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Jordy Nelson’s Return Sparks Packers Week 1 Win In Jacksonville

Jordy Nelson - NFL Elvis Kennedy via


Jordy Nelson Provides a Spark In His Return to the Field for Green Bay

As of Sunday afternoon it had been 630 days since Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson last connected for a touchdown. With 3 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, the two finally found each other again.

On a 2nd and 4 play from the 6 with the score tied 7-7, Rodgers did his best Patches O’Houlihan impression and made sure to dodge, duck, dip, and dive away from multiple pass rushers before throwing a dart to a sprawled out Nelson.

It was the 46th time the two have combined for a touchdown in their careers and yet again sparked the Packers in their 33-27 win against the Jaguars Sunday.

After Jordy missed the entire 2015 season, there was guaranteed to be tons of eyes on him week 1. The All-Pro receiver didn’t play one minute of exhibition time during the preseason, and many wondered how effective he could really be.

It wasn’t perfect, but it certainly was a welcomed sight. The first quarter provided a feeling out period as Rodgers and Jordy failed to connect on a few of their usually automatic back shoulder throws.After the 2nd quarter touchdown the two seemed to settle in. On the game Nelson caught 6 passes for 32 yards and the one score. He was targeted by Rodgers nine times but not anything more than 15 yards down the field. Quite the departure from the duo that has connected on so many 40-plus yard touchdowns over the years.

It will certainly take some time for the two of them to re-mesh completely and create that trust again, but before the rest of the league knows what hit them Jordy will be back streaking down the sideline transformed into his alter-ego, White Lightning.

An unexpected bright spot for the Green Bay offense came from the often criticized Davante Adams. Adams hauled in 3 catches for 50 yards and one unforgettable highlight reel touchdown. The Packers had just given up a score to Jacksonville making it 17-14 in favor of the Jags with under a minute left before half. Rodgers and the Green Bay offense wasn’t fazed.

After tight end Jared Cook drew a long pass interference call on a much smaller defensive back, the Packers were set up at the 29 with about 30 seconds left in the half. Once again, Rodgers was able to use his superior pocket presence to avoid the ferocious Jaguar pass rush just long enough get away a dime to Adams.

As Rodgers was releasing the ball a Jacksonville defender had a handful of jersey and was attempting to drag him down. Instead of taking a sack like most quarterbacks would’ve, he stuck with the play and lobbed a ball to Adams who adjusted mid-air and made a great play to hold on to the ball as he was going to the ground.

Adams dropped a pass early in the game and Packers fans all over let out a collective groan. It seemed like it was going to be a replay of last year for the young receiver. However, as he often does he made the spectacular play, and for the moment masked his deficiencies. Before long the calls for Janis will surely come.

Randall Cobb added 6 receptions for 57 yards out of the slot position. He was able to find holes in the defense and keep many drives going for the Packers. As Jordy Nelson gets going his catches will continue to consistently rise as well as he has always been dependent on a good number one to spread the field.

Surprisingly absent from the stat sheet was free-agent pickup Jared Cook.

Besides the pass interference call, he was only able to catch one ball for 7 yards.Even stranger, he was only targeted two times. It seems it may take a few weeks for Rodgers to trust Cook enough to continually involve him in the offense, and for now it looks like Richard Rodgers will continue to start at tight end.

Rodgers ended his day going 20 of 34 for 199 yards and 3 touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing). He was able to put up a QBR mark of 84.8 to start the season, and seems hellbent on making this team special.

Speaking of special, the Packers defense was out to let people know that they deserve some respect as well. Against a very potent and dangerous offensive attack, Green Bay employed their always dangerous “bend but don’t break” philosophy.

After a first drive where Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw an interception to linebacker Joe Thomas, Bortles began testing the Packers’ young corners. He often succeeded against 2nd year man Quinten Rollins.

On a drive late in the 1st half, Rollins was beaten two times in a row, once on a pass to Allen Hurns for 30 yards, and then a 22 yard touchdown to Julius Thomas. Rollins would eventually get help from safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and avoid any other big plays.

Where Bortles went wrong was in attacking the Packers other 2nd year corner Damarious Randall. Randall notched five tackles, two passes defended and one forced fumble on the day. He also had an interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was called back because of defensive holding.

It was his coverage on both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns that earns him my game ball. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Randall was the highest graded corner of the weekend and was able to contain Robinson to only 6 catches for 72 yards on 15 targets. His ability to disrupt big plays continues to grow.

Jacksonville was put into a tough spot losing Chris Ivory just hours before the game and the absence was glaring. Lead back T.J. Yeldon had a touchdown early but was never able to get anything going against the tough front 7 of the Packers led by middle linebackers Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez. The Jags only tallied 48 yards on the ground in total.

The play of the game came with just under 30 seconds left in regulation and the Packers holding a slim 4 point lead. The Jags would came up short on a fourth-and-1 play inside the Green Bay 20. They had converted their previous three fourth-down plays, but Allen Hurns was unable to break free of Joe Thomas on a beautifully read bubble screen to end the game.

Bortles put up numbers, throwing for over 300 yards, but wasn’t ever able to get over the hump. When the Packers defense absolutely needed to make plays, they did.

Playing an upstart team like the Jaguars week 1 isn’t always ideal from a statistic standpoint, but it may have been the perfect warm-up for Sunday night when Green Bay has to travel to division rival Minnesota.