Wide receiver Greg Jennings had a three-year stretch with the Packers where he played in all 48 games, had 224 receptions for 3,670 yards (16.4 YPC) and scored 25 touchdowns. Those three seasons coincided with Aaron Rodgers' rise to the starting gig, which began in 2008.
By 2011, Jennings' numbers were still impressive -- 64 catches, 949 yards, 9 TDs -- but Jordy Nelson emerged as Rodgers' favorite target. And last season, injuries limited Jennings to just eight games. Meanwhile, James Jones and Randall Cobb combined for 1,738 yards and 22 touchdowns. So it was hardly surprising when the Packers decided to let Jenning walk. He eventually signed a five-year, $47.5 million deal to join the Vikings.
And now he'll continue his NFL journey without one of the league's best quarterbacks. Instead, Jennings will have Christian Ponder throwing him the ball. But the veteran wide receiver says a team is more than its quarterback, a sentiment, frankly, that goes against everything the NFL has become. The last 10 Super Bowl winners have had franchise quarterbacks under center. There's a good chance that if Ponder struggles, he could be benched for offseason acquisition Matt Cassel.
Still, Jennings thinks winning is a collective effort, not a dynamic where it becomes The Star Quarterback … and everybody else.
“A lot of times when you have a guy who creates that spotlight for himself and establishes that and takes a lot of that, it becomes so-and-so and the team,” Jennings told the StarTribune.com's Dan Wiederer. “It should always be the team. …
“For me, I'm such a team person, I'm going to defer to my teammates,” Jennings said. “I'm going to defer to the team, to the team, to the team. And I think when you reach a point where you're not deferring any longer, it's no longer really about the team.”
So what does this have to do with Rodgers?
“Don't get me wrong, ‘12' is a great person," Jennings continued. "But when you hear all positives, all positives, all positives all the time, it's hard for you to sit down when one of your teammates says ‘Man, come on, you've got to hold yourself accountable for this.' It's hard for someone to see that now because all they've heard is I'm doing it the right way, I'm perfect. In actuality, we all have flaws.”
This is where we point out that Jennings will have Ponder -- or Cassel! -- throwing him passes this season. Dealing with Rodgers' ego (perceived or otherwise) seems like a small price to pay to win.
But Jennings reiterates that winning is bigger than one person, even if that one person -- the quarterback -- plays the most important position on the field.
“I'm not saying that if I had wrote a script, this would hands down be the ideal position for me to be in,” Jennings said. “I don't know. Only God knows that. But for me, it's a challenge. It's a change of gear to where now I don't have that [established] quarterback. That's what everybody is saying. But in my mind, I don't need that quarterback for us to be successful.
“It's not about me. It's not about just Christian. It's about us.”
We'll find out soon enough.