GREEN BAY – James Jones said he wasn’t interested in talking about the past.
Before he began his interview session with the media earlier this week, the Green Bay Packers wide receiver said he didn’t want to talk about the fact that he wasn’t targeted a single time in last Sunday night’s loss to the New York Giants.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” Jones said. “You can’t go back to last week.”
But, the question was eventually asked, and with a heavy sigh and an eye roll, Jones was forced to elaborate.
“It was just one of those games where our quarterback’s running for his life, trying to make a play,” Jones said, referring to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “It was just one of those games where we couldn’t get on the same page and get a throw in. But it’s not like he wasn’t looking my way. I mean, he pump-faked at me a couple of times, but two or three people were around me.”
There was at least once that Jones was wide-open, and it turned out to be a turning point in the game. Giants’ cornerback Corey Webster, who had just been beat on a 61-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson, got in front of Randall Cobb later in the first quarter, and picked off the quarterback.
Rodgers said Tuesday during his radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com that he thought Webster would be on Jones, and didn’t see either of the players all by themselves.
“Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought that Corey, that early in the game, was going to jump it after we hadn’t run any stick routes at that point,” Rodgers said. “(I) thought that outside he’s got to respect, or at least jam the release on some level, on James Jones, who was the outside guy running down the sidelines.”
The Giants were up 14-7 at the time, and turned the interception into a field goal that gave them a 10-point lead. New York never looked back.
And unlike the Packers’ earlier games this season, Jones never got involved.
Through the first 10 games of the season, Jones averaged 6.8 targets and 4.2 catches. The last time Jones went a game without a target was against the same team in New York last Dec. 4.
This season has been a career best for Jones, who matched his previous career-high seven touchdowns, set in 2011, in Week 6 against the Houston Texans. He caught an eighth in the Packers’ last home game on Nov. 4 against the Arizona Cardinals, but has had only two catches since.
Before the bye, Jones had at least five targets in every game, including a career-high 10 in the Packers’ Week 7 victory over the St. Louis Rams. In the Packers’ victory over Detroit on Nov. 18, Jones had four targets and two catches, his lowest of the season before Sunday’s game.
Jones did say the Giants had planned well for the Packers, and he expects the team to get the same treatment from their upcoming opponents as well.
“(They’ve) got a good game plan,” Jones said. “When you can drop eight defenders and still get pressure on Aaron (Rodgers), it’s going to be tough for anybody to get open. I’m assuming that’s going to be the game plan for a lot of people, but Aaron was looking for everyone.”
Offensive coordinator Tom Clements agreed with his wide receiver, and said the Giants’ scheme played a major part in Jones’ lack of targets.
“That was partly a function of the type of defense they were employing,” Clements said. “James is having a good year. It’s unfortunate he didn’t catch any passes. I’m sure it’s frustrating for him, it’s frustrating for all of us. We’re trying to be as productive as we can against the types of defenses we see and hopefully we can improve on that in the upcoming weeks.”
Still, Jones wasn’t discouraged, even though his role could diminish further with two-time Pro Bowl wideout Greg Jennings returning to action after missing the last seven games with a lower abdominal muscle injury
“It’s just one of those games where I didn’t get one thrown my way, but it doesn’t mean anything,” Jones said. “This week hopefully I’ll get some opportunities to make some plays.”
Jones can count on that, according to the guy throwing him the ball.
“Yeah,” Rodgers said of the zero-target game. “I don’t think that’s going to happen again.”
Sarah Barshop covers the Packers for ESPNWisconsin.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/sarahbarshop.