When Greg Jennings went down with a knee injury Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, I probably wasn't the only one to scream at my TV, nor was I the only one who wondered how his injury could hurt the Packers' chances at repeating as Super Bowl champs.
Let's think about it. Greg Jennings is an elite wide receiver; no debate needed. If you take Jennings away from the Packers receiving corps, it goes from elite to...well, elite, especially with Aaron Rodgers calling the shots. Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, James Jones and Randall Cobb are a very good group of receivers.
With that being said, Jennings and Nelson as starting receivers probably scares a defense a little more than Nelson and Driver.
The fact of the matter is that Greg Jennings' injury hurt the Green Bay Packers. They will be missing their biggest playmaker for two to three weeks with an MCL sprain, but he will thankfully be back for the playoffs.
Although this situation seems bad for the Packers, a lot of good can come out of it.
Greg Jennings' injury was a wakeup call to coach Mike McCarthy. Yeah, there are three games left in the regular season, but what do the Packers really have to play for yet? A No. 1 seed is all but in the bag, as the Packers face the great Tyler Palko next weekend, and only need one more win to secure the first seed in the NFC.
Jennings going down shows McCarthy a number of things. First, that a perfect regular season means nothing if your star players go down for the playoffs. Honestly, I really don't think McCarthy cares about going 16-0, as no NFL coach should. Yeah, going 16-0 is cool, but going 14-2 or 15-1 and winning the Super Bowl is a lot cooler.
With this also comes the debate of resting your starters for too long. Three games is probably a little much for Rodgers and Company to watch from the sidelines, but a game or game-and-a-half is not out of the question.
The picture above is of Packers tight end Ryan Taylor. It was his first catch of his career, and it just happened to be a touchdown.
Jennings going down can create opportunities for other players to get more involved in the offense.
More involved? Rodgers has thrown touchdowns to nine different receivers this year! How much more involved can you get?!
Well, Jennings is averaging over seven targets a game. These targets have to go to some other player. Granted, most of them will probably go to already-established receivers such as Nelson, Driver or Finley, but if a few of them go towards tight ends Tom Crabtree or Ryan Taylor, it creates one more player that defenses must account for in the playoffs.
In the last two games, wide receiver James Jones has only caught two balls. Seems a little low for a receiver the Packers spent $9 million on in the offseason. Also, last week against the Raiders, tight end Jermichael Finley had zero catches.
These numbers shouldn't be very alarming to Packer fans because with Rodgers at quarterback, any receiver could explode for a huge game on any given day.
With that being said, it would still be nice to see Jones and Finley involved in the offense on a consistent basis. As mentioned in the last slide, Jennings receives over seven targets a game. These targets would help receivers like Finley, Jones and even rookie Randall Cobb help finalize their role in the offense as the postseason approaches.
I think that everyone in Green Bay has assumed that next year Matt Flynn will no longer be a member of the Green Bay Packers. He is an unrestricted free agent, and one of the best backups in the league. His presence was well-documented after his 27-31 loss to the Patriots last year.
Flynn threw for over 250 yards and three touchdowns that day, and almost came out with the W. It was a very impressive performance, and teams around the league took note. It was even rumored that GM Ted Thompson was going to trade Flynn away before the deadline this year, just so he could get some value for him.
So how is all of this related to Greg Jennings' knee injury? Well, it is. Kind of. Let me explain.
If the Packers decide to sit Aaron Rodgers for a game or two, Matt Flynn would have the reins of the offense, and teams across the league would be evaluating his performance.
Let's say Flynn underperforms. Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley would more than likely be sitting, so Flynn would be throwing to basically the second-team offense. Teams notice that some of his throws are inaccurate and his stats don't add up. They begin to think that he wouldn't be able to lead their offense, and they decide not to put a bid on him in next year's free agency.
In swoops Ted Thompson, who signs Flynn for a one- or two-year deal, just for assurance that Rodgers doesn't sustain another concussion.
Hey, I know it's a little far-fetched, but it could happen, right?
If Jennings' injury fully heals before the playoff begins, it would definitely be a blessing in disguise for the Green Bay Packers. The man that would benefit the most from this injury is pictured above.
Coach Mike McCarthy would take this close call to one of his stars as a hint: No record is worth a shot at a Super Bowl title. Yeah, 16-0 would be nice, but 18-1 would be a lot nicer. After this injury, I would be very surprised to see Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews playing in Weeks 16 and 17 of the regular season.