Looking Back At The Receivers: 2009 Season

My earlier article looked at the 2008 season for the receivers on the Green Bay Packers. Moving ahead to 2009, the roster was similar, and the offense was led again by Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. But there was big improvement by the two receivers who were rookies in 2008.

Using the wide receiver and tight end stats from Football Outsiders, I've created the following table for the 2009 season:

2009 DYAR Passes Rank
Driver 242 112 14
Jennings 224 119 17
Finley 172 72 6
Nelson 129 31 N/A
Havner 65 10 N/A
Jones 30 61 58
D. Lee -58 54 48

If you're not familiar with their stats, DYAR is a cumulative total quantifying each player's production over the course of the entire season. A couple players aren't ranked because the number of passes thrown their way is so low.

There were two big changes. First, Jermichael Finley took over from Donald Lee, and for good reason. Finley was turning into a big playmaker, while Lee was having trouble with dropped passes. Second, James Jones was healthy for the entire season (he missed part of 2008 with a knee injury), he regained the No. 3 WR spot, and his production didn't deserve it. Jordy Nelson improved on his rookie season despite having nearly 40% fewer pass attempts thrown his way.

Spencer Havner also had his brief moment of glory with 4 TDs caught on only 10 pass attempts. He probably could have fulfilled that role again in 2010, but he fell behind due to an offseason motorcycle injury and he couldn't outplay TE Tom Crabtree during training camp.

What surprised me was the amount of improvement in Aaron Rodgers second season as the starter. The 2008 season was a very successful coming out party, and any improvement in 2009 seemed offset by the awful pass protection. But he had a DYAR of 1294 according to Football Outsiders, compared to 932 in 2008. And the cumulative production by their top four receivers improved, with only Jennings dropping slightly over the two seasons as the number of pass attempts thrown to him dropped. 

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