Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Greg Jennings Will Probably Miss The Bears Game

The fact that WR Greg Jennings was unable to practice on the eve of their game against the Bears is probably a sign that he's not going to play. Mike McCarthy didn't rule him out, he's technically listed as doubtful, but usually players don't play if they miss the final practice of the week.

It's been a rough season so far for Jennings. He missed time during the preseason with a concussion, and now he's suffered a groin injury. In wondering whether the Packers will miss Jennings on Thursday night, I came across something odd from the season opener.

Jennings was targeted on 9 passes against the 49ers, which is about average for him, but Aaron Rodgers only attempted passes to five different receivers (Jennings, Jones, Nelson, Finley, and Cobb). That's really strange. Usually the other tight ends and running backs have a few passes thrown their way, but there were zero passes thrown to running or full backs against the 49ers (unless you consider Cobb a running back because he lined up in the backfield on several plays).

Just as an example, here's the box score from their playoff loss to the Giants, and Rodgers attempted passes to 11 different receivers. It's an advantage to have so many different receivers involved in the passing game, and attempting passes to only 5 different players doesn't seem the way to go. The Packers won't have more than 5 eligible receivers on the field at any given time, but mixing up the personnel and the look of the formation (some plays with multiple tight ends and fewer wide receivers) gives opposing defenses more to prepare for.

So if the Packers are reluctant (for some reason) to have more players involved as receivers, it puts more pressure on the other four receivers to get open because Jennings was targeted on over 20% of Rodgers's passes last Sunday. It's almost guaranteed that WR Donald Driver will have more than three snaps against the Bears, but with this apparently new strategy of involving fewer receivers, I would think Jennings's loss would hurt more than I expected.

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