was the Super bowl.
And when you win the Super Bowl, pretty much nothing else should matter.
Aaron Rodgers says he wants to keep James Jones, and this author can certainly understand why. He's a reliable receiver and a good athlete, despite how many opportunities he missed and just how inconsistent he played last season.
But what are we giving up to keep him? Jermichael Finley will want a new contract after this season, and soon after him Clay Matthews will demand one as well.
Randall Cobb is a second-round pick that can possibly contribute. At least his highlight reel certainly speaks for itself.
And none of Green Bay's current receivers were first-round picks, either.
Donald Driver may be older, but he's still got gas in the tank. Jordy Nelson really exploded late in the season. Jermichael Finley will be back. Andrew Quarless will have a year of experience under his belt, along with a slew of other young receivers coming in that can possibly contribute.
What this author is simply trying to say is that letting James Jones walk isn't so much a necessity, but that it is simply necessary.