Green Bay Packers: Without Finley, Throw Greg Jennings The Dang Ball!
It wasn't quite Greg Jennings' Keyshawn Johnson moment, but it was close.
Not to mention Jennings had a point.
This week Jennings made it clear to his coaches he was frustrated with the lack of balls thrown in his direction. Now, Jennings is no diva receiver like Johnson was, so this was a little out of character for him. He even apologized publicly to his coaches after his little talk.
Jennings, the Packers Pro Bowl wide receiver, has had a down season so far. Yes he has caught a couple touchdown passes, but he still lacking in two other crucial categories—receptions and yardage. The man known for his long touchdown receptions had suddenly been rendered mute by the Packers' coaching staff.
Why would that be?
Two words: Jermichael Finley. Finley brought such an extra dimension to the passing game that the Packers figured he could dig them out of any hole they were in offensively and could bail them out of 3rd and long situations.
Well, now the Packers are in a hole offensively and it is because of Finley.
Thanks to a knee injury, Finley will likely miss the rest of the 2010 campaign and the offense loses one of its biggest play-makers. Many people think this injury will cripple the Packers' explosive offense and hinder the team the rest of the year.
The good news is the Packers have another play-maker—Greg Jennings.
With Finley out, Jennings now becomes the biggest play-maker on offense. In fact, one could argue he was bigger play-maker than Finley. Jennings is the Packers true deep threat and his elusiveness after the catch makes him a danger to take it to the house every time he touches the ball.
Now the Packers have no choice but to throw Jennings the ball. As their lone deep threat, he will be expected to put up points in a hurry for a Packers offense that has become very pass heavy due to the lack of a running game.
There are so many reasons to throw the man the ball as well.
One is that, looking back all the way to 2006, the Packers most productive days on offensive have been when Jennings has been a key element of the passing game. When Jennings has a good day, it spreads a defense thin thus allowing the quarterback whether it was Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers to spread the ball to other players, usually with good results.
Second is that Jennings is still very young and is healthy and durable. With Finley banged up, Jennings is a dependable option to answer the bell every week and go up top to make the catches that big time receivers like Larry Fitzgerald make. Even though he is a bit undersized, Jennings plays like a big receiver and any quarterback has to love that.
Jennings also enjoys strong chemistry with Rodgers. With both being about the same age, this quarterback/receiver combo has every bit the potential to be as a lethal combo as Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison were in Harrison's prime. Both seem to know what each other is thinking and Jennings knows where the ball will be when thrown in his direction.
An increased amount of balls thrown to Jennings would help the rest of the Packers passing attack as well. With defenders now focusing more on Jennings, opportunities will now open up for ageless wonder Donald Driver and the emerging youngsters James Jones and Jordy Nelson.
Heck, by spreading the ball around more, holes could open up for the Packers anemic rushing attack. Now that would be a miracle, wouldn't it?
So what is the problem here?
First off, Mike McCarthy must adjust his play-calling. It seems like he has been avoiding plays that play to Jennings strengths. With the loss of Finley, McCarthy likely will now be forced to go to Jennings more often but it is puzzling as to why it took a season ending injury to your tight end to make him realize that.
Rodgers also throws one of the most beautiful deep balls in the game today and the Packers are one of the best offenses at getting large chunks of yardage in one play. So why not utilize the deep ball more? Part of that I am sure has to do with the lack of a consistent rushing attack. Still, you need to get yards and points however you can get them.
Even if Jennings ends up with monster numbers this season, you can count on one thing: he will share the love. He isn't a Terrell Owens or a Chad Ochocinco who focus on themselves. Jennings is a team player and that is why he handles his frustration so well. He took it to the coach and not the media.
The Packers are lucky to have him. The coaches need to realize that.
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