It is no secret that the Green Bay Packers had been home to one of the most productive receiving corps in the NFL over the better half of this millennium. The organization has done a excellent job of dealing with the turnover in the group as well. When Javon Walker left for Denver, Donald Driver stepped up and then Greg Jennings emerged. It's like the circle of life in Green Bay at the position.
With Greg Jennings taking that leap across the Mississippi River to Minnesota, the circle of life continues on. Like Jennings said, the Packers are going to do whats best for the Packers, regardless of the number on the jersey. With that said, the Packers are once again in a position where some uncertainty, if not a lot, lies regarding the team's receiving group. The Packers lost one of its proverbial home-run hitters to their sworn enemies... again.
Jennings is leaving behind a Packer receiving corp that is still in excellent. With younger players like James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley (probably) still in the green and gold, there shouldn't be too many problems here when it comes down to catching balls. Oh, and the drops... Always with the drops.
Randall Cobb was targeted with 104 of Aaron Rodgers' best and wound up with 954 yards receiving to lead the team during his breakout season last year. James Jones followed Cobb with 784 yards and led the NFL 14 touchdown receptions in 2012. Jordy Nelson came on strong during the 2010 postseason and was a significant component of that Super Bowl glory. He then followed that with a breakout 1,263 yard year during the 2011 campaign where the Pack went 15-1. Nelson missed four games last season but there shouldn't be a reason why he can't come back healthy and duplicate his 2011 numbers at his age.
Tom Crabtree -- who is in my opinion the Packers' Twitter MVP -- would've probably been more of a factor in the 'Bay this season with Jennings out but instead he chose to head to another Bay down in Florida. The Packers have now lost Jennings, Crabtree and Donald Driver in case you haven't been keeping track on our Free Agency Tracker.
Personally, I think that the Packers will be all right without Jennings. Fans have had more than enough time to mourn and move on I hope. If not, I may or may not be hosting a series of "Greg Jennings to Minnesota" support groups across the state of Wisconsin. Come.
In all seriousness, I think that the wide receivers and tight ends that the Packers still have are more than capable, one of them MUST emerge as an near-elite home run hitter. I suspect that either James Jones or Randall Cobb will step into that role, between the players currently on the roster. If Jones' hands get a bit better, he could be the guy. He pulled down some nasty grabs last year and seems to be growing into a bit of a "monster" that Jennings eventually became. Cobb on the other hand, is pure speed. Like Jordy Nelson, I think Cobb will be great for the immortal Packer slant routes and the screen shots out of the gun.
Jordy Nelson, is a lot like Cobb and has a ton of speed getting off the line of scrimmage. As Nelson comes back for another full season hopefully, I could see him being what Wes Welker was to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. That is a player who nickles and dimes his way up the field and racks up a ton of short yards on a lot of catches.
Who becomes what isn't the issue. The issue is that this offense has lost their home run hitter. In Minnesota, there is AP and now Jennings. In Detroit, there is Calvin Johnson and in Chicago there is Brandon Marshall. Just about any successful NFL offense has a home run hitter at either running back or in their receiving corp. The Packers need one or they need one to emerge.
With Steven Jackson juking titletown for Atlanta, another potential home run hitter is out of the Packers' seemingly frail grip. How much he was in that grip in the first place is a question that we may never know. What I DO know is that the Packers need a big hitter.
A home run hitter is important for any reasons. They demand attention and coverage. They demand double teams. They demand extra hours of video and game planning time that should have went to the other guy that is going to surprise the opponent now. Greg Jennings was that guy. AP is that guy. Calvin Johnson is that guy. Steven Jackson is that guy.
The Packers have a lot of good guys but they need THAT GUY. Perhaps he is already there. Until then, only time will tell if "that guy" is in Green Bay.