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Rumors Of Driver's Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated

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Rumors Of Driver's Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated

Yesterday, as I watched the thrilling match between the United States and Brazil, I had a bit of an impromptu Packers question and answer session with my followers on Twitter.

I wanted to highlight one question in particular:

whats drivers role this year?

My response:

Same as it ever was. Last year was a fluke - you watch. Big bounce back.

I know this may surprise some people, but I firmly believe Driver is in line to have a a lot of balls thrown his way, especially early in the season.

Look, is Driver getting older? Of course. Did he have a number of alarming drops last year during a season where he was dinged up throughout? Absolutely.

But there simply is not a player on the Packers roster who takes better care of himself physically than Driver. Couple that with the time he's been allowed to be away from the game due to the lockout and I think we'll see a refreshed and rejuvenated Driver whenever whatever is going to pass for training camp arrives.

Don't discount Driver's experience in McCarthy's offense coupled with the likely departure of James Jones. Yes, Jordy Nelson will no doubt step up and get a lot of the looks that Rodgers was giving Jones. And I know fans think Randall Cobb is just going to step in and be the second coming of Percy Harvin.

Unfortunately, this isn't Madden where you can just plug a guy into the lineup and keep humming along at near optimum efficiency. The loss of the offseason and what is looking like a truncated training camp will put Cobb way, way behind in terms of learning and knowing the offense. I wouldn't be surprised to learn McCarthy will have a handful of plays specifically for the rookie - but to expect Cobb to jump in cold and be a regular in the rotation just isn't a very realistic way of thinking.

Which brings me back to Driver. While I expect Jennings, Nelson and of course Finley to get a lot of looks, I suspect Driver will be used even more from the slot than ever before, especially on third downs. His experience in the offense couple with Rodgers' comfort with his abilities, knowing Driver will be where he is supposed to be will result in a much more productive output from the 13 year veteran than what we saw in 2010.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (22) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Oppy's picture

I would find it interesting to see DD and Finley used interchangeably in 3wr, 1TE sets...

It would be an interesting wrinkle, watching J-Mike and DD go in motion and switch positions after the defense has tipped their hand a bit.. I think DD has proven over the years he's plenty physical enough to play over the shallow middle and Finley has proven he can play split out...

MKEPanther's picture

Is it just me, or are truly great slot receivers like Driver a dieing breed?

I'd agree that talks of his demise are premature. He may never top 1,000 yards again but that's more due to the fact that there's only one football to go around. Still attracts plenty of attention.

And he looks like he'll do a sit-up now and then.

Tarynfor 12's picture

No doubt DD will be part of the offense.He'll get his targeted number of passes early but he will sooner than later become a situation decoy more than anything.

I think the speed in which teams,due to time restraints after the CBA is approved concerning FA,Jones will be kept with the full intent of moving DD toward pasture.

All things come to a close and the heart strings being plucked in the defense of DD won't bring any tears to TT or MM while they move forward.

I'm not a super fan of Jones but,if I had to make a choice between Jones and Driver as to the teams best option for progress...Jones stays and plays.

Oppy's picture

I think the difference between DD and most other aging players that have been led to pasture by MM & TT is that Donald Driver's influence and play-making ability isn't limited to on the field.

All of these young, coming-of-age WR's on what is being heralded as the best overall WR corps in the league have learned their craft, and perhaps more importantly, their work ethic, from Donald Driver. That's straight from their own mouths.

Simply put, even if Donald's on the field production wanes, which someday it will, he is such a cornerstone on which the WR corps. success is built on, he will more than likely be kept on the roster even if only as the 5th WR..IMO.

I think DD is one of the few current Packers players who will truly have the luxury of deciding for himself when he's done playing for the Green and Gold.

aussiepacker's picture

Couldn't agree more. He seems to be such a level headed person and a prime roll model for anyone. Which can be rare from the WR position.

PackersRS's picture

agree with that, but not for $4MI. Sure, if I'm not mistaken, his contract is due for $2MI in 2012.

But still, you don't know TT if you think he'll pay that kind of money for a #5 WR.

Good or bad, that's how TT works. It's not that he won't overpay for his own guys, because he will. But he will not grossly overpay for very little production.

Of course, we have Poppinga and Chillar proving me wrong, so...

