Green Bay Packers: What Type of Year Can Jermichael Finley Have?
There is little doubt that Jermichael Finley is one of the most physically intimidating tight ends in the league. At 6'5" and 247 pounds, Finley's combination of size and athleticism makes him one of the hardest players to defend in the NFL.
Unfortunately, in his four years since entering the NFL, he has yet to fully cash in on his potential. Whether it has been injuries, drops or chemistry issues, the Green Bay Packers have yet to see the complete, finished product of Finley.
However, the upcoming season will finally be the year that people stop saying, "What if?" about Finley. Today we'll take a brief look at what Packers fans can expect from Finley during the 2012 season.
During the 2011 season, Finley was targeted a total of 91 times, which was the 11th most for tight ends. Of those 91 targets, he only caught 55 passes.
One of the biggest issues concerning Finley has been his hands, and 2011 saw him record a league-leading 12 drops for tight ends. However, the key statistic here is the amount of targets that Finley received.
Last year, Greg Jennings was thrown at 96 times, and Jordy Nelson was throw at 93 times. Jennings recorded 67 receptions, while Nelson recorded 68.
This is closer to the number of receptions that Finley should post in the upcoming season. He won't ever get close to 100 receptions like Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski simply because that isn't how the Packers offense works, but ending the year around 67 or 68 receptions will definitely happen.
In 2011, Finley posted a career-high 767 receiving yards. His 13.9 yards per reception was one of the best marks in the league for his position.
It's very likely that both his receiving yards and yards per reception will increase during the 2012 season. The most profitable way for the Packers to use Finley is deep down the middle of the field where he can create constant mismatches against either a linebacker or safety.
Will Jermichael Finley make the Pro Bowl in 2012?
While the Packers certainly tried to find Finley down the seam last year, they'll be more successful at it this year due to teams being forced to pay attention to so many other options other than Finley.
While he may not hit 1,000 receiving yards this year, 900 yards is feasible.
Finley recorded the third-most touchdowns for tight ends in 2011 with eight. To be honest, Finley should have way more touchdowns than this.
In the red zone is where he is the most dangerous. His leaping ability at 6'5" should make him nearly impossible to stop so close to the end zone. While eight touchdowns is certainly impressive, it is nowhere near what it should be.
Whenever Green Bay gets in the red zone, it should be looking to exploit the defense with Finley. Of course, Finley will need to prove that he has fixed his unsure hands, but if that happens, it is absolutely possible that Finley records double-digit touchdowns.
With just under 70 receptions, 900-plus receiving yards and 10-plus touchdowns, Finley will finally silence his critics, make his first Pro Bowl and establish himself as one of the premier tight ends in the league.
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