QB is the great adjustment for Jennings

Greg Jennings is making a divisional defection, but the biggest adjustment could be with his new quarterback. Jennings admitted he wanted to see film on Christian Ponder before making his decision. The differences are stark in experience and productivity.

Greg Jennings is doing much more than switching uniforms, divisional rivals and allegiances. On the field, the change is stark and dramatic. Jennings, who is changing his jersey number from 85 to 15, is also going from Brett Favre and more recently Aaron Rodgers to Christian Ponder.

That could be the biggest route adjustment of his life.

In eight seasons in Green Bay, the last five as the starter, Aaron Rodgers has completed 65.7 percent of his 2,665 passes for 21,661 yards, 171 touchdowns and 46 interceptions for a 104.9 passer rating. The season before Rodgers took over, Favre threw for more than 4,000 yards and had 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for a 95.7 rating with Jennings. The quarterbacking in Green Bay has been, well, tremendous for a long time.

In his first two seasons in Minnesota, Ponder has completed 59.2 percent of his 774 passes for 4,788 yards (6.2-yard average), 31 touchdowns and 25 interceptions for a 77.1 rating.

Jennings knows what he is getting into with the Vikings, referencing a young team in which he sees the window opening and a quarterback going through a maturation process.

"I haven't got the chance to actually sit down and talk with (Ponder). I spoke with him on the phone briefly," Jennings said. "I know the drive is there. I know the work ethic is there. I know he wants to be great and it's just a matter of putting pieces around him. You can't do it all by yourself."

The Vikings are banking on the addition of Jennings to be one of the pieces, despite the trade of Percy Harvin, easily Ponder's favorite target last year (62 receptions in nine games). And the Vikings will surely add more receivers in next month's draft, when they have 11 selections, including two first-round picks and six picks in the first 117.

"Adding Greg to our football team without questions upgrades the talent on our football team," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "It gives us a chance to continue to compete in a very competitive National Football League. We are very excited about his arrival."

But even with intense interest from the Vikings, Jennings wasn't as interested in the new offense he would be required to learn as he was in the new quarterback with which he would be paired. During his visit on Thursday and Friday, he wanted to watch film of the Vikings – but even more specifically Ponder.

"I would lie to you if I said it was (about) watching the team. It was more, I had to watch Christian. I had to see what I was getting myself into," Jennings said. "Very athletic quarterback. Obviously his upside, his future is bright. I saw a young guy that was maturing. Obviously he's had success. Can he have more success? Absolutely. But how much success he is going to have is going to be completely up to him and what he's willing to put in and the guys that are going to help.

"I haven't had all the success that I've had alone. It's been because of guys like Brett, Aaron, to James Jones and the Jordy Nelsons of the world to take some of that weight and that pressure off of myself. We're helpers to one another."

In his first three seasons with Rodgers, Jennings averaged 75 catches for 1,223 yards (16.3-yard average) and eight touchdowns. In the last two seasons, as health problems cut into his availability and productivity, Jennings averaged 51 catches for 658 yards (12.9-yard average) and seven touchdowns.

Before they allowed Jennings to escape to Minnesota with a five-year contract that could average as much as $9.5 million per season, the Packers had one of the deepest receiving corps in the league with him, Jones, Nelson and Randall Cobb.

The Vikings? Well, not so much.

Without Harvin's 62 receptions last year and Michael Jenkins' 40 – he was released earlier this month – no other wide receiver had even 30 catches last year. They needed a top-flight receiver badly and Jennings knew it.

"What I've seen on film, (Ponder) didn't have a lot of options to go to. No disrespect to the guys he was throwing the ball to, but you can just get the sense that he needed a little bit more around him to give him some help and hopefully I can help him out a little bit," Jennings said. "Hopefully we can continue to add to the pieces around him to make him into the quarterback that he potentially could be."

Besides the money, there was another attraction for the 29-year-old Jennings. He has been playing on the sideline opposite record-setting running back Adrian Peterson since 2007. Now he finally gets to experience going against defenses that have been packed and stacked to stop the Peterson attack.

"Selfishly, from a receiver standpoint, you see a guy like ‘All Day' standing in the backfield and you see the cluster of guys that are gathered in the box for him, it's going to be some special things taking place on the football field," Jennings said.

"As a receiver, you always talk about playing with a back like that. Standing on the other sideline, you're in awe of what this guy can do and everyone knows he's going to get the ball. Just to be able to take some of that pressure off of him and off of this offense, I hope to be able to do that."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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