Jermichael Finley: How Bad Is the Green Bay Packers' TE Actually Playing?

Justis MosquedaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 15:  Jermichael Finley #88 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after a play against the New York Giants during their NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 15, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It's only two weeks into the 2012 football season and it seems like all of us Packer fans already have a (familiar might I add) scapegoat. He goes by the name of Jermichael Decorean Finley.

The supercharged love/hate relationship between Packer fans and Finley has been developing for the past four seasons. Thompson and McCarthy try harder to redshirt rookies than any other team in the league, so when Finley only caught six balls his first year it was no surprise.

His sophomore year, 2009, was his breakout season; and the Rodgers-Finley combo almost sealed one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history—in the Cardinals playoff matchup that had Finley rack up 159 yards.

With his expectations to be the "next Antonio Gates" in 2010, he managed to do the biggest thing to stunt his career—get hurt. He only played five games the year the Packers won the Super Bowl, and got grilled for wanting (along with Nick Barnett) to be in the team photo. The same high expectations were placed on his 2011 contract year. This time he had his highest yardage (767) and touchdown (eight) rate ever to back himself up.

Not all was dandy for Finley though. Drops upon drops weren't too rare, and Finley went to the media asking to be paid like a wide receiver in 2012 if the Packers brought him back. Eventually the Packers and Finley settled on a short-term, two-year contract that would benefit both sides.

It didn't handcuff the Packers to a tight end that doesn't block hard and tends to drop passes, and doesn't handcuff Finley to a contract that would prevent him from getting elite money if he reached his potential.

He started this year with a seven-catch, 47-yard, touchdown game against one of the best defenses in the NFL in San Francisco. Not too bad for a guy that said he had "chemistry issues" with his quarterback a couple of months before.

The second game, Chicago, was predicted as his "breakout" game of the year. Pretty much everyone had him as the "X-Factor" against the opponent he usually has great games against (24 catches, 290 yards and four touchdowns in the prior four games he played against the Bears).

Not so fast, my friend. Finley was held to 26 yards that game, and I do mean held as you can see in the video. Throw in a offensive pass interference call and fumble, and you have a rowdy fan base ready to trade you an eighth of the way into the year.

The bottom line is that Finley is what he is, a glorified big wide receiver with some drop problems. He's also going to have much bigger games this year than the two he started off with, so people might want to think before jumping off of the bandwagon so early.