Green Bay Packers: Are There Enough Balls To Go Around?
The Green Bay Packers feature one of the league's deepest and most talented receiving corps. When factoring in the tight ends, Aaron Rodgers' arsenal gets even deeper. When firing on all cylinders, the Packers' passing attack can be downright frightening—just ask Atlanta.
But with so many talented pass catchers, the question becomes whether there will be enough balls to go around to keep everybody happy.
Last season, the Packers offense struggled early as it seemed Rodgers was forcing the ball to Jermichael Finley even when he wasn't open. This became a problem as Greg Jennings felt he wasn't getting enough opportunities. This lead Jennings to blow up on the sidelines during the Week 5 matchup against the Redskins.
“I got frustrated during the game,” Jennings told the Associated Press. “I was a little out of character during the game. It’s because of (my) competitive nature. I’ve never been an ’I, I, me, me’ kind of a guy. My guys know that. The team knows that. When you’re not able to perform to your level and you have really no control over it, it is frustrating.”
This incident coincided with injury that cost Finley his season. After Finley went down, Jennings once again became the first read on many plays instead of Finley and the whole incident was erased. If Finley didn't end up getting hurt and missing action, the situation would have been addressed more outright.
It was clear the Packers offense was at it's best when Rodgers was spreading the ball around and getting all of his playmakers involved. Throughout the playoffs, different players were stepping up all over to catch passes with Jennings remaining the most constant and consistent.
During the first two games of this preseason, Rodgers and the No. 1 offense have played a combined five series. On those five series, receivers and tight ends that saw the field with Rodgers were Finley, Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Tom Crabtree, Andrew Quarless and D.J. Williams.
On 20 pass attempts, Rodgers targeted only four of these players. Quarless was targeted twice, Ryan Grant once and the remaining 17 were thrown at Finley, Jennings or Driver. There were times Nelson looked to be wide open running down the sideline, but Rodgers missed him and threw incomplete of Finley or Jennings.
It is preseason and the Packers are not trying to exploit matchups during these games, but during the season, the success of the Packers' passing attack is going to come with spreading the ball around and exploiting matchups. Most weeks the Packers' third, fourth and even fifth wide receivers should have significant advantages.
Rodgers and McCarthy need to figure out a way to keep everybody involved not only to keep the players happy, but to keep defenses on their toes. When defenses attempt to shut down Finley and Jennings, the Packers need to be able to use Nelson and Jones against single coverage.
After re-signing with the Packers, James Jones assured the media that there wouldn't be a problem with the amount of balls to go around.
"We've done it before," Jones told reporters. "We've all been through the process so we know how to handle it."
All is well at this point, but this is something the Packers need to keep their eyes on as the season begins. With so many talented weapons, the Packers offense has the potential to be one of the league's greats. If they are to become that, they need to spread the ball around creating mismatches all over the field.
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