Finley's concussion proves his value to Packers
When Jermichael Finley suffered concussion on Sunday afternoon, there had to have been a bit of a flashback for the Green Bay Packers coaching staff.
After a breakout second year in 2009 in which Finley started 10 of the 13 games he played and caught 55 balls (five for touchdowns) for 676 yards, Mike McCarthy admittedly centered his 2010 offense around the 6-foot, 4-inch, 240-pound tight end out of Texas.
It worked, too.
Through the first four games Finley was on pace for 84 catches and over 1,200 yards. He scored just one touchdown in those starts, but was making a difference in a 3-1 start to the year in opening things up for others on the outside. The Packers averaged 26.5 points per game in those contests and Aaron Rodgers completed 68.9 percent of his passes with a 96.3 rating.
Then, in the fifth game of the season against Washington, he injured his knee, resulting in season-ending surgery. Including that game, the Packers went 2-2 immediately after Finley's injury and Rodgers saw his completion percentage drop to 55.1 percent and his rating plummet to 76.1. The scoring dropped too, down to 17.5 points per game.
Of course, the Packers figured it out and the team went 5-2 down the stretch while Rodgers completed 71.4 percent of his passes for a ridiculous 122 rating. He threw 16 touchdowns against 2 interceptions in the regular season and the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl.
McCarthy vowed to never feature one player again, and since those first four games of 2010 Finley has often frustrated and titillated the Packers with flashes of that greatness against frustrating drops.
He caught 55 passes in 13 starts in 2011 and 61 in 14 starts in 2012. (It's amazing he hasn't started every game, right?)
He caught eight touchdowns in 2011, but has only had more than two one other time in his five year career, back in 2009 (That seems like a typo, doesn't it?)
Now, we come to 2013.
Through the first two games Finley had caught 11 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns and the team put up 66 points.
"'J Mike' had a great training camp so I was expecting him to come out here and have a huge year," Packers wide receiver James Jones said.
"He started off well and hopefully he continues to just add the confidence that he's the best tight end in the game. When he puts it all together, confidence and his playmaking ability, there's really nobody that's truly better than him in in the National Football league, in my opinion. I practice with the guy and seen him do some incredible things. If he puts it all together and continues to put it all together and goes out there and plays like he can play, he's one of the best tight ends in the game."
Against Cincinnati, Finley was targeted one time before being injured. For the game, Rodgers completed 60 percent of his passes while tossing one touchdown against two interceptions. The offense as a whole accounted for just 16 points.
A concussion is not as immediately serious as a blown knee – it's likely Finley will be back on the field after this week's bye. But it does make him prone to future concussions, and it makes you wonder if we'll see the same Finley we've seen through the first three weeks, the player who has dominated physically and left his teammates watching in awe.
"That's the type of stuff he does," Jones said, specifically about Finley's jaw-dropping catch and run against the San Francisco 49ers where he broke multiple tackles down the sideline in week 1.
"I tell him you should never get tackled by one guy. You should always run through the first defender. I understand that you're big and they're coming at your knees and stuff and that's part of the game but you should never get tackled by one guy. Once he instills that mindset every play, look out."
It will be curious if he's able to continue to play like that following this latest injury. The Packers hope so, too, because while he may not be the central focus of the offense, it's clear that it works far better if he's on the field than not.
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.