If Finley is out for the season, can Quarless do the job?

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Andrew Quarless was visibly shaken by Jermichael Finley's injury. Should Packers fans worry about Quarless as the No. 1 tight end?
Andrew Quarless was visibly shaken by Jermichael Finley’s injury. Should Packers fans worry about Quarless as the No. 1 tight end?

Three years ago in 2010, the Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl with a rookie Andrew Quarless as their starting tight end.

That year, Jermichael Finley suffered a knee injury in week six against Washington and was forced to miss the remainder of the season; Quarless stepped in and the role of the Packers’ tight end shrunk within the offense. Prior to going down, Finley was on pace for 84 receptions and 1,204 receiving yards–an average of five catches and 75 yards per game.

After Finley was lost for the season, Quarless caught two or fewer passes in 14 of the team’s remaining 16 games, including playoffs.

Fast forward to October 2013, and Finley, again, faces an uncertain future after suffering a bruised spinal cord Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Finley is out of intensive care and walking on his own, but he’ll undergo more tests before a decision is made on his future for this season and beyond.

According to sources via ESPN, there is “no specific timetable for Finley’s return to the field, but indications are that he likely will miss at least four to six weeks.” Ed Werder tweeted Tuesday that Finley’s injury was not believed to be career-threatening, although the Packers could consider placing him on the injured reserve sometime later this week.

Clearly, at this point, no decision has been made on Finley’s availability this season.

The most optimistic will point to 2010 and suggest that plugging Quarless into the lineup for Finley will be enough. But as things currently stand, the Packers’ group of wide receivers is certainly not as strong as it was in 2010.

Then, the Packers made up for losing Finley by featuring Greg Jennings as the No. 1 target, while Jordy Nelson was exceptional in the stretch run and into the playoffs. James Jones and Donald Driver held their own as the third and fourth options.

Right now, the Packers will likely head into their matchup in Minnesota with Nelson and Jarrett Boykin as their starting receivers. At tight end, it’ll be Quarless along with a combination of Brandon Bostick and others. Myles White will likely be the No. 3 receiver, like he was last week against Cleveland.

In a couple weeks, Jones will likely be back as the No. 2, and Randall Cobb figures to be back a few weeks after that. At that point, assuming the team dodges the ever-popular injury bug, the offense will have plenty of weapons surrounding Rodgers, even if they’re still without Finley.

But after letting Jennings walk to Minnesota this past offseason, the Packers shifted their offense in the direction of Cobb, Nelson, Jones and Finley. Three of those four will be out of the lineup when the Packers cross paths with Jennings this week.

But whether it’s Aaron Rodgers or Christian Ponder, asking a quarterback to maintain a top offense throwing to a subpar receiving corps is no easy task. Even if Eddie Lacy or Adrian Peterson are shouldering the load and moving the chains in the the running game.

Lacy is the wild card; the Packers didn’t have a physical battering ram like him during their 2010 run to Super Bowl XLV. Because of Lacy and Rodgers, the Packers may very well be able to escape the recent rash of injuries with a few wins the next few weeks.

But once the playoff picture begins to take shape, and the competition stiffens, the Packers will be in a tough situation if their bevy of offensive weapons continues to get demolished by injuries. And if that’s the case, a play-making tight end would do wonders for the offense.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson doesn’t often make blockbuster moves, especially not in the middle of the season. But once upon a time in 2008, Thompson thought he had a deal in place that would have landed Tony Gonzalez in exchange for a third-round pick. Ten minutes before the deadline, the Chiefs upped their asking price to a second-round pick.

Now, Gonzalez, at age 37, may be a target for a contender in need of a tight end, should the 2-4 Falcons continue to lose. Atlanta already lost star receiver Julio Jones for the season, and veterans Steven Jackson and Roddy White have each missed time with injuries as well.

With Gonzalez in his last year, and the Packers already facing a crossroads at the position after this season with Finley’s contract set to expire, perhaps Thompson would consider swapping a late-round pick for Gonzalez to load up for a run at a second Super Bowl in four years.

The Falcons have said they’re not trading Gonzalez, and he, himself, has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be traded. But while a one-year rental of Gonzalez would go against Thompson’s track record, so did Thompson’s previous pursuit of a veteran via trade. And for Gonzalez, playing the final chapter of his career in Green Bay would be a unique situation.

So, without a healthy, established tight end currently in Green Bay, where does Quarless fit in?

Quarless will step in with the No. 1 offense in Finley’s absence for the foreseeable future, but the current Packers offense would likely struggle to make it through the NFC come playoff time. With Cobb and Jones back in the fold, the Packers would undoubtedly be in a better situation, and they may be able to get by with a combination of Quarless, Bostick and Jake Stoneburner at tight end.

Can Quarless fill in as the team’s starting tight end? Will it be Bostick? We will soon find out. Or not.


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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.


27 thoughts on “If Finley is out for the season, can Quarless do the job?

  1. Did you read that article on JSonline this morning? Finley is 90% probably done for the year.


    And no, I don’t think Q can do the job. We had 4 outstanding wideouts in 2010. We’ve got 3 (assuming full health) now. Boykin 2013 is no Driver/Jones equivalent circa 2010.

