FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig gives an in-depth statistical analysis and film study of every Packers player in his annual offseason checkup. Check every weekday through mid-April for his latest report.
James Jones, wide receiver
Season stats: 15 games (924 snaps); 61 catches, 98 targets, 837 yards, three touchdowns, three dropped passes, forced 10 missed tackles, two fumbles
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: 2.9 (ranked No. 11 out of 23 Packers offensive players; ranked No. 4 out of Packers’ five qualifying wide receivers)
Best game: Week 2 win over Washington (played 71 of 74 snaps; 11 catches (12 targets), 178 yards, zero touchdowns, zero dropped passes, forced four missed tackles, one fumble; 2.5 PFF rating)
Worst game: Week 11 loss at New York Giants (played 52 of 54 snaps; two catches (six targets), 55 yards, zero touchdowns, one dropped pass, forced zero missed tackles; minus-1.2 PFF rating)
Expectations at the start of the season: Medium
Expectations were … Met
Looking live: What James Jones accomplished during the 2012 season was remarkable. With 14 touchdown receptions that year, Jones led the NFL. Rarely does a mid-level receiver finish at the top of that category, as other NFL seasons over the past decade concluded with names like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson ranking No. 1. Add Jones’ name to that group and it’s obvious which one doesn’t belong. The point is, expecting Jones to even get close to having that level of success again in 2013 would have been wildly unrealistic. When Jones reported to training camp, he knew he was entering the last year of his contract (he, of course, would have certainly preferred hitting free agency after an NFL-best 14-touchdown season). With Donald Driver retired and Greg Jennings suiting up for the Minnesota Vikings, Jones was suddenly Green Bay’s oldest receiver. He was mostly quiet in training camp from a production standpoint but still made the type of plays on occasion that showed he wasn’t slowing down yet.
Upon further review: Jones was completely shut out in Week 1 on the road against San Francisco. Despite playing all 63 snaps, Jones wasn’t even targeted once by Aaron Rodgers. Jones handled that situation as well as any player could have. "There isn’t anything to yap about," he said later that week. "We’re just trying to win. I’d be real selfish if I came in here and had an attitude or something." Jones added, "No big deal; You’re not going to get 10 passes every game." Well, perhaps coincidentally or maybe in acknowledgement of Jones’ selflessness, Rodgers threw 12 passes to him the following week against Washington. Aside from a fumble when he was trying to extend the ball for a touchdown, Jones did everything at an extremely high level in that game. He caught 11 of the 12 balls sent in his direction and turned it into a career-high 178-yard performance, with 91 of those yards coming after the catch. Jones then caught a touchdown pass in each of the next two games, including one as part of a 127-yard receiving day in a Week 5 win over Detroit. A Week 6 left knee injury in Baltimore put the brakes on all of Jones’ momentum, though. He didn’t look like himself on the field again for the following six weeks. The end of the regular season wasn’t kind to Jones either, having to play through two broken ribs — but not revealing so publicly until the Packers had been eliminated from the playoffs.
Overall 2013 grade: B
Status for 2014: Twenty-five percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster to begin the 2014 regular season. Jones is an unrestricted free agent and has several factors working against a return to Green Bay. He’ll turn 30 years old at the end of March, an age that few Packers players can afford to be under general manager Ted Thompson’s always-young roster. There’s also the emergence of Jarrett Boykin that could ease the transition away from Jones. With the contracts of fellow receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson expiring at the end of the 2014 season, Jones is competing with them for the receiver money that Thompson is able to spend. However, it’s not like Green Bay doesn’t want Jones back. Plus, Jones said very clearly that he "would love to be back." But for the Packers, it’d have to be at the right price, and Jones is likely to command more money elsewhere.