Bills Problems With Finley Could Haunt Them

Green Bay Packers TE Jermichael Finley could have given teams the blueprint on how to beat the Bills with an athletic tight end. Buffalo's next opponent (the Patriots) just so happen to have one of those players on their roster.

Talkative tight end Jermichael Finley is daring the defense of any team left on the Packers schedule to follow the curious game plan by the Buffalo Bills in their 34-7 loss at Green Bay on Sunday.

The Bills used single coverage on Finley, and the playmaker made them pay with four catches that added up to 103 yards.

Finley knows better than to think future opponents will fall into that trap again, and at the tortoise-like rate the Packers' new-look running game is going, Finley better get accustomed to having plenty of guys in the other colored jersey hanging in his downfield neighborhood.

"This next week, I know they're going to be playing the pass, for sure," said Finley, referring to the Chicago Bears, whom the Packers will visit for a Monday night matchup of 2-0 NFC North leaders.

Finley isn't alone with concerns he aired after the Packers buffaloed the Bills in spite of feeble gains on the ground.

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, for one, labeled the output of 22 rushing attempts for 71 yards -- or a per-carry average of 3.2 yards that doesn't include 20 yards in five run plays by quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- as "extremely mediocre."

Rodgers characterized what the Packers have been left with in the wake of losing workhorse Ryan Grant to a season-ending ankle injury in Week 1 as "a work in progress."

"It's going to be one of those things where everybody's going to have to step up, not just one guy," John Kuhn said.

Yet, Brandon Jackson plus converted fullback Kuhn plus recently added Dimitri Nance, an undrafted rookie plucked off the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad, doesn't look like a combination that will come close to equaling what Grant provided for the offense.

Head coach Mike McCarthy is content to go with a committee approach, divvying the carries between Jackson and Kuhn and potentially Nance once he has a grasp of the offense. If the first time out with that trio Sunday was any indication, the Packers will be hard pressed to grind out 1,000 rushing yards the rest of the season, to say nothing of the 1,200-plus yards Grant was good for each of the last two years.

"I think there were some solid things that we did, but certainly we lacked the explosiveness that we had the (first week) in Philadelphia," Philbin said. "And, I don't think we had the consistency that we were looking for. So, I'm certainly not excited about what I saw."

Given those terms of indictment, it's all the more puzzling why McCarthy, as the play caller for the offense, doesn't back up the praise he lavished on Jackson in the preseason by saying he's a legitimate three-down back and see what the former second-round draft pick can do with 18 to 25 carries a game.

Instead, Jackson lined up as the halfback only slightly more than Kuhn did Sunday -- 28 snaps to 19 -- and ran the football just 11 times for 29 yards with a short touchdown.

"It was definitely balanced," said Kuhn, who had nine carries for 36 yards.

Continued balance in duties among the running backs, especially against stout run defenses such as the Bears', could mean a greater imbalance between how often the Packers pass the football and when they resort to running it.

As much as Finley loves to catch the ball, getting it to him may just get a lot tougher if the opponent can devote more resources his way and that of the other receivers.

"Yeah, we need consistent running, for sure. We need a running game," Finley lamented. "We done average this week, but in the coming weeks, we need to improve the running game."

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