The passing game’s output was so poor that it begged the question of whether the Rodgers-less offense during the second half of the 2013 season was even more effective moving the ball through the air. With the 2015 offensive line healthy and largely free of blame, the spotlight fell on the offense’s receivers and tight ends, who failed miserably to fill the void of Nelson after the team’s bye week.
Now that training camp has arrived, fans and the media alike ponder how the passing game will fare with Nelson back in the fold. Will the Packers see a return of the offense that has posted five seasons of 4,000 passing yards or more since Rodgers took over as starter in 2008? There are at least a handful of reasons to be optimistic.
The return of Jordy Nelson will surely make a difference in the Packers’ aerial attack, mostly because Nelson is the only receiver on the roster that can effectively stretch the field and consistently make plays on deep balls thrown his way. At 6’3”, Nelson is also the Packers’ tallest receiver, an attribute that makes him Rodgers’s first option on jump balls in the red zone.
In addition to Cook, the Packers have also welcomed rookie receiver Trevor Davis to the mix. Davis, a fifth-round selection out of Cal, impressed during the beginning of camp and will compete with Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis for spots in the back half of the positional group. Also, both a competitor to Davis and source of optimism for the Packers’ passing game is speedster Ty Montgomery, who missed 10 regular season games last season and should become healthy again by this season’s mid-point.
Mike McCarthy and the offensive coaching staff can feel good about the additions of Nelson, Cook, Davis and Montgomery on top of other talented options like Randall Cobb and Davante Adams, who clearly did not live up to expectations in expanded roles last season. The key will be keeping the group healthy and allowing each receiver to operate out of their most natural role in the offense, whether it be in the slot, perimeter or even out of the backfield.