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Point of Veau: The Breaking Point for Finley Has Arrived

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Point of Veau: The Breaking Point for Finley Has Arrived

The Broadway musical Rent asks a deeply philosophical question in its quintessential "Seasons of Love" song:

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure, measure a year?

With apologies to Jonathan Larson, I ask:

One thousand six hundred and twenty-eight days

How do you measure, measure a career?

It's been 1,628 days since the Green Bay Packers have drafted tight end Jermichael Finley in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

And here's what jumps to mind about Finley's five-year career in Green Bay:

  1. His public criticism of a quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Finley's rookie year in 2008 when he couldn't corral a pass that was a little high. In the words of Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Coach Mike McCarthy - in so many words, Finley said - told him to 'shut the hell up.'"
  2. Finley's criticism of the Packers organization for initially deciding that players on injured reserve would not be included in the Super Bowl team photo.
  3. In the Packers' only regular season loss of the 2011 season, Finley's shark-fin first-down celebration as the Packers were losing.
  4. Finley's 12 drops in 2011 that were twice that of any other NFL tight end, according to ProFootballFocus.com and his five drops so far in 2012 that are exceeded only by one other tight end.
  5. Finley's 2012 offseason comments that he didn't have "chemistry" with Aaron Rodgers last season and he just needs to "freestyle it" in 2012.
  6. Finley's quad injury that forced him to miss the majority of training camp and his recent shoulder injury that forced him to miss most of the second half of the Colts game.
And now, as of Wednesday, Finley returned to his "chemistry" comments with Aaron Rodgers, placing the burden on the Packers quarterback for a lack of a connection between the two.
Put into context fully by Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com:
When asked if he could get the season to improve while playing through a shoulder injury, Finley replied, “I can. It takes two people to do that. And I need the quarterback on my side, and I need to catch the ball when he throws it to me. So it takes two things to get that going, the chemistry. I feel we need to get that going.”

Asked to assess that chemistry at this point, Finley deemed it “OK” before adding, “Not good enough at all. Something to be worked on, and try to work on it as much as I can, try to talk to him as much as I can, but like I said it takes two people.”

What Finley is doing here is passing the buck and painting himself as a victim. He's intimating that he's trying to work with and talk to Rodgers, but the quarterback isn't being cooperative.

There's every chance that Finley didn't mean to place blame on Rodgers, and the tight end didn't realize what he was saying. His track record would suggest and justify that. But ignorance is not an excuse. His comments are divisive, no matter what his intentions are.

Finley shouldn't be criticized for the highly-publicized comments made by his agent, Blake Baratz, earlier in the season that suggested Rodgers isn't a good leader. But the simple connection between agent, player and organization was enough to create an unwanted distraction.

Put simply, if Finley wasn't a member of the Packers and Baratz still made the same comments, it wouldn't have been an issue.

It's time for the coaching staff to send a message to Finley and to the rest of the team, one made with actions and not words. It's time for head coach Mike McCarthy, offensive coordinator Tom Clements and tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot to significantly reduce Finley's playing time.

It's time for D.J. Williams and the rest of the Packers tight ends to play a bigger part in the Green Bay offense.

By doing so, they can give Finley one last chance. He can be quiet, play the role of good soldier and earn more playing time through solid play.

And if that doesn't work, if that creates a locker room division, if Finley continues to be a cancer, then it's time to part ways. Trade him and take whatever they can get in return.

Sure, there's been a few memorable catches and touchdowns from Finley over the years. But those modest contributions are something Williams and company are capable of providing and perhaps exceed.

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Evan's picture

Wasn't #2 mostly Nick Barnett?

TedTheSledge's picture

Marshall Newhouse had chimed in as well but he is playing well so all is forgotten.

MarkinMadison's picture

Probably more like "people never realized he said it," because who the heck was paying attention to Marshall Newhouse two years ago?

Stevelknievel's picture

“Less Volume, More Creativity,”

Great piece, Brian.

Evan's picture

I'm not sure what this means.

