Tramon Williams on the way down; Jermichael Finley on the way up


Tramon Williams returns an interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

A couple of questions have been burning in my mind since the Green Bay Packers were beat down in their Divisional Playoff game by the San Francisco 49ers – the first is what’s happened to Tramon Williams? The second is what will we do with Jermichael Finley?

Williams suffered through his second straight down season. Two seasons ago it was attributed to a shoulder injury and while he showed flashes of his old self at various points this past season, he was burned more times than not. Maybe it was the scheme, but there were so many times that Tramon didn’t even seem in the same zip code. Unlike his inspiring season when he helped lead the Packers’ defense to a Super Bowl XLV win, this past season was a big disappointment. He did show flashes, but his inconsistency was more of an issue than we would have liked.

Tramon Williams has been known as the Packers’ best cover guy.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

The season ended for Williams and the Packers as we watched Michael Crabtree eat him alive. It was just plain ugly and prompted Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt to say that Williams isn’t a lock as a starter next season … and he shouldn’t be. With the strong play of rookie Casey Hayward and second-year player Davon House, as well as Sam Shields, Williams may be the odd man out next year. Whitt said Williams will have to compete for a starting spot, which at this point is probably best for everyone.

On the other side of the line of scrimmage is tight end Jermichael Finley. The talented 25-year-old has one more year left on his two-year contract and from the way Mike McCarthy talked about him in his season-ending press conference it seems the Packers will bring him back for that final year. Where they go from there isn’t clear, but what is clear was the play of Finley the last half of the season.

Here’s what McCarthy had to say: “I really felt Jermichael Finley was a different man, a different player from the bye week on. I had an opportunity to talk to him about that at length in his exit interview, so I feel very good about the way he finished the year.

“There was a change in that young man. We obviously have to look at the first half, too, and make sure that’s part of the evaluation because we’re all judged on 16 games.”

In fact, it was the Sunday after a Bob McGinn story that claimed the Packers would cut Finley once the season was over that Finley came out like gangbusters, piling up receptions with nary a drop. By season’s end, Finley collected 61 receptions which broke Paul Coffman’s 33-year-old franchise record and gave the team reason to bring him back for at least one more run.

In his first six games Finley has six drops, something he publicly claimed was due to his lack of chemistry with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Coupled with that was Finley’s agent coming out with bad things to say about Rodgers.

Jermichael Finley has been bashed in the media, but is still considered the Packers’ best option as a tight end.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

But that all changed after the Packers’ bye. Here’s what he had to say about it: “I’d say more than anything I was just determined. Just determined to prove people wrong and just determined to make myself better overall. But that’s what I do; I play football for a living, and I put all of it in. And at the end of the day I get what I put out.”

When one considers the other tight ends on the roster – D.J. Williams, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree and Ryan Taylor – one can see why Finley continues to be the starter and the possible player of the future.

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