Everywhere I look on the InterWeb, I find stories about Aaron Rodgers’ three receiving targets this year on the Green Bay Packers: James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
And a fine trio of wide receivers they are. You’ve got Jones, the touchdown-maker. Then there’s Nelson, the field-stretcher. And of course the emerging Cobb is Mr. Everything, lining up out of the backfield, out wide or in the slot to keep defenses guessing.
The speculation is who will rise up to be that fourth receiving weapon? Will it be Jarret Boykin? Jeremy Ross? Could it perhaps be one of the recently drafted rookies, Charles Johnson or Kevin Dorsey?
OK, stop just for a moment – does it seem like we’re forgetting someone? Someone who has been in the conversation in the past but who seems curiously absent from it in the wake of departures by Donald Driver via retirement and Greg Jennings via free-agency back-stab to the Vikings?
Oh yeah, that guy: tight end Jermichael Finley.
If one remembers, Sir-Drops-a-Lot was actually targeted 88 times last year. Nearly half of those – 41 – came out of Rodgers’ right hand over the last seven games of the season, to the tune of 396 yards, nearly two-thirds of Finley’s output for the year (667).
Nelson’s last seven full games (he missed a few due to injury)? Also 41 targets, for 485 yards. James Jones? He saw 35 targets over his last seven games, for 322 yards (and, granted, six very important touchdowns that Finley didn’t produce). As for Randall Cobb, he got the lion’s share of targets with 54, to go along with 491 yards and four receiving touchdowns.
Greg Jennings and Donald Driver accounted for a combined 46 targets over the last seven games (Jennings played in only five, while Driver didn’t see a target after Nov. 18).
My question is this: Will anyone be at all surprised if Sir-Drops-a-Lot sees a lot of those extra targets? Granted, he’s had attitude problems in the past and likely will continue to, but he’s in a true prove-it season, he has an opportunity to make a ton of money in free-agency, and against all odds, Rodgers seems to trust him.
All I’m saying is that the fact all has gone quiet in regards to Finley seems to indicate he’s being overlooked. You couldn’t write a better script about a guy choosing just the right time to pull his head from his nether region and finally fulfilling the potential he’s long shown.
Finley dropped six passes last year (and 12 the season before), but this year he has pledged to donate money to charity for each drop. That in itself shows he has at least admitted he has a problem (hey, that’s the first step to recovery!). More importantly, I think Finley is likely to use the allure of a mega-contract to do whatever he can to make this his career year.
I’m not making any bold predictions here, and I still expect Cobb to lead the Packers in targets, but it won’t surprise me a bit to see Finley step up and make some waves for different reasons this year.
Maybe the prospect of a bank-breaking deal in free-agency will actually help his on-field chemistry with Rodgers.