Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the impact Jermichael Finley has on the offensive packages the Packers use. Considering his important role and his persistent injury issues, this is an item worth discussing.
Today, I won’t be focusing on the production of Finley or the Packers’ offense. Instead, I’ll be taking a quick snapshot of their scheme on pass plays – with and without Finley.
The key phrase there is pass plays. Note that I’ll only be focusing on the offensive packages utilized when the Packers drop back for a pass.
To get started, let’s take a look at Finley’s participation data from his first 3 seasons in the league:
2008: Played just 87 snaps over 13 games, so these games will be omitted from today’s project.
2009: Played 571 snaps over 14 games. Played a full-time role during the team’s first 5 games, but was injured and played just 3 snaps in week 7. Played in every one of the team’s final 8 games, including 1 playoff game.
2010: Played 212 snaps over 5 games. Started during weeks 1-4, but was injured 2 snaps into the team’s week 5 game.
Next, here’s a look at the 32 different packages the Packers might run on offense. Following the package columns, we have a pair of ‘snaps’ columns and a pair of ‘% of snaps’ columns. The first two show the total times the particular offensive package was used on a pass play during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. The next two simply show the same data as a percentage of the total snaps. They are split on a play-by-play basis to show the offensive packages with and without Finley in the lineup.
|Formation||Snaps||% of Snaps|
The focus here should be on the ‘% of Snaps’ columns. By comparing the two columns, we see what adjustments the Packers make in passing situations when Finley is out of action. What should jump at you is the decrease in tight end usage when Finley is inactive. This is obvious not a shocking revelation, but here it is in quantitative form. For an even better breakdown, let’s sort by aforementioned tight end usage.
|# of Tight Ends||With JF||Without JF|
When Finley is in action, there is a tight end on the field on 93% of Packers’ pass plays. When he’s not, that figure drops 19%. Similarly, the Packers use the 2-TE set 15% less often and three or more tight ends 4% less often when he’s out. Because they want to keep, at least, one tight on the field most of the time, but don’t have the personnel to go with the multi-TE packages, you’ll notice that the use of the 1-TE set is actually 1% higher when Finley is inactive.
There you have it. Again, no one reading this should be shocked, but now you can put what you already assumed into quantitative form. This article also serves the purpose of showing you what kind of unique data the talented Pro Football Focus game analysts provide for us writers. The best part: this is just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned.
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[Editor's note: this article was previously published in our fantasy section where you can find much more outstanding work from Mike and the PFF Fantasy staff.]