Only a handful of teams can lose a star player for the season and grow even more powerful in his absence. One of those teams is the Packers.
After watching Jordy Nelson, Green Bay's field-stretching wideout, shelved for the year with a knee injury, the re-signing of 31-year-old veteran receiver James Jones felt, at best, like a patch. Instead, Jones -- whose career was on life support -- is a major reason Aaron Rodgers is on pace for the finest completion percentage and passer rating of his celebrated career.
Chalk it up as another masterful move by Packers general manager Ted Thompson, with Jones stepping in to lead the team in receiving yards while logging the second-most receiving touchdowns of any wideout league-wide. And after posting a perfect passer rating on throws to Nelson last season, Rodgers has done the same with Jones through four games, per NFL Research.
"We feel like we still have that (deep-threat) guy," Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said of Jones. "Obviously it's very difficult replacing a Jordy Nelson, a dynamic playmaker, but we feel like we still have guys that can get the job done. We don't really control what the defense is trying to do to us, other than our tempo, our play style, our speed. They line up and choose to play a certain way and we have to execute against it."
So far, so good, for an undefeated club that feels destined to return to the NFC title game three months from now.