    If it’s going to happen, the running game and D are going to have to carry us to glory.

    1. If last game is any indicator, no, Boykin 2013 is not a Jones 2010 equivalent; he exceeds Jones. This is the same Jones that everyone was clamoring to trade up until last year, isn’t it? Is anyone clamoring to trade Boykin right now?

    2. The doctor referred to in the article has not examined Finley. The people that know are the people that actually examined Finley.

      There is a lot of misinformation out there right now. The latest I heard is that there is no additional risk to Finley if he decided to resume his career. It’s anyone’s guess if this is accurate or not.

      We need to let the situation play out.

      I don’t feel there is anyone on the Packer roster that is even close to Finley’s skill set. But, then, there are only a few in the NFL that are comparable.

      The Packers won the Super Bowl after the 2010 season without him; if the chips fall right, they can do it again.

      1. You are both correct. But how smooth was that offense in 2010 post Finley until mid December?

        Answer: Not good at all. Uneven.

        GB 2013 runs the ball and stops the run much better than in 2010. GB 2013 will sack the passer better (assuming health) than 2010.

        But GB 2013 does NOT have the WR depth that 2010 did. Yes, Jones 2013 is better than Jones 2010. But Jones 2013 is not Jennings 2010.

        And Boykin 2013 is NOT Driver 2010 either. 1 good game does not a solid player make.

        This offense will focus more on running the ball and set up play action. Q can’t be Finley. Defenses are going to play us quite differently from now on. Time to face the music.

        Oh, and I hope I’m wrong. I hope we’re fine. I hope Finley comes back in a few weeks. I hope Boykin becomes great.

        Contingency plans aren’t made on hope.

        1. “This offense will focus more on running the ball and set up play action. Q can’t be Finley. Defenses are going to play us quite differently from now on. Time to face the music.”

          This might be the first time in ages that someone has hinted that opponents might shut down the run and force ARod to beat them with his arm…

          1. Lets hope that’s what they try to do. I doubt it tho. Franchise QB’s will always draw more attention from a D than a running game. That said, all the running game really has to do is hold the LB’s and Safeties for that split second so the receivers can get the separation needed to make a play.

            Its the balance that will make the big difference. Can’t just stop one w/o having a huge game by the other. The great thing is… The Pack can win either way, or both!

        2. The only reason our offense was bad or uneven that year was because of the run game. If you were to take Aaron Rodgers rushing stats away from the team’s total, our run game would have ranked dead last in the NFL in both yards per game, and yards per attempt.

          So yes, we WON the Super Bowl without Jermichael Finley, and according to the stats, his loss wasn’t felt all that much.

  2. For many, Finley has under performed, under achieved, cost too much and over vocalized his greatness. Until these last couple of weeks, many of the readers were looking ahead to our next TE. Now, everyone is crying about the big hole created by his injury. For a team that hasn’t fully used the TE in its offense, I don’t see the panic in losing a TE. We have 4 other TE’s on this team that should be able to step up. Other than Stoneburner, the other guys know the offense.

    We have enough weapons on this team, if we chose to use them. Rodgers showed last week what he can do with a new body stepping up. We need to build more guys into the play calling and our coaches will need to step outside the box a bit but we have the talent to win our next several games without getting someone who doesn’t know the offense and is two days younger than Donald Drive. Steady as she goes…

    1. ” We have 4 other TE’s on this team that should be able to step up.”

      Problem is none of them ever has yet! Quarless has had his chances, Bostic is too raw, same w/ Stoneburner and Taylor is little more than a ST ace.

      There is no one that Defenses will actually consider game planning for.

    2. “For many, Finley has under performed, under achieved, cost too much and over vocalized his greatness.”

      That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a very good player of which there is currently no equal on our roster.

      A great player “underachieving” is still better than a good player “underachieving.”

  3. In today’s game, you need a TE that can get down the field and catch the ball. My vote would be for both Bostick and Stoneburner to play receiver with Quarless used for blocking. I also believe that Nelson, Boykin and White can get open and that Rogers will get them the ball. Both Lacy and Franklyn can catch the ball. Jones has learned to play.

  4. What this situation amounts to is the following comparison:

    2010 Jennings to 2013 Nelson: wash
    2010 Nelson to 2013 Cobb (when healthy): wash
    2010 Jones to 2013 Jones (when healthy): advantage 2013
    2010 Driver to 2013 Boykin: advantage 2010
    2010 Swain to 2013 Myles White (or whoever): wash
    2010 Quarless to 2013 Quarless: wash
    2010 other TE to 2013 other TE: wash
    2010 Starks to 2013 Lacy: advantage 2013
    2010 Brandon Jackson to 2013 Franklin: wash so far (more potential for 2013, though.)
    2010 QJohnson and Kuhn to 2013 Kuhn, advantage 2010
    2010 nobody to 2013 Starks, when healthy: Advantage 2013
    2010 OL to 2013 OL: advantage 2010 pass blocking, 2013 run blocking. (But Aaron is getting better at avoiding sacks)
    2010 Defense to 2013 Defense: advantage 2013 if healthy.

