The talented tight end for the Green Bay Packers, Jermichael Finley, has seemed to be on the cusp of a breakout season for a few years now. In 2010, he started strong with 301 receiving yards in four games, but he suffered a gruesome injury that put him on injured reserve. Once healthy in 2011, he struggled catching the ball and never topped 90 receiving yards in a game.
On Wednesday, after the end of OTAs, Finley spoke to Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee about his struggles in 2011 and whether his contract situation affected him:
I’m not blaming it on my offseason, but me and the QB didn’t have chemistry. The routes were off sometimes, and that’ll mess with your head when the ball comes. The contract didn’t bother me at all. Not one bit. Not one bit.
However, he went on to say this about improving that chemistry for the upcoming season:
If you go over the years I’ve done well, we had an offseason program, we had minicamps, we had training camps. So, we had three processes that we were going through for us to get the chemistry. This year, I feel it and it’s going to be a good one. I guarantee it.
Finley obviously sees the offseason programs as a priority to get on the same page with Aaron Rodgers, and feels that the lockout prevented him from being at his best with the Packers quarterback. Whether it's due to chemistry or something else, I feel that a lack of consistency was Finley's issue last season. Sure, he is talented and can be a game-planning challenge for opposing defensive coordinators, but his numbers don't exactly leap off the board when looking through the stat sheet. We'll take a look after the jump.
Consider this: in 2011, Finley caught three or fewer passes in ten of the Packers' 16 games. New England's Rob Gronkowski only had one such game last season, while Jimmy Graham of the Saints had none. Finley scored touchdowns in six games last season. Gronkowski scored in ten games, Graham nine. I tend to think of an "excellent game" as when a player has 80 yards and at least one score. Finley had two excellent games in 2011, while Gronk had eight of those and Graham put up five.
Now for Finley's comments on those players, who soundly outperformed him last season:
I know Gronk and Jimmy Graham, they did well last year. But in this league, you’ve got to do it consistently. If you’ve shown that you can do it one time, you have to come back and do it. They’re going to have to show me something.
No offense, Jermike, but I think that you are the one who needs to show something. Those two each have one "big year" more than you do. Packers fans desperately want to see the game-changing, league-dominating tight end that you think you are. It's time to back up the big talk.