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Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, statistically incredible

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  Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, statistically incredible
#1

Posted: December 26, 2014, 4:58 AM Post
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Location: Dallas, TX
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Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. The most dynamic receiving duo in the NFL.

Those of you that do not know me from Brewerfan.net, where I am the 'stache (an homage to Rollie Fingers), are about to discover one undeniable fact. I am a stat nerd. And I am proud to be called one. I love baseball and football, and feel that watching the games, and examining the resulting statistics, yields the best understanding of the players in the games. And it helps us determine who is really the best at a particular position.

I've been looking at wide receiver statistics for a few days, and I feel confident in saying that right now, in the year 2014, the Green Bay Packers have in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb the finest wide receiver duo in the NFL. I am also confident that Davante Adams is going to be a star. Why? A number of reasons. First, the Packers are outstanding at finding receiver talent in the draft, and they do it without spending first round draft picks. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams are all second rounders. The Packer coaching staff do a remarkable job of developing these players. They set themselves up for success by drafting talented players that are willing to work hard, and learn. So, not only do they have the best quarterback in the NFL throwing them the football, they have coaches that help them make the adjustment to playing the game at the highest level. Packer receivers know their roles, they perform them well, and they develop incredible chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. How many times this year alone have we seen a play break down, only to result in a big play, or a score for the Packers? The offensive line has improved dramatically, and with that improvement, plays are able to stay alive longer. And that's where the improvisational skills of Rodgers, Nelson and Cobb make such a huge difference. Opposing cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers can practice defending formations. But when it comes to improvising, the rapport these players have developed give them an edge.

The incredible success of Misters Nelson and Cobb is due in large part to the man throwing them the ball. Aaron Rodgers is a smart, accurate quarterback with a cannon arm. He makes the throws most other NFL quarterbacks do not dare try. He puts the ball in places where either the receiver will get it, or at least have a chance to get it. But defenders cannot get to the balls he throws. And as good as Brett Favre was (and he was great), he took chances that Aaron Rodgers simply does not take. But did Favre ever have this kind of talent to throw to? He had multiple 1,000 yard receivers at the same time. Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman did it first in the 1997 season. But Robert Brooks was coming off of a catastrophic leg injury that season, and though he was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, he was not quite the same explosive receiver he was in 1995 when he caught over 100 balls for 1,497 yards an 13 TD. And after the 1997 season, he was never the same. Freeman and Bill Schroeder did it in 1999. In 2004, Javon Walker grabbed 89 passes for 1,382 yards and 13 TD, while Donald Driver caught 84 passes for 1,208 yards and 9 TD. That was a pretty explosive duo, but Walker became a headcase, and after threatening to hold out, he played one game, got hurt, and never played for the Packers again. In 2008, Donald Driver had 74 catches for 1,012 yards and 5 TD, while Greg Jennings snared 80 balls for 1,292 yards and 9 TD. And Driver (70 rec, 1,061 6 TD) and Jennings (68 1,113 and 4 TD) both went over 1,000 yards in 2009. There have been some great duos since Brett Favre arrived in Green Bay. But we might have the best now.

Start off my examining catch percentage. A quarterback can deliver a perfect ball, but a receiver has to catch it. A receiver has to be cognizant of so many things on the field-where the defenders are, who they are covering, where there might be a seam in the defense. He also has to keep an eye on the quarterback. All this while sprinting downfield.

For the purpose of this discussion, I will be looking at stats starting from the 2011 season. So, Odell Beckham, Jr won't appear in here just yet. By going back to 2011, and requiring 200 receptions, which should be an easily attainable baseline for receivers to meet over four years, or three good seasons, we are looking at players who have clearly established themselves. Some of the younger receivers have to prove themselves beyond a year or two. It seems not long ago some great young players, like A.J. Green and Julio Jones, were just starting out.

Of all receivers with 200 catches or more since 2011, Randall Cobb has the highest catch percentage in the NFL at 73.4%. He's catching nearly three out of four passes thrown his way. And believe me, Ted Thompson knows this. Now, Randall is the slot receiver in the Green Bay offense. That's not to say he can't hit the home run, because he can. But Jordy Nelson is the primary deep threat in the Packer offense. Yet with the number of deep passes he sees, he's still got the fifth highest catch percentage on this group. And of all receivers with over 250 catches the last four years, only Wes Welker catches a higher percentage of passes thrown his way. Remember that, because it will be even more impressive in just a moment.

Here are the top 20 receivers, sorted by catch percentage, with over 200 receptions since the start of the 2011 season.

