Focus on Finley – The Playmaker
It was just a week ago that Jermichael Finley was upset about not being thrown the ball enough in the Denver game. Here were his comments:
“For sure, they took me out of the game. I don’t know what I came out with, but hopefully we can go back and dial something up for the double teams. We’ve got to have something for it. We’ll have to go back, not being selfish or nothing, but go back and dial up something so you can get your playmaker the ball in games like that when it’s close.”
From reading that quote, one would think that he was totally ignored in that game. Not having seen the game live, it’s certainly the impression that I had. But looking at the game stats told a different story. Finley had been targeted 6 times but caught only 3 for completions.
Fast forward to the Falcons game, which I did see live. Finley appeared to me to be a big part of the game plan. He was thrown to 7 times and caught 4. He did not always display the excellent hands he possesses. In fact, Finley had a particularly egregious drop at the goal line just before the second half, which cost the Packers 4 points. Here it is:
Five out of the seven times Finley was thrown to in the Atlanta game, it was on a third down. Here’s the breakdown:
1st Q, 4:21: 3rd and 2, complete for 24yds.
2nd Q, 0:18: 3rd and 12, incomplete (drop at the goal line)
3rd Q, 6:26: 1st and 10, incomplete
3rd Q, 1:57: 3rd and 10, complete for 22 yds.
3rd Q, 1:03: 2nd and 10, complete for 7 yds.
4th Q, 11:27: 3rd and 11, incomplete
4th Q, 6:18: 3rd and 2, complete for 24 yds.
The 22 yard gain in the third quarter was a particularly important play. It was a tight 15-14 game at that point, and Finley’s catch and run kept the drive alive and put the ball in Falcons’ territory. Just a few plays later, Greg Jennings would take the ball to the house to put the Packers safely ahead for good. An excited Finley felt the importance of his catch, doing a rather amusing dance after the catch. Here it is:
My initial reaction to this was “you dropped an easy pass earlier -just catch the ball and act like you’ve done it before.” After thinking about it, perhaps that’s why Finley was so animated; he was still pissed at himself for that drop. So, I’m not going to obsess over the celebration.
What I will obsess over is that Finley just do his job and catch the ball. Aaron Rodgers went to him 5 times on third down, so he’s certainly getting targeted when it means something.
We all appreciate Finley’s talent. But if Finley wants to be the Packers “playmaker,” he needs to be reliable and consistent, not flash hot and cold. Then it will truly be TGIF or YOTTO time.——————
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.