Are the Packers starring in Groundhog Day?
Every year, it seems, the storyline repeats itself; the Packers have a lot of injuries.
This weekend when the Packers take the field versus the Browns, the team will look very different from the one fielded week one. With Randall Cobb out for at least 8 weeks after being placed on the Injured Reserve List with the designated to return tag, and James Jones likely also out – a scoop mentioned by CheeseheadTV’s Aaron Nagler on Packer Transplants – the Packers could be missing two key offensive weapons.
What will the Packers do without their second and third ranked wide receivers?
For answers, one only has to look back to the 2012 season. Throughout the year, both Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson missed extended playing time. While there were more receivers on the roster last year, therefore more people to step up; the Packers handled the injuries in a clear way.
When the Packers hosted the Jaguars on October 28, 2012, they were without both Jennings and Nelson. The absence was noticeable, the Packers offense was limited to only 238 total yards, against a defense that game up an average of 380 yards per game.
The Packers, and Aaron Rodgers, relied heavily on three players that day. James Jones, Randall Cobb and Alex Green each played over 75% of offensive snaps. While it’s not uncommon for three players to play a lot of snaps in a base formation, they also accounted for 72% of receiving yards and nearly 80% of the total offensive yards. Out of the 35 throws from Rodgers that day, the main trio were targeted 22 times, compared to the 13 targets spread out to 5 other players.
In 2012, when missing two wide receivers, the Packers offense shrunk and focused on three main players.
This season is not last season. The Packers now have an actual running game, one that has been racking up far more than the 66 yards gained in the game against the Jaguars. This year, instead of relying on Jones and Cobb, they are looking to replace them.
But will the strategy be the same? Fill the field with replacements, but turn to the people Rodgers and the Packers know. Will this year’s trio be: Nelson, Finley and rookie Eddie Lacy? Will Jarrett Boykin, Johnathan Franklin, newly promoted Myles White and the tight ends be required to produce 30% of the offense and the trio provide the rest?
Jones’s status for Sunday’s game is yet to be determined as the Packers will begin practicing for the Browns game on Wednesday and official injury reports are yet to be released. But if the Packers are without both Jones and Cobb, keeping the offense in the hands of proven playmakers, ones who have a history with Aaron Rodgers, might be the best way to go. Signs from last year point in that direction.
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 Jaymelee1@gmail.com.