Tarynfor 12's picture

I'm sure Edgar Bennett is happy to know that MM and TT will not blame him for any miscues at the WR positions such as drops,missed routes etc.All success/failure of the WR position will undoubtedly be awarded to Donald Driver.

I get the locker room leader,veteran guy,setting an example but it doesn't replace good coaching which is what enhances and fine tunes the ability or enable one to see there isn't the ability.

So this WR corps would shatter without him?Sorry,thats too much stock to buy.

Oppy's picture

I don't think the WR's would disappear without Donald Driver- he's instilled so much into Jennings, Jones, and Nelson that it would definitely linger on.

With that being said, it's near undeniable that this young corps of WRs would not have been shaped the way they are if not for DD's tutelage, if only for his work ethic alone. Intangibles- hard to quantify and put a value on by definition, but obvious and sorely missed when absent.

spiderpack's picture

Oppy I couldn't agree with you more, you are brilliant in this regard. DD's influence here is obvious rather than intangible, and Jennings' spirit carries it on. Now, I think Cobb will take over in that regard within a year. But DD will soar a bit this year and return again for one more. The 7b round pick in 1999 has a killer year left in him, and we'll remember how fearless he is, and Cobb will soak it all up to fuel our future enjoyment.

Mel's picture

Sorry Tarynfor 12 but Jones is going to get big money from a team and the packers will not be able to pay him. DD will be there waiting for a pass. Teams can't double everyone and DD will open for the route!!! GO PACK GO

MarkinMadison's picture

The assumed depature of JJ = more opportunities. The reports of his devotion to taking care of his body compare to Jerry Rice, who played a 21 freaking years, and even went over 1,000 yards in 2 of his last 5 and 3 of his last 9. Driver's only put in 12 years. So he and the Packers can keep chugging along together - as long as the money's right, and other players are developing. Nothing against Driver, but over the long haul he should be the #3 WR (not counting the TE).

foundinidaho's picture

DD will be back strong. No doubt about it. How glad I am that he is a Packer.

john driscoll austin texas's picture

projecting 750-800 yds. 45-55 catches....4-6 td's...no matter what happens, im happy to have been at the last 49ers game and arguably the best single play of his stellar career...he's been a very good player, good with the fans, tough...Packer Hall Of Fame shoo-in..

aussiepacker's picture

If DD pulls them stats for the year it will definately lead to more W's than L's.

AJKUHN's picture

If Donald Driver is at the bottom of your receiver pile, thats a pretty good pile.

Franklin Hillside's picture

Quickie Keeps Playing

By Donald Driver
Illustrated by Joe Groshek

fishandcrane's picture

I expect Cobb to jump in cold and be a regular in the rotation.

Ruppert's picture

Double D. Love the heart. Love the drive. Love the work ethic. Love that enormous grin when he was showing off his ring! Love everything about the guy. I think he does bounce back--big.

And I just can't get enough of the word "truncated," either. More!

andrewgarda's picture

Every year he's counted out. every year he produces. Last year was a down year, should do better this year.

PackersRS's picture

The problem IMHO wasn't just last year.

At the end of 2009, you could definitely see that he was worn down. He started dropping balls that otherwise he would catch with ease.

There was even a freakish int in the AZ game where he dropped the ball (not a good throw by AR, but very catchable for DD) and it bounced on his foot.

So that's not just a fluky year IMHO.

I don't think he's done by any means, I just think he needs to have counted snaps early on (given the depth at the position) so we can use DD in his fullest later in the season.

Or, as MM undoubtedly will, utilize DD depending on mismatches, which won't happen every game.

Either way, maybe I'm being pessimistic and drawing too much conclusion out his past performance, but I just think DD doesn't have a full tank for a full season, but does have enough left to be a difference maker in a sprint.

lebowski's picture

Anyone doubting Driver need only go back and watch that TD against San Fran last year where he pretty much ran around, through, and over their entire secondary on the way to the endzone.

ceallaigh's picture

Think he will serve a dual purpose...able WR and also a mentor for Cobb who, in my opinion, will one day assume Driver's role in the offense. And to anyone who think he's over the hill and washed up, go rewatch the game against the 49's. Does that look like a geezer that needs to hang up his cleats?

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