The Packers have not exactly struggled throwing the ball this season, but QB Aaron Rodgers does have a mere four games of 300-plus yards passing. Green Bay ranks 14th in the league in passing yards per game and only twice has a player had over 100 yards receiving in a game.
Rodgers simply looks more comfortable and develops a better offensive flow when he has the Packers best receiver on the field. Jennings had three 100-yard receiving games alone last year and caught nine touchdown passes.
In 2010 he had five such games and 12 total touchdowns. See the pattern?
Jennings provides the type of vertical threat on the perimeter of the field that is hard to duplicate. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones are all fantastic receivers and are more adept at lining up in the slot and making plays over the middle of the field.
Cobb in particular has exploded this season in Jennings absence. He has 613 yards receiving and seven touchdowns while also proving to be a multi-dimensional threat that can line up anywhere on the field and return kicks.
Still, something has been missing.
The Packers have been held to 12 points or fewer on two different occasions already this season, an unenviable feat that never happened a year ago with Jennings in the lineup.
Knowing that Green Bay is still struggling to develop any sort of running game is of course a factor preventing complete consistency, and the news that Cedric Benson is in fact out for the season does hurt somewhat.
However, this is a team that has lived and thrived without a balanced offensive attack in recent seasons. What Green Bay needs is to know that its offensive playmakers will be ready and able to make tough catches at all times.
Last week, in a 38-10 loss to the New York Giants, James Jones had zero catches and was not even targeted by Rodgers. Jennings, on the other hand, has not gone a game without a target since Week 2 of 2009.
As the playoffs near it will be important for Rodgers to have Jennings in the lineup and have that safety valve receiver to turn to when he gets into trouble. Cobb, Jones and Nelson are all emerging talents, but they do not have the same level of chemistry and respect that exists between Jennings and Rodgers.
Will Jennings immediately come back and be an elite wideout?
Perhaps not, but he will be reliable and consistent—two traits that serve Green Bay perfectly right now.