If Finley is out for the season, can Quarless do the job?

Andrew Quarless was visibly shaken by Jermichael Finley's injury. Should Packers fans worry about Quarless as the No. 1 tight end?

Andrew Quarless was visibly shaken by Jermichael Finley’s injury. Should Packers fans worry about Quarless as the No. 1 tight end?

Three years ago in 2010, the Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl with a rookie Andrew Quarless as their starting tight end.

That year, Jermichael Finley suffered a knee injury in week six against Washington and was forced to miss the remainder of the season; Quarless stepped in and the role of the Packers’ tight end shrunk within the offense. Prior to going down, Finley was on pace for 84 receptions and 1,204 receiving yards–an average of five catches and 75 yards per game.

After Finley was lost for the season, Quarless caught two or fewer passes in 14 of the team’s remaining 16 games, including playoffs.

Fast forward to October 2013, and Finley, again, faces an uncertain future after suffering a bruised spinal cord Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Finley is out of intensive care and walking on his own, but he’ll undergo more tests before a decision is made on his future for this season and beyond.

According to sources via ESPN, there is “no specific timetable for Finley’s return to the field, but indications are that he likely will miss at least four to six weeks.” Ed Werder tweeted Tuesday that Finley’s injury was not believed to be career-threatening, although the Packers could consider placing him on the injured reserve sometime later this week.

Clearly, at this point, no decision has been made on Finley’s availability this season.

The most optimistic will point to 2010 and suggest that plugging Quarless into the lineup for Finley will be enough. But as things currently stand, the Packers’ group of wide receivers is certainly not as strong as it was in 2010.

Then, the Packers made up for losing Finley by featuring Greg Jennings as the No. 1 target, while Jordy Nelson was exceptional in the stretch run and into the playoffs. James Jones and Donald Driver held their own as the third and fourth options.

Right now, the Packers will likely head into their matchup in Minnesota with Nelson and Jarrett Boykin as their starting receivers. At tight end, it’ll be Quarless along with a combination of Brandon Bostick and others. Myles White will likely be the No. 3 receiver, like he was last week against Cleveland.



Rant About the Packers Losing to the Bengals Here:

Are you still pissed off about the Packers losing to the Bengals?

I am. What a God-awful game.

I’m going to use this space to rant and rave like a lunatic. Please feel free to do the same in the comments.

Jeremy Ross
Why is he still on the team? Forget fumbling, he simply can’t catch a kick. And on the rare occasions when the ball doesn’t clank off his hands like a Mason Crosby field goal hitting the upright, he looks slower than me on returns.

Mike McCarthy coddles these guys during training camp then wonders why half the team sits out with a sore hamstring once the real games actually start. Half the guys that miraculously don’t pull their hamstrings end up going down with some other type of injury. When is this organization going to admit that all of these injuries every single season aren’t just bad luck and change its philosophy about tackling in training came and at practice?

Mike McCarthy
So the Packers have the best quarterback in the NFL and on fourth-and-1 on the game’s biggest play you choose to run a midget rookie running back straight into the teeth of a ferocious defensive line. Even Aaron Rodgers thought you were out of your mind today and let you know about it right in front of the TV cameras, Mike.

Aaron Rodgers
Can we get a fourth quarter comeback at some point in your career, Aaron? Please?

David Bakhtiari
If one of your coaches ever asks you to cut block again, David, punch him in the face. In addition to giving up the batted pass on the last play, the guy you were supposed to be blocking, DE Michael Johnson, finished with seven tackles, one sack and four QB hurries.

Another Packers player leaves with a concussion after getting drilled in the head on a play where no flag is thrown. Ryan Taylor gets punched in the junk and is flagged for retaliating. The Packers need to sign Steve Austin so he can deliver a Stone Cold Stunner to the next ref that hoses the Packers by missing one of these calls.



Bittersweet Super Bowl for Some Green Bay Packers Players

Nick Barnett
This article was written before the recent controversy surrounding Nick Barnett, Jermichael Finley, and the Super Bowl team photo. It is not meant as a commentary on that issue, simply as a reflection of all those players on IR not being able to play in Super Bowl XLV.

“Bitter sweet bitter sweet.”

That was the tweet from Nick Barnett on Monday after the NFC Championship Game, and it very succinctly described how some of the Green Bay Packers players on injured reserve must be feeling right now.

Barnett was a first round draft selection (29th pick) for the Packers in 2003, and has started for them at inside linebacker ever since. Though he has never played in a Pro Bowl, he was named an alternate for the game in each of his first five seasons. He made himself into a staple of the Green Bay defense and was a part of the 2007 team that was close to winning the NFC Championship.

So you can understand why this trip to Super Bowl XLV brings some mixed emotions.

For the man who made a fad (and pseudo-business) of the “XLV or Die” mantra, he will still only get to watch – and not play – with his team when they face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Dallas.

Jermichael Finley, star tight end for the Green Bay Packers, is another man among the 15 injured reserve players who was calling for this to be a special season. His “YOTTO” (Year Of The Take Over) battle cry was a popular hashtag on Twitter around game time, even after his injury.

But while Finley has plenty of time (and potential) in his career to make a return trip to the Super Bowl, other injured players may not be so lucky.

Barnett is in his eighth year with the Packers and will be turning 30 years old this May. His replacement, Desmond Bishop, has done admirably this season, and even earned himself a contract extension in January. The suddenly-crowded inside linebacker position has people wondering if Barnett will even make it back to the roster next year.

Veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher, however, has even less hope for getting back to, and playing in, the Super Bowl.



Have Injuries Possibly Made the Green Bay Packers Better?

As heretical as it may sound, the sheer amount of injuries that have devastated the Packers this season might have just made them a more dangerous team. The Packers of today are essentially an entirely different team than the one that took the field 5 months ago and that has caused confusion for other teams.

One of the most important pre-game preparations is watching game film on team’s and player’s tendencies. The tricky part about playing a team with a new or relatively new players is that there simply isn’t much tape on them.  Couple that with a smart coach who plays to his player’s strengths and the whole team can operate differently.

For instance, the 49ers obviously were at a disadvantage since they had no way of knowing that James Starks was going to be the “hot” running back in week 13 nor did the Bears pay much attention to Erik Walden in the days leading up to the week 17 game.

On the offense, the 3 most significant injuries were to starting running back Ryan Grant, starting tight end Jermichael Finley and starting right tackle Mark Tauscher. Losing Mark Tauscher was perhaps the easiest to cope with; after a disastrous season for the offensive line in 2009, the Packers chose tackle Bryan Bulaga with their first pick and while he has gone through the ups and downs typical of a rookie, he has graded out as the best linemen in terms of pass protection.

While he may not be a finished product just yet, he surely isn’t a liability and in the long run the experience he gains now will probably help him as he becomes the left tackle of the future.

Losing Ryan Grant was a big blow for the offense, in particular in the beginning of the season. While Grant was never the explosive big name running back, he fit particularly well in the Packers offensive scheme and always seemed to be able to get at least a couple yards, regardless of the situation.

Without him, the Packers were left with Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn. While neither was able to fill Grant’s shoes entirely, Kuhn has evolved into a very good short distance runner and with the emergence of rookie James Starks, the Packers have perhaps a slightly upgraded version of Ryan Grant for the future.