When wide receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones went down, followed by tight end Jermichael Finley, the Packers passing offense appeared in shambles.
Who would Aaron Rodgers throw to? Would the Packers have to completely switch gears and become a rushing dominate team?
But the Packers came out against the Browns and the Vikings and didn’t stop passing. Rodgers and his receivers appeared, in both games, to not skip a beat.
Much credit was given to Ted Thompson and his ability to find talent that can step up. Rodgers also received much praise. CheeseheadTV contributor, Andrew Garda tweeted:
Not to take away from Randall Cobb and James Jones but we saw last night that as long as you have #12, your Wrs are replaceable.
— Andrew Garda (@Andrew_Garda) October 28, 2013
Rodgers is playing lights out, some of the throws he completed Sunday night demonstrated precious and skill that is light years ahead of much of the rest of the NFL. With only 3 players on the current roster having played a regular season game with a different NFL team, Thompson deserves much credit for finding the right players.
But one key component to the receiving consistency has been over looked, wide receivers coach, Edgar Bennett.
Bennett, a former Packers running back, has been with the Packers staff since 2001 when he headed the player development program. He officially joined the coaching staff as running backs coach in 2005. He moved to wide receivers coach after the 2010 season.
The Packers receiving corps have been a vastly talented group. Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, are all big name players. Coaching a group of players who come in with a high talent level often causes a coach to be overlooked.
But now Bennett has a group of lesser known names. Jarrett Boykin, Myles White and Chris Harper.
Jarrett Boykin went undrafted out of college. One scout said that Boykin had inconsistent hands and was neither creative nor elusive after the catch. He ran a slower 4.71 40 yard dash at the combine. The Jacksonville Jaguars cut Boykin after a three day minicamp. Jarrett Boykin didn’t appear to have a bright NFL future ahead of him.
Myles White played college ball with three different teams. After being suspended by Michigan State his freshmen year, White spent time with community college Northwest Mississippi State before moving on to Louisiana Tech. White was not invited to the combine and was undrafted and signed to the Packers practice squad after training camp.
In the game against the Ravens, after Cobb and Jones left the game, Boykin struggled to fit into the offense. He was targeted 6 times and had 1 catch. But when it was clear that Jones and Cobb would be out for a period of time, Boykin stepped up. In the Browns game, he was targeted 10 times with 8 receptions and on Sunday night he was targeted 6 times with 5 receptions.
Both Boykin and White have been crucial to the Packers passing offense in the previous two games, accounting for 43% of the total receiving yards. Over the last two games, the Packers wide receiving corps have been targeted 39 times and caught 31 of those throws.
The receiving trio of Boykin, White and Nelson is a group not used to working together. Boykin and White spent the majority of training camp and preseason catching passes from backup quarterbacks. Yet the group appears to be staying cohesive. Neither Boykin nor White are making a viable case to replace Cobb or Jones as starters, but they are making what could be a difficult situation manageable.
Of course they have one of the best quarterbacks in the game throwing to them. But Edgar Bennett also must receive some credit for coaching these players up. Bennett coached Boykin from a player who couldn’t convince a team that only won 5 games that he was worth their time to a major contributor on the team. Bennett coached White up from a practice squad player to one that has played on 107 of 154 offensive snaps in the last two weeks.
Both Boykin and White deserve credit for their roles, as do Aaron Rodgers and Ted Thompson, but let’s not overlook Edgar Bennett.
Jayme Snowden is a feature writer at CheeseheadTV and a contributor to Today’s TMJ4. She also co-hosts CheeseheadRadio, part of the Packers Talk Radio Network at Packertalk.com. You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or email at [email protected].
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