Let me preface this by saying that James Jones is a great addition for the Oakland Raiders. Their offense needs more weapons, and Jones can certainly be an exciting one when given the opportunity. Is he really what the team was looking for, though?
With Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes making up the upper-half of their wide receiver depth chart, the Raiders went into the 2014 offseason looking for a true No. 1 pass-catcher who could be the go-to target for whoever was under center. While Jones will be an intriguing piece of the Oakland offense, he’s not the No. 1 GM Reggie McKenzie was trying to find.
During his time with the Green Bay Packers, Jones was also a productive receiver who excelled at hauling in jump balls and putting points on the board. Not only is he a physical presence out wide, but Jones also has a knack for finding the end zone – evidenced by his league-high 14 touchdown catches in 2012. While that’s certainly something the Raiders will appreciate, he’s not a true No. 1.
Jones works better as a complimentary receiver who takes advantage of mismatches and one-on-one coverage. In Oakland, he’ll be expected to carry the passing game, which could cause some serious problems. He’s welcome to prove me wrong and show the Raiders that he can be a No. 1 receiver, but my gut tells me that the team missed the mark on this one.
Plus, it’s not like he’ll have Aaron Rodgers throwing to him anymore. The Raiders’ top quarterback right now is Matt McGloin, who will likely be reduced to a backup role before the 2014 regular season gets under way. Basically, the whole “quarterback makes receiver better” factor won’t be a part of the equation in Oakland.
Put simply, it’s not an ideal situation for Jones or the Raiders – the expectations will be too high for him and the team will be disappointed when they don’t get their money’s worth.
One thing James does have going for him, though, is his high-character appeal. The former Packers receiver grew up in a rough environment, but has a well-known history of overcoming obstacles and giving back to the community. Now returning to his native northern California, James will surely appreciate the opportunity to give back to his hometown of San Jose.
It’s certainly another splash signing that probably gave McKenzie goose bumps, but the chances that it ends poorly are much higher than things working out as expected. For Jones’ sake, though, let’s hope the Raiders aren’t done retooling the offense.