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Ten Momentous Events of the Packers’ 2019 Season

Notes: I’ve defined “momentous” as being most responsible for the success that was achieved by the team in the past season. I’ve grouped certain people or events where it seemed sensible. I’ve also taken the liberty of rating single-game heroics alongside season-long happenings, so the numerical rankings are highly subject to debate.

#1 GM Brian Gutekunst’s Free Agent Acquisition Successes

Despite the high price tags, edge rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, strong safety Adrian Amos, and guard Billy Turner all proved to be great team additions. In particular, the two Smiths caused Green Bay to lead the league in pressures on the quarterback.

Packers RB Aaron Jones touchdown against Vikings

Dec 23, 2019; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) rushes for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

#2 Aaron Jones Racks Up 1,558 Yards

Jones established the following career bests: most rushing yards in a season (1,084): most receiving yards in a season (474); most games played (all 16); most carries (236); most rushing TDs; most receiving TDs; most receptions (49); highest average yards per catch (9.7); longest reception (67 yards); and most TD receptions (3). Pro Football Focus rated Jones second best running back in the National Football Conference, ahead even of Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook.

Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur on sideline

Dec 1, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur looks on during the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

#3 Matt LaFleur Takes Charge as Head Coach

It’s impossible to say whether another head coach would have emerged with 13 wins with this group, but LaFleur certainly deserves a substantial amount of credit for the 13-win season. The Packers appeared to be well organized, arrived ready to play almost every week, and certainly found ways to win, even when they played sporadically on many occasions.

His play-action designs, play calls, and steady commitment to establishing a strong run game resulted in a rushing offense that by season’s end outshone the passing game. Under his overall supervision, the team’s defense and special teams each developed into strong units. LaFleur re-instilled a culture of winning and camaraderie.

LaFleur didn’t exploit the use of play action nearly as often or as effectively as did his fellow head coach, Kyle Shanahan. It took three years, however, for Shanahan to acquire the key offensive players he needed, and the practice time needed to fully implement play action in his first head-coaching job with the 49ers.

LaFleur has most of his key offensive players returning in 2020, so I would expect the Packers’ offense to take another step forward in Matt’s second season in Green Bay.

#4 Team Suffered Only Two Serious Injuries to Key Players

Receiver Davante Adams missed a month with a turf toe injury, safety Raven Greene missed almost the entire year after Week 2 ankle injury. This was a phenomenal stretch of good fortune.

#5 Week 16: Defensive Domination of the Vikings Results in 23-10 Win

In what was arguably the biggest game for the team since the 2016 season, the Packers rolled into the Vikings’ stadium – where they had yet to win in three tries – and simply pummeled the home team. The Vikes were limited to 139 net yards of total offense, 57 on the ground and 82 in the air. QB Kirk Cousins was held to 16 completions in 31 throws, for 122 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception, and he was sacked five times for 40 yards of losses. His 58.8 passer rating was little more than half of his season average of 107.4.

This win – the fourth of five straight wins to conclude the regular season – made it possible for Green Bay to be seeded highly, get a bye week, and play at least one playoff game at home.

#6 Walk-off Win, 23-20 Against Detroit in Week 17

This comeback win secured the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs, gave the team a first round bye, and assured that the first playoff game would be played at Lambeau. Mason Crosby also provided the difference in the Week 6 game against the Lions with a field goal as time expired. This win turned the bye week, home field, and high seeding playoff possibilities into reality.

#7 Packers Offensive Line Was One of League’s Best

The offensive line was led by left tackle David Bakhtiari and right tackle Brian Bulaga, who were ranked by Pro Football Foccus as respectively the best and second best at their positions in the league. The others, center Corey Lindsey, and guards Billy Turner and Elgton Jenkins also played at a high level. In the past Green Bay’s O-line was renowned mostly for its pass blocking, but in 2019 they additionally demonstrated their ability to create great running lanes for Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.

