How Will Greg Jennings' Contract Situation Affect His Season?
“I think you have to be realistic about it and think that it might be (our last year together). I have loved my time with Greg, Greg and I are going to be buddies whether he’s here or not."
In the final year of his contract, Jennings needs a big season to enhance his appeal for remaining with the Packers.
After all, he'll only be turning 29 years old later this month and Green Bay could certainly use him for the 2013 NFL season and beyond. With that, let's check out how this will affect Jennings' 2012 campaign and what to expect from him throughout the year.
Feed 'Em the Rock Aaron Rodgers
If Aaron Rodgers doesn't want to part ways with Greg Jennings, then targeting him more often must happen.
The 2011 season was Jennings' least productive across the board since his first two seasons, and the least productive since Rodgers took over for Brett Favre. With only 949 yards on 67 receptions and nine scores, Jennings certainly saw a nosedive in contribution.
A big part of this is also due to the breakout season of Jordy Nelson, who accounted for more receptions, yards, touchdowns and first downs. The good news, though, is that defenses now must compensate coverages to isolate Nelson instead of Jennings.
Therefore, more man-to-man situations occur against Jennings and inflate the number of targets, while the Packers presenting a stronger ground attack with Cedric Benson and play-action simply helps the cause.
In short, Jennings faces more favorable mismatches in 2012 and his production swings upward.
Who is the Packers' best receiving target?
The Motive to Produce Well
Here, Greg Jennings has a choice: Either produce emphatically well and leave no doubt for a new contract or do just the opposite.
With rookie Jarrett Boykin and second-year man Randall Cobb, Green Bay's future is basically set at wide receiver along with Jordy Nelson. Aaron Rodgers has the ability to work with any group of targets, so it won't matter who is running the routes.
Lest we forget about tight end Jermichael Finley as well.
So, with virtually an uncertain future in Titletown hanging in the balance, Jennings must have a strong 2012 season. The picture of what could potentially happen in the 2013 offseason will obviously clear as this season progresses, but that can be used as fuel to dominate each week.
This calls for constantly beating single coverage against any defensive scheme, and splitting every zone over the middle at both the intermediate and deep levels. In 2011, Jennings was targeted 101 times, which accounted for 20 percent of Rodgers' attempts.
However, he only caught 66 percent of the passes. By comparison, Nelson caught 70.8 percent of his targets and James Jones caught 69 percent. Also, both Nelson and Finley recorded more first downs and 20-plus-yard gains.
All this said and contract situation aside, Jennings needs a stronger year for his own marketability.
More Coverage As It Gets Colder
Early in the season, Greg Jennings won't see defenses geared toward him, so by facing man coverage out the gates, he'll be quite productive in September and the beginning of October.
Then, defensive coordinators will gradually go back to trying to isolate him and leave man versus Jordy Nelson. Either way, it's a win-win situation for Green Bay, because a defense can't double-team to receivers without becoming extremely vulnerable over the middle.
And if that does happen, well, tight end Jermichael Finley sees an explosion of targets, yards after the catch and scores. Not to mention the running game would become more effective.
So, Jennings will face tougher coverages toward the middle of the season and mostly in the form of a double zone: Cover 2 underneath and the corner passing him off to the safety over the top, or a bracketed look in Cover 3.
With that, the potential targets then become Aaron Rodgers' responsibility. He must fire between the zones and/or launch the touch pass for precise finesse and placement when putting the ball over the corner and under the safety.
(As we see in the video, this is done to a T in Super Bowl XLV).
Possession then becomes more important than yards after the catch later in the year. So, as long as Jennings keeps moving the chains and increases his clutch ability, he'll flourish down the stretch.
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