The Trickle Down Effect:
In the span of one year, Jordy Nelson went from winning the comeback player of the year after catching 97 passes for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns to being given his release on Tuesday to clear cap space for potential free agent signees.
Before I play the blame game, it was apparent that Jordy Nelson lost a bit of speed from 2016 to 2017 which could explain a drop in receiving yards and catches, but not the drop in catches that he incurred in the current one year span.
When going from 97 catches for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns to 53 catches for 482 yards and 6 touchdowns, evaluators look into the numbers to develop a theory for the drop in production. The Packers front office believed that Jordy Nelson’s abilities had diminished so precipitously over from 2016 to 2017 that a change was needed and it was time to move on.
In the few days since Jordy has been released I have seen many cliques used to explain the move such as; Jordy simply lost a step, or, it’s better to release a player a year too early rather than a year too late, or, sometimes we have to make difficult decisions that are best for the team.
Issues That I Have With the Move:
Simply put, Brian Gutekunst ultimately made this decision, because Ted Thompson assembled a roster that had so many holes and relied so heavily on the health and success of one player, coupled with the fact that he and Mike McCarthy were so stubborn that they refused to pivot from a backup quarterback that was so inconsistent.
Jordy Nelson was the casualty of an unstable regime which assembled a poor defensive unit and was loyal to an inconsistent and unproven backup quarterback.
The second issue that I have with this decision is the way in which it was handled. The Packers made two major blunders when releasing Jordy; first, they insulted him by offering him the 10-year veteran player minimum which is just over a million dollars. Secondly, they did not inform or consult Aaron Rodgers of what they were planning on doing. They simply made the transaction and gave their franchise player a courtesy call after they released Jordy.
I realize that many people believe that the organization does not owe any player an explanation when making a decision such as the one that the Packers made with Jordy Nelson. However, when you are transparent with your star player and offer to include him in the process of making a franchise-altering roster move you can at least create a dialogue and exchange different perspectives.
This transparency builds equity with the player even when he disagrees with the decision being made and avoids alienating him from the front office. The Packers need to tread lightly with Rodgers because this is the second offseason decision that he did not approve of and was not even consulted on. With just two years left on his deal, he could use this along with the weak teams that have been put around him in recent years to forge his exodus from Green Bay.
The third issue that I have with this decision is that Jordy Nelson can still be a productive wide receiver in this league. Should he have made $12.5 million this season, no, but could the Packers have offered him $4-5 million and restructured/extended other larger contracts to make cap room for him? Yes! If the Packers offered Jordy a more reasonable pay cut he would still be in Green Bay.
My Argument by the Numbers:
In Jordy Nelson’s first 6 games of the 2017 season (started by Aaron Rodgers), he had:
25 receptions for 290 yards 6 touchdowns 11.6 yards per reception.
If you project those statistics through an entire 16 game season with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback Jordy would have had 66.5 receptions for 771.4 yards 15.96 touchdowns and an average of 11.6 yards per reception. These numbers prove that despite the slight loss in speed, Jordy still would have been an occasional deep threat, a versatile possession receiver, and a valuable target inside of the red zone.
Conversely, if we take a look at Brett Hundley’s statistics in the games he played that were started by Jordy Nelson we will see the inconsistencies from week to week that would translate into a steep drop in production:
1. New Orleans: 12-25 87 yards 0 touchdowns 1 interception
2. Detroit: 26-38 245 yards 0 touchdowns 0 interceptions
*3. Chicago: 18-25 212 yards 1 touchdown 0 interceptions
4. Baltimore: 21-36 239 yards 0 touchdowns 3 interceptions
*5. Pittsburgh: 17-26 245 yards 3 touchdowns 0 interceptions
6. Tampa Bay: 13-22 84 yards 0 touchdowns 1 interception
*7. Cleveland: 35-46 265 yards 3 touchdowns 0 interceptions
8. Minnesota: 17-40 130 yards 0 touchdowns 2 interceptions
Average per game statistics in the 8 games started by Jordy Nelson:
19.9 completions 188.38 yards 9.46 yards per completion .875 touchdowns (7 touchdowns) .875 interceptions (7 interceptions).
Jordy Nelson’s statistics with Brett Hundley at quarterback: 25 receptions for 172 yards 0 touchdowns 6.88 yards per reception
I believe that the number comparisons suggest that Jordy Nelson’s precipitous decline in his final 8 games as a Packer were more due to Brett Hundley’s poor play than to the deterioration of his skills.
Clearly, there was a chemistry issue between Brett Hundley and Jordy Nelson. Hundley struggled with completing sideline throws (where Jordy excels) and overthrew some of his deep balls that were intended for Jordy. Despite his obvious frustration, Jordy continued to battle and put the team first despite his statistical decline.
No matter the reasons for the end of Jordy Nelson’s tenure in Green Bay it is important to celebrate his accomplishments and count down the days until he is inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.——————
David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave