Which Green Bay Packer Benefits Most from Jennings’ Absence?

With Jennings out 2-3 weeks, it is time for the "next man up."

Green Bay Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy announced Monday that wide receiver Greg Jennings has a knee sprain and will miss a couple of weeks. Suffering the knee injury against the Oakland Raiders, Jennings has a great chance to make it back for the playoffs. In his absence, the Packers will rely on Jermichael Finley and other playmakers to fill the void.

No stranger to injuries, the Packers will need to overcome the loss of Jennings in order to close out the regular season with continued momentum. With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Packers just need to win one game or have the 49ers lose once to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

With Jennings’ absence, plenty of different Packers will get increased opportunities over the next three weeks. The Packers use more formations than most teams in the league, and you can bet that will continue to be the case going forward.

Benefitting most from the success that Jennings has had this season, Jordy Nelson has had his finest year as a pro. Nelson leads the team in yardage with 957 yards on 51 catches. Nelson also has a team-high 10 touchdowns.

With Jennings out of action, Nelson will assuredly become the focus of opposing defenses. It may be more challenging for Nelson to find the same success while  likely facing safety help on many plays.

Donald Driver should see an increase in snaps over the next few weeks. The old man receiver is dying to prove he still has something left in the tank. Driver has played exceptionally well over the last two weeks with a total of eight catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers will need Driver to not only maintain his level of production, but increase it.

James Jones and Randall Cobb will also see their snaps increase on offense. Jones, who has been the forgotten man at times, has put up solid numbers with 479 yards and five touchdowns. The dynamic rookie Cobb, has also shown he has potential to be quite the receiver if given the opportunity.

While the snaps will increase for all the wide receivers, the player that will benefit most from Jennings’ absence is Jermichael Finley. Before Finley was injured early last season, the Packers offense was built around the match-up nightmare tight end. When Finley went down, Jennings stepped up and became the focus. The reverse will take place over the next three weeks.

Through Week 14, Finley has been targeted 69 times second behind only Jennings (101) and Nelson (70). This season with Jennings as the primary focus of the Packers passing attack, Finley is averaging 5.3 targets per game.

In the four complete games that Finley played last season, he was targeted 26 times for an average of 6.5 targets per game. During the stretch as the primary weapon, Finley caught 21 passes for 301 yards and a touchdown. Over the same stretch, Jennings caught 12 passes for just 161 yards, but did find the end zone three times.

While it is clear that Finley is more than capable of producing at any extremely high level, he has struggled to live up to expectations this season. He has had issues holding onto the ball and has been criticized for speaking his mind regarding a lack of chemistry with Aaron Rodgers.

Finley wants to be paid like a top tight end in the NFL and will have one last chance to showcase why he is deserving of a big payday. With every drop and poorly run route, Finley is hurting his value in future negotiations with the team.

As his targets increase, Finley is fully capable of helping the Packers offense not miss a beat while Jennings rehabs his knee. If he can get his act together over the next three weeks, Finley will benefit in a big way from Jennings’ absence.

Editor’s note: Michael Dulka will be appearing on these pages as a guest writer for the next few months. Please join me in welcoming him along for what we hope is another magical ride to the Super Bowl…  -  Jersey Al




Michael is a sports writer currently attending Seattle University. You can follow Michael on Twitter .


19 Responses to “Which Green Bay Packer Benefits Most from Jennings’ Absence?”

  1. Zach Kruse Zach Kruse says:

    Welcome again, Michael. Certainly, Finley has the opportunity over the next three weeks to make himself some big bucks this offseason.

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  2. Mr. Bacon Mr. Bacon says:

    Jennings himself.

    Gets his right leg a chance to rest a bit, while the left heals up. As for the others benefiting, well I guess it’s just like the Packers philosophy… No one man bigger than anyone else… at least on the receiving core.

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  3. Marco Santos says:

    FAMMMMMM!!! i see you!! keep this shit up

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  4. Dan says:

    Here’s to Jennings recovery and being 100% for the playoffs. Meanwhile, I’m glad Cobb gets a chance at more snaps. The more experience this kid gets, the better. He’s an awsome weapon in the open field. He just needs to fine tune his craft and the extra experience will help.

