Jermichael Finley: Wide Receiver

A couple days ago I accidentally said WR Patrick Williams is the Green Bay Packers' No. 6 wide receiver. I corrected myself (he's only No. 5), but on second though it might have been a freudian slip. From Tom Silverstein at JSOnline.com:

Over the course of the last four games - all victories - Finley has been the target of more Aaron Rodgers passes than anybody else, including the top four receivers. Finley has been targeted 31 times compared with Greg Jennings' 28, Donald Driver's 26, James Jones' 12 and Jordy Nelson's four...

The gradual shift to a Finley-centric offense clearly has puzzled the team's wide receivers, who are used to being Rodgers' favorite targets...

He lined up all over the field, including in the slot or out wide with three receivers, and continually got favorably matchups on smaller, slower defensive backs.

Finley still does some things like a tight end. He might line up alongside a tackle on a running play, or stop in the backfield when he goes in motion to stay in as an extra blocker. But I usually notice him when he's lined up wide, or running a crossing route, like a wide receiver. When TE Donald Lee or TE Spencer Havner are catching passes, they are usually a check down receiver in the middle or out in the flat. Usually a tight end is drawing a linebacker in coverage, but as Tom Silverstein said, TE Jermichael Finley is often finding himself matched up against defensive backs. Which is what usually happens to a wide receiver.

Tom Silverstein went on to say that WR Greg Jennings and WR James Jones "were careful with their words" which isn't surprising. At least for Jones, he probably doesn't want to admit that Finley has moved ahead of him on the depth chart.

The one thing I'm not sure about is whether this is a good thing. According to Football Outsiders, Finley has been more productive than Jones this season. Moving Finley ahead of Jones is probably an improvement. But I wonder if WR Jordy Nelson would be even better in Finley's role if given the chance?  

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