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http://tinyurl.com/lrkku3y

Notice, too, that James Jones (8th) and Greg Jennings (12th) are also on this list. This is another testament to how good the Packer receivers are. James Jones had trouble catching the ball for a time, and then showed remarkable improvement. Now, Davante Adams has had a few drops over the last couple of games. I am not concerned by this. I feel he will correct this, just as Jones did.

Now, back to Nelson. It is my opinion that Jordy Nelson is the best receiver in the NFL right now. Not Megatron. Not Julio Jones, or Dez Bryant. Demariyus Thomas, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green--all outstanding receivers. But Nelson does it all.

Since the beginning of the 2011 season, only Dez Bryant has more receiving touchdowns than Jordy Nelson. But Bryant has played three more games, and has been targeted 91 more times. Plus, he plays his eight home games in a dome. Nelson plays outdoors, and the weather late in the season is often ugly. If you look at these leading touchdown producers from the wide receiver position, notice, too, the catch percentage statistic. Nelson has a 4.5-5 percentage lead over all the other leaders.

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http://tinyurl.com/mnlvawr

But wait, it gets better. Everybody says that Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL. Well, Johnson has 4 fewer touchdown receptions than Nelson over this period. And he's been targeted 196 more times than Nelson! Demaryius Thomas, who also has 39 touchdowns, has been targeted 83 more times than Nelson. Brandon Marshall, who has 37 touchdowns, 6 fewer than Jordy, has been targeted 164 more times. Jordy is the biggest scoring threat at wideout in the NFL.

And he can score from anywhere on the field. Here's a list of the receivers with the most receptions of 60 yards or more, again, since 2011.

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http://tinyurl.com/kwahgat

Jordy Nelson has 12 catches of 60 yards or more, 9 of which have gone for touchdowns. Victor Cruz is second with 10 catches of 60 yards or more. Desean Jackson is third with 7. Nobody else in the NFL has more than half as many 60 + yard receptions. Jordy Nelson is, simply put, awesome.

Another way of looking at this. Going back to the list of receivers with over 200 receptions since the 2011 season began. Here are those players, sorted by yards per reception. The guys that get the most yards each time they catch the ball. Jordy has fifth highest yards per reception of the 40 receivers that comprise this list. Now, look at the catch percentages of these receivers. See how the catch percentages are typically lower? Would it be fair to at least theorize that the guys who get the big yards per catch are thinking about where they are going, and maybe concentrating slightly less on the ball? DeSean Jackson is slightly over 17 yards per catch (17.05). Yet his catch percentage of 58.4% would only be 27th on this list of players with over 200 receptions since the 2011 season began. The next two guys, Vincent Jackson and Torrey Smith, don't catch 50% of the passes thrown their way. Then, there is Megatron, Calvin Johnson, who successfully hauls in 58.1% of passes. Remember, too, that he plays 8 games a year at Ford Field. Then there is Jordy Nelson and his 67% catch rate. That's just remarkable. To find another receiver catching even 63% of passes thrown to him, you have to go all the way down to Marques Colston, who is 16th on the list of yards per catch.

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I don't know how anybody, given the facts, could argue that Nelson is the best in the game right now. He breaks more long receptions (60+ yards) than anybody in the NFL. The only receiver that scores more than him, by a total of 5 touchdowns, has played 3 more games, and has been targeted 91 more times than Jordy Nelson. And given his yards per catch, his catch percentage, which is 5th best of all receivers in the NFL, regardless of his job on the field, is higher than all the other receivers who stretch the field as he does.

Randall Cobb, who missed half of the 2013 season, has rebounded with his best season yet. And, since the 2011 season began, no receiver in the NFL has caught a higher percentage of passes.

When I watch Davante Adams play, I am excited for his future, and that of our offense as a whole. With Aaron Rodgers demanding excellence from his receivers, with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to watch, and learn from, and this excellent coaching staff to help him fine tune things such as pass route running, body control, hand eye coordination, and catching technique, I have no doubt that Adams is destined for greatness.

Aaron Rodgers is now 31. Jordy Nelson doesn't turn 30 until next May. The Packers will extend Cobb, and Adams will be developed, and I expect he, too, will remain in Green bay long term. Ted Thompson's plan is to draft, develop, and keep those players long term. That plan is working beautifully on the offensive side of the ball.

