Laughs Can't Conceal Jennings' Frustration

The silence is deafening for Greg Jennings, who has caught 11 passes — including three in two losses. "Typically, I'm mute," Jennings said. "If I'm just quiet, I'm upset. If I don't say anything, I'm upset. That's kind of how we handle it. I just don't say anything, and hopefully they know, ‘Are you OK?' ‘No, I'm not. No.'"

Greg Jennings gave the reporter a pat on the shoulder, an acknowledgment of a statement that barely needed an answer.

Jennings caught a 50-yard touchdown pass to beat Chicago and had receptions of 50 and 53 yards in a win at St. Louis. In the Packers' two losses, he was shut out by Cincinnati and had just three receptions for 31 yards in a loss at Minnesota. It's not exactly what either the Packers or Jennings had in mind when they agreed in June to a three-year contract extension that included $16.25 million in guaranteed money as one of the league's up-and-coming receivers.

So, Greg, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that when you make plays, the team wins, and when you don't, the team hasn't won.

"Hey, it is what it is," Jennings said, punctuating the sentence with a laugh that unsuccessfully hid the frustration that isn't far from the surface.

Through four games, Jennings has caught 11 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown. At the same point last season, he had 25 receptions for a whopping 482 yards and two touchdowns. He hasn't had so quiet a stretch since his rookie season, when he caught only nine balls in his final four games.

While Jennings answered question after question from reporters on Monday and admitted to venting to his sister during the bye week — "She has several different ways that I should go about handling it. They're not ways that give off the best in my interests," Jennings said — he's used a different tact in meeting rooms. In Jennings' case, his silence has been deafening.

"Typically, I'm mute," Jennings said. "If I'm just quiet, I'm upset. If I don't say anything, I'm upset. That's kind of how we handle it. I just don't say anything, and hopefully they know, ‘Are you OK?' ‘No, I'm not. No.'"

Just how quiet?

"Haven't said a word. I've been very quiet. There's been a lot of those moments."

Of course, there's not a whole lot to say during those film sessions. The problems are that obvious, and have nothing to do with anything defenses are doing.

"I'll start with us at the perimeter, the dropped balls," Jennings said. "We have 14, and that's too many. Fourteen is a season-ending number. We have 10 within these four lockers right here (pointing to himself and neighbors James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver). That's too many drops. We're too good of a receiving group to have that many opportunities that we didn't take advantage of. That's No. 1, as a perimeter guy. No. 2, we've got to protect better or we're going to continue to have struggles. I'm praying that he stays healthy."

Keeping Rodgers healthy might mean refining the offense, with a focus on more quick-hitting routes to take some of the stress off a pass-protection unit mostly to blame for the league-high 20 sacks taken by Rodgers.

"If it's raining, I'm going to pull out an umbrella, if I have one," Jennings said. "If I don't have one, then, hey, I'm just going to get wet."

Greg Jennings hauls in a long pass at St. Louis.
Tom Gannam/AP Images
Settling for shorter passes might be a necessary evil, because there might not be a better deep combination in the NFL than Rodgers to Jennings. Rodgers throws one of the best long balls in the league. Jennings' 15 catches of 40-plus yards in 2007 and 2008 were tops in the NFL, and his three to start this season were tied for the league lead at the bye. But with Rodgers getting precious little pass protection, he hasn't had time to dial long distance, and that deprived the Packers of an explosive element in the losses to Cincinnati and Minnesota.

"That's probably the most frustrating part about it is, do I feel like I'm a deep threat? Yes," Jennings said. "But at the same time, I'm a good route runner. I feel like I run great routes. I don't always have to go deep. I don't have to make my hay going deep. That's just been the case. When there's a play to be made, I feel like any one of us can make that play. There's several different ways that I feel about it. I feel like when I get the ball in my hands, good things happen, period. It's not an arrogance deal, it's not a, ‘I better get the ball' type deal. It's fact. We always talk about being a real team, and what are the facts? Those are the facts. When we get the ball in our hands, we make plays."

Jennings said he's voiced his concerns to receivers coach Jimmy Robinson but hasn't sat down with Rodgers or coach Mike McCarthy, who calls the plays on game day. He didn't see the point, considering his disappearance from the offense has been rather obvious.

"When I'm in a meeting and I'm looking at myself running wide open and I'm not getting the opportunity, yes, I'm (ticked)," Jennings said. "I want the ball. Get me the doggone ball."

Jennings laughs before continuing.

"No, you have to go about it in a respectful way. It's not who I am to get outside of that. Do I get frustrated? Yes. Do I get highly upset? Yes. Do I vent to these guys (fellow receivers)? Yes. These guys are like my spring board. I can bounce things off them and they bounce things off me. We kind of stay away from complaining to everybody else. We let each other know how we feel. That's the way we get through it."

Jennings made it abundantly clear that he's not pointing fingers at Rodgers, who fed him the ball 80 times for 1,292 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

"Can I be mad at Aaron? Can I be upset?" Jennings said. "He's been on his back, probably more than the running backs and they get the ball to actually run. I can't be upset with Aaron. I can't say, ‘Aaron, get me the ball.' Who knows, he may be trying to."

"We all have had our share of being open," he added. "Again, it's frustrating because we know the nature of our quarterback. I mean, you guys have seen it. When we've got the protection that we've got, he's really second to none. Let me give you a statistic. He has one pick. One pick, and he's been hit more than any quarterback in the league. He has one pick. He protects the ball pretty doggone well to go on the ground as much as he does. If he has room to play ball, the sky's the limit. The sky's the limit for him as well as this team. We just have to sure some things up."

And once those things are fixed, Jennings is confident he and the offense will pick up where it left off last season. This time, the huge smile is one of optimism and not one that's trying to hide his frustration.

"They're coming," Jennings said of his opportunities. "That's what I've been telling myself. I have to stay positive. That's the only way to go forward. You can't think negative and expect positive things to happen. It just doesn't work that way."

Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

Packer Report Top Stories