PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Janis is Safe

The legend of Jeff Janis is a fascinating one.  Janis, an athletic freak, quickly became a fan favorite in Green Bay because of his seemingly unlimited potential and strong preseason performances.  People are all over the map on Janis.  Casual fans are so excited about Janis that there has been palpable backlash from the “football” community.

Whether you’re part of one extreme or the other, reality is more than likely somewhere in the middle.  Janis is not an incapable receiver without upside that won’t ever be able to run routes or understand the nuance of the Packers offense.  He may never be Jordy Nelson in that regard, but Nelson himself only had 686 receiving yards during his first two seasons.

He’s also not the “Great White Hope” of the offense, or at least he wasn’t a season ago.  So many fans a season ago pleaded for Janis last season when Nelson succumbed to injury and the remaining Green Bay receiving corps couldn’t get open.  The reality is that the receiving corps was evaluated every day in practice, and Janis did not earn reps.  He was forced into the Arizona game because of injury, and 101 of his 145 yards in that game came on two very fluky plays.  He wasn’t ready.

What Janis actually is is a third year developmental receiver.  This is the season that Janis should start to show real gains in his offensive production.  Historically, receivers in McCarthy’s offense take a big jump in year three, though not many receivers the Packers have selected were as raw as Janis when selected.  With Nelson returning, and Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery definitely playing in front of him, Janis is under little pressure.

Here’s a revelation, though.  Jeff Janis is going to make the 53 man roster.  In fact, he’s the third safest wide receiver on the team behind Cobb and Nelson.  He’s the third safest wide receiver on the team because he’s one of the absolute best special teamers in the NFL.

That’s unsurprising.  Special teams certainly isn’t as complicated as the Packers’ offense and there’s a lot you can do with a 6’3″ 220 pound man who can run 40 yards in 4.3 seconds.  Not only is Janis an above average kick returner, he’s one of the best two or three punt gunners in the league.

Special teams have long been an issue for McCarthy’s Packers.  So much so that Shawn Slocum was replaced by Ron Zook a season ago.  Janis is Zook’s #1 weapon on teams and has almost no chance of being released this off season because of that very point.

Jeff Janis has the athletic ability to be a star in the NFL.  He also has the limitations that kept him from being drafted in the first six rounds of the NFL draft.  He’s a bona fide star on special teams.  Janis will continue to tantalize Packers fans with his deep threat potential, but it might be time to start considering his offensive production as gravy, not the main course.

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Ross Uglem is a writer at PackersTalk.com. You can follow Ross on twitter at RossUglem

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33 thoughts on “PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Janis is Safe

  1. Janis has a valuable asset the Packers can’t buy or teach him: SPEED, and it shows every time he’s on the field when DB’s can’t cover him. It allows him to break cover even IF only a decoy WR on a deep route. He PROVED with his production in the playoffs against the Cards when he made THE plays when Rodgers needed them at critical times. I don’t buy it that he can’t run routes properly–he’s a threat to replace Jordy in an offense McCarthy wants to keep together even as Jordy’s age will make it harder to convince Ted Thompson to re-sign Nelson in two years. I say give Janis MORE opportunities on field in the offense, Thompson’s not likely to offer more money to keep Jordy Nelson and outside of Davante Adams, the only other WR with SPEED is rookie WR Trevor Davis who had a history of drops at college level. Janis is too valuable to waste in an offense that’s predicated on passing game production more than run game.

    1. As impressive as his 40-yard dash time is, Janis’ 10-yard split time–which many think is more translatable to a receiver’s success, was 1.47. You have to look long and hard to find any receiver in the last 30 years weighing more than 185# who comes close to matching that acceleration.

    2. Here’s my take. Unlike any other team the packers dont run routes. They came up with a sytem where they have codes and signals from Rogers and run to areas on the field. Thus a janis and adams used to route running have to learn a very different system. Its confusing. D backs from other teams say they seem to know the system better than the pack receivers and thus are easier to cover and put pressure on.

      1. I’m sure there are signals between Rodgers and his receivers but McCarthy’s offense is built on ‘west coast’ offense based on passing game and definitely a system of schemes and routes. My problem with their offense last season–McCarthy KNEW WR’s couldn’t get separation yet he kept his FASTEST receiver on the bench–YEAH, Jeff Janis IS GB’s fastest WR. He’s faster than Jordy, Adams, Montgomery and I think just a hair faster than recent draftee Trevor Davis. Against the Vikings and Lions in season games–Rodgers went deep to Janis on TWO passes–ONE each game, and Janis was OPEN against 4 DB’s in the Vikings game, OPEN against secondary in Lions game–Rodgers overthrew each time–WHY, is only speculation he used Janis as decoy but the first throw against 4 Vikings DB was WIDE OPEN and a TD had it been on target. It made no difference IF Adams got separation last year–he couldn’t catch the ball. Montgomery was actually outplaying Adams until he injured his ankle. McCarthy went to Janis/Abbrederis in the Cardinals playoff game for NECESSITY and BOTH outplayed the other WR’s, Janis’ production ranking as some of team’s best production ALL YEAR for WR’s. I expect Janis will see most action as gunner on kicks, Davis will see most action in KR unit. But I’m convinced Janis IS the best option at this point to replace Jordy’s speed in two years when Nelson’s contract expires and Thompson’s NOT gonna resign a 33 yr old WR for more money.

