1) Introduction: After displaying flashes of the skill set that would make 99 percent of tight ends in NFL history envious, Jermichael Finley was on the verge of superstardom in September 2010. Five games in, his season was over after tearing his meniscus in Washington. Fully healthy following the Packers Super Bowl run, many could only salivate at the thought of re-inserting Finley into the Aaron Rodgers-led offense in 2011.
Weight: 247 lbs.
3) Expectations coming into the season: Concerns about Finley’s ability to stay healthy were always present, but most expected him to have a Pro Bowl season if he was on the field for 16 games. Another year of growth and maturity, combined with the hunger of not contributing to the Super Bowl run and playing with a top-five quarterback in Rodgers, all put sky-high expectations on Finley’s shoulders.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Finley started quiet but erupted in Week 3 with a three-touchdown performance in Chicago. Two dropped passes in Atlanta were a precursor to a string of drops towards the end of the season, including a three-game stretch from Tampa Bay to New York that saw him drop six catchable passes. Finley then sandwiched a goose egg against the Raiders with 80-yard outputs against the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs. After catching the game-winning touchdown pass from Matt Flynn in Week 17, Finley dropped two passes and stutter-stepped his route on a key third down in the Packers’ playoff loss. Overall, Finley dropped 14 passes in 2011—most among NFL tight ends.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Finley’s production (59 catches, 804 yards and 8 TDs) certainly didn’t reach the expectations placed on him before the season. For a player with as unique a skill set as he possesses, those numbers should have been higher. But Finley’s impact goes beyond statistical analysis, and he was a big reason why the Packers’ group of receivers routinely saw favorable matchups. Opposing defenses made it a weekly chore to ensure Finley wasn’t the one who beat them in the passing game. Packers coach Mike McCarthy couldn’t have made it more clear in his final press conference how important it was to have Finley back in the offense in 2012.
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Finley’s best play was a 19-yard reception in which Rodgers rolled to his right and found the tight end in the second level. He broke a tackle and showed excellent effort after the catch. Everyone will remember Finley’s performance for the two drops, however. The miscommunication between Finley and Rodgers on a third down play in the second half also cost the Packers a golden scoring opportunity.
Season Report Card:
(B) Level of expectations met during the season
(B+) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C+) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: B——————
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2