GREEN BAY, Wis. — The relationship between Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and tight end Jermichael Finley frequently boils down to one word: chemistry.
In Finley’s mind, chemistry between the two is often directly related to his personal statistics and those of the offense as a whole. With Green Bay’s 2-3 record and an offense ranked 21st in the NFL in total yards and 18th in scoring, Finley believes his chemistry with Rodgers has a ways to go.
“It’s OK,” Finley said Wednesday. “Not good enough at all. Something to be worked on, and try to work on it as much as I can, try to talk to him as much as I can, but like I said, it takes two people.”
Finley dislocated the AC joint in his right shoulder in Sunday’s loss to the Colts, but he is still hoping to play this weekend when the Packers are in his home state to face the undefeated Houston Texans.
Considering that he’ll be playing injured if he’s cleared for the game, Finley was asked whether he can take his game to the level he wants with his shoulder the way it is.
“I can, (but) it takes two people to do that,” Finley said. “And I need the quarterback on my side, and I need to catch the ball when he throws it to me. So it takes two things to get that going, the chemistry. I feel we need to get that going.”
This is far from the first time Finley has raised the issue of chemistry between he and the reigning NFL MVP.
“I’m not blaming it on my offseason, but me and the QB didn’t have chemistry,” Finley said on June 1 following Green Bay’s first OTA practice. “The routes were off sometimes, and that’ll mess with your head when the ball comes.”
Later in that same interview, Finley added: “I couldn’t get the chemistry with the QB.”
Finley, who signed a two-year, $15 million extension this offseason, is on pace for 134 fewer receiving yards than a year ago. Through five games, Finley has 22 catches for 198 yards with one touchdown and one fumble. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Finley also has five drops this season.
“I think everybody’s gotten lost in the (Rob) Gronkowski numbers and Jimmy Graham numbers, going for a K (1,000 yards) a year,” Finley said of the standout tight ends from the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. “I mean, that’s unheard of. Five years ago, you’d get in the Pro Bowl (as a tight end) at 500 yards. It’s just gotten lost.
“I think I’m doing fair. I think I’m doing well, doing what I’m supposed to do. I think I’m giving my all out on the field, for sure. I think I’m doing fair. I’m not doing the best I can do, of course, but hey, who said it was going to be a great year?”
In an interview with FOXSportsWisconsin.com on Aug. 7, Finley had high aspirations to finish with a season as good or better than any tight end in the NFL.
“With my ability and what I think I can do, I’d say (statistically finishing in the) top two, that’s my goal,” Finley said at the time. “Those guys (Gronkowski and Graham) did have that one hit this year when they were rolling and hot, and they had the chemistry going and their quarterback’s trust.
“(Tom Brady and Drew Brees) threw them the ball 20 times a game. You get the ball 20 times and you catch 10 of them, you should be doing something.”
Finley’s agent, Blake Baratz, made headlines earlier this season when he posted on Twitter that Rodgers is not a great leader. Finley later disagreed with Baratz’s comments but said his agent can say whatever he wants because it’s just one person’s opinion and it doesn’t reflect his own beliefs about Rodgers.
And though Finley speaks about chemistry regularly, he also defended his quarterback on Wednesday when asked whether he agreed with Rodgers’ own assessment that the quarterback wasn’t playing as well as he did last season.
“I would say, first of all, that’s a leader taking the blame on himself,” Finley said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do as a player, like I would say it’s on me. So you’ve got to check yourself. I think that’s leadership.
“I think he’s playing good, but like I said, this is a team sport, and it’s going to take all 11 of us on the field when he’s on the field with us. I don’t put it all on him. It’s his receiving corps, we’re dropping balls; it’s his linemen not blocking for him. He’s got a lot to think about. I would be scared, too, if I was getting hit like that.”