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Packers Fans: Is it Time to give Jermichael Finley a Break?

There's no questioning the passion of Green Bay Packers fans.  Those of us who are 'lucky' enough to spend a Sunday in Green Bay develop a deep affinity with a city whose population hovers around 110,000.

In full disclosure, I'm a Packers fan...  

    • 4th and 26 still haunts me
    • I lodged many 'f-bombs' at the television when Brett Favre threw that dreaded interception in the 2007-08 NFC Championship game, but still love the guy as a Packer.
    • Still watch recordings of the 1996 and 2010 Super Bowl's
    • I've stayed in 5 different hotels in Green Bay, including the Downtown Days Inn before they demolished it, and before they put in a 'pool'.

The last couple years Packer fans have been particularly hard on Jermichael Finley, the budding tight end entering his sixth season who has seen a spike in drops over the last two seasons.

While Finley has struggled the last two seasons, his combined drop percentage is 10% which historically is high, but isn't 'horrible'.  What most Packer fans forget is Finley's 2009 & 2010 seasons were brilliant (albeit injury shortened).  In fact he dropped just 2 passes on 97 targets in those two seasons.

Looking back on each season since 2009, here is the dubious list of top 10 drop percentage seasons (with a minimum of 50 targets for the season):

Targets % caught measures the percentage of catches a receiver makes versus how many balls were thrown in his direction.  For a pass to count as a target it must be obvious to the scorekeepers that the quarterback is throwing to the receiver.

Let's take a look at the % of targets caught for the top Packers receivers from 2008 to 2012 (the year that Aaron Rodgers took over from Brett Favre):

Randall Cobb has been the beast, albeit on a smaller sample size of targets.  What's more interesting is that Finley has had 2 of the best seasons other than Cobb.  Furthermore, last year he was the 2nd best Packer in terms of % targets caught.

There's no questioning the talent of Finley, he's big, fast, and has a proven track record of getting open (he's consistently among Rodgers top targeted receivers).  Should the butterfinger theme rear its ugly head again in 2013 then I'm on the bandwagon whipping the horses, but he needs to be given the benefit of the doubt based on his 09-10 seasons, and last year's effort compared to his teammates.

Let Greg Jennings spout off, with Rogers throwing the ball to a bonafide #1 in Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and hopefully a tighter game from Jermichael Finley...there's little question that the Packers return this season as one of the league's deepest passing attacks.

But maybe, just maybe, give us a running game.

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