How the Green Bay Packers Can Continue to Succeed Without Greg Jennings
According to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette:
It looks like the Packers wide receiver will have to shut it down for at least this week — and perhaps longer — after he aggravated the injury he first sustained in Week 1 against San Francisco.
“However long it takes, so I won’t have to sit here and answer these same questions again,” Jennings said. “We don’t know what the timetable is. All I know is we’re going to take it one day at a time and hopefully it gets better before Sunday. But odds of that happening, they’re odd.”
Also, per Adam Schefter of ESPN:
Packers WR Greg Jennings said he will undergo groin surgery, expects to return this season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 25, 2012
Regardless of whenever Jennings returns, the Packers have seen the emergence of guys like James Jones and Randall Cobb really step up. Yes, Aaron Rodgers and the offensive line got off to a rocky start, but that obviously didn't derail the Pack either.
If the NFL teaches us anything these days, it's that the offense's total impact comes from the quarterback. For the most part, it doesn't entirely matter which targets line up outside because the better signal-caller will make everyone else around them better.
Jennings is certainly a key role in Green Bay's offense. That said, as long as Rodgers remains at the helm, the cheese will sustain a rhythm. Here, we look at suitable adjustments to keep the effectiveness intact.
Run the Ball a Little More
It never hurts to continue slamming on the ground. After last season, the Packers realized the inability to do so really cost them in January.
As for 2012, the rushing attack is not stellar, but Green Bay has not totally abandoned it either. With 169 attempts heading into Week 8, the Pack average just under four yards per carry. Still, Green Bay did run for 99 yards against the Houston Texans and 70 yards against the St. Louis Rams.
By no means does that represent extensive success; however, the impact of that took much pressure off Rodgers and the passing game. In today's NFL defenses have adjusted fairly well versus pass-heavy offenses that chose not to run often.
But when a team presents the innate ability to succeed on the ground when-needed, any offense will move the ball. Green Bay has improved in this facet compared to 2011, and that must remain a priority throughout 2012's duration.
Keep Spreading the Field
Aaron Rodgers already does this emphatically well, so dishing the ball around must simply continue like clockwork.
For one, it keeps defenses off balance when in coverage and significantly reduces the odds of one player getting doubled up. However, if a defense were to double cover Jordy Nelson and/or James Jones, then that just leaves tight end Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb one-on-one.
Continuing to utilize numerous targets also prevents a defense from constantly disguising coverages. And the more Rodgers works each field level and side, the coverage will get recognized much quicker pre-snap.
Even when blitzing, that always leaves a weakness, because every additional defender rushing leaves one less guy in coverage.
Against a zone blitz it's about finding the hot read and throwing into the extra pressure. Versus man-to-man, Rodgers' marksmanship gives the receiver a playmaking advantage, and worst-case scenario is a Cover 1 safety helping over the top or rolling down. Through seven games of this season, six different players, including Jennings, have caught double-digit passes, and of those six, no one has received fewer than 15 targets.
Where does Green Bay still need to improve the most?
In short, this is the best complement to a running game because spreading the field widens zones and reduces the number of defenders in the box.
Rodgers on the Move
Rodgers is definitely a pocket-passer, but one of his more underrated areas is throwing on the run and extending plays with his feet.
This is just another area of the game where Green Bay possesses a competitive advantage because blitzing does eventually pay off sooner than later. And with Rodgers having been sacked 26 times already in 2012, getting him moving generates quicker developing plays and faster releases of the rock.
Plus, we did see what a strong front seven can do to the Packers offense courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. Getting a defense to flow in one direction can open up deeper routes against Cover 1 and 2 and also set up delayed handoffs and patterns against the grain.
Rodgers is proven to be a strong and accurate enough of an arm to throw across his body, so adding this aspect can also catch a defense off-guard. Not to mention, but that mobility forces a defense to focus more on Rodgers, which allows for greater consistency in the ground game.
Balance is required, although Titletown need not worry as long as Rodgers remains under center.
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