Jermichael! Jermichael! Jermichael!
There’s a case of the Jan Bradys going around the Green Bay Packers’ locker room. Playing the role of Marcia – tight end Jermichael Finley.
The Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein raised some eyebrows Friday with his story on what’s becoming known as “the Jermichael Finley question” in blogging circles. Namely, are Packers coaches focusing the offense too much on Finley, ignoring the team’s wide receivers in the process?
Since returning from a knee injury on Nov. 22, Finley has been quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ go-to receiver. Finley has been targeted 31 times in the past four games – all victories – compared to Greg Jennings’ 28, Donald Driver’s 26, James Jones’ 12 and Jordy Nelson’s four.
In fact, Finley leads the team with 22 catches since his return and was a centerpiece of the Packers’ offense last Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Coach Mike McCarthy said he wanted to take advantage of Finley’s size and speed against Chicago’s defensive backs and stressed that weather had nothing to do with the decision to pull back on the use of three-receiver sets.
“I didn’t really classify Chicago as a cold game,” McCarthy said Thursday after practice. “If we don’t feel that we can do certain things based on the weather, then that will change what we do schematically. But personnel-wise, you’re always looking for the matchups, and weather doesn’t really dictate that as much as the concepts, scheme.”
However, the move has still puzzled the team’s wideouts.
Driver, who usually addresses the media after games, wouldn’t comment after catching just two of three passes for 11 yards against Chicago and was still silent Thursday. Jennings and Jones said they’ll do whatever it takes to win, but stressed the three-receiver sets have also been effective.
“We always feel like we have the best matchup when we’re all on the field,” Jones said. “But you have to roll with the punches. Coaches call the plays; all we can do is run them. Do we want to be in more-receiver sets? Yeah.
“The ultimate goal is winning, and we’re winning, so we can’t do too much complaining.”
Jones is right. The team is on a roll – and at just the right time – and McCarthy and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin are right in trying to exploit the mismatch Finley presents for most defenses. With more cold weather games coming up, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers continue focusing on Finley and the running game.
Defenses are going to have to start paying more attention to Finley. That, in turn, may leave teams thin against the Packers’ top four receivers and open up some favorable matchups that could lead to big plays in December.
And that is always a good thing, even if it may seem “puzzling” at first.
Sarah is a writer and editor living in the Twin Cities, a lifelong Packers fan and an ardent supporter of all things anti-Vikings.