The Green Bay Packers’ ‘Big Four’
By Dan Dahlke
Sunday’s 38-20 victory over the Washington Redskins was a bit of a coming out party for the Green Bay Packers‘ “Big Four.”
The Packers arial assault was too much for the Washington secondary to handle as Aaron Rodgers tied a franchise record 480 yards passing on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Yes, Rodgers is ridiculously good. We have known that for some time now. Sunday’s dominant performance just continues to prove that.
However, Rodgers’ receivers also had quite the performance. They made play after play as the former MVP slung the ball all over the field.
Rodgers makes it look easy, but he also has an excellent supporting cast. A supporting cast that is forming together pretty nicely in the early onset of the season.James Jones
. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph
The Packers top four receivers–James Jones, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley–all bring something unique to the table. They each present matchup problems for the defense, and Sunday was proof of this. But perhaps their most notable quality is their selflessness.
After only being targeted twice and being shutout of the game in week one, Jones had every right to express his disapproval, but he didn’t. He handled the situation like a true professional. “One game, zero catches means nothing. Our quarterback is trying to get everybody the ball. He’s trying to win; we’re trying to win. You’re going to have days like this. . .”
Jones didn’t complain. Instead, he came back in week two and posted career highs in catches (11) and receiving yards (178) for an impressive 16.2 receiving average. It was obvious the Packers were trying to get Jones involved in the offense early on. They targeted him 12 times in the game and three of these were quick passes on the first drive.Randall Cobb
. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph
This is Jones’ strength. He can work the field over the middle or down the sideline. He lacks blazing speed, but he’s aggressive and fights for the ball when it’s in the air. He’s definitely the muscle of the receiving group and offers a steady presence in the Packers’ passing game. He’s a reliable target for Rodgers and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty in run blocking.
Cobb was the Packers’ second-leading receiver on Sunday with 128 yards on nine catches. He’s also the Packers’ current leader in catches (16) and yards (236) after two weeks of the season.
Cobb is the offense’s dynamic player who can make things happen with the ball in the open field. His 35-yard touchdown on 4th-and-three late in the first quarter was the play that really got things going for the offense. Cobb is a game changer and will be continued to be used creatively all over the field this season.
Jordy Nelson. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph
After two weeks, Nelson leads the Packers in receiving touchdowns with three. Nelson is the team’s deep ball threat. He has the size and speed to make plays down the field, and his soft hands make the tough catches in coverage.
Nelson is a highly underrated receiver in the league. He makes big play after big play. On Sunday, he was only targeted four times, but he made them count with three receptions, 66 yards, and two touchdowns. Nelson’s 19.6 reception average is also one of the best in the league so far this season, and this stellar average reflects his big-play ability.
Finley rounds out this talented Green Bay quartet. The athletic tight end has been up and down the past few seasons, but with his performance on Sunday, Finley appears to mean business this year. Finley’s 27-yard catch and run where he broke tackles from three defenders was nothing short of amazing.Jermichael Finley
. Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Finley provides a big target for Rodgers in the red zone and stretches the middle of the field. He provides mismatch problems for smaller defensive backs and slower linebackers. Finley is off to a good start this season, and if the Packers can continue improving their ground game, then things should continue to open up for Finley across the middle of the field.
Green Bay is fortunate to have four really talented receivers in Jones, Cobb, Nelson, and Finley. It’s no wonder they had no problem cutting ties with Greg Jennings in the offseason. The “Big Four” balance each other out well and make it a nightmare for opposing teams to defend.
With Jones and Finley in contract years, let’s hope the Packers front office can work something out and keep the “Big Four” intact for years to come.