Packers need to give Rodgers an elite WR
Aaron Rodgers is really good.
In fact, Rodgers is good enough to win Super Bowl XLV without anybody else on offense helping him out. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rodgers’ Green Bay Packer teammates were of little aid to him. The running game was nonexistent for the Packers, as their offensive line got blown off the ball on every rush attempt they had. The offensive line’s pass protection wasn’t anything spectacular, although, they did manage to block people for the mandatory 1.8 seconds required for Rodgers to get off an actual pass. And receivers, like Jordy Nelson, who were open merely for the fact that the Steelers did everything they could to take Greg Jennings out of the game, didn’t really help Rodgers’ cause as they seemed to drop every decent football he threw their way.
And yet despite all of that, Rodgers managed to put up 24 offensive points against the best defense in football. Sure, he needed a little help from a defensive touchdown to get past what the Steelers would eventually wind up scoring, but Rodgers answered the Steelers offense every time he had to with a big drive or pull-away score at pivotal points in the Super Bowl.
Still, as good as Rodgers proved to be in the Super Bowl and throughout the last 6 games of the entire regular and playoff seasons, Rodgers could have easily been ousted. And had he and the Packers been ousted, it would not have been because of their defense, which limited every football team they faced during that stretch to a below average performance. During the postseason, the Packers close games were against the Eagles, Bears, and Steelers, and in all of those games, had something went a wry in the 4th quarter, the Packers offense would have taken the blame for the loss.
But Rodgers wouldn’t have taken the blame. After all, he’s without his starting running back and starting tight end, and yet he looks like Peyton Manning out there. But even with those guys coming back in 2011 (assuming there is a 2011 season), the Packers need to give Rodgers more help—and they need to help him where it counts.
If the Green Bay Packers are the same forward-thinking team that was smart enough to boot Brett Favre out of town and make Rodgers their franchise quarterback, then they should be forward-thinking enough to know that if they want to go back to the Super Bowl, they need to bring in an elite wide receiver.
With all due respect to Greg Jennings, I don’t know how good he is. Yes, sure, I’ve seen the plays, and I know what he can do as well as what he has done. However, I don’t know that he can put up the kind of stats that he’s putting up without the unbelievable stellar play of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers brings to the quarterback position what many people have deemed the “Peyton Manning effect.” That is a phenomenon in which the quarterback of an NFL team is so good that you can put any average or above average wide receiver on said quarterback’s team, and that wide receiver will put up Pro Bowl like stats no matter how limited or inconsequential that wide receiver was before playing with Peyton Manning.
Case and point: Brandon Stokley.
Stokley was nothing more than a footnote with the Baltimore Ravens team that won a Super Bowl, and he hasn’t caught 50 footballs in any season since 2004. However, for a 31-game stretch with Peyton Manning as his quarterback, Stokley may have been one of the best third wide receivers to every play the game. In 2004, Manning hooked up with Stokley for 68 catches, 1,077 yards and 10 touchdowns—and he was Manning’s fourth option on every play! For a while, if you mentioned Stokley, it was like talking about a budding, perennial Pro Bowler. Now he’s just another guy on the Seattle Seahawks who played in just 11 games and caught 31 passes this season.
So given how good Aaron Rodgers is, I don’t know that Greg Jennings’ profile isn’t boosted by playing with such a great quarterback. Would Jennings put up the same numbers if Kyle Orton, Jake Delhomme, Carson Palmer or any non-elite quarterback were throwing him the football? I’d love to say I know the answer to that, especially since Jennings has been in the NFL for five years no, but since he has played with Rodgers and Brett Favre hi s entire career, five years really isn’t enough time to ascertain how wonderful he is.
But I know some receivers that look elite know matter how good their quarterbacks are, and the Packers need to go out and get one of those guys for Rodgers. Players like Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson, Kenny Britt and Dwyane Bowe are all young guys that may be attainable. And even if they can’t get an elite player, maybe an older receiver like Terrell Owens or Steve Smith can fill the role for a season or two.
I don’t care who the Packers add though, but they need to add somebody! Rodgers is great, but they can’t depend on the extreme amount of fortune they got this year to win them a Super Bowl next year. And with all the talent they have, the window for the Packers is going to be open for a while. Why not make the most of that opportunity by giving Rodgers a true receiving-threat, that substantiate this offense the same way that having both Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison did for Peyton Manning for all those years. Of course, as with Peyton Manning, even that duo didn’t win Manning more than one Super Bowl, but at the very least, offense rarely lost Manning and the Indianapolis Colts any games. And if Rodgers can get a WR of Jennings “apparent” level, then a duo like that will surely make the Packers an offensive juggernaut primed to repeat as Super Bowl champions in 2012.