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Point of Veau: Time for Jermichael Finley to Make Hay

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Point of Veau: Time for Jermichael Finley to Make Hay

At a juncture when Randall Cobb is lost for at least a month and probably more, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be looking for reliable and open targets as the Green Bay Packers begin to make a playoff push.

The time is now for Jermichael Finley to start being a difference-maker in the Packers offense, especially if James Jones is unable to play in this upcoming weekend's game against the Cleveland Browns.

Even if the Packers make a roster move to obtain a new wide receiver in the next day or two, they'll still be low on depth among perimeter receivers, particularly those that are intimately familiar with the Packers' schemes and game plans.

Finley is going to be needed to be flexed out in a two-point stance perhaps more often than usual as the Packers try to weather the storm without the services of Cobb and possibly Jones. For that matter, so might fellow tight end Brandon Bostick as well.

But more important than where he lines up, Finley needs to start making an appreciable impact whether he's out wide, in line, or in the backfield.

Through five games, Finley has made a play here and there, but he's been far from so much as a top 10 tight end in the NFL as his talent suggests he could be, the same problem that's plagued him pretty much his entire career.

Finley currently ranks 44th among NFL tight ends that have played at least 25 percent of their team's offensive snaps with a negative rating of 2.6, according to ProFootballFocus.com (premium content).

The biggest reason for Finley's subpar grade has been his blocking, both in the running and passing game, which isn't exactly his calling card. But he's been merely marginal as a receiver as well, ranking just 23rd at his position with a positive rating of 0.7.

As things currently stand, Finley ranks 15th among NFL tight ends with 20 receptions that have covered 228 and has two touchdowns. His 45 percent of catches that have gone for first downs is among the worst in the league.

For the time being, Finley is getting the benefit of the doubt mostly because of a concussion that knocked him out of the Packers' Week 3 game in Cincinnati, but he only has two catches this season that have covered 20 or more yards.

Perhaps Finley will be on an upward trend after his critical 52-yard catch and run during the fourth quarter of the Packers' victory on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens that helped Green Bay run out the clock and preserve a mere two-point lead.

The Packers need more of those types of plays moving forward as they adjust to life dealing with the challenge of having very little depth at receiver.

Forget the rumors a season ago that Finley would be let go in the offseason. He's here now and he's being depended upon, whether he lives up to those expectations or not.

Finley is entering a contract year and his play now is going to influence the next deal he receives. It doesn't matter if it's the Packers that offer him an extension or he decides to test the open waters of free agency.

The better Finley plays now, the better deal he's going to receive. For the season at hand, it's a win-win situation for both the Packers and Finley as long as he plays well: Finley's value is inflated and the Packers reap the rewards.

If Finley wallows in mediocrity, however, he won't be doing either himself or his current employer any favors.

When the Packers take on the Browns this upcoming Sunday at Lambeau Field, it's incumbent upon Finley to help put the team's injury woes behind them.

The good news for the Packers is that the injuries incurred to Cobb and Jones, even those on the defensive side of the football to Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, don't appear to be season-ending. Soon enough, they'll be back.

But Finley has to help this team keep it's head above water, such as they did a year ago when Greg Jennings missed eight games, Jordy Nelson missed four, Matthews missed four and there were any other amount of players on injured reserve.

It's been nice that Finley seems to have matured off the field, keeping his mouth quiet and staying out of the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It's been that way ever since the offseason. But more important than the off-field issues is his play between the lines.

Packers fans would probably trade a few cocky comments if it means Finley scores 10 touchdowns by season's end. Ideally he'd maintain a low profile and find the end zone too.

But if there's ever been a moment for Finley to start living up to his considerable talent and hype, it's now and for the balance of the season.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (18) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

davyjones's picture

Great opportunity for him...he certainly has all the physical gifts to be a game changer.

I also think some stuff out of the backfield needs to develope. I think in Baltimore, Lacy caught one pass and maybe one to Kuhn. It would seems getting Franklin in open space might help ease the pass rush and hit on a big play now and then.

Robert's picture

Does Franklin have the ability to go in the passing game even though the other team defense probably is guessing that that will be his role(pass catcher)?

davyjones's picture

2 back set

Mojo's picture

Don't know if Finley is as talented as we seem to believe. I rarely see a lot of separation between him and whoever is watching him. A few years ago yes, but not anymore. I think he moves fine but he doesn't seem that much faster than the other "TE's" I've seen this year. Slightly above average speed overall. And it's not like he's making spectacular catches all the time either. In fact he's had the bad habit of dropping fairly easy throws. Plus, isn't he a below average blocker and route runner?

