Quiet Finley Letting Actions Do the Talking

For most of his first five seasons, Jermichael Finley talked a better game than he played. There was too much brash talk and too many befuddling mistakes. With plenty on the line in 2013, Finley says he's all about doing things the "right way." Packer Report's Bill Huber adds his perspective.

Jermichael Finley has become, dare it be said ...

Boring.

He didn't say anything entertaining — or controversial — on Wednesday.

He didn't ask for more attention from the quarterback. He made no bold proclamations about the season. There was no "YOTTO," nothing brash, nothing ... period.

Six times, he used some version of "doing what I'm supposed to do." Five times, he said something along the lines of "everything will take care of itself." Five times, he talked about doing things the "right way."

If it's an act, if it's just heeding someone's advice to stuff a cork in it, none of it means a thing.

If it's the sign of a wiser, more mature, more serious Finley, then maybe it's just what the perpetually inconsistent player needs to reach his immense potential. Maybe this indeed will be the Year of the Takeover.

"Jermichael Finley loves football," coach Mike McCarthy said after Wednesday's practice. "He's not in the media every day. That's a good thing — that was a joke. But Jermichael loves football. He pours a lot into it. His offseason training outside the building is top notch as far as the time he spends in Arizona and over there in Minneapolis. He's where he needs to be. He's in a very good place. I think he's having a heck of a camp."

Finley has had moments of greatness. He dominated down the stretch in 2009, with 44 receptions in the final eight games. He dominated during the first four games of 2010, with 21 catches out of 25 targeted passes.

Greatness, however, has been fleeting. There was the season-ending knee injury in 2010. A slimmer Finley returned for 2011 looking like a wide receiver but catching the ball like a lineman. The first half of 2012 was more of the same, with dropped passes, indifferent blocking, all-around inconsistency and plenty of bold talk he couldn't back up.

But just when you thought Finley was playing his way out of Green Bay, he turned everything around during the second half of the season. The extra drill work and time with Aaron Rodgers paid off, and his confidence — "real confidence," to use McCarthy's term — increased.

Jump-started by his critical catch and run that fueled the Packers' rally at Detroit in Week 11, Finley became a dynamic weapon. According to ProFootballFocus.com, he caught 37-of-48 passes over the final nine games, a catch rate of 77.1 percent. He had 215 yards after the catch during those games, an average of 5.81 yards per reception, compared to 99 yards after the catch and a 3.4 average in the first nine games. He went from nine drops in the first nine games to two drops in the final nine.

"I finished off pretty strong, I felt great finishing off, and I feel like it's going to carry over," Finley said.

This is a big year for Finley and the team. The Packers need him to be a difference-maker for a passing attack that has just three proven weapons. Moreover, Finley is entering his final year under contract. Given his chronic inconsistency, tens of millions of dollars are on the line. To get ready, he's put on 10 pounds to get closer to his playing weight of 2009 and 2010. After every catch at practice, Finley turns upfield and sprints for another 30 or 40 yards. He's the first in line in drills, whether it's catching passes or blocking Clay Matthews.

When Finley was playing for a big contract in 2011, he had a dud of a season. This year, Finley vows there is no additional pressure. Just play football. More than that, don't talk about it. Just do it.

"That's what we do for a living," he said. "We play football. If you play football, everything else will take care of itself. That's my goal. I know I can play football. Everything else will take care of itself."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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