Why Finley's 2011 return has me talking football

Over the holiday weekend, I ran into plenty of Packers fans up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. No question they are talking repeat, however, the one name that always surfaced in our conversations was TE Jermichael Finley. And while talking educated football (something you always get with Green Bay fans), I started to think about the upcoming season and how lethal of a player Finley can be in Mike McCarthy’s offense.

Today, let’s think like a coach and discuss why Finley is the one player we should all look forward to seeing back on the field in 2011.

Jermichael FinleyICONThe Packers game plan is going to look solid with Finley back in the lineup.

Multiple Alignments: First thing I look at when breaking down the TE’s of today’s game. Are they a traditional “on the line Y” (think attached to the core of the formation) or are they the type of player that can be used as a receiver. With Finley, I see both. An athlete that can align as the TE in regular personnel (2 WR, 1 TE, 2 RB), and in the multiple spread looks we see every Sunday from the Packers. In the slot, as the “X” receiver backside of a 3x1 formation (isolates the TE vs. a CB or SS) and when the Packers use their empty sets. The Packers’ TE gives you options in any personnel grouping.

Impact vs. Lovie and the Bears: How do you defeat the Tampa 2 defense in Chicago? Get down the middle of the field and challenge middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and the two deep safeties. As part of the 4 vertical route scheme, double china-post and in play action. QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have issues vs. Lovie Smith and the Chicago defense, and adding Finley back to the mix allows them to test the top of the scheme—which produces explosive plays. Much easier to target the defensive scheme when you have the player to get it done.

Red Zone matchups: When I was playing in the NFL, it was Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Todd Heap. The three players you had to specifically game plan for once the ball crossed the 20-yard line. And that game plan got even more nervous when the ball was inside of the 10-yard line. TEs that can catch the ball, win vs. a safety and are an issue for any defensive coordinator. Finley can abuse man coverage and Cover 4 (quarters) will be easy to beat. Look for more Red 2 (CBs sink to create an almost 5-deep look) vs. Green Bay this season. Because I don’t have a real good answer to give you right now to defend him in the red zone.

Adding to the game plan: What is crazy about this post (and the converastions I had with fans over the weekend) is that we are talking about the defending Super Bowl champs. This isn’t a 7-9 team looking to get an impact player back into the lineup in hopes of making a playoff run. Instead, this Packers’ team is already loaded on offense with No.12 under center, plus the weapons they have at receiver and in the backfield. Getting Finley back just adds to what they already have—the best offense in the NFL. The type of player that is luxury to put into your Sunday game plan.

This guy makes me want to talk NFL football. Time to get this lockout settled—don’t you think?

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41

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