But my question was sincere. Am I misremembering it?

Steve Schumacher's picture

What really frustrates me is Finley's constant reference to Aaron as "The Quarterback". IMO, that alone shows disrespect at its highest level. Disrespect equals no chemistry, ever.

PackersThad's picture

I can't agree with your opinion that Finley is passing the blame. He explicitly stated that he needs to catch the ball when it is thrown to him. That is taking responsibility for his part in my opinion.

Brian Carriveau's picture

How do you think Aaron Rodgers feels about the "it takes two" comment?

Denver's picture

I'm thinking #88 not only thinks that-
1) #12 needs to pass the ball to him, but
2) #12 also needs to catch the ball for him.
Problem solved; chemistry attained.
I'm all for more DJ Williams at this point and have been for awhile.

CSS's picture

Only Rodgers knows that. The only thing anybody from the outside can definitively say is the sentiment, regardless of what Finley really means, should be kept in-house. Perhaps there's something to the comment?

I'm happy to critique his play on the field, but if parsing this comment is the proverbial straw-that-breaks-the (fan)-camels back in deciding his relative value to the offense, well, you probably had your mind made up to begin with.

PackersThad's picture

Don't take this as me being snarky, because you know I've got nothing but love for you, Brian:

But if Aaron Rodgers is as good (nay, 'GREAT') of a leader as Green Bay Packers fans claims he is, his reaction would be complete agreement with the 'it takes two' comment

Brian Carriveau's picture

Don't worry, Thad, I can respectfully disagree with anyone.

But there is a passive-aggressive message being sent here that Finley is trying to work on his "chemistry" and Rodgers isn't cooperating.

That wouldn't fly with me as long as both are acting in a professional manner.

Ceallaigh's picture

Exactly, this is a very passive aggressive power play.

razor's picture

He is stating the obvious - that doesn't count. What is AR supposed to do so that Finley stops dropping passes, makes the correct route adjustments and makes his blocks?

Lynn Dickey 12's picture

If there were half as many drops, what Finley was saying really wouldn't mattter. Oh yeah, it would take a PROFESSIONAL to improve the drop tally, which 88 isn't, either off the field or on.

I'd deactivate him. I'm sure the combined output of 82, 83, and 84
will generate a lower percentage of drops.

Yes, oh, but what about the YAC. Without C there's no bloody YA, now is there?

Oppy's picture

Finley is not a professional?

Every insider observer of Jermichael Finley that I've ever heard or read comments from, when talking about Finley's work ethic, states emphatically that there is no question about his drive and work ethic on the practice field or training in general.

He is outspoken, to be sure. He does not always say the smartest thing, the most PC thing. But I think it is a gross stretch to portray him as being 'not professional'.

MarkinMadison's picture

Well written piece Brian. I am really thankful that the Packers signed him to a reasonable two-year deal instead of handing him the mega-multi-year deal he believed that he deserved. I think that the Packers will be really thankful over the next several months.

Looks like the trade deadline might be October 30th this year. Probably won't happen. Makes more sense to trade him in the off-season. But boy, I will be surprised if he is with the team next August.

razor's picture

I once had a woman working for my department who was experienced and talented. But every couple of months she would blow up and disrupt the whole department for days. She was also making mistakes and giving excuses for them. Each time a blow-up happened I would try to think of what I could say to get through to her and stop the disruptions. After several of these incidents the light bulb finally came on - this person is not going to change and all of her positive qualities are more than offset by the negatives. So we fired her. The new person is both productive and a team player. True story.

NoWayJose's picture

I'm on board with the notion that Finley has worn out his welcome. I feel like I've tried to be patient with him forever and it's just not working.

That said, I don't see him responding positively to a quasi-benching. I don't think he has the maturity to handle that the right way and take the right message.

Not saying the Pack sholdn't do it, but I'm pretty much beyond hope that we ever see him get his head right.

