Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Should Packers WR Donald Driver Start Against SF?

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Earlier this evening, as I often do on Mondays, I listened to sports-talk radio on WTMJ-AM 620 out of Milwaukee, WI.  The question posed by hosts Greg Matzek and Jeff Falconio (known as “the freak” and “the geek”) was this: Should Packers WR Donald Driver play against San Francisco?

And of course, as you might expect, Falconio and Matzek’s answer was that Driver should not play.  Driver’s stats this year do not look good, as he’s played very few downs. With only eight receptions for 77 yards and no touchdowns, Driver has not been the same cog in the Packers offense that he was for so many years since being drafted back in 1999.

My question, therefore, is different: Should Donald Driver start against San Francisco, even knowing Driver hasn’t been able to do much this past season?

I say yes.

Before you go ballistic, hear me out.  Driver’s history needs to be factored into the equation.  He’s a three-time Pro Bowler with seven seasons of 1000 receiving yards or better.  He’s a well-prepared professional with enough speed and smarts that it’s quite possible he can still make plays, even at his advanced football age of 37.

Yes, yes, I know that Driver only had 565 yards receiving in 2010 and 445 in 2011.  I know by those numbers that he was starting to slow down, and that opposing defenses had fully adjusted to him.

Still.  Driver has heart.  He continues to have skills.  And he can still help the Packers win — but he must be on the field and have a chance to catch the football in order for this to happen.

My thought is this: the 49ers definitely won’t be expecting Driver to start, especially as Driver was a “healthy inactive” for the playoff game versus Minnesota this past Saturday.  They’ll be feverishly studying game film on the other Packers receivers — Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb — and will forget about Driver, as Driver appears at this moment to be nothing but an afterthought.

This could be a dangerous mistake.

Driver can still beat any team in the NFL if given a chance.  He knows the opposing defensive players and their tendencies.  He knows the opposing defensive coordinators, too, much less their tendencies.  And he knows what he has to do to make plays, even though he’s gotten little opportunity to do so this past season in Green Bay.

Besides, if this is Driver’s last game with Green Bay, he should be treated with the respect he has earned due to his three Pro Bowl seasons and his seven 1000-plus yardage seasons.

That’s why I believe that Driver should start the game against San Francisco, much less play.  Because I truly believe that Driver still has more to give, if only head coach Mike McCarthy will allow Driver to do so.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 7, 2013 at 10:38 pm

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