In the next two weeks, I’m going to take a look at the 10 most important players for the Green Bay Packers in the 2009 NFL season. They may not be the best players, but their roles have a distinct impact on how far the team can go.
In 2008, Donald Driver finally ceded the title of Packers No. 1 receiver to the young and up-and-coming Greg Jennings. Some said that Driver’s age was finally catching up with him. Others said that it was because Aaron Rodgers favored Jennings, while Driver was Brett Favre‘s favorite receiver. All of this being said, Driver still produced in 2008, with 74 receptions for 1,012 yards and five touchdowns. He only crested the 100-yard mark in two games during the season.
Although the Packers have stabled some quality receivers with youth, none of those receivers seem as if they are ready to take over the reigns right now. James Jones disappeared for the second half of 2007 and most of 2008. Ruvell Martin has been inconsistent while his size (6’4″) makes him very intriguing. Jordy Nelson has size and speed, but still needs work before he can step into a legitimate No. 2 spot.
Any of these receivers (or any of the others on Green Bay’s roster) could step up and make me eat my words, but as of right now, the Packers need Driver to bridge the gap from now to when one of the younger receivers can step up and replace him.
Driver provides an experienced security blanket for Rodgers. On third down plays, Driver seems to be the go-to guy, always at the marker. Driver provides the perfect complement for Jennings. While Jennings goes deep, Driver can slip into the middle and move the offense slowly but surely. Countless times during the season, he sits in the middle of a zone, catching ball after ball, helping the offense.
If Driver doesn’t play up to his talent and his age starts to show, the offense is in trouble. Jennings is an outstanding receiver, but he can’t do it all on his own. He’s going to start seeing the No. 1 corner from the opposing defense and more frequent double teams. Rodgers and the offense need Driver to be on his game to relieve this pressure. Sure, Martin, Jones, and Nelson have the potential to help, but right now, it’s on Driver. If he can do whatever it takes to help the offense I’m sure there will still be the great production there was in 2007 and 2008. If age catches up, the offense could be in trouble.