  2. I seriously don’t think I’ve ever seen such hysteria over “just a guy”. I find it so amusing that a guy who’s a 5th-6th deep guy garners such deep emotional ties with the fans. Dude is just a guy. Look, the NFL is FULL of great athletes, in fact you can’t not be a great athlete in today’s NFL, you won’t make a roster. The dude is OK, he’s no Jordy Nelson, he’s no Cobb, I even question if he’s truly even better than Montgomery or Abby. He’s a nice athletic target, but after 2 years if you can’t figure out the offense well enough to get on the field, “something is wrong”, and here’s a hint, I doubt it’s the coaching staff.

    1. “Just a guy” does not athletically and physically take the ball away from the NFL’s best corner Patrick Peterson multiple times on the two biggest plays of the season for both teams. In addition prior to that had made several short catches to move the chains on both dig and sideline routes, so he DOES know the plays. We did however see “just a guy” start all season who PFF ranked 2nd from the bottom for the season for starting WR’s, Adams. Remember who Adams beat out for a job his rookie year, “just a guy” named Boykin. Neither without a healthy Nelson & Cobb could produce as a starter. You also are dead wrong on the coaching staff, every Packer beat writer from the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel to the Green Bay Press Gazette agrees that Janis should have had his opportunity way before he was the last man standing based on Adams performance and the stacked defenses they saw from the Bronco’s game forward. Remember it took 7 years for that coaching staff to figure out Slocum couldn’t coach in the NFL – and they couldn’t figure out how to beat Wade Phillips example as the rest of their opponents followed suit after the Bronco’s example.

      1. Your observations of the Cardinals game square with mine. After the game an anal guy with a site called reception perception viewed and graded every play of Janis to see if it was a “fluky” showing. He found that Janis ran great routes, all types equally well, and achieved great separation throughout that game. Even so, in the second half Aaron threw in his direction exactly once prior to 1:05 remaining in the game–and that was because he was flushed out of the pocket and had no other choice–’twas a TD as I recall. Aaron meanwhile kept throwing to covered receivers.

        1. I do believe that Rodgers may have a “personality clash” with Janis as well. He very seldom gives this guy any credit after good plays, and as we have seen in the past, is very quick to fault him for anything. Something may be up between these two.

        2. I do believe that Rodgers may have a “personality clash” with Janis as well. He very seldom gives this guy any credit after good plays, and as we have seen in the past, is very quick to fault him for anything. Something may be up between these two.

      2. Your observations of the Cardinals game square with mine. After the game an anal guy with a site called reception perception viewed and graded every play of Janis to see if it was a “fluky” showing. He found that Janis ran great routes, all types equally well, and achieved great separation throughout that game. Even so, in the second half Aaron threw in his direction exactly once prior to 1:05 remaining in the game–and that was because he was flushed out of the pocket and had no other choice–’twas a TD as I recall. Aaron meanwhile kept throwing to covered receivers.

    2. Nelson himself has said it take 2 or 3 years to “Figure out the Offense” and his stats would suggest it. Nelson wasn’t nearly as “Raw” as Janis but SB45 was Nelsons coming out party, the last game of his 3rd season. Ross is right, Janis is an absolute terror on ST as a gunner.

    3. Janis is “just a guy”… Sorry, one desperate showing in playoff game doesn’t make a week in and week out starter, consistency does. Look, I’m first and utmost a Packers fan, so if Jeff Janis makes the Packers a better football team, then I’m for him, but the hysteria around the player is unjustified. He’s a prospect, and that’s fine, teams need decent prospects. If he’s Cream, he’ll rise to the top. Again, the NFL is full of great athletes, you need to be a great athlete to even be in a camp at the 90 cap. Every Year hundreds of “Great Athletes” get released to go find jobs in society. From Day 1, I’ve always thought Janis was an intreaging athlete and prospect. I still think that, BUT, all the hysteria over the guy is a bunch of “Fast White Boy” wanna be hope! Again, if he’s your #3 or #4, he’ll earn it, if he’s not, he’s just a guy. All this fan clambering and crying about him being on the field is humorous. If the coaching staff and Aaron Rodgers decide he belongs on the field with the ball in his hands, so be it. Thus far, and obviously and rightfully so, it hasn’t been the case..

      1. Remember, every time MM almost gets there and fails, assistant coaches’ heads get rolling. Now Janis is not just a “body” if you look and see how he plays special teams. Even if Jet is not the target, he will force the safeties back. Much as a defense is forced to cover Jordy. And so, this gives Eddie a greater possibility to run.

