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Donald Driver To The Rescue

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Donald Driver To The Rescue

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.

Enter Driver.

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.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackersRS's picture

IMHO 2 components have factored in Driver's "ressurgence".

Teams have been reluctant to play more man coverage. That has helped the old man. He doesn't get much separation, but he's one of the best zone beaters on this team.

And he's catching everything thrown at him. Everything.

packeraaron's picture

Very much so on both counts.

dullgeek's picture

Did you mean "de jure" when you said "de facto" when referring to Driver as the starter?

I take Driver as the starter in name only, while Nelson has been the starter in terms of actual production. As a result I would call Nelson the "de facto" starter while Driver is the "de jure" starter.

But perhaps you meant what you wrote and I just misunderstood?

packeraaron's picture

You are 100 percent correct. Fixing. Thanks.

PackersRS's picture

What is a starter in the NFL nowadays? Does it really matter, other than in some contracts?

Evan's picture

Outside of quarterback, o-line and, I suppose, some DBs, "starting" doesn't mean much of anything anymore.

dullgeek's picture

Does it not mean much of anything in GB because they're so loaded at WR? Does it mean something different on teams that are thinner at these positions?

Jim Hurly's picture

I thought you meant dejavu. I wonder if Tori Gurley will be elevated to the active roster.

Ken's picture

The genuine love between the man and the crowd felt when his name is introduced with the starters at Lambeau is unmistakable.

Donald Driver thrives when the temps drop.

Point Packer's picture

My favorite Packer of all time. Great guy on and off the field. More than you can say of a certain former QB named Burt.

The Pack will be fine without Jennings.

Aaron Rodgers Mustache's picture

+1
he had a great game in the loss to the giants in one of the coldest games on record. 90? yard score off of play action?

Ken's picture

Despite the result, a play for all time. Think of his legacy had they won that game?

TM's picture

Greg Bedard pointed this out on twitter: "Word of caution for Packers fan re: Jennings' MCL sprain, Patriots had 3 this year (hernandez, Mayo, Spikes)...Spikes isn't back yet, but took Hernandez and Mayo 2-3 games after return to get near former production." (Both players missed 2 games).

Aaron Rodgers Mustache's picture

That is why we are lucky he has nearly 5 weeks to heal. He will be rusty but fine when he gets back.

PackersRS's picture

Lighter players supposedly heal faster than heavier ones.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Well the Pats are a bunch of pussy's... That's all that tells me. Hope they meet us in Indy... Fully healthy.

GBP 4 LIFE

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Greg Jennings kicked Chuck Norris' ass. He'll be fine.

Jim's picture

Love both these comments Fitz, made me laugh.

Austin Auch's picture

I really think we will see Finley finally have some big games too. With Jennings down, it is now or never for this guy if he wants to get payed.

bleedsgreen's picture

Agree 100% with Driver.
That said, there's someone else that needs mentioning:

“James [Jones] is extremely talented and he’s a guy that I think we need to bring back without a doubt.” Aaron Rodgers, July 26, 2011.

The Packers are almost criminally loaded, even when their #1 goes down. They will be better than fine, given an opportunity to test the other possibilities with this juggernaut. All that's left is to hope for GJ's healthy recuperation - get him one of those hyperbaric chambers or something :)

maxginsberg's picture

I say Randall Cobb benefits the most from Jennings' absence; he's the only other Packers receiver who can run after the catch like Jennings.

MarkinMadison's picture

I'm just not sure if Cobb has the offense down well enough to say that he will benefit. I'm also not sure if DD has enough speed to really make teams pay if they take away Nelson while playing a man scheme, and everyone seems to agree on that one. I'm a little pessimistic about Finley stepping up and being the answer, given that teams are already adjusting for him anyway. So I'm thinking that James Jones needs to fill the hole now. Big time.

John's picture

Markin, enjoy the ride. You're wayyyyyyyyyy to paranoid

Mr. Red's picture

I'm hesitant to call the Greg Jennings "a blessing in disguise" because even that is too harsh for the stellar Packer, but I do think some positive things can result.

Much like the Finley injury last year prompted Rodgers to reexamine the offense and its weapons, GJ's absence can do the same. Rodgers is a cerebral QB that I think needs new challenges to keep "the Edge" to use Top Gun parlance.

When Greg Jennings returns, he could be reentering an offense even more deadly than it is now, as difficult as that is too believe.

Majik Man's picture

Shoulda seen my mouth drop open when I saw that Giants receiver get a big first down, get up, and do the Driver "shiver". Guess it's not just our TD celebrations getting ripped off, anymore. Everyone loves the Packers but the media...

NoWayJose's picture

Does it seems like Driver has kind of pulled back on the "shiver" a little lately?

I feel like used to shiver it up and then kind of lunge forward with his arm to signal the first down. Now, he just seems to shiver, with no lunge and arm movement?

Maybe saving those up for the big moments?

Packers Fan in Atlanta's picture

I had the same reaction...

Oppy's picture

As big of a target/weapon Jennings is, I actually *do* think the offense will go on without missing a beat.

as I posted on Jersey Al's blog yesterday, temporarily rolling with Nelson #1, Driver/Jones #2a & 2b, and Randall Cobb at #4 is still the best WR corps in the NFL.

If the rumors come to fruition and Toni Gurley is promoted to the active roster, that's just icing on the cake.

Will miss Greg and hope he returns sooner than later, but I think this clock keeps on ticking without missing a beat.

davyjones's picture

Opposing teams simply won't know where the next strike will hit. Jennings was kind of the go to guy in this offense. This actually may make us more diverse and perhaps a little harder to scheme for. I love the fact that Cobb and Jones get to show a little more with a higher snap count.

If there is a silver lining in Jennings' injury--and I wish for him a speedy recovery--it's that it could be very, very fun to watch the "new" O unfold.

Michael7843853's picture

I wonder how the old timers will perform if we get some really cold weather? There is no doubt that the cold affects us more as we get old.

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