    So the real concern regarding competion level isn’t whether they can replace Finley, its whether Cobb, Jones, Matthews, Perry, Hayward, etc. can get healthy again.

    Keep calm and carry on.

    1. Nelson is better than Jennings. Boykin is better than Driver was in 2010 as he was on his last legs. White will be better than Swain who I never did like. I no longer believe in Kuhn. GB won the super bowl because they had a run game during the playoffs. I now like their chances this year because they again have a run game. GB must replace Finley because they need someone big to go over the middle of the field. I believe that they will turn to Bostick and let him develop in the next 10 games.

    2. This is all irrelevant. Come playoff time, all that matters is whether the Packers can move the ball against their opponent and stop their opponent from scoring on that particular day against that particular opponent.

      It’s a game of matchups against the opponent; not whether a guy in 2013 is better than a guy in 2010.

      1. Somehow I think that how good a particular player is has something to do with how often they can win their individual match ups.

        With all the agonizing over how badly the loss of Finley affects the Packers offense, I though it might be instructive to actually evaluate that talent level. The team is not nearly as badly off as some of us feared.

        Now, as you say, how the upcoming opponents compare is just as important, but that seems like to much info to fit into a response (and I don’t actually know enough about the other teams to make more than a guess based on records so far, we know those teams will also experience roster changes before they play the Pack).

        So mostly my conclusion is ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’

    3. Nelson has always been better than Jennings. I think the dynamic(WR, RB, KR, PR)of Cobb makes him more valuable than Jordy, but ball handling and the constant deep threat evens them out. James Jones just catches TDs. Last year he was ranked 43rd in receptions and 1 in TD catches. the last couple years, Finley has had the drop issues but remained the starter. That should tell you enough about Quarless. From what I have seen from Eddie Lacy, to put any of the RBs over the last 3 years in the same sentence, is just absolutely ridiculous. By far he is head and shoulders over all of them.

  5. Quarless after his injury is a total different player so far and I don’t mean that in a good way.

    His blocking was once quite good but now very disappointing. He’s made a lot of mental mistakes and on a team that hates those, it’s hard to see him sticking around too much longer if he keeps that up.

    Still, I think he has a lot of potential, he’s typically open for check-downs, Rodgers just doesn’t look for him. That’s partially telling but also a flaw of the quarterback. If Quarless or whomever is going to be open in the flat, he needs to get him the ball.

    This offense would be killer with a speedy check down receiver. It’s a great tragedy about DuJuan. He’d be that guy. Hope he comes back strong in 2014.

    Still, there’s a lot of season left and Quarless was out of football for awhile. I’m not going to give up on him yet.


  6. I’m with you James David, Bostic has the most potential out of the young TE on the roster. He has probably the best hands on the team. I really believe if given the opportunity Bostic will emerge as the replacement to JF#88.

  7. The pass D was better so far in 2010, but I think when fully healthy, it will be better this year. We had Clifton playing well and Wells at center in 2010. There wasn’t a team as good as the 49ers(when fully healthy) or Seattle in the NFC in 2010. The Pack needed all its players to win the SB this year. Bulaga at RT would have been better then Barclay, Harris on 3rd downs, Finley and everyone. We still have a chance if we get all our injured players back, and no more get hurt. We need to win the division first and enter the Playoffs and see what happens.

    1. I think the pass defense are a bit deeper this year, if maybe not with quite the same star quality at some positions. But Burnett has taken a major step forward and we’ll see if Hayward still has the takeaway mojo when he comes back. (Hence the when healthy caveat)

      I thin the run defense is clearly better this season, with three wide bodies to stick in the d-line.

      We’ll see about the rest of the league. Atlanta, New Orleans, and the Giants looked pretty good at this point in 2010, too, and the Giants didn’t even get to the playoffs that year.

  8. I like where the position the Packers are in. Sure they’ve gotten bit by the injury bug, but are 4-2 coming into an “easier” stretch of games. Lacy, boykins, bahktiari and the young defenders are filling in well & gaining valuable experience. Stoneburner, Bostic and Quarless are all athletic players chomping at the bit. Best of all, both Joneses, Cobb, Hayward, Starks and Mathews will all be returning, and maybe Worthy, Richardson and additional o-line help. Barring more injuries, they’ll be gaining strength down the stretch and into the post season.

  9. And Perry will be coming back to, Tim. Also, the weak link on the Oline this year seems to be Barclay. Hes been inconsistent. Sherrard is back practicing. Wouldn’t it be great if Sherrard came through and solidified the line at RT

  10. Wagszilla, On Quarless “I think he has a lot of potential, he’s typically open for check-downs, Rodgers just doesn’t look for him. That’s partially telling but also a flaw of the quarterback.”

    I don’t think it’s a flaw…I think he knows through experience that the chances of Quarless catching the ball on a checkdown are slim…

  11. I would love to see Finley back on the field, ONLY if his is able to return. Everything I have read gives the positive possibility that he’ll be able to return.

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