#8 Week 7: 42-Point Offensive Assault in Rodgers’ “Perfect Passer Rating” Game

After defeating the Lions the week before, the Packers stood 3-0 in their division, 5-1 on the year – and they were starting to believe they were a legitimate contender. The Raiders came to town, for the last game prior to the Packers playing the next four of five games on the road.

Out of nowhere came the sleeping giant. On the day, Aaron Rodgers completed 25 of 31 passes, for 439 yards, five touchdowns, and the maximum 158.3 passer rating. Five receivers caught passes for 40 yards or more, led by Marquez Valdes-Scantling with 3 for 133. The five TDs were distributed to five players, including running backs.

The game served as proof that when Rodgers’ game is on, this team is capable of beating anyone. It also served to show that the downturn in Rodgers’ game is not due to physical aging. For the 6-1 Packers, talk about making the playoffs was no longer considered premature. LaFleur’s guys became believers.

#9 Allen Lazard Fills the Role of Team’s Second–best Wide Receiver

Going into the season, many of us realized the team was lacking in quality receivers other than Adams. After Davante suffered a turf toe injury late in the game with the Eagles, he entirely missed the next four games. Stepping into the breach was Allen Lazard, who hadn’t caught a pass in the NFL until Game 6. However, in Games 6 though 8 he proceeded to haul in 12 catches, in just 14 throws, for 149 yards and a touchdown.

In the final 11 games, the 6’5” 227-pound Lazard tallied 35 receptions for 477 yards and three touchdowns. Largely due to Lazard’s sudden rise, the Packers won all four games missed by Adams. Other than for Adams, Lazard has clearly become Rodgers’ go-to receiver. His blocking was also revealed to be excellent on several plays. Not bad for a guy who (inexplicably?) went undrafted in 2018 after establishing many school records at Iowa State.

#10 Rookie Draftees Darnell Savage and Elgton Jenkins Excel

When starting left guard Lane Taylor suffered a serious biceps injury in Week 2, and was placed on Injured Reserve on September 21, the Packers were fortunate to have chosen Jenkins 44th overall in the 2019 draft. Though it was foreseen than Jenkins would become the starting left guard in the course of the year, he played the rest of the way. Astoundingly, Pro Football Focus recorded him as not giving up a single sack in over 500 offensive snaps.

Darnell Savage was the starting free safety in Week 1, and he never let up. Though he missed some action in Week 5 and all of Weeks 6 and 7, due to an ankle injury, he finished the year strongly, missing no snaps in the last five wins. He also was on special teams for 100 snaps.

For their efforts, both rookies were named to several All-Rookie teams.

Tags:
Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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16 Comments

  1. S.A.Perrenoud February 17, 2020

    We beat the Chiefs, so why not the 49er’s.
    We are so close, great season it was, and next year the trophy🏆comes back home.

    1. PF4L February 18, 2020

      We’re close because we beat the Chiefs? So since we beat the Chiefs and the Chiefs beat the 49ers, we should then be beating the 49ers? That isn’t how it works my man.

      Nevertheless, keep the faith and stay thirsty.

  2. Big B February 17, 2020

    Not sure I would say Billy Turner played at a “high level.” He underperformed the contract.

    1. Fredrik February 17, 2020

      Agreed only signing we had I didn’t really love, I don’t think he’s bad but he’s the weakest link on the O-line and seems like he’s a bit overpaid.
      However if the worst move in free agency is slightly overpaying a starting caliber O-line man that’s not all that bad.
      Overall I’m very happy with what we did in free agency last year.

      1. PF4L February 18, 2020

        Not exactly sure Amos played at a 14 million dollar level, but who cares, we’re crowning people.

        I’m also not so sure a 12-3 team, beating a 3-11-1 team by 3 points against David Blough at QB should be a great achievement. Not quite sure that’s monumental….but ok.