TedTheSledge's picture

I think if #88 is healthy, you play him (or at least still start him) this season is not over with yet. Sending him to the bench will only hurt his market value, and I don't see any benefit in doing that simply due to comments made to the media. I can still see MM's facial expression the last time this "chemistry" issue came up at a press conference and this latest mole-hill doesn't change anything IMO.

CSS's picture

Sending him to the bench now, with Jennings out, means D.J. Williams draws single safety or single linebacker in coverage and Nelson and (pick either Cobb or Jones) will be singled with a corner and safety over the top, maybe even a linebacker underneath.

The criticism of Finley's execution is completely justified. Believing D.J. Williams will draw as much attention, compounded with Jennings absence, is freaking madness.

Denver's picture

I'm all for keeping #88 on the field as well if he is still getting an inordinate amount of attention from the D (especially with Jennings still out as you mention).
But unless he can start catching the ball more consistently I'd prefer more passes to Williams (and Cobb for that matter).

Oppy's picture

Voice of reason

CSS's picture

Unfortunately, there's little reason when a team is performing below expectations. Cow self-banned after losing a bet, but after a frustrating loss to the Colts everybody's inner Cow has come out to play.

Oppy's picture

The reason TT is celebrated is his even keeled approach to adversity.

The Packers core philosophy is you trust your scouting, your trust your coaching, you trust your process, the system.

Sometimes the ball bounces the other guy's way. Sometimes you will fail. But you do not jump ship and let things go haywire in adverse situations.

Fans need to follow suit.. Even if Jermichael never does pull it all together and play up to his potential, it is not worth going crazy over.

THEMichaelRose's picture

Oh puhlease. Wasn't John Rehor's column enough?
Man, are we this desperate to turn our heads away from the real problems this team has?
We really need a win this week. Or by next week I'm sure fans will want to say bye to Morgan Burnett, Sam Shields, Bryan Bulaga, and all our other talented people who "underperform" the fans' expectations for them to all be superstar Pro Bowlers.

Andrew Garda got this right:
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1367088-packers-fans-should-ease-up-o...

"I need to catch the ball when he throws it to me."
"It’s his receiving corps, we’re dropping balls; it’s his linemen not blocking for him."

Shame on him for asking questions honestly that the local media asks.

WisconsInExile's picture

You got it all wrong. This is about a bunch of fans who are tired of a guy that talks a lot but fails to live up to his own hype--time after time. The only sound this crowd wants to hear coming from Finley's direction is the sweet sound of leather rustling against his hands as he pulls down completion after completion. Then he's welcome to turn up the noise again. Until then, it needs to be "I need to improve my play and help my team k-thanks-bye" so he can get back to film study and memorizing the effing playbook.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

All I can come up with is that the guy is a mental midget. For the longest time I heard that he had the best hands on the team... Yet, he drops passes at an alarming rate? He continues to bring up his QB when asked about his problems catching the ball? He allows his agent to question his QBs leadership qualities?

It's a fact that the guy has loads of talent, but I don't care, he's a dipshit. We've given him five years to grow up, he hasn't. It's time to cut bait, because you can fix technique... But you can't fix stupid.

GBP 4 LIFE

dgtalmn's picture

Well stated. I keep hearing all the positives, but it does not seem to match what I see in Finley. Another player that looks goods, but performance does not match.

aussiepacker's picture

Finley should have sacked his agent for those comments. He just doesnt seem that bright. "But you can’t fix stupid." did you steal that quote from Dana White?

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Lol Aussie, no I didn't. That is a pretty common saying 'round these here parts. Though I have heard Dana use that before... Most recently regarding one moron named Roy Nelson.

Cuphound's picture

I think the fact that Brian Carriveau, of all people, is calling for the axe, suggests that Finley's reputation is sinking to a new level. Brian doesn't call for the guillotine very often.

I wonder if we would benefit from a new stat tracking Packer fan opinion. We could call it the "Okay, Now Even Brian's Pissed" Indicator. I wonder if It could correlate as well with a player being sacked as the Dagger correlates with called victory or loss. I'll be watching the offseason even more closely this year...

