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Post time 2019-06-12 11:06:53 | Show all posts |Read mode
Mike McCarthy’s in-season firing is just one surprise of many in the last 12 months."Back on April 1st , the writers at APC shared laughs centered around April Fool’s Day jokes from twitter handles across NFL circles. While Tom Brady took the prize for his retirement tweet prank, it made plenty of us wonder about the unbelievable headlines seen by Green Bay Packers fans over the past year. While April Fool’s Day has since passed, here are several of APC’s own articles that probably would have been met with skepticism last April but became real storylines.Mike McCarthy fired as head coach of the Green Bay PackersMany fans may have pined in previous seasons for McCarthy to be fired after years of coming up short in the playoffs, but how many actually could have foreseen the Packers making a head coaching change in 2019? And how many would have seen the move coming prior to the end of the regular season? Suggesting either of those scenarios was probably considered to be more click-bait than anything of substance.Of course, the stories that have come out in recent weeks have suggested there was turmoil within the organization and lack of accountability for quite some time. But the road to the departure of the Packers’ Super Bowl winning coach was rather quick once Green Bay’s losing stretch began. The Packers began a change of organizational direction with a general manager transition in June 2018 and continued it with a coaching change not long after.Packers make free agent signings of Smith, Smith, Amos, & Turner officialMost people can agree that the Packers’ past several drafts failed to produce talent with longevity. Heading into the offseason, it seemed likely that Green Bay would make a splash in free agency, particularly to acquire a pass rusher. And they did with Za’Darius Smith. But then they kept going.In the team’s most active and expensive offseason, the Packers added four free agents on one day. They shattered all expectations by adding not one pass rusher but two, while also signing Adrian Amos and Billy Turner to fill other remaining holes. While all four deals could be justified, it was as uncharacteristic a second day of free agency that the franchise and its fans have ever witnessed. On the surface level, the four contracts totaled out to a staggering $184.1 million with $57.5 million guaranteed.By all accounts, the Packers had an “are you serious?” kind of day.Reliving the five best moments of Aaron Rodgers’ miracle comebackRodgers signed the largest contract in NFL history (at the time - see Russell Wilson) prior to the start of the season. He then came out in week one on Sunday Night Football and planted a spear in the hearts of the Chicago Bears - on one leg.All hopes for the 2018 season seemed to be dashed in the first half of the first game as Rodgers had to be carted off the field. Reported to have a knee injury Geronimo Allison Jersey , Rodgers’ return to the game and the season was in jeopardy as Packers fans watched the Bears take a 10-0 halftime lead and silence filled Lambeau Field.But then with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter, Rodgers re-took the field and led Green Bay to a wild comeback victory. With limited mobility, the Packers’ offense looked as sharp as it would all season with Rodgers firing quick throws and connecting for touchdowns with Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, and Randall Cobb. In fact, Cobb’s game-winning 75-yard score late in the fourth quarter took the team just 26 seconds.The emotional swings of Green Bay’s improbable win were as high as any game in recent memory, and almost losing Rodgers for the season again - in the first game - looked to be as bitter a joke as imaginable.Packers lose to Lions as Mason Crosby misses five field goalsThe special teams unit was a weekly issue for the Packers in 2018, but nothing compares to the struggles of Mason Crosby in Detroit. Crosby’s unfathomable four missed field goals and missed extra point single-handedly prevented the Packers from a win.For one of the NFL’s more consistent kickers, it was an almost unprecedented bad day for a placekicker. Crosby missed just seven field goals and two extra points all season. His “anomaly in life” accounted for nearly all of his misses on just one day. However, he righted the ship immediately the next week and returned to his usual self.At the end of the day, Packers fans could only sit back and watch in depressing, yet humorous, amazement over the awful luck that had transpired.The best thing for Ty Montgomery and the Packers is for the team to move onIt would not have been the most surprising headline had the Packers moved on from Ty Montgomery after the preseason due to the emergence of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Carries and snaps figured to be limited for the the three backs sharing the load. But how the split came to fruition was as abrupt and unpredictable as any fans have seen.While Green Bay’s decision to move Ha Ha Clinton-Dix before the trade deadline was a product of performance and criticism over time, the build up to a trade of Montgomery was less than 48 hours in the making. A costly