Monday, November 19, 2012

Jermichael Finley Emerges From Hibernation

The one point I forgot to mention from the Green Bay Packers' win over the Lions was the big game by TE Jermichael Finley.

Earlier this season, I had still been reading the conventional wisdom that Finley's actual stats don't matter because he draws the focus of the defense. I'm not sure that's ever been the case this season. Now we've seen defenses do the opposite and almost ignore him entirely, which is what the Lions did last Sunday. At least Finley proved that he can't be ignored.

His first big reception was his 20 yard touchdown pass, where the Packers faked a screen pass to a running back and the Lions left Finley uncovered in the middle of the field. His last reception was a 40 yard catch and run down the side line that set up the game winning touchdown pass to WR Randall Cobb. On both plays, after Finley caught the ball and found himself with room to run, it seemed like he had no idea what to do. At first he was bracing for contact and when it didn't come,  he hit the gas. It was funny, in a sad way, how he seemed to forget what it was like to make a big play.

Both plays might have been designed specifically for Finley, though the Packers probably didn't diagram so many broken tackles on his 40 yard run. I saw him line up wide on a few plays which is something I haven't seen a lot this season. The Packers had been treating him like just another tight end over the past few games and Finley rewarded them with a couple big plays and no drops.

And now for something completely different: what the heck was Nick Fairley thinking? He certainly saved himself a big fine.

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