Jake's picture

On an unrelated note, does anyone know how Quarless' recovery is going?

Evan's picture

Brian just retweeted: "BrianCarriveau RT @WesHod: MM: Frank Zombo is getting close, Andrew Quarless is getting close. Sherrod is probably a little further away"

WTF is going on with Sherrod? I'm going to hate watching Brooks Reed run around on Sunday and think of what could have been...

CSS's picture

Brooks Reed is a blue collar, effort guy, but I'm having a really hard time getting a feel for how much talent he really has considering J.J. Watt is playing in front of him on roughly 70% of his snaps? Feels like Watt would make Erik Walden look like an all-pro over there. Haven't seen Reed really do anything to justify his draft status to date.

Not saying I don't question what Sherrod is or will be, but it's really hard to tell what Reed really is.

Evan's picture

The JJ Watt point is a really good one.

pkrNboro's picture

"WTF is going on with Sherrod?"

IIRC, during the next-day (or so?) press conference after his injury, McCarthy mentioned that Sherrod had stayed in KC, and would return later due to a surgery that had some complications and lasted longer than expected.

So... knowing the NFL and Coach-BS-Speak, this likely means that the leg was almost severed, and that he had a combination of gangrene and a staph infection.

Flanagan broke both bones in his lower leg years ago. It took over a year before he made it back, albeit maybe not to his previous ability. Perhaps Sherrod has had some nerve damage as well, and is facing a long recovery similar to Peyton and Tramon. My guess would be that LT is more demanding physically compared to Center, as well as less forgiving of a lingering injury.

My memory of Sherrod is fading. About all I recall was the abortive attempt at LG and a ridiculously wide stance -- it looked like about 6ft -- every time he engaged in a block. I checked YouTube for his college video, and he looked OK -- maybe a little too upright, but basically normal. So the squatting-stance business maybe Campen's influence.

packsmack25's picture

Yeah, for a 300 pound guy to break his leg like that, it's just not going to be an easy road to recovery.

pkrNboro's picture

I thought he'd put on weight, given his size and the inactivity -- but seems like I remember training camp photos and that he looked fit.

Seems like I also remember a GBPG guy saying that he didn't walk with a limp.

In consideration of both, I got the distinct (and incorrect) impression that he'd make the 53.

So McCarthy's comments come as a surprise (...I feel dirty)

PadLevel's picture

Yet another OL talent wasted by Campen. Our OL is not going to improve until we get someone qualified to coach that position. As usual McCarthy makes aan adjustment too late in the ball game

packsmack25's picture

I don't like Campen either, but what does that have to do with Sherrod's recovery?

jack in jersey city's picture

nobody has mentioned that DJ Williams is now out with a hamstring injury. he needs to recover quickly

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

That's what my initial post was in response to Jack. Real bummer. With Finley sucking and being douchey, I was really going Williams role would increase... Starting Sunday night. Sux.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

My bad, that was on another thread. It read "JESUS. EFFING. C.". If I remember correctly. :-)

dilligaff's picture

I agree that it takes two, JF identified one of the many problems this team has and what he said is correct.

But this should not have been said outloud by JF in public setting.

Packer's problems start with Arod and move down the roster.

If JF

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Keep it in the locker room. Keep your QBs name out yer agents mouth. Period.

Point Packer's picture

I don't care what anybody says about how great a talent this guy is, he doesn't catch the ball, is a liability in the locker room, is arrogant beyond all recognition and just overall really comes across as not that smart a player on or off the field. He may also have vision problems.

Dump him for draft picks.

JerCatchTheBall Finally.

Point Packer's picture

Oh and only Brian could work "Rent" into an article about Jermichael Finley. Well done. Brilliant.

