Last year’s Packers lost 9 starters on their way to the Super Bowl yet got better as they went along. While Aaron Rodgers is clearly a star, the Packers receiving corps deserves a lot of the credit too. In my unscientific point of view, the Packers receivers as a corps go after the ball better than any other group in the league and it’s not even close. It started on that crazy night in Oakland after Brett Favre’s father had passed away. In an otherwise miserable season, the Packers put on a show that night. It seemed that his receivers resolved that no matter what Favre threw up, they were getting it…and they did. Since then the Packers receiving corps, led by Greg Jennings and Donald Driver have been making quarterbacks look good and winning to boot.
Take nothing away from Rodgers and the season he’s having. His location is impeccable and his footwork worth taping the game and watching again just to concentrate on his feet. Still, something tells me that if Matt Flynn were pressed into duty the Packers would still be pretty good. Not as good as they are now, but possibly playoff caliber. And other than Rodgers, is there anyone else that you could remove from the mix and expect the Pack to miss a beat? The Packers have 5 guys in the receiving corps and 2 more in the backfield that can beat you on any given night. Taking any one of them away defensively leaves a team vulnerable elsewhere and more importantly, in terms of match ups, it allows the packers coaches to find a likely mistake maker on the other side and readily exploit that weakness.
And last but not least I offer the Eagles. The 2011 version of the Eagles make too many mistakes to enjoy the fruits of their playmakers’ labors. In some cases too, like DeSean Jackson’s for example, the playmakers are also the most likely mistake makers, accentuating the risk reward equation. Does Jackson make enough inordinate plays to offset his numerous gaffes?
Looking around the league, through the prism of playmakers vs. mistake managers. I’d say the Broncos, Texans, Steelers, Bengals, 49ers, Packers and Giants are teams that win by simply minimizing mistakes, although they have a few playmakers to speak of.
I’d say the Cowboys, Lions, Saints, Jets, Chargers, Falcons and Eagles are easy examples of teams that need their playmakers to “get up” to be successful. And I’d say the jury’s out on the Ravens, Bears, Patriots and Raiders for now.
I’d also say that the eventual winner of the Super Bowl will likely come from the first group, or one from the undecided group who belongs in the first.