The Green Bay Packers (4-2) won their third consecutive game on Sunday. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said it was the Packers’ “best overall game” of the 2013 season, but the Packers have a lot to work through moving forward.
Packers tight end Jermichael Finley (pictured above) suffered a neck injury after Cleveland Browns (3-4) safety Tashaun Gipson led with his shoulder (not his helmet) into Finley’s helmet. Finley was carted off of the field on a stretcher and the athletic behemoth of a tight end’s football future is in jeopardy.
Finley has reportedly gained movement in nearly all of his body and he has been able to walk around just fine. McCarthy said Finley’s injury needs to be seen by “more than one doctor” and his season could likely be deemed over later this week.
Green Bay had already lost wide receivers Randall Cobb (broken fibula) and James Jones (knee) in Week 6 for potentially the entire season and a couple of more games, respectively. With the thinning receiver group, it was Finley’s time to shine in the passing game.
Early on against the Browns on Sunday, Finley and the offense looked great. The offensive line was protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers and paving open lanes for running back Eddie Lacy while Finley was bulldozing Cleveland defenders.
Finley caught five passes for 72 yards and he scored one touchdown as his play was reminiscent of the 2010 season. In 2010, Finley caught 21 passes for 301 yards before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the fifth game of the season.
Finley’s versatility, size and athleticism is so crucial and important in the Packers’ offense, as he has served as a fullback, tight end and wide receiver this season. Rodgers raved about him all throughout training camp and it’s one of the toughest punches the Packers have taken this year.
Seeing Finley go down to injury was potentially the most significant loss the Packers have had this season, but there is no time for excuses in Green Bay because there are many positives to build off of.
Against the Browns, Rodgers completed 25-of-36 passes for 260 yards and he threw three touchdown passes. Formerly unknown second-year wide receiver Jarrett Boykin caught eight passes for 103 yards and he scored one touchdown.
Defensively, the Packers held their opponents to less than 17 points for the third consecutive game, even without Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Casey Hayward.
Finley may not return, but Matthews, Perry, Hayward, Jones, Brad Jones and potentially Cobb will be back sometime this season. Without Finley in 2010, the Packers ended up winning Super Bowl XLV. With or without Finley, the Packers are nobody‘s underdogs — ever.
The Packers have continued throughout the 2013 season with the mantra to “keep calm and carry on”, and Green Bay needs to live by this as a team more than ever before.
McCarthy said Monday Finley’s injury was “just one of those situations where it just went that way” and the coach is absolutely right. There is no one to blame, it’s just another hurdle the Packers must leap over in what seems like a difficult 2013 season.