Ceallaigh's picture

Finley had officially gone from petulant child to a toxic presence in the locker room. There is now a marked pattern using "the quarterback" as a target for blame. He is deliberately dropping passive aggressive bombs to divide a locker room. In retrospect, that little "problems with leadership" comment from his manager sounds like Baratz was just hired gun dropping another load of poison exactly where Jermichael Finley intended. Too bad Finley's hubris blinds him to the fact that if that "chemistry problem escalates, it's not Rodgers that is going on the trade block. Go ahead, try to destroy trust in that locker room, Fin. It's a guarantee you'll be looking for real estate in Jacksonville or Oakland.

Oppy's picture

Um, what if there IS a chemistry problem between Rodgers and Finley?

And, what if it really is Rodgers not reciprocating?

Not saying it's that way, but isn't that a possibility?

BTW, never confuse what the media portrays to the public- or what fans decide to believe all on their own- as factual account. I have not EVER seen a direct statement from a credible source(media or player/coach) about Jermichael Finley being anything close to resembling a "toxic presence in the locker room."

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I guarantee you Oppster, if 88 starts hanging onto the ball, we will never hear about a chemistry problem again. Guar. An. Tee.

Oppy's picture

Exactly like "If Aaron Rodgers stops throwing picks and starts scoring at will like he was in 2011, I guarantee we never hear about a problem from with rookies on the scout-look defensive squad ever again."

Rodgers has seemingly ruffled more feathers with HIS comments, and riled up the organization more with HIS comments, than Jermichael Finley has with his words, so it would seem.. We now have three defensive coaches and a number of players who are seemingly stepping up and making statements that seem to contradict Rodgers' statements about the scout team giving poor enough looks to the starting defense that the staff and team has been addressed my MM about it.

Nobody seems to care about those ruffled feathers- and it seems to have actually struck a chord with the team. I'm just pointing out the HUGE double standards people have when it comes to Finley.

Rocky70's picture

Fitz
You'll never convince the pro-Fin people on this subject no matter how obvious. AR is the 'only' elite player on the "O" & is the key to this team now & for the next several years. JFinn is no more than a prop. When he's vanquished to another team, he will not be missed. GB will easily adapt & AR will again prevail.

Elite QBs always prevail. (Ask Tom Brady)

wgbeethree's picture

Some surprising numbers.......

Jimmy Graham has played in 38 career games (including playoffs) and has 2076 yards in those games.
Finley in his last 38 games (including playoffs) has 2076 yards.

Last year in the regular season Graham had 99/1310/11 on 149 targets.
Finley has 98/1266/10 on his last 149 targets.

Take from that what you will.

Denver's picture

Very surprising, indeed.
I would venture to guess, though, that Graham doesn't refer to Brees as 'The Quarterback'. He probably also hasn't repeatedly mentioned chemistry issues with him.
I really, really still want to like #88 and still hope he turns into a great TE. He just keeps making it too difficult to do so.

Evan's picture

Wait, just so I'm clear, you're comparing Jimmy Graham's complete 2011 season with Finley's last 149 targets overall, right?

packsmack25's picture

It's only fair, as the opportunities are what really matters for receivers.

Evan's picture

Yeah, I just wanted to make sure he didn't mistype or I was misunderstanding.

MarkinMadison's picture

It's a little messed up though. You could put me out there and I'd never be targeted because I would never get open against an NFL defender. So it is a way of looking at the numbers, but like all statistics it is a bit misleading. And then there is the whole ability to stay healthy.

CSS's picture

It's not misleading when you generate an apples-to-apples comparison. Break down all the numbers on a per-target basis and you have the starting point for a conversation about productivity. The only number that's not posted is the drop rate per target, where Finley is grossly under-performing Graham (and the league).

The health criticism is a fair one, but on the flip-side the Packers offense generated historic numbers with Finley was healthy for a full year.

bigbill992001's picture

How many drops has Graham/Finley had in those 149 targets? Can you imagine the #s JF would have if he had only half the drops?

packsmack25's picture

It would be interesting to see those numbers broken down by total dropbacks, too. The Saints have averaged about 7 more pass attempts a game than the Packers the past three seasons. That adds up to almost 100 more per season.