Still he's the best TE we have, good height and weight, who should be targeted much more now that Cobb and maybe JJ are down. He's also seeming to give much more effort after the catch to add some YAC. So for being a above average number-one TE(but not by as much as we might believe), here's Finley's chance to put-up or shut-up.

Ryan's picture

Finley had an insane stretch of games in 2009, and I think that's what we're all basing this "potential" on, but really it was an aberration. Take a look at highlights from his college career. They look like normal Finley.

However, as you mentioned, he is really giving much more effort after the catch this year...he is almost always trying to make a move or in some cases take people head on. And being smarter off the field. Love to see that!

I think we all need to get stop holding out for this "potential", and just accept that normal Finley is and will be a solid, but not spectacular player. Of course, that probably means a paycut.

C's picture

While I don't think Finley has the same straight-line speed as he did in 09' you need to watch how other teams still slide coverage his way week in and week out. They clearly don't feel the same way as some of us do. The one time they step away from shading a safety to Finley's side or sliding a linebacker into the trails position underneath with a safety over the top he burns Elam for 52 yards.

Every time Rodgers has seen him with a single safety in coverage this year it's been a big play. Sometimes it's there and the two can't connect. Regardless of what fans think defensive coordinators don't feel the same way.

MarkinMadison's picture

I pulled the trigger way too fast on the comment box this weekend when I was excited by his big catch. He wasn't wide open, he had a step. But he did pull away after the catch and run through a lot of open real estate. So maybe the speed is still there.

But your point regarding "normal Finley" is dead on. Year in and year out we keep expecting him to turn the corner, and he never really does. At best he has a good half-season. Whether he stays or goes a pay cut is coming if he can't pile up the stats for a receiver-depleted Packers squad. No one will give him the benefit of the doubt due to Rodgers having other receiving options.

Stroh's picture

In '09 the Packers used a game plan that largely had Finley as the focus of the offense. Since that time, McCarthy has gone away from a TE centric offense to more of a diversified attack. The thinking by McCarthy in '09 was that Finley was the primary weapon on offense and he really featured him as the center of the offense. His game plans were to get the ball to him early and often. He had seen how KC used Tony Gonzalez and wanted to have Finley be that guy.

Finley's injuries prevented that from happening initially and forced McCarthy to diversify. Since then Finleys own inconsistencies and a shift in philosophy has limited Finley production.

mossdog427's picture

I was thinking the same thing. The staff said they blamed the circumstance more than they blamed franklin for the fumbles but their actions since say otherwise. I thought that lacy/franklin and lacy/starks could be tough combos.

Aeric's picture

How about moving Finley temporarily to wide-out and give Quarless enough snaps at tight end to see what he is made of? Quarless has the size and blocking ability to excel if he is 100 percent back from that awful knee injury

C's picture

According to McGinn, Quarless had more second-half snaps than Finley on Sunday so the coaching staff were in the process of making that adjustment. Bad news is, Quarless didn't look any better as a blocker. I watched him whiff several times or take bad angles. I'm hoping he adjusts and that was just Quarless not being prepared to play that many snaps agains the Ravens.

I hope this forcess McCarthy to use motion more to create mismatches or at least better account for the location of defensive personnel. You can't just place Finley out wide, you need to start him along the line of scrimmage and then move him to various locations. Just placing him out wide does nothing to manipulate the defense.

It can no longer be McCarthy adhering to his week long game plan in the first half and assuming his guys can beat up your guys. He needs to work on creating mismatches via motion. I loved what the Patriots did with Vareen last year. Motion him out of the backfield and manufacture space. Saints do the same. I would love to see Franklin worked into the game plan this week with motion from Finley and/or Franklin to generate mismatches.

Idiot Fan's picture

Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

fish and crane's picture

Lol ...Idiot Fan you are killing me lately

Joshua's picture

Mojo said everything that needed to be said agreed.

Morgan Mundane's picture

I agree play Quarless more but put stick-em on the ball.

Tarynfor12's picture

"But if there’s ever been a moment for Finley to start living up to his considerable talent and hype, it’s now and for the balance of the season."

Good Luck and I do wish it sincerely.

"Denial will not dwell in my head and my Heart is thankful.".....Tarynfor12

Chad Toporski's picture

I think part of the equation is McCarthy calling more plays that will specifically target Finley as the first read. It's hard to say what that ratio is right now, but I imagine it should increase with their number of big weapons being reduced.

Bearmeat's picture

Couldn't agree more. It's time for Fin head to step up. 1000 yards and 10+ TD's is a must with Cobb out.

It's all right there for him.

If he doesn't get it done, it's time for a 2/3rds size paycut on the next contract - from whoever signs him.

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