James Jones: Inconsistency a problem for Packers’ wide receiver : Packers Insider

James Jones: Inconsistency a problem for Packers’ wide receiver

November 13, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 13, 2010 ~ by Rob Reischel, Journal-Sentinel

Green Bay — Joe Philbin, a man who’s typically unflappable, had just been thrown for a loop.

Philbin, the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator, was asked recently how to get more consistency out of fourth-year wide receiver James Jones. Philbin paused, turned a bright shade of red, then realized he didn’t really have an answer.

“It’s a good question,” Philbin said. “It’s one of those things. . . if I had that answer I probably wouldn’t be talking to you right now.”

But he is. And with Jones now 54 games into his Green Bay career, the Packers still can’t fully trust him.

Jones' late fumble in Chicago was the key play to give that game away. Here against Dallas, he coughs another one up, but got lucky as it went right to an alert Jordy Nelson for the recovery.

The past four games are a perfect example of why Jones has yet to win over his bosses.

In wins against Dallas on Sunday and Minnesota on Oct. 24, Jones was terrific. He caught 12 passes for 230 yards and one touchdown in those two games, highlighted by a career performance (8-123-1) against Dallas.

In the other two games – a loss to Miami on Oct. 17 and a win at the New York Jets on Oct. 31 – Jones was blanked. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing.

That’s why no one – not even Jones himself – is fully sure how to get more evenness in his play.

“James Jones could play better, yes,” Jones said. “But James Jones believes to be up, you need opportunities. I can’t throw the ball to myself. I can’t do that.

“Now, I believe people say, ‘Up and down, up and down’ because with the few opportunities I have, I may let a ball go, which I have this year. I haven’t really made the most of my opportunities and I have let a couple balls go.

“I understand where it comes from, but with opportunities I believe comes consistency, and hopefully I can get some more opportunities.”

Jones, who is third on the team in catches (27) and second in yards (407), was targeted a season-high nine times against Dallas. And while Jones was instrumental in Green Bay’s 45-7 win, he also had some frustrating moments.

On Jones’ first reception, he lined up wide right in a four-receiver package. Jones beat cornerback Terrance Newman on an inside slant but was stripped of the ball by safety Barry Church. Fortunately for Jones and the Packers, fellow wide receiver Jordy Nelson recovered.

On the final pass of the night intended for Jones, he was again wide right in a four-receiver look. Jones beat Newman inside and the middle of the field was wide open, but Jones dropped a certain touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers.

“How do I get him to (become consistent)?” Packers receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said. “You’ve just got to keep working at it. I don’t think there’s any easy answers to it.

“I think you just get ’em as prepared as you possibly can be and have him ready to go. Then on Sunday it’s up to him. James is a good football player. He’s a big part of what we do. . . and we’re counting on him to play well.”

In between those bad plays against Dallas, Jones looked like a Pro Bowl player.

He ran a beautiful comeback route against cornerback Bryan McCann and gained 11 yards on third and 7. Jones whipped Pro Bowl cornerback Mike Jenkins on a back-shoulder reception for 22 yards.

Jones lined up wide right in a four-receiver package, then got behind Newman and safety Gerald Sensabaugh for a 31-yard gain. He caught a quick pop pass in the right flat, made Newman miss in the open field and gained 8 yards after the catch.

And on Jones’ 10-yard touchdown, he was split wide left, ran an inside slant and caught Rodgers’ pass at the 8. Jones dodged cornerback Orlando Scandrick, ran over Jenkins, then carried Sensabaugh the final 3 yards for the score.

“Have I been playing flawlessly? Not even close,” said Jones, whose playing time has increased during this stretch because Donald Driver has been battling a thigh injury. “But people have yet to see what James Jones can truly do, in Year 4. Hopefully, that will present itself and I have to make the best of my opportunities.”

Jones’ 2010 campaign has been similar to his entire Green Bay career. Sensational at times, invisible at others.

He was terrific in 2007, when he ranked third among all rookie receivers in catches (47) and yards (676). He suffered a sprained right knee in 2008 that kept him out of six games and helped cause his numbers to plummet (20-274-1).

Jones had a solid season a year ago, when he tied for second on the team in touchdown catches (five). This year, he has been an enigma, quitting on a ball against Miami that wound up being intercepted, dropping a go route against the Jets that could have been a TD, then torching the Vikings and Cowboys.

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