Green Bay Packers have been wasting talented Wr jennings
Green Bay Packers have been wasting one of their most potent offensive weapons in Greg Jennings
Unlike many of his teammates, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings has managed to stay healthy this season, although you would never know it based on his meager statistics.
Jennings ranks fourth on the team with 14 catches for 183 yards, including a combined six receptions for 65 yards in the last three games.
That kind of limited production isn’t what the Packers or Jennings had in mind when he signed a four-year, $26.885 million contract in June 2009.
Is it any wonder the offense is struggling when its No. 1 receiver has been largely forgotten?
Jennings is on pace to catch 45 passes for 586 yards, which would be his worst pro season.
This is the same player who caught 80 passes for 1,292 yards in 2008, and added 1,113 receiving yards last year. Jennings led the NFL with 21 catches of 40-plus yards from 2007-’09, but his longest reception this season is for 32 yards.
The Packers’ inability to exploit one of their most potent offensive weapons is puzzling, and it doesn’t appear to be Jennings’ fault.
He continues to run good routes and hasn’t lost any speed. He is tied for the team lead with three touchdown passes, an indication he still possesses all the skills necessary to gash defenses for big plays.
He’s simply not getting the ball enough. In a league where the primary goal should be to allow playmakers to work their magic, the Packers have come up woefully short in giving Jennings opportunities to succeed.
During a Monday meeting the Packers’ coaching staff talked specifically about how to get Jennings more involved in the offense.
“We’re certainly aware of his ability and his playmaking skill,” said offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. “We need to get him the football.
“He’s not a distant thought in our progression or in our game planning ideas.”
Yet on game days over the past month, Jennings has been a stranger to the football. Since a five-catch, 82-yard performance in the season opener against Philadelphia, Jennings has become an afterthought. His totals in the four games since are anemic: 3 catches for 36 yards vs. Buffalo; 2 for 18 vs. Chicago; 2 for 25 vs. Detroit; and 2 for 22 vs. Washington.
Jennings declined to speak to reporters last week. If that was an indication he isn’t happy about the situation, who could blame him?
“He doesn’t do a lot of complaining or moaning about the fact, at least not to me,” said Packers receivers coach Jimmy Robinson. “Is he frustrated? My guess would be he may be a little frustrated by it just because he’s competitive and he wants to contribute.”
Jennings was open more than once against the Redskins on Sunday but quarterback Aaron Rodgers chose other options. Even after tight end Jermichael Finley suffered a game-ending injury on the second offensive play, Jennings was mostly ignored. He was targeted just four times, which ranked behind Donald Driver (8), James Jones (8), Brandon Jackson (6), Andrew Quarless (6) and Jordy Nelson (5).
“We’re not set up to feed any one guy,” said Robinson. “We like all our guys. Every one of them is capable of being productive.”
But not every one of them is making nearly $7 million a year and capable of changing the complexion of a game like Jennings.
If ordering Rodgers to feed Jennings the ball is what it takes, then the Packers should make it happen. Simply moving Jennings around in offensive formations, as coach Mike McCarthy said the team is doing, isn’t enough.
The Packers need to get the ball in Jennings’ hands. Failing to do so this season has been a terrible waste of talent, and the offense is suffering because of it. Mike Vandermause is sports editor of the Press-Gazette
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday it was possible that tight end Jermichael Finley will miss the rest of the season because of a right knee injury. Based on Finley's Twitter account, that decision might already have been made.