Green Bay Packers Fans: Take a Deep Breath (Week VII)


Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) runs past Cleveland Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo (51) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Well, that Green Bay Packers win over the Cleveland Browns felt good, didn’t it?

A nice 31-13 win by a Packers team that is decimated by injury but consistently seems to be winning the line of scrimmage. Hey, that’s where it counts. And what a nice message to those critics who said the Packers were not tough.

Of course, the big news of the game was the devastating injury to tight end Jermichael Finley; that just looked brutal. The big guy was having a game for the ages, starting with a 10-yard touchdown catch-and-run that made him once again look like the stud we all believed he could be. He appeared to be on his way to a 100-yard day until safety Tashaun Gibson came calling, launching at Finley and delivering a blow to Finley’s head and neck area that left the big tight end on the ground, motionless.

The official diagnosis of a bruised spinal cord is much better than it could have been; fortunately, Finley is recovering and is up walking around just days after being held in the intensive care unit. But it’s highly doubtful he will play football again this season, and he may never play again, depending on what further tests reveal.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jarrett Boykin holds the ball over the goal line as Cleveland Browns defensive back Joe Haden defends during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Truly, this is a Packers team that is battered beyond recognition. We have people starting who didn’t even start the season on the practice squad, and we’ve just now cleared week 7. Myles White is our No. 3 receiver? Brandon Bostick, a guy who has played only a handful of snaps in the NFL, could be our new tight end?

Truth is, I’m sitting by the phone – just in case the Packers need a slow-footed, 47-year-old slot receiver. Hey, I’m slow, but I’ve got big, soft hands, OK?

While I agree there’s plenty of cause for concern for Packers fans everywhere, it’s that time of week again when we here at urge you to just take a deep breath. It’s a long season.

Cause for concern: Will Finley be OK?

Reason to take a deep breath: That’s the question of the week, and it appears based on the early diagnosis that he will. Forget football – the guy has a family and a life. Let’s all take a deep breath and be happy he’s already on the road to recovery.

Cause for concern: There’s little evidence that Andrew Quarless can catch a cold, let alone a football.

Reason to take a deep breath: Someone once wrote that, “As a Major League pitcher, the Cubs’ Jeff Smardzija is a very good college wide receiver.” One could also say that, as NFL pass-catching tight ends go, Quarless is an exceptional blocker. Don’t think for a minute that coach Mike McCarthy is going to expect Quarless to suddenly become Finley – Quarless will get some looks in the passing game, but mostly he will help open holes for Eddie Lacy, and I’d be willing to bet dollars to donuts that Bostick is the man you’ll see running down the seam a few times on Sunday night when the Packers travel to Minnesota. Hey, maybe Jake Stoneburner even gets a target or two. Young players keep stepping up, and I’d expect Bostick to do the same.

Cause for concern: Is Clay Matthews back yet? Is Clay Matthews back yet?

Cleveland Browns running back Fozzy Whittaker (35) is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker Jamari Lattimore in the 4th quarter at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Reason to take a deep breath: No. And neither is Brad Jones. Or Nick Perry. But Brandon Weeden was running for his life all day on Sunday, while early-season backups Jamari Lattimore and Mike Daniels each notched a sack, and the defensive line pushed all day. Lattimore, buried on the depth chart to start the season, finished with a team-leading nine tackles plus three assists – the guy was all over the field. To paraphrase’s Vic Ketchman, when this defense gets healthy again, look out. These guys are getting their NFL feet wet, and it is improving our depth for a late-season run.

Cause for concern: Boy, we sure could use James Jones back in the lineup.

Reason to take a deep breath: Boy, we sure could. With Finley out, we need some muscle in that pass-catching crew. If he returns, it will be interesting to see how McCarthy uses both Jones and Bostick – he may build off last week’s tight coverage of Nelson to get those guys downfield and get Jarrett Boykin open in space. Wait – that assumes the Vikings can get tight coverage on anyone. Never mind. Josh Freeman will be lucky to complete a sentence on Sunday, let alone a touchdown pass.