Aaron Rodgers may have lost a good percentage of his weapons this season, but he still has his most trustworthy target on the field.
This past week against the Minnesota Vikings, when the Green Bay Packers offense was missing both Randall Cobb and James Jones, the team’s offense did not slow up one bit. Rodgers and the rest of the Packers’ offense were not forced to punt one time in the game. The reason the offense was so successful came down to the last of the three great receivers left on the field: Jordy Nelson.
Nelson stepped up when the Packers needed him the most and caught seven passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday night in Minneapolis. Nelson has become Rodgers’ favorite target over the past three years and is starting to make a legitimate case that he is a top-five wide receiver in the league.
Compared to the other prototypical wide receivers in the league, Nelson matches up pretty well to most of them. The problem arises when you examine the cream of the crop, and this lies with receivers such as Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Nelson doesn’t have some of the physical attributes that the receivers mentioned above do, but he continues to succeed as a big-game receiver for the Packers. Over the past three weeks of the season, Nelson has 16 receptions for 278 yards and four scores.
These numbers are impressive in a three-week span even if they do not compare to what Calvin Johnson was able to do on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Nelson may not be able to match up with the best receiver in the league one-on-one, but he is a strong option to fall somewhere in the rest of the top-five.
The statistics that give Nelson a great shot at being one of the best receivers in the league is that when Rodgers targeted Nelson this season, the QB is 39-of-52 for 649 yards and seven touchdowns. Rodgers has a 148.2 passer rating in those situations, the highest in the NFL this season.
Nelson has sure hands, barely drops a pass and may have the best feet in the NFL when catching a ball down the sideline. Nelson is on his way to having another 1000-yard season and is on pace to lead the Packers in touchdowns as he did in 2011, when the Packers had a record-breaking offense. Nelson is just entering his prime and has a lot of football left to play, but he has come into his own this season and is making Green Bay a legitimate candidate for a deep playoff run.