Green Bay Packers TE Jermichael Finley contributes to offense as a decoy, too

Oct. 4, 2011

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Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley (88) is brought down by Denver Broncos free safety Rahim Moore (26) and defensive end Jason Hunter (52) during the first quarter of Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. / File/Gannett Wisconsin Media


Not everyone was happy about the Green Bay Packers’ offensive performance against the Denver Broncos Sunday.

Despite an awe-inspiring six-touchdown, 507-yard effort by the offense, Jermichael Finley wasn’t pleased with his limited production.

Finley caught three passes for a season-low 28 yards against the Broncos, who often double-teamed the Packers’ dangerous tight end and forced quarterback Aaron Rodgers to look elsewhere.

“Their main focus you could tell was stopping Jermichael,” said Rodgers.

After watching Finley catch three touchdown passes against the Chicago Bears the week before, the Broncos were bound and determined not to get beat that way. In a classic case of picking their poison, the Broncos chose instead to meet their demise at the hands of Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and the rest of the Packers’ talented receiving corps.

That is the beauty of the Packers’ multi-dimensional attack, which can gash an opponent in so many different ways that opposing defensive coordinators are throwing up their hands in utter befuddlement.

Finley didn’t do much damage catching passes against the Broncos, but his mere presence opened things up for the wide receivers. Jennings, Nelson, Donald Driver and James Jones were all part of the Packers’ touchdown parade, and they can give Finley some credit for that.

But the Packers tight end was feeling a little lonely and frustrated. Finley suggested afterward that the coaches will have to come up with ways to combat double-teams against him.

“We’ll have to go back, not being selfish or nothing, but go back and dial up something so you can get your playmaker the ball in games like that when it’s close,” said Finley.

On the contrary, if a defense is so worried about Finley to the point that other receivers are running free, isn’t that what the Packers would welcome?

The goal, first and foremost, is to win games. What better way to accomplish that than to give Rodgers, the team’s true playmaker, the football and let him guide the offense up and down the field at will using any number of weapons at his disposal?

Rodgers has emerged as the best quarterback in the NFL and is on pace to pass for 5,300 yards this year, which would shatter Lynn Dickey’s single-season franchise record by an astounding 842 yards. If Rodgers keeps this up, he will also connect on 412 passes, produce 48 touchdown tosses, complete 73 percent of his throws and finish with a passer rating above 120. Those numbers would not just break but destroy franchise records.

One key to those gaudy statistics is Rodgers doesn’t need to focus on any single target. If Finley or Jennings or Nelson isn’t open, he’ll go through his progressions and find someone who is.

Finley is one of Rodgers’ most dangerous targets and is sure to produce more big games this season. His strong work ethic and desire to be great are admirable traits.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting the ball, as long as it comes with the understanding that Finley is one component of a highly explosive attack and quiet games like he had against the Broncos are part of deal.

The Packers proved last season they can win a championship without Finley, who injured his knee and was lost for the year in early October. There is no question they are a better team with Finley in the lineup, but his role goes beyond racking up big receiving numbers.

Sometimes serving as a decoy is what’s best for the team. and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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