Prior to the beginning of the 2011 season, I wrote that the rumors of Donald Driver’s demise had been greatly exaggerated. Well, I was wrong in that I thought Driver would feature much more early in the season – but it would seem Driver’s role has been expanding a bit the last few weeks. With Greg Jennings to most likely miss the remainder of the regular season, the Packers will no doubt look to expand the roles Driver, James Jones and Randall Cobb.
Driver has been the starter over Jordy Nelson, even though Nelson has started getting more snaps as the year has gone on. We have all seen the way Rodgers has looked for Nelson when teams have doubled Jennings and Jermichael Finley. With defenses no longer needing to keep a safety over Jennings, you can bet they will start turning their attention and coverage to Nelson.
Now, will the offense just continue on without missing a beat? Hardly. But Driver’s emergence, if that’s the right word, the last three weeks could not have come at a better time. I also think Randall Cobb will be featured a bit more, if only to get him in the flow of things prior to the playoffs.
The Packers are a rare team that I think can handle the loss of their number one receiver and keep putting up points. And unlike the Texans, who leaned on their league leading running game and defense when they’ve lost Andre Johnson a few times this year, I don’t expect the Packers to stop throwing the football and spreading the field. They may throw out of a few more power formations, putting two and three tight ends on the field but sending them out in pass patterns.
All in all, having a veteran like Donald Driver will help the offense weather this storm if only because of his knowledge of the offense coupled with Rodgers complete trust in where he’ll be and what he’ll do on any given play (Look no further than the play where Driver lost Raiders corner Stanford Routt on a shake route for 28 yards for evidence of this connection)
One goes down, another steps up, adjustments are made. That’s how McCarthy and his staff won a Super Bowl, and its how they’ll most likely win another one in February.