Packers: Trying To Fit A Ball-Control Peg Into A Downfield Hole

The Packers are parting ways with injury-prone wide receiver Robert Ferguson, an interesting development from which several conclusions can be drawn:

1. The Packers have finally given up hope that Ferguson, who found more new ways to injure himself than the Brewers have found ways to lose games recently, will ever consistently be able to play up to his status as a second-round draft pick (in 2001).
2. The Packers feel that they have wide receivers to spare, with Donald Driver and Greg Jennings as a solid tandem, plus rookie James Jones, Ruvell Martin, and Carlyle Holiday impressing early.
3. The Packers aren’t interested in keeping offensive veterans around just in case their familiarity is comforting to Brett Favre. It’s clear that the organization expects the self-described “frustrated” Favre to adapt to the young players and not the other way around. And frankly, that’s the right way to approach it, as it’s more reasonable to expect Favre to help the young players mature rather than expect the young players to play like wily veterans overnight. You can’t instill the nine years of experience that Donald Driver has playing with Favre in less than, well, nine years.

I have no problem with releasing Ferguson. You don’t want to keep players around that are more known for their injuries than for their performance. (The Brewers must be reaching that point with Ben Sheets.) Yet the fact that receivers are expendable in Green Bay and running backs are at a premium runs completely counter to all the talk from the Packers about the type of offense they are going to be running this year.

Everyone from offensive coordinator Ron Philbin to head coach Mike McCarthy to Favre himself (who for years has been the primary source of turnovers) is stressing the need for the 2007 Packers to be let their improving defense control games, which in turn means that the offense has to play the game of field position by limiting turnovers as much as possible.

The only thing wrong with that strategy is that the ball-control, field-position type of football that is being touted as the way the 2007 Packers will win games needs something crucial to succeed: a solid run game. Right now, the Packers don’t have that. They don’t even know who will rank number one on the running back depth chart when the regular season begins.

Not that the running back situation is hopeless. Brandon Jackson looks like he will be at the very least a dependable starter. But the type of offense that the Packers are telling their fans to look for needs more than that. And if it doesn’t magically materialize over the next several weeks, don’t be surprised to see Brett Favre trying to open it up by using the best weapons he has — his wide outs. Especially if Favre feels like this is his last season, Packer management can’t expect Favre to ride off into the sunset as a hand-off machine. If he’s going out, he’s going out as he came in — slinging it.

And really, on some thrill-seeking level — the same level on which we like to ride rickety-looking carnival rides and eat thousand-calorie Double Quarter Pounders — isn’t that what we want to see?


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