For most of the Mike McCarthy era, the Packers have been blessed with having one of the best receiving corps in the NFL.
The names are entrenched in the annals of Packers history.
Donald Driver. Greg Jennings. Jordy Nelson. Randall Cobb. James Jones. Jermichael Finley. These are just a few of the players who have helped the Packers during the past decade become a top flight passing attack. Each of them have their own place in the team’s history, and our memories as well.
As time has passed, and as part of the business known as the National Football League, many of the players that were part of this powerful passing attack have moved on, evaporating the once talented group of receivers.
Donald Driver retired. Greg Jennings took the money and ran to the Vikings. James Jones signed with the Raiders. Jermichael Finley’s career is in limbo as he recovers from a neck injury. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are all that remains of the group which a mere three seasons ago set numerous offensive records, and helped Aaron Rodgers set a record for passer rating.
Because of the depletion of talent, is there a reason to be concerned about the Packers passing game?
On the surface, the answer is a resounding NO! As long as Aaron Rodgers is throwing pin point accurate lasers to the receivers, there is no cause for concern.
But it also takes receivers who can catch the ball to make the passing game work, and this could become an issue.
Nelson and Cobb are arguably the best receiving tandem in the league at this point. As long as they are on the field, there is always a reason to opposing defenses to be concerned. It’s beyond these two that the talent begins to disappear.
Jarrett Boykin had a breakout campaign in 2013, showing great promise for the future. He was forced up the depth chart when James Jones was injured, and performed well. But he also had the luxury of having Jones on the team. When Jones returned, Boykin resumed his role as the number 4 receiver.
Now that Jones has departed, will Boykin be able to continue to develop? For the Packers’ sake, he has to.
After Boykin, there are many question marks. Myles White showed flashes, but was it enough to warrant confidence in the coaching staff? What about Chris Harper, Kevin Dorsey, Sederrik Cunningham and Alex Gillett? Will one of them be able to step up and become the next major contributor? Or will Ted Thompson use the draft to supplement the receiving corp? Time will tell.
Losing Jermichael Finley would be a major blow to the Packers offensive attack. Big, strong, fast TEs are not easy to come by, and defenses have to prepare for Finley when he is on the field. When he was lost last season, Andrew Quarless finally emerged as a potential replacement for Finely. But Quarless is not Finley as far as being a receiver. The hope is that he will be able to develop. But what if he does not?
Assuming the Packers do not resign Finley because of his injury, Quarless would be the most likely candidate to be the starting TE in 2014. If he struggles in any way catching the ball, this would put a big hurt in the passing game. Opposing teams would focus all of their attention on the WRs, and this would affect the entire offense.
It goes without saying that Aaron Rodgers chucking the rock to the Packers receivers will not allow the passing game to simply fall apart because of all of these questions. But there are some definite questions about this part of the Packers offense heading into 2014.
Good thing the Packers also have one of the best running backs in the league in Eddie Lacy to shoulder the load, just in case these questions become a reality.
John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio. ---------------------
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.