EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – James Jones met Tom Coughlin for the first time this week, doesn't know any of his new teammates and has spent virtually no time on the East Coast. But the veteran wide receiver yesterday signed with the Giants, in part, for reasons of comfort and familiarity.
Jones played his first seven NFL seasons for the Green Bay Packers. One of the team's assistant coaches during his entire tenure there was Ben McAdoo, who is beginning his second season as the Giants' offensive coordinator. Although his new situation is fraught with many uncertainties, Jones was excited and intrigued by the opportunity to work again with McAdoo.
"One of the main reasons was I wanted to get in a similar offense that I played in in Green Bay," Jones said at his introductory news conference. "I've had a real good relationship with coach McAdoo, and I felt like I could come here and help this team be successful. When I got a chance to talk him and he sat me down to discuss things, it definitely helped me make my decision.
"I had a chance to meet with Ben McAdoo and go over all the play calls, and it all was second nature to me. That was one of the main reasons I chose here, so that I could just come into a training camp and not have to worry about learning a whole new playbook with new terminology. I can come in here and just hit the ground running, so I'm excited about it. Looking at the plays, it's a lot of the things we did in Green Bay, so it's all starting to come back to me."
Jones proved last year that he can succeed outside the system, catching a career-high 73 passes for an Oakland Raiders team that won three games. With the Packers, he made the playoffs six times in seven years, helped them win Super Bowl XLV and caught 310 regular-season passes for 4,305 yards and 37 touchdowns.
"Obviously, every offensive coordinator has their own tweaks in the offense, so there are a couple different things in this offense," Jones said. "But it's very similar to the Green Bay system and I was very comfortable out there and had some great years playing in the Green Bay offense. So I'm excited about it."
Jones joins an exciting, productive and crowded group of receivers that includes former Pro Bowler Victor Cruz, reigning Rookie of the Year Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle, Preston Parker, Dwayne Harris, Corey Washington and sixth-round draft choice Geremy Davis. Since the Giants are still limited to playing with just one football at a time, the competition for playing time and catches could be intense.
But that's not new to Jones.
"I come from Green Bay where we had Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Greg Jennings, and also we had Jermichael Finley, all in the same offense," Jones said. "So I come from a talented offense and we all were involved. Some people caught more balls than others, but we all had a chance to make some plays. So when I look at a room like that, I get excited, because when you put a bunch of receivers like the ones we have in that room on the field, it's tough to stop. I've been a part of offenses like that, where defenses have big problems stopping a lot of weapons, especially rotating in and out guys that have been successful in this league. When I look in the room, I'm excited; a lot of talented guys in there, and it's going to be a tough offense to stop.
"I'm just here to compete. If 100 balls come my way, they do. If two come my way, they do. I'm just here to help this team win the best way I can and be a leader of the team, helping those young guys in the receiving room. It's a great room in there with a lot of talented guys, so this whole situation can go either way. The main thing is just to have fun, compete and enjoy the time when you're out there on the field."
In Green Bay, Jones caught passes from Aaron Rodgers, the two-time NFL Most Valuable Player (including 2014) and a Super Bowl champion. Now he'll work with two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning, which is another bit of unfamiliarity Jones must adjust to – they just met yesterday.
"You can tell that both of those guys are hungry to win and they both want to be successful," Jones said of Manning and Rodgers. "Just meeting with Eli, he seemed real passionate about the game. He wants everything to be perfect. He's already going through plays and stuff with me, because he wants everything to be perfect. I'm excited to get to work and see what type of quarterback he is. I'm sure he's one of those top-notch guys."
Jones entered the NFL as the Packers' third-round draft choice in 2007, from San Jose State. For seven years, he played in the same office, most of that time with the same quarterback. Last year, he stepped into the unknown when he signed with the Raiders. Oakland released him on May 5. Now Jones is working his way through another new situation. But this time he's standing on a more familiar foundation, because he's with McAdoo and playing in an offense in which he's excelled.
"I spoke with Ben every once in a while," Jones said. "I never thought I'd be playing for him again, but I spoke with him a couple of times. Ben and I had a really good relationship in the seven years that we spent together in Green Bay. He's an unbelievable coach and an unbelievable guy, so I'm glad to be playing for him."
Photos of WR James Jones during his career the Raiders and Packers.