        1. Fredrik February 18, 2020

          Dang I missed the lions game one, I probably would have swapped that for Ervin coming and rescuing our special teams.
          But still a fairly good list overall.
          As for Amos agreed but he played at the level he was brought in to play everyone knew he’s more of a safe player than a high ceiling, high risk guy.
          And he gets a bit of a pass for crushing the bears hopes in week 1.

          1. PF4L February 18, 2020

            Yea…i thought Amos and Dix had fairly similar seasons. Just that one was had for a hell of a lot less money. You’re also absolutely correct in the fact that with Amos, you have a solid player who i look at as a hair above average.
            *
            I’m not sure what to make out of Savage yet. Sometimes you’ll see him and say….NICE!!! But a lot of times you wonder if he knows where he’s supposed to be and you question the angles he takes. That’s besides all the times he over runs (over pursues) plays and ends up being a non factor on the play, when he originally was in position to be the hero.
            As i’ve (we) always said….it takes rookies awhile to adjust so we give them more than a year for good reason. So maybe in time he can turn that aggressiveness into play making ability, and maybe once we can see a Packer draft pick make that second year leap. The Packers and Gute need him to hit.
            *
            I know everyone is crowning Earvin, but i need to see more work from him, he had a bad punt mishandle, and he took our punt returns from negative to positive returns. but i’m not sure what that is saying besides how bad our return game was. We’ll see if they keep him around. He probably earned that chance with what he did on the positive side.

          2. stiggy February 19, 2020

            Naah… Dix still pulled his take awful angles and get torched game. I agree on Savage…although i think his real issue was the ankle injury being worse than they let on…he didnt look the same after it.

  3. Fredrik February 17, 2020

    Zadarius and Preston were huge additions OLB is unrecognizable in comparison to last season(2018 season).
    I am kind of hoping we could do the same with either DL or ILB, through free agency or draft.
    I really like DJ Reader, Javon Hargrave, Joe Schobert, Sean Lee, and Nick Kwiatkoski as possible free agent additions.
    And I have my eye on Jordan Elliott, Marlon Davidson, Troy Pride Jr, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Willie Gay Jr, Logan Wilson and Cameron Dantzler as guys I like in the draft.
    I’d like to know what the people on this site think about some of these guys and if they have anybody else I should I pay attention too.
    I love talking packers and enjoy researching guys I think the packers could target.

    Note: I purposefully omitted some big name free agents AJ Green and Corey Littleton because everyone knows who they are, And WRs in the draft because there are so many good ones it would take forever to list.

  4. Howard February 18, 2020

    Good list Rob. If “momentous” is defined as you describe I would say going 6-0 in the division is a big deal in the teams jump in win %, and success from the previous seasons. The goal is to first win your division, and it definitely helps going 6-0 in division play.

    1. PF4L February 18, 2020

      Yea, that was big. I really thought the Packers would start out with a loss against the Bears, but our new look defense had different idea’s, making Trubisky their bitch, much like they did with Curt Cousins (twice).
      *
      Both Lions games were a different story, way too close. They are lucky they squeaked by the Lions, winning both games by a combined 4 points if i remember right.

      1. KzooPackFan February 18, 2020

        And now the Lions are poised to hit reset by dumping Stafford. I would think means a setback for a couple of years for them as a rookie QB tries to figure out the league.

        1. MJ February 19, 2020

          Good for Stafford. He is a decent QB and one that gets inspiration when the clock is running out and the game is on the line. I hope he gets the chance to play for a more relevant team. Are the Jags still trying to stabilize their QB position? Haven’t checked them in a while, but they used to have a nice defense, essentially by dooming top-ten picks to five years of futility.

          1. PF4L February 19, 2020

            Yea, my thoughts exactly. I always thought he was a wasted talent in Detroit. Whether you play for Wilf, Haslams, Fords, or McCaskeys, you are destined to lose.

  5. Skinny February 18, 2020

    Did the Pack ever hire a WR coach?

    1. Fredrik February 19, 2020

      As far as I know not yet