    4. I respectfully disagree, Jet Janis has a high Wonderlic score, so he’s no dummy.

    5. I say BS to your sycophantic reply. It has been well known since McCarthy and Thompson have been here that they play favorites ahead of talent on occasion. See Bishop for one example. Adams should have been benched. Another reason that you may be unaware of (which does not surprise me after reading your response) is that Janis played WR on the scout team, because Thompson would not call up another WR. They were short WR’s in practice. So Janis got zero reps with A. Rodgers because of it. Great game day planning, wouldn’t you say?

      1. More of that “being held back by the man” conspiracy BS. If he was good, he’d be on the field, in your world they’re holding him back so they can miss the Superbowl every year? right…. Dudes no good.

        1. The Vor . . . Yeah you are right lol! No talent! That is why they drafted him, that is why he is the gunner on ST’s, who are you Mike McCarthy’s lickspittle Yes Man?

        2. The Vor . . . Yeah you are right lol! No talent! That is why they drafted him, that is why he is the gunner on ST’s, who are you Mike McCarthy’s lickspittle Yes Man?

      2. More of that “being held back by the man” conspiracy BS. If he was good, he’d be on the field, in your world they’re holding him back so they can miss the Superbowl every year? right…. Dudes no good.

  3. I still fault the coaching staff! The Packer receivers just flat didn’t get it done last year! I know Janis is a raw talent, but with the performances of Randall Cobb and Davante Adams he should have been on the field!

  4. Thanks for regurgitating all the cliches of the Janis cynics. I’ve done an exhaustive review of over 600 wide receivers who’ve taken the full NFL combine testing (prima donnas like Randy Mose, Terrell Owens, and Calvin Johnson skipped the tests they were weak at), and where does Janis rank? #1–and I challenge anyone to provide evidence there’s been a better all-around WR athlete at the combine since electronically-timed testing began. This alone makes it insane that McCarthy and company has not given Janis meaningful opportunities as a WR for two years. Your citing the Cardinals game as proof that Janis “wasn’t ready” is ludicrous. How much sense does it make to you that when our only starter deep threat went down in preseason that we wouldn’t even try out the only other deep threat on the roster? Even the “casual” fan could see why the offensive attack tanked. The entire league is hopelessly biased against the possibility Division II could produce such a specimen. Not only had Division II never seen an all-around athlete like Jeff, neither has Division I–play the man!

    1. It seemed like Rogers couldn’t get his timing down to hit Janis , he was either over or under throwing the ball and that he didn’t take the time to work with him during the week . He couldn’t figure his speed ., and to cover that he said he didn’t know the routes .. I think that was it , and McCarthy didn’t push the issues .. That’s my view , More one on one with Rogers would have made the difference , He was the only deep threat we had , sent him deep and let the ball fly ..

      1. Precisely my observation too. Rodgers wasn’t thinking too well when he derided the whole idea of playing in preseason games, leaving Janis, Montgomery, and Abbrederis to work largely with Hundley and Flynn. If Rodgers doesn’t take the time to work with his young receivers this summer, as he’s started doing with Jordy, then the team will not have learned much from a season that had Super Bowl written all over it–despite Jordy’s loss. Furthermore, Hundley needs to get some regular-season game time, so if there’s an injury he’ll have some confidence and feel for the game. You have to expect, and prepare for, injuries.

        1. Hundley will turn out to be an excellent replacement. Nevertheless, players coming off knee injuries struggle, will this be the case with Jordy?

  5. I still want to know how a guy with his abilities has done so little. There has to be a reason he did not get more reps in year one and year two. What is it that the coaches dont like about this guy? Certainly not there favorite. He must be horrid in practice?

    1. Janis has done so little because he’s not been put in the game as WR by the coaches. Ross’s primary rationale is that the coaches evaluated him daily, and “he did not earn reps,” the assumption being coaches (and draft experts too) are infallible. If that were so, there would be no reason to have opinion columns and commenters. Head coaches make so many bone-headed decisions, fall prey to their prejudices, and yield to pressure from the GM, the players, the fans, and the media, that their longevity is about 3 years per job. Last year, the coaches simply would not accept the notion the 7th rounder is better than the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th round WRs. The Cardinals game was ample proof to any fair observer that the coaches were wrong about Janis–and the legions of “casual” fans were right.

    2. Not so fast, he is a hunter and eats squirrel meat, and this turns the cosmopolitan Rodgers off.

    3. No, I heard and read that Janis takes his reps on the scout team mostly. Who knows if this is true however . . .

    4. No, I heard and read that Janis takes his reps on the scout team mostly. Who knows if this is true however . . .

  6. I like the piece but as to kick returns, didn’t the rules change and kickers will be kicking 5 yards closer to the opposing goal line? I am really not in the know. But if so, there will certainly be less kick returns.

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