The Packers Should Release Donald Driver
I hope I am wrong about every single point I make in this post. I hope sometime in the future, a commenter on this site or a blogger on another site uses this post to highlight how big of an idiot I am. I hope at some point next season, I have to warm up a big ‘ol plate of crow and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then re-heat it for a midnight snack.
NEWSFLASH: Donald Driver to compete on the next “Dancing with the Stars.”
I think the Packers should release Donald Driver. Not re-structure his contract or ask him to take a pay cut. Release him.
It’s time to move on and give more snaps to Randall Cobb or another young player not yet on the active roster.
I just slapped myself for writing that, but I believe it to be true.
I’ve heard several arguments in recent weeks highlighting why the Packers should keep Driver. I want to agree with them, but I cant. Here are some of those arguments and why they’re wrong:
The Packers need Driver’s leadership.
It’d be great to have Driver in the locker room, but here’s the thing about leadership that most fans don’t realize: If the teammates you’re trying to lead sense that you don’t have it any more, your effectiveness as a leader diminishes. It gets worse if teammates feel that you’re taking snaps from a younger, more deserving player, just because of your status as a “leader.” (Also, why can’t Greg Jennings assume that leadership role?)
Driver showed he can still play last season, but he rarely matched up against the other team’s top defensive backs. Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley drew most of the defense’s attention. Is Driver still the Packers best option to exploit mismatches against linebackers or inferior dime backs? Or would Randall Cobb, James Jones or an upstart player not yet on the roster fare better in that role?
The Packers need to go with the latter option.
Driver was the only WR to show up in the playoff loss to the Giants.
That’s true. It’s also true that roster decisions should not be based on one game.
The Giants covered Driver with a linebacker all day. Any NFL receiver should make a few plays when consistently matched against a linebacker. I’m not trying to diminish Driver’s performance — he can’t control who guards him — but we need to look at the big picture.
Professional sports is littered with athletes who cashed in based off one or two strong performances in the postseason. Driver isn’t strictly a postseason darling, but that doesn’t mean his most recent playoff performance should carry extra weight while the Packers determine his future.
Driver does so much for the community, cutting him would be bad PR.
Yes, it would be bad PR. But there aren’t many successful general managers who heavily factor in public relations when making roster decisions. Ted Thompson has, ahem, previous experience in making unpopular decisions that might negatively affect the Packers’ image. The Packers came out OK after that particular situation.
Thompson has one job to do: Consistently put a winning football team on the field. That’s the best PR any franchise can get.
You’re not going to find many players easier to cheer for than Donald Driver. It’ll be weird not seeing him do his shimmy after a big catch or flash his smile when the TV cameras find him on the sideline.
I actually thought Driver was done when he took a direct hit to his knee against Denver last season. I was at the game and cringed watching him get carted back to the locker room. Vic Ketchman even came on the big screen during halftime to tell us that Driver definitely would not return to the game.
A couple minutes after Vic’s declaration, Driver trotted onto the field and warmed up for the second half. Later in the half, he caught a touchdown right in front of my section. It was Driver’s way of telling us that he wasn’t going to go out that easily.
I know Driver wants the opportunity to deliver that same message next season. I just don’t think it’s in the Packers best interest to give it to him.
(UPDATE: Apparently Donald Driver is set to appear on Dancing With the Stars. How will his shimmy score with the judges? Will he leap into the crowd after nailing a difficult move?)——————