Donald Driver: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card
1) Introduction: After completing his 13th season with the Packers, Donald Driver knows his career is in its final years. There is speculation about him being released by Green Bay before next season, especially with the current depth and youth of the receiving corps. Still, he has been a staple for this offense for most of his professional career. As it stands, he is the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions (735) and receiving yards (10,060), putting him in the same company as James Lofton, Antonio Freeman, and Sterling Sharpe.
Donald Jerome Driver
Weight: 194 lbs.
Career Stats: http://www.packers.com/team/roster/Donald-Driver/235d2adb-c2f3-4a11-9b5b-ec7e506087e0
3) Expectations coming into the season: If you go by the official depth chart, Donald Driver was second only to Greg Jennings; however, many assumed this would be in title only. At his age, one could only expect a moderate level of production, especially with the threat of an injury similar to what he suffered last season.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: In 2011, Donald Driver became the first Packer with 10,000 career receiving yards, breaking James Lofton’s 1986 record of 9,656 yards. One of his biggest plays on the highlight reel was a sideline touchdown catch against the New York Giants on December 4th, giving the Packers an 8-point lead with only three and a half minutes to go in the game. The low point this year for Donald Driver was essentially the first half of the season. His snap counts declined steadily and from Week 2 to Week 8, he never topped 25 yards in a game and only accounted for 3 first downs and two touchdowns.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: “Old Reliable” would be an accurate nickname for Donald Driver this season. Well beyond his prime, his production in 2011 was the lowest it’s been since 2001, when he was in his third season. He broke the 50-yard mark in only 3 of the year’s 17 games and was under 20 yards in 8 of them. However, his veteran reliability in the later half of the season was a welcome relief from some of the mistakes being made by other receivers. Though his workload was scaled back, it’s clear Donald Driver still has some football left in him.
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: It was interesting to watch the reaction of fans on Twitter when Donald Driver caught his first pass of the game. It was the first drive of the second half, and most people were already sick with how the game was playing out. Then, when Driver catches the ball for a 16-yard gain on third down, you could instantly read the unanimous tweets of “Thank God we still have DD.” Though he was invisible for the first two quarters, Driver showed up in a couple big situations the remainder of the game. He ended up with a total of 3 catches for 2 first downs and a touchdown, and gave fans at least some glimmer of hope for the offense.
Season Report Card:
(B-) Level of expectations met during the season
(C+) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(A-) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade for the year: B-——————Follow @ChadToporski