If you’re a 20-something fan like me (and I should apologize to the readers who may have no idea what I’m talking about in the following lines), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were likely one of your favorite cartoons growing up. If that’s the case, you’ll also likely remember “Rocksteady,” one of the evil henchmen that the four turtles routinely fought against.
Naturally, I’m sure you’re thinking: What in the world does this have to do with Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones?
To be honest, there’s very little comparison between the two in either appearance or personality. Jones is neither a bi-pedal rhino or a crime-loving henchman from my own observations.
But the nickname? It’s perfect for Jones.
He’s proven to have “Rock” hands in some of the worst situations over his short career, dropping a handful of big passes in 2010 that nearly cost the Packers several games. Drops against the Jets, Eagles and Steelers are the first to come to my mind, but there has been several others.
And I think most fans will admit that they’ve grown tired of passes that have no business being dropped hitting the turf because of Jones. Honestly, who didn’t post something on Twitter in the moments after Jones’s drop against the Eagles in the Wild Card round about his long-term future in Green Bay?
In fact, I’m sure there will be commenters on this very post that say they want nothing to do with Jones because of those drops—and that’s understandable.
But to be fair to Jones, you also have to say he’s been “steady” too.
As the Packers’ third, and sometimes fourth, receiving option over the past four years, Jones has caught 149 passes for over 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. During his two best seasons (2007 and ’10), Jones caught over 45 passes for nearly 700 yards in both years. What more could you expect or want out of a guy in his role?
To that point, I think there is very few who would say Jones isn’t a talented receiver. Even if the Packers’ offense gives him favorable opportunities, you have to be able to take advantage of those mismatches—and Jones, for the most part, has done that.
So as a soon-to-be free agent, where does that leave the future of James “Rocksteady” Jones?
It’ll likely come down to two things: The green backs—and we’re not talking about a species of turtles—and starting potential.
If a receiver-needy team, such as the Bears or Redskins, offers him the right price, could you really blame Jones for leaving Green Bay?
He said at the team’s unveiling of the Super Bowl DVD that he wants an opportunity to start in the NFL, and I think he has the talent to be a good No. 2 for a team.
Here’s what he told ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde after the unveiling on March 7th:
“My main thing going through all this is, do I want to be a starter in the National Football League? No question. Do I feel like I’m a starter? No question. I know we’ve got something great here. I mean, this team could win some championships for the next couple years. But at the same time, I do want to be a starter.”
But he’s not going to find those things with the Packers. Management has bigger monetary priorities over the next few seasons (Jermichael Finley, Josh Sitton, Clay Matthews) to give Jones the kind of money he might find in another city. And even with Donald Driver getting older, Jones would still have to fight Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Finley for looks from Aaron Rodgers over the next few years.
But we also can’t forget Randall Cobb, whom the Packers spent a second round pick on in April’s draft. While I’m not sure I see Cobb making a big splash on offense in year one, the Packers have more than enough offensive weapons to compensate for losing Jones without Cobb completely replacing his production.
Think about it for a second—Green Bay’s passing offense has Jennings, Driver, Nelson, Cobb, Finley, Andrew Quarless and D.J. Williams as legitimate pass-catchers for next season. Some combination of those guys will surely be able to make up the 50 catches and 679 yards that Jones brought to the table in 2010.
In reality, it could be harder for Jones to approach even those numbers in 2011 with all the talent the Packers have on offense.
So while having him back in 2011 is still appealing—especially if there are injuries to any of the receivers—it may already be a foregone conclusion that Rocksteady will be elsewhere next season.
And if Jones stays true to form, that city will certainly be happy with the “steady” that he brings. I’d say there is no reason why Jones couldn’t catch 70 passes or break 1,000 yards as the No. 2 receiver for a team that has a good quarterback.
But us Packers fans can all have a little chuckle amongst ourselves when the “Rock” that we all know and love strikes again—especially if he’s playing Chicago. An evil henchman Jones may actually be next season.——————
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2