2 Secret Weapons The Packers Will Unleash Against The Cowboys
Sunday’s divisional round tilt against the Dallas Cowboys will be the Packers’ 22nd game of the season. That’s over 1,300 minutes of game action on tape. Over the course of the season, injuries and development from young players change how a team plays.
But hidden in the hours of game film are secret weapons. A play here or a play there – a player whose skills may pair favorably against Dallas.
The Packers will need all the help they can get from a secret weapon because of Jordy Nelson’s rib injury and a Cowboys secondary playing at full strength for only the third time this season. In the previous two games, Week One and Week Nine, Dallas held their opponents to under 210 passing yards.
Please don’t send this article to Jason Garrett. Just keep this between us Packers fans, okay?
Secret Weapon #1: WR Jeff Janis
For the well-read Packers fan, the third-year wide receiver out of small Saginaw Valley State is hardly an under the radar weapon. He arguably is the team’s fastest player when running in a straight line, and is the recipient of one of Aaron Rodgers’ three Hail Mary touchdowns.
In Packers history, seven players have had over 100 receiving yards and 2 or more touchdowns in a playoff game. Jeff Janis is the most unlikely name on that list, with 7 catches for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Cardinals last year.
This offseason was riddled with nuggets about Jeff Janis’ expected impact on the passing game after his explosion against Arizona. In the 17 games since his breakout performance, he’s caught just 11 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown while dealing with a broken hand suffered in August.
His lone receiving touchdown of the season came against the Atlanta Falcons in a clutch spot. Down 26-24, Rodgers found Janis for a go-ahead seven-yard score to put the Packers up 32-26.
McCarthy and the offensive staff have sought ways to get the ball into Janis’ hands, and they’ve flirted with a reverse in the latter part of the season. Against the Seahawks, Janis rushed for a nineteen-yard score that put a cherry on top of the team’s best win of the regular season. The Packers did not run the Janis reverse against the Giants, though the team ran a play-action fake of the play.
If Jordy Nelson is unable to play, Janis may be called upon to run some of the deep post routes Nelson has burned defenses on in the past.
Secret Weapon #2: WR Trevor Davis
The rookie has been a healthy scratch throughout the season, appearing in only 11 contests. He was inactive against the Giants, but that was before Jordy Nelson’s rib injury. If Nelson is unable to play, it’s safe to say Davis has a good shot at making the active roster.
Of the Packers’ seven inactives last week, four were on the offensive side of the ball (Davis, QB Joe Callahan, OT Kyle Murphy, and RB James Starks). Callahan and Murphy are near-locks to be inactive Sunday, leaving Nelson’s roster spot to either Davis and Starks. Starks has significant playoff experience, but is reportedly still in the concussion protocol.
It’s been a quiet rookie season for Davis. But that hasn’t stopped us from being big fans of his work. We haven’t been shy about our admiration for the wide receiver, so we may be biased here:
He’s caught three passes for 24 yards this season, but his biggest impact was on a pass he didn’t catch. In Week Three against Detroit, Davis was the target of a deep pass from Rodgers on the first play of the second quarter. Davis was unable to haul it in, but did draw a 66-yard pass interference penalty on the Lions. The Packers scored on the next play to extend their lead to 21-3.
With little tape on him as a Packer, his propensity for the big play in college certainly makes him a dangerous weapon if active. In 22 games at Cal, he had eleven catches over 30 yards, seven grabs over 50 yards and four kick returns over 40 yards.