There has been a lot of bold talk about how great the current Green Bay receivers are and some go as far as to say they are the best. Although it is undeniable this is a nice looking unit, after a team goes 6-10 in a division as weak as the NFC North, one has to question the assertion this is an elite group. When I think of great receiver tandems of the past, I think of Rice and Taylor, Bruce and Holt, Moss and Carter, Lofton and Jefferson. Although it does not seem arguable Driver and Jennings are of the caliber of these great tandems of the past, I find it beneficial to analyze the Packer passing attack from two angles. First, how do their top two receivers compare with the top two receivers on other NFL teams? Second, how good is their overall unit?
I don’t think we need to go into a lot of deep analysis to compare receiver duos. If you watch a lot of football, you know the feared receivers and what they can do simply be hearing their names. Here is my comparison of top duos playing today listed in no particular order.
Arizona Cardinals- Larry Fitzgerald 1,431yds-12tds and Anquan Boldin 1,038yds-11tds.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Hines Ward 1,043yds-7tds and Santonio Holmes 821yds-5tds.
Indianapolis Colts- Reggie Wayne 1,145yds-6tds and Anthony Gonzalez 664yds-4tds.
New Orleans Saints- Lance Moore 928yds-10tds and Marques Colston 760yds-5tds.
San Diego Chargers- Vincent Jackson 1,098yds-7tds and Chris Chambers 462yds-5tds.
Carolina Panthers- Steve Smith 1421yds-6tds and Muhsin Muhammad 923yds-5tds.
Green Bay Packers- Greg Jennings 1,292yds-9tds and Donald Driver 1,012yds-5tds.
As you can see, Arizona has by far the best two receivers, not only statistically but also the most talented. After Arizona, the field is pretty much equal statistically and the Packers are definitely comparable but probably not any better. Except for the Cardinals, Jennings is as good as most of these receivers and is young. Driver is comparable to the number two receivers but is old and declining. Looking at this group as a whole, I would say there are not currently a lot of feared receivers in the league.
Looking at overall units, I will now add third and fourth receivers and the tight-end. We could throw running backs into the mix as well but this article is really about receivers, so I will leave the backs out.
Cardinals- Steve Breaston 1,006yds-3tds, Jerheme Urban 448yds-4tds and Ben Patrick 104yds-0tds.
Patriots- A lot of changes at this point but depth at receiver has always been a strong point.
Steelers- Nate Washington 631yds-3tds, Limas Sweed 64yds-0tds and Heath Miller 514yds-3tds.
Colts-Marvin Harrison is gone. Dallas Clark 848yds-6tds..
Saints- Devery Henderson 783yds-3tds, Robert Meachem 289yds-3tds and Billy Miller 579yds-1td.
Chargers- Malcom Floyd 465yds-4tds and Antonio Gates 704yds-8tds.
Panthers- D.J. Hackett 181yds-0tds, Dwayne Jarrett 119yds0tds and Dante Rosario 209yds-1td..
Packers- Jordy Nelson 366yds-2tds, James Jones 274yds-1td and Donald Lee 303yds-5tds.
The Packers second and third receivers do not appear to put them over the top as far as being an elite unit and their tight-end is not as good as most. Jones and Nelson are young and have potential but this is true of most backup receivers. It would seem the Packers are actually not that deep of a receiving unit compared with many of the better teams in the league.
As I said, I left out backs because this article was about receivers. I can say one thing after looking at the most successful teams, throwing to the backs is very important. The Packers didn’t rank high in passing to their backs, but that is another story.
The Packers do have some pretty good receivers but at this point they do not appear to be great. Overall, the Packers lack offensive weapons in comparison to the best teams. This is even more apparent when you add the multipurpose backs and second and third string tight-ends into the equation. Although the Packers seemed to be very good offensively last season, maybe the truth is they lack adequate firepower to close the deal.