In the Green Bay Packers, Sean McVay disciple Matt LeFleur has landed the head coaching job at one of the NFL’s oldest Franchises, after just one year as offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. The La Fleur hiring caught many at guard when first announced, I was surprised that Green Bay went in the “Offensive Guru” direction like many other teams. But they wanted a guru to work with Aaron Rodgers and bring a Lombardi back to Lambeau Field. They’ve been active in free agency, well get into that later, but first up is a recap of Mike McCarthy’s last season as Packers head coach.
Packers 2018 Season.
2018 saw the Packers fire longtime head coach, Mike McCarthy, mid-season after facing two straight losing seasons. It was full of ups and downs, as well as record-breaking performances from their players, but ultimately it wasn’t up to the usual Packers standards.
It Started on Sunday Night Football against a fellow NFC North team, in the Chicago Bears. They were down 20-0 and saw Aaron Rodgers be karted off early on the game. He came back onto the field, leading the Packers to a 24-23 victory, starting 1-0. That was a thrilling primetime game to start the year.
Going into Week 2 at Lambeau Field, the Packers faced the Minnesota Vikings, another divisional rival, and were down 20-7 late into the game. Minnesota fought back to a 29-21 deficit before the controversial roughing the passer call on Clay Matthews. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins threw a game-ending Jaire Alexander interception, only for it to be pulled back due to a Matthews’ penalty. Minnesota capitalised and tied the game with a successful 2 point conversion, sending the game to overtime. Vikings kicker, at the time, Daniel Carlson, missed a game-winning field goal, meaning the final result was a 29-29 tie.
Against the Bills in Week 4, standing at 1-1-1, where the Packers wore their tremendous looking throwback uniforms, Green Bay shut out Sean McDermott’s Buffalo. scoring 22 points and spending most of the game in Josh Allen’s pocket.
Moving onto Week 8, standing at 3-2-1, the Packers met with the 7-0 LA Rams. Green Bay were outstanding that game, and needed to be, to keep their playoff hopes alive. Unfortunately, all their hard work was undone by a Ty Montgomery fumbled kick return incredibly late in the game, leading the Rams to victory.
Green Bay faced another incredibly difficult game to keep them in the playoff race. That game was the battle of the GOATs. Rodgers v Brady, Packers @ Patriots. Green Bay kept up to New England throughout the first 3 quarters, before falling away in the fourth. After that tough Foxborough game, they stood at 3-4-1.
Here’s where the Green Bay downfall began, in Week 13, they lost to the worst team in 2018, the Arizona Cardinals. This was the end of Mike McCarthy, installing Joe Philbin as interim Head Coach. The Packers were irrelevant throughout the last month of the season. Green Bay finished the year 6-9-1, scoring the 12th overall pick in the draft.
As for standout players, Davante Adams recorded 111 catches and a second consecutive pro bowl selection. Whilst Aaron Rodgers broke the record for the most consecutive passes without an interception, 402. He made history again, throwing for 442 yards and 2 TD’s against the Jets, as well as scoring 2 rushing touchdowns. David Bakhtiari was the First-Team All-Pro Right Tackle.
So what’s changed (2019 Offseason)
A new coaching staff means a new scheme for the players, some will stay, loads of players will go, thats just part of the NFL.
Let’s start with all the main outgoings, starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland moved on to play in a revamped defense in Kansas City, whilst longtime receiver Randall Cobb moved on to work with new Cowboys offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore. There were big losses in the linebacker position. First off, it was a goodbye for popular linebacker Clay Matthews after 9 years at Lambeau. He goes on to join Super Bowl LII runners up, the Los Angeles Rams. The other two big losses at the linebacker position are Jake Ryan and Nick Perry. Ryan left to join Doug Marrone’s defense in Jacksonville, whilst Perry remains unsigned. There have been rumours that Perry could return fairly soon, however. John Kuhn and Kentrell Brice round out the departures.
Now for the incomings, safety Adrian Amos has joined from their biggest rivals in the Bears. He signed a four-year, $37 million contract to fill the hole left in the HaHa Clinton-Dix trade from last year. As I mentioned earlier, the lack of outside linebackers going into Free Agency called for some money to be spent. And its money well spent, Preston and ZaDarius Smith are good young pass rushers that should replace Matthews and Perry almost like for like. Their final big addition is Billy Turner. The interior o-lineman will provide greater holes for running back Aaron Jones and offer good protection for A-Rod.
Next was the NFL Draft, the Packers selected;
- Round 1, Pick 12 – Rashan Gary, Edge – Michigan
- Round 1, Pick 21 – Darnell Savage, DB – Maryland
- Round 2, Pick 12 – Elgton Jenkins, OL – Mississippi State
- Round 3, Pick 12 – Jace Sternberger, TE – Texas A&M
- Round 5, Pick 12 – Kingsley Keke, DL – Texas A&M
- Round 6, Pick 12 – Kadar Hollman, CB – Toledo
- Round 6, Pick 22 – Dexter Williams – RB – Notre Dame
- Round 7, Pick 12 – Ty Summers, LB – Texas Christian
The Packers have selected 8 defensive players in a row, in the first round of the draft. Gary and Savage should both contribute to a new-look defense in Green Bay. Elgton Jenkins was among the best lineman in this year’s draft. All three of these are high up on the depth chart and will likely all play in tonight’s opener vs the Chicago Bears. All eight of the draft picks were named on the 53 man roster. That’s an outstanding draft class!
So, to finalise…
The Packers are my dark horse this year, they’ve had two disappointing years and will win the North, maybe even get a first-round bye. I’m going with an 11-5 record for those at Lambeau Field.