Jordy Nelson recently tore his ACL and will miss the entire 2015 season. Let’s take a look at the impact of losing a player like Nelson.
Nelson has been incredibly productive for the Packers since the 2011 season (and really 2010 playoffs). Nelson reached 1,250 yards in 3 of the last 4 seasons. During the lone season he did not reach 1,000 yards, Nelson missed 4 games due to an injury. The Packers did well in 2012 missing Nelson for 4 games; but Green Bay had Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and James Jones to team with Cobb to soften the blow. Those are big shoes to fill for second year WR Davante Adams, rookie Ty Montgomery and TE Richard Rodgers.
Nelson has caught 70%, 67%, 67% and 64% of his targets the last four seasons. Nelson was very efficient receiver even with receiving many targets.
Nelson has averaged 15.5, 15.5, 15.2 and 18.6 YPC the last four seasons. Not only does Nelson catch effectively, he has a great average per catch. Nelson had 19, 8, 22 and 19 twenty plus yard gains the last four seasons. The Packers are losing their best deep threat.
Nelson had 15, 7, 8 and 13 TDs during last four year seasons. The Packers are losing a big time TD maker. Adams, Rodgers and Montgomery must fill this void.
Impact Unable to Measure
Since Nelson is a deep threat, this could shrink the field for the Packers. Less big plays can hurt an efficient offense if Adams, Cobb and Rodgers aren’t matching the deep plays. This could mean more safeties closer to the line of scrimmage to stop Eddie Lacy.
Nelson received some double teams (not enough in my opinion) over the last four years. With Nelson gone, players like Cobb and Adams now can receive more double teams than previous seasons. This could hurt their production having to beat two defenders instead of one.
Rodgers may feel like has to do more with Nelson gone. He may have to force more throws now without his reliable number one that he could rely on for first downs.
The offensive line is impacted. Nelson was able to get open quickly. If it takes a split second longer for Adams or a doubled Cobb to get open, this could result in more sacks, hits and hurries for Aaron Rodgers.
Davante Adams and Cobb
Adams is the most likely receiver to get close to Jordy’s production. Adams will need a big jump in year 2. Adams caught 57.5% of his 66 targets for 447 yards at 11.7 YPC with 3 TDs. Granted Adams was a rookie and will get more targets now; but Adams must be much more efficient than 57% completion if he receives 150 targets. This will be more difficult if Adams receives the doubles. Adams should be better in his second year but even getting close to Jordy Nelson material (1,100 yards and 8 TDS) would be quite a big jump from his year 1 production.
Randall Cobb is already producing at a high level. It would be difficult to ask Cobb to do more than he already does. Cobb producing 1,287 yards and 13 TDs should happen again. But Randall might be doubled more which will make it more difficult to achieve that production.
Lacy had 246 carries in 2014. Lacy could have 270-300 carries in 2015; but that is a lot to ask. It would take more for Lacy to make up the production even at 4.6 YPC. You are taking the ball out of Rodgers hands. That may not be the best option.
Richard Rodgers is the wild card in the equation. If Adams can get 1,100 yards with the doubles, Rodgers could have a big jump in production in year 2 while facing single coverage. Rodgers must prove he can beat defenses down the seam and pick up key first downs as a safety net for Aaron Rodgers.
The second year TE producing 700 yards with four or five TDs would go a long way to helping make up for the loss of Jordy’s production. The less Davante Adams generates under 1,100 yards, the more the wildcards have to produce.
Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis are big unknowns. They have some talent but are inexperienced. One of the wildcards must replicate rookie Adams 446 yards and 3 TD season at the bare minimum. If one of them could be a 700 yard third option, it would help ease the loss of Nelson.
Nelson will be missed. How much he is missed depends on Adams and the wildcards.
Adams with 1,100 yards and 8 TDS, Rodgers notching 700 yards and 5 TDs and 500 yards for one of the unknown WRs could ease the pain. However, efficiency is a big factor beyond yards and TDs. Davante Adams and Richard Rodgers have a lot to prove though as far as being efficient, getting open as quickly as Nelson and beating double teams.
Adams having only around 900 yards and Rodgers with 500 yards could be trouble for the Packers offense from a production and efficiency stand point. Adams and Rodgers lacking separation could spell trouble for Rodger’s protection. Lacy’s yards per carry could dip if he faces more stacked boxes. It should be an interesting year in Green Bay to see how much number one wide receivers matter.