7

March

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations — Offense — Donald Driver

1.)Introduction: Before the start of the 2010 season, one would have thought Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver would have grown sick and tired of playoff heartbreak.

Two years after a nauseating loss at home to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship, Driver had to feel like vomiting after Aaron Rodgers sack and subsequent fumble was returned for a touchdown in overtime of last season’s NFC Wild Card against the Arizona Cardinals.

Still, as Driver always has, he came back and made sure he wouldn’t experience that again.  A 7th round draft pick in 1999 out of Alcorn St, Driver is used to having been counted out.  As he worked his way up the depth chart, Driver’s heart and determination along with his pure class off the field has turned the late round pick into a Packers legend.

Coming into 2010, Driver knew his window of opportunity to get a Super Bowl ring was closing but he felt like this team more than others he had played on gave him the best shot of finally fulfilling that dream.

2.) Profile:

Donald Jerome Driver

Position: WR
Height: 6-0    Weight: 188 lbs.

Born: February 2, 1975 in Houston, TX
College: Alcorn State (school history)
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 7th round (213th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft.

Weighted Career AV (100-95-…): 72 (544th overall since 1950)
3-time Pro Bowler (fine print)

3.) Expectations entering 2010 season: Driver has been a model of consistency, racking up over 1,000 yard each of the past six seasons and the same was expected of him again in 2010.   With tight end Jermichael Finley emerging as the league’s next superstar tight end, the Packers were expected to have quite a three-headed receiving monster of Finley, wide receiver Greg Jennings and Driver.

Driver did turn 35 this year but his work ethic in the weight room had many feel like his body was in the condition of someone much younger than he really was.  While injuries are always a threat, people had become accustomed to Driver answering the bell every week as he had missed only one start since 2003.

4.) Highlights/Lowlights: Driver’s entire career could basically be summed up in one single play that happened at home against the San Francisco 49ers in early December.  Driver’s 61 yard touchdown catch and run had the receiver changing directions and breaking more tackles than I could count.  His stubborn refusal to be brought down is a microcosm of his 12 year NFL career.

As for a lowlight, like a cloud that hung over the entire receiving corps, Driver suffered an occasional bout of the drops.  What made it even more stunning for Driver is that he has always been one of the most reliable pass catchers in the entire NFL, let alone on the Packers.

Driver also missed more playing time than he was used to this season due to injury.  None of his injuries were serious, but it definitely hurt him (and the Packers) when he was unable to return to Super Bowl XLV with an ankle injury.

5.) Contributions to the team’s overall success: If Charles Woodson was the locker room leader for the defense, then Driver was the unquestionable leader for the team on offense.  Even though he had a down year statistically, Driver’s leadership had a tremendous impact on the entire team.

As players continued to drop like flies due to injury, the veteran leadership of the Packers kept guys cool and focused on the ultimate prize while not feeling sorry for themselves.  Driver was definitely part of that group.

On the field, Driver still provided a reliable target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers despite his numbers not being what they normally are.  With his ability to go over the middle, Driver played a key role in Greg Jennings’ re-emergence following the loss of Finley for the season.

6). Contributions during the team’s six-game end-of-season run:  Driver was largely held in check during the Packers’ six-game run to the world championship, catching no touchdowns and averaging 42.3 yards through the air per game.  With Rodgers spreading the ball around to his receivers throughout the postseason as part of the Packers’ aggressive passing attack, it figured receivers could see their individual stats drop, but now that he has a Super Bowl ring Driver most certainly wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Season Report Card:

Level of expectations met during the season (C-)

Contributions to the team’s overall success (B)

Contributions to the team’s successful playoff run(B-)

Overall grade: C+

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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6 Responses to “Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations — Offense — Donald Driver”

  1. Tarynfor12 Taryn says:

    Almost impossible to say anything negative about DD and not get someones ire up but here goes.

    Leadership is at this moment of his career regretfully,all he can contribute in the future.Will it be enough to condone/mandate him playing in one of the top 3 WR spots next season?I will be first to say “NO” here.

    As much as performance in the weight may turn heads and lead to false beliefs,the injuries even if somewhat minor in diagnosis of them,are coming at a more increased constant where awarding him such a huge part in the offense,which has struggled,is/would be non-beneficial in the big picture.

    All too often we see the damage inflicted on a teams offense due to the lingering of one who believes himself to be immortal in football play and by those in position to stop it but haven’t the HEART to do what the BRAIN knows should.

    Will DD be a Packer next year,absolutely.Should DD himself speak honest and open to the coaches and push them in anyway possible to DRAFT a WR or TWO,absoluetly.Will he,probably not as he is HUMAN and is flawed when accepting he may not be as able or simply cannot.

    Please be kind as I may(?) not know what I say,as I’m sure someone will point out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • Kris Burke Kris Burke says:

      You’re saying what I was afraid to say in the eval. Driver’s body is beginning to catch up to him. He’s being eased into the number three WR position but I don’t expect him to overstay his welcome. I half expected him to retire after they won the Super Bowl.

      Still, the Packers are a young team. I’d love to see Driver as a coach when he’s done because the younger guys obviously respect and listen to him

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      it’s a hard thing to say, no doubt. Driver is an inspirational story and a fan favorite. But the body is wearing down and the injuries are more frequent and take longer to heal. I would say that TT HAS to draft a WR this year, but whenever we think we know what he will do, we’re usually wrong.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. John Rehor John Rehor says:

    My hope is that when the time is right, Driver knows to walk away and not become a shell of his former self ala Jerry Rice. He has his ring, and that alone could be enough, if he continues to decline, to walk away at the appropriate time. I agree, WR is a must draft position this year.

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