Green Bay Packers
1) GREEN BAY PACKERS: A perfect storm of bad luck hit Packerland with the force of an earth-shattering bolt of lightning, as pre-season injuries to starting wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb prompted the front office to look for help off the waiver wire by bringing back James Jones, who wound up playing a vital role for the offense in 2015.
Cobb recovered just enough to return from his shoulder mishap, but his on-and-off production led this writer to believe he was still suffering from lingering pain. Also working against him were the weekly double-teams he faced with defenses choosing to leave the likes of Jones and Davante Adams in one-on-one coverage.
And as if that weren’t enough to put a damper on a flustered Aaron Rodgers, versatile rookie wideout Ty Montgomery was lost for the season in Week 6 due to ligament damage in and around his ankle. Prior to the injury, the Stanford product was doing a fine job of picking up the offense both as a blocker and a run-after-catch threat that could turn on the jets in space.
Davante Adams was the biggest disappointment at the position with the way he ran errant routes and dropped passes that NFL receivers need to put away no questions asked.
On the year, the former second-round pick failed to secure 16.67-percent of catchable balls thrown to him, which was deemed 10th worst among his peers by Pro Football Focus (PFF).
Young veterans Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis exhibited drips and drabs of their abilities. Abbrederis, in particular, showed occasional flashes of being a skilled route runner who excelled in selling his patterns.
But his Week 9 performance (4-47) versus Detroit was the exception rather than the rule given his fragile nature, as evidenced by his assortment of head, rib and knee injuries suffered in his two seasons as a Packer.
Janis was hardly used in the offense, but he made the most of his opportunities in the postseason by showcasing his 4.42 speed and ability to come down with contested jump balls, including a clutch 41-yard Hail Mary toss at the end of regulation to extend Green Bay’s divisional round contest versus Arizona into overtime.
The 6-3 vertical threat has come a long way in gaining separation from defensive backs and is slated to play a larger role in the aerial attack.
Rookie Trevor Davis is another speed demon with outstanding burst out of his routes along with the ability to return kicks. The Pac-12 import can bump Abbrederis off the roster if he shows enough to earn a role as the team’s sixth receiver.
Overall, the Packers feature an embarrassment of riches at receiver and that is a testament to Ted Thompson’s consistent effort to supplement the roster with young talent with outstanding measurables.
Next: The Motor City boys