With an offensive line that might now be the best Aaron Rodgers has ever played behind, this offense has not hit its peak. Eddie Lacy, with one game to go, has had 64 fewer carries than he did in 2013. But, that four fewer carries per game, and the improved offensive line play, has seen his yards per carry jump up from a 4.1 last season to 4.7 this season. James Starks will be 29 in February. Usually, the thinking is that a running back hits a wall on the other side of thirty. But Starks has only carried the ball 402 times in his NFL career. Starks and Lacy have combined for 57 catches, 561 yards and 4 TD. With the offensive line's improved play, and with these talented receivers wreaking havoc, the screen game, which the Packers ran better than any other team in the NFL during the Favre years, is becoming an important asset once again.

Nelson and Cobb are the dominant pass catching duo in the NFL right now. I don't think there can really be an argument. You have teams like Detroit, with Johnson and Golden Tate. But they have not both put it together in the same season, on the same team. Atlanta has Julio Jones and Roddy White. But White has been injured. Chicago has Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. But with Marshall out a good portion of the 2014 season, and there is the possibility that Jay Cutler, who the team made a huge financial commitment to, and recently benched, will not be back next year. And there is Marshall's health to consider. There are other teams with strong one-two punches. But Jordy Nelson (92 catches, 1,433 yards and 13 TD) and Randall Cobb (87 catches, 1,207 yards and 10 TD) are the tops. If Aaron Rodgers doesn't skip almost the entire second half of the Bears game at Lambeau, and the 4th quarters against Minnesota, Carolina and Philadelphia, those stats might even be more eye popping. But 179 catches, 2,640 yards and 23 touchdown catches ..that's a spectacular season. Davante Adams' numbers might not seem incredibly impressive when you consider what some other rookie receivers have put up. But consider the number of options Aaron Rodgers has, and the quality of those options. Yes, Davante has had a couple of bad drops the last few games. It happens. Jordy dropped a surefire 90 yard touchdown pass against Buffalo. You learn from those experiences, and move on. So while Adams' numbers (38 catches, 446 yards, 3 TD) don't blow you out of your chair, that's a pretty good start. He also caught 57.6% of the passes thrown his way. That outperforms many players that are considered stars in this league. If he catches those three passes, he's over a 62% catch percentage.

One more thing to note. Jordy Nelson needs 65 yards to break the Packer single season receiving yardage mark, set my Robert Brooks in 1995. No Packer has ever caught balls for over 1,500 yards before. Detroit's defense is tough, but I have a good feeling this will happen in front of the home fans.

What do you guys think? Is there a duo in the NFL that can fairly be considered alongside Nelson and Cobb right now?

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Wait, you mean....there's three of them now??

"Think of only three things: your God, your family and the Green Bay Packers-in that order."-Vince Lombardi

Sign the petition! Help get #64 Jerry Kramer into the Pro Football Hall of Fame! link.
Alicia Kramer-run Facebook page for her Dad.


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  Re: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, statistically incredible
#2

Posted: December 26, 2014, 10:00 PM Post
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Posts: 2583
Wow. Heck of a post.

I'm not too bullish on Adams as yet, but will give him time.

It's tough to separate the WR from the QB. Having 4 current/former Packers in the top 12 of catch % to me says more about the QB than the group of WRs.

As for comparable duos, Thomas/Sanders in Denver?


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  Re: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, statistically incredible
#3

Posted: December 27, 2014, 7:26 AM Post
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Posts: 162
Location: Dallas, TX
Well, it says that Aaron Rodgers throws a really catchable ball, for sure. But the receivers still need to haul it in, and hang on to it when they are getting hit. I think it's a combination of Rodgers being a great quarterback, and the receivers being very good. I don't think it can really be one or the other.

Rodgers has played the game at a ridiculously high level this year, and should win the MVP. But right now J.J. Watt has become the darling of the NFL, and even though he plays on a barely .500 team that likely doesn't make the playoffs, they still think he should win it.

Sanders and Thomas had a great year. They had a few more catches, a few more yards, fewer touchdowns. But they had 37 more targets than Cobb and Nelson. They caught a lower percent of passes, though not a huge difference (67.5 vs 66.2). Nelson and Cobb had 6 pass plays of 60 yards or more. Sanders and Thomas combined for 1. Cobb and Nelson had 23 TD catches to 20 for the other duo. Cobb and Nelson combined to average 14.75 yards per reception, Thomas and Sanders 14.3.

It's close, but Cobb and Nelson were a little better with fewer opportunities.

"Think of only three things: your God, your family and the Green Bay Packers-in that order."-Vince Lombardi

Sign the petition! Help get #64 Jerry Kramer into the Pro Football Hall of Fame! link.
Alicia Kramer-run Facebook page for her Dad.


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