There’s a quote that says “luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” If this is the case, Greg Jennings is making a real habit out of being extremely lucky.
With the Packers down two points in the final minutes of their home-opener against the Bears last Sunday night, Jennings hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to put the Packers ahead for good.
But his good fortunes did not start there.
Throughout his career, the rising star has improved his game in just about every aspect. Just last offseason, he worked all summer with Arizona Cardinals' wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and wideout legend Jerry Rice to work on his route running and speed.
Just one game into the season, the results are already showing as the fourth-year man from Western Michigan caught six balls for 106 yards and the decisive touchdown.
Back in 2006, the rookie Jennings went for a 75-yard run-and-catch touchdown against the Detroit Lions, marking Brett Favre’s 400th career touchdown pass. That next season, 2007, Jennings caught Favre’s 420th touchdown pass against the Chargers, which tied Favre with the great Dan Marino on the all-time touchdown list.
That next week, Jennings caught a 16-yard slant from Favre to put the Hall of Famer past Marino on the all-time touchdowns list. Amazingly, his milestone catches did not end that season.
Believe it or not, Jennings caught Aaron Rodgers’ first touchdown pass against the Dallas Cowboys after Favre went down with a hand injury.
All these milestone catches have been the result of Jennings’ hard work off the field, which has allowed him to be on the field and have the opportunity to catch passes. But even more so than the historic catches, Jennings has been clutch throughout his entire career.
In 2007, his touchdown reception against the Chargers (Favre’s 420th) came from 57 yards away and with two minutes to go in a tied ballgame. The touchdown ended up being the game winner that would put the Packers on top for good. Five weeks later, Jennings found himself on the receiving end of 82-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage in overtime against the Broncos.
A week after that, the Packers found themselves down six points with three minutes to play in Kansas City before Jennings caught a 60-yard pass from Favre to put the Packers up for good in that game as well.
In 2008, the Packers had a hard time winning games due to the inability of the defense to stop teams in the fourth quarter, but Jennings did all he could to keep the Packers in games.
Against Seattle, he hauled in the eventual game-winning touchdown pass, a 45-yarder from Aaron Rodgers. In their 35-31 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Jennings’ fourth quarter score put the Packers ahead before the defense failed to hold the lead.
Another way to tell that Jennings is on his way to becoming a true star is the way he performs at night. Under the lights, Jennings’ averages go up in receptions and yards per game, and his touchdowns per game are nearly identical.
In his short career, Jennings has played at night (national television) nine times and has averaged 5.5 catches, 82 yards, and 0.54 touchdowns. Compare that to his overall numbers per game of 4.2 catches, 67 yards, and 0.57 touchdowns and you have a true clutch performer.
It makes it even more impressive that part of those totals include a game where Jennings caught just one pass for two yards in his rookie season.
Throw in his six reception, 71-yard performance against the Seahawks in the 2007 Divisional Playoffs, and those numbers would increase even further. He also scored twice in the game, when the passing conditions were less than stellar. He brought the Packers out of an early 14-0 hole in a game they would end up winning 42-20.
Clearly the favorite target of quarterback of Aaron Rodgers, Jennings is well on his way to establishing himself as a top five wide receiver in all of football. What he lacks for in size (5'11"), he makes up for in crisp route running and some of the softest hands in all of football.
You’d be hard pressed to find a time when Jennings let the ball touch his shoulder pads, but rather catching the ball with his hands before doing wonders after the catch.
Preparation has never been an issue for Jennings. He has himself in tip-top shape, works out with some of the game’s best, and does it all with a big smile.
He is an outstanding teammate who loves to see his fellow wideouts do well, and has never once demanded the ball. His opportunity has finally arrived as the No. 1 receiver for the Green Bay Packers and a franchise quarterback throwing to him.
But both of those factors together, make Greg Jennings one lucky guy.