Oppy's picture

....Think about these numbers, and then remember: We're all DISAPPOINTED IN FINLEY BECAUSE IT'S CLEAR TO EVERYONE WHO WATCHES HIM PLAY THAT HE'S NOT SCRATCHING THE SURFACE OF HIS POTENTIAL.

Let that sink in for a minute.

pkrNboro's picture

Why can't Finley do what politicians do ?

(1) "That's a great question!"

(2) "I'd like to thank you for asking that great question!"

(3) "Your questions are very important to me!"

(4) "Next question!"

Oppy's picture

Because he's got a personality and he's not ashamed of it?

Because he feels he has a right to voice his opinion and he's not afraid of what people think?

What a jerk.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I can't believe you're still apologizing for the guy.

Oppy's picture

I can't believe I have to apologize for Packers fans' ridiculous attitudes about relatively innocuous comments from a guy who isn't even close to the "locker room cancer" so many people attempt to make him out to be.

Perhaps we need a real locker room cancer to suit up in the Green and Gold for a year or two so we can all learn the difference

Rocky70's picture

“locker room cancer”

You have no inside info that supports your claims. JFinn could very well be a "locker room cancer" at this point. You're not even a "fly on the wall" so quit acting like you own the truth. You don't.

pkrNboro's picture

My post was pretty innocuous with a bent towards humor.

And it was also in sync with the political season, which I thought made it somewhat benign.

However, your response seems out of proportion to anything I posted here...

mike's picture

time for finley to pull up his little girl panties and start playing some football.!

al's picture

Make a statement. Cut Finley. Give someone else a chance. It cant get much worse than it is now.

Correction: Trade him for a RB.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Tyrell Sutton!

pkrNboro's picture

Noah Herron

Displaced Hodag's picture

Samkon Gado

Denver's picture

Herbert Goodman AKA 'Whisper'

Oppy's picture

What about Donald Driver?

He spent all off season spouting off to locker room reporters that he's still the starter until someone tells him differently.

He told them over and over, when reporters questioned his diminished skills, that he's still just as fast, still catches everything thrown at him, stating repeatedly "just watch the film" (even though the film and numbers clearly show a guy who can't consistently get separation and who dropped an alarming number of passes.

Driver also told reporters more than once that he can only do what he can do with his opportunities- HE doesn't decide where the ball goes, HE doesn't throw it. That CERTAINLY sounds like an attempt to blame the QB for not giving him the ball- and DD never accepts responsibility for his drops.

Many fans proclaim DD has "earned" the right.. the right to be just as big, or a bigger, jerk than Finley without being lambasted?

Massive double standards for Packers fans.

Don't like Finley's lack of production on the field? I get that. Making him out to be a cancerous distracting loud mouth and that's the reason he needs to be sat down? Kinda silly- the NFL is all about performance. No one should care about anything else. No reason to believe Finley is disruptive to the team.

NoWayJose's picture

Interesting point, but it's more than just looking at the "quotes" on the page. It's not always what you say, it's how you say it.

DD has one the all-time winning personalities. Hell, his smile is famous to non-football fans who watch that godawful TV show he was on.

Finely projects (at times) mopey-ness, arrogance, aloofness, etc.

They can say similar words, but people take it differently because of how they say it. And that's fair because communication isn't all about words in real life.

There is PLENTY of reason to think Finely is disruptive to the team at this point.

packsmack25's picture

He only displays those things if you turn a jaded eye toward him.

More to the point of what Oppy is saying, Greg Jennings said this:
http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/64056997.html

James Jones said this:
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82243f26/article/packers-wr-jones-...

And even Jordy mentioned the dreaded "c word" in this interview:
http://blog.packers.com/2012/01/26/jordy-nelson-you-have-to-make-the-mos...

So you see, Finley is no different than the other guys to whom Aaron is spreading the ball. He's just the only one that the fans and media have decided is a "bad egg." The problem is, he's really not.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

+1.

montanapackerfan's picture

take finley the fuck out of there! sick of him! tom crabtree needs more playing time and hopefully quarless and williams will be healthy soon enough..

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