fourth-quarter Montgomery fumble on a kickoff return doomed the Packers in Los Angeles, but that was only the beginning. With just over two minutes remaining in the game and Green Bay needing another miraculous drive to win Kevin King Jersey White , Montgomery was reportedly instructed to take a knee and reserve the two-minute warning. Instead, he defied orders and tried to be a hero. After the game, interviews with other players revealed a disgruntled Montgomery, a player wishing to be a bigger part of the offense. Fast forward to that next Tuesday and Montgomery was shipped to Baltimore for little in return. A highly unusual span of events led the Packers to avoid more negativity in the locker room and cut ties with a player that had never been in the news for the wrong reasons before. With Aaron Rodgers under center, the Green Bay Packers’ defense simply had to be passable. For too many seasons over the last decade, it simply hasn’t been, leading to calls for Dom Capers’ job that grew so loud they became almost a parody of themselves. Mike Pettine’s arrival came with expectations muted. He didn’t have to make this Green Bay group the 2009 Jets, just make sure they weren’t the 2011 or 2016 Packers. Play-to-play the defense wasn’t actually that bad in 2017, but when they needed to get stops — on third down and in the red zone — this was the worst situational group in the league. Despite first-half failings against Washington and second-half issues in losing the lead to Minnesota, this Green Bay defense looks significantly improved. They’re the No. 1 blitz defense by opponent passer rating, a welcome change from the late Capers era where teams readily identified and blocked up pressure packages from the Packers. Pettine creates more confusion and will attack differently from the same look, confusing quarterbacks and offensive linemen with protection calls. But they’re not among league leaders in blitzes, which means they will have to find ways to create pressure with just four or five guys when they’re not blitzing. This, in particular, has been why teams have chosen to attack on first and second down to avoid the third-and-obvious situations. As Jason Hirschhorn pointed out earlier this week , the Packers have eaten on third-and-long all season and sit third in the league in third-down completion percentage defense by allowing just 51.3% of throws. That’s an enormous jump from last season when Green Bay gave up 64.8% of throws on third down, 31st in the league. In terms of total third down defenses, the Packers are just a touch below average, yet swung vertiginously in the rankings. Through four weeks, the defense ranks 18th in conversion percentage after finishing 30th a year ago. Going from “horrible” to “ehhh, we could be better” represents a critical shift and a positive trend. On the other hand, Pettine’s group leads the NFL in three-and-out percentage, meaning they get them at a higher rate than any team in the league. This keeps the defense fresh and gives the ball back to Aaron Rodgers.As you can probably guess, the Capers defense last season was one of the worst in football at forcing three-and-outs. This situational defensive improvements extends to the red zone as well, where the Packers got their first turnover in over a calendar year against the Bills on Sunday. Last season, Green Bay finished dead last in points allowed per red zone trip and second-last in touchdowns per trip. In 2018, the numbers won’t wow anyone, but they’re not horrible. That’s how low the bar is and luckily the Packers are clearing it. Through a quarter of the season, Green Bay ranks 17th in points per trip and 15th in touchdowns. This is the formula. Give Rodgers even just an average defense, get him the ball back after short offensive drives by the opponents Womens Nick Perry Jersey , and run the opposing defense ragged with drives of your own. The defense’s success compounds when Rodgers is able to score, forcing teams to throw more often and allowing Pettine to whip up his exotic blitz schemes. Incomplete on first down. Incomplete on second down. Now, it’s third-and-long and this defense is going hunting, where they’ve been the best team in the league. The coaching staff shouldn’t receive all of the credit for this change. New GM Brian Gutekunst went out and signed Tramon Williams to provide some stability at cornerback before drafting Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. The pair of rookies have played important roles already for this defense, and Alexander should really have two interceptions if not for the stupendously awful Clay Matthews roughing call. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix shook off a bad start to become a playmaker in the back end, and Kenny Clark took the step we thought he could make to being a full on, every down terror. For whatever concerns there are about this Packers offense, if the defense continues to play like this, Rodgers and Co. will get many more chances to get going, and history suggests eventually they will. When they do, this defense could get even better, which likewise boosts the offense. For the first time in what feels like forever, the Packers may be able to play complementary football.

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