I realize this post might right a bit hollow coming barely a week after another post summarizing “everything infuriating” about Mr. Finley, but I do think we need to take a moment to stop and smell the roses here. In this case, the roses are represented by a 6’5″, 250-ish pound tight end, so I don’t recommend actually smelling them (or him, as the case may be), but just embrace the metaphor all the same.
But bizarre metaphors aside, I think it’s important that fans of the Packers realize what a unique talent we have in Jermichael Finley. His size and speed are excellent, and despite his many drops, he’s been one of the most productive tight ends in the league over the last two seasons.
Since the 2011, Finley is tied for 11th among tight ends in receptions (116) and is 7th in yards (1434), He also ranks a healthy 9th in yards per reception (12.36), averaging a first down and a little extra every time he makes a catch.
None of those numbers are really game breaking, but Finley’s never even ranked higher than third on his own team in total receptions during that same time period. He’d almost certainly put up bigger numbers in an offense where he is the focal point.
Finley’s impact doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet, either. As we saw Saturday night, he’s a big presence in the middle of the field, and having a giant, capable receiver occupying safeties will only open things up more for Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb on the outside. And in the red zone, that impact is multiplied all the more, as defenses must align their coverages to account for Finley’s big body, leaving other areas of the shortened field that much more vulnerable to attack.
This could be Finley’s last year in Green Bay. He’s being paid more than eight million dollars for his services this year, and you know that he’s without a doubt aware that he’s auditioning as much for the rest of the league as for the Green Bay Packers. I’s certainly reasonable to be upset over his drops and occasional outbursts. But as we head down the stretch in training camp, remember to appreciate Finley for the player he is. Whether he’s in Green Bay next year or not, we’re not going to see another guy like him for a long time.