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  5. Ron LC says:

    #1 Finley, if he can catch the ball with his hands. After reviewing the Int. in the end zone multiple times it was apparent that the ball slipped through his hands and was forced against his chest. That allowed the DB to get his hands on the ball and secure it. Stop doing that and there’s a big chance that you’ll be getting a nice big pay check.

    #2 James Jones If he contines at his current level of enthusiasm, he could be the # 2 target behind Jordy. If I’m not mistaked, he only signed a 1 year deal with the Pack. He, too, could help himself out as well.

    Just keep Jennings on a rest regemin and hope he’ll be back for the playoffs.

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  6. Mojo says:

    Cobb will benefit the most. He has the highest completion percentage based on targeted passes. He’s kind of built like Jennings and I think A-Rod is going to want to take a look at his new toy and see what he can do. Also, I see Cobb running more of the slants that will become in vogue, as McCarthy instructs A-Rod to dump off the ball quicker for these last 3 games.

    Finley will be number two beneficiary . DD next, then JJ and last Jordy. Now this isn’t the order of who gets the most ball thrown to him, just the person who benefits the most.

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  7. Bubbaloo says:

    “Which Green Bay Packer Benefits Most from Jennings’ Absence?”
    Masthay will likely get more work, if that’s what you meant, but I don’t think anyone really gains.
    The obvious answer would be Finley and/or Cobb, but I don’t agree with Zach that Finley stands to gain big financially. I think Finley has made his bed, whether or not he stays to sleep in it is anyone’s guess.

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    • Zach Kruse Zach Kruse says:

      You don’t think three big games from Finley with Jennings out could influence 1. How much the Packers are willing to pay for him long term and 2. How much another team could potentially drive up his cost? There’s always something to gain financially.

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  8. Lucas says:

    I prefer to answer who I want to benefit most. I want GB to exploit Cobb. I want the old 5 wides w/o Finley (after Greg’s return) to put even more tape out there for D-coordinators to go crazy over. I want him to be on the field more to gain the experience needed to be proficient in this offense.

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  9. Wagszilla says:

    It’s going to either be Ryan Taylor or DJ Williams.

    Reason #1 being the injury to Jennings and Quarless. I think we’ll see more of the TEs in the offense, especially the “Panther” set.

    Reason #2 being Jermichael Finley’s contract situation. Ted is going to want to take his horses out of the stable and see if he’s got bonafide thoroughbreds or has to send these guys off to make glue with. Finley’s got the pedigree but isn’t performing like it. Their performances will factor into the organizations’ decision about 88.

    Reason #3 being the run game. Gotta run the football to preserve leads, chew clock, help give Aaron time, and keep the Play-Action strong. The Packers showed in 2010 that a run game isn’t entirely necessary to be successful but it certainly would make this offense even more dynamic and provide Packers fans with a little comfort with the wintery conditions on their way.

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  10. [...] All Green Bay Packers is wondering Which Green Bay Packer Benefits Most from Jennings’ Absence? [...]

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  11. Adam Czech says:

    Cobb. Any time a rookie can get some additional snaps with the best QB in the league, it’s good for his long-term development.

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  12. RaiderNation says:

    That’s what Jennings gets for trying to mess with the Raiders. Jennings ain’t puttin nothing on “his back” except an ice pack and a massage from his mama….

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  13. Zach Kruse Zach Kruse says:

    Liking some of the commenters pick of Randall Cobb. I think he was due to get a few more snaps a game with the Packers current playoff position. With Jennings out, why not get the rookie some important snaps? Never know how much he’ll be needed in the postseason..

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  14. Wagszilla says:

    Didn’t pick Cobb because he’s already an established guy and going to be moved up in the depth chart. It’s obvious.

    The organization loves him already. He’s secure. Sure he will see more snaps but I don’t know if he ‘benefits’ more than others. Sure the opportunity to grow and improve but he’s going to do that anyway.

    The question was “who benefits most” which I took to mean who will capitalize the most off of it. I don’t think I’m being picky with semantics than I am answering the question more directly and critically.

    One of the TEs like Taylor or Williams could make a real mark on the team and change the trajectory of their careers forever…

    My thoughts. =P

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