Last spring, as teams and players prepared to enter the free agency sweepstakes, few names were more recognizable than that of Greg Jennings. The former Green Bay Packers wide receiver garnered less interest than he would have liked, but he did find a new home with his formal rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.
Now both parties might be wondering what they got themselves into.
Jennings was targeted by Christian Ponder eight times in their first regular season game, but he was only able to secure three of those passes for an insignificant 33 yards in a loss to the Detroit Lions. This was certainly not what the Vikings were hoping they would get out of their big offseason acquisition, but they also know one game is not a season. They have made the investment in Jennings, and he will get a chance to show his worth.
As for Jennings, several factors likely led to his limited production. The Lions applied pressure and showed signs of being improved after last season’s lackluster performance. They did a decent job of keeping Jennings bracketed, while being forced to watch Adrian Peterson like a hawk.
This allowed Jerome Simpson to get off, catching seven passes for a game-high 140 yards. Simpson’s success may have come in part to the attention Jennings commands, but it also took away from targets Jennings would otherwise be getting.
The biggest issue likely stems from the guy throwing the ball. Ponder is a far cry from the quarterback he was spoiled by back in Green Bay, so it would be unfair to say Jennings is on the down slope of his career, or will be a let down as a high-priced free agent. Ponder will need to show that he is capable of leading an NFL team, or he could easily find himself standing next to Tim Tebow in the unemployment line.
Peterson and Simpson did enough to give Viking fans a bit of hope after an embarrassing loss, and Jennings will certainly be a bigger part of their offense than he was in Week 1. Fans can look forward to that, and be thankful the Lions shot themselves in the foot so many times.
It really could have been much uglier.