Season In Review – Green Bay Packers

By Maxwell Petit-Jean (@a_winning_smile)

It’s time for another ‘season review’ for the 2019 NFL season. This article focuses on the Green Bay Packers, a team who reached the NFC Championship game, only to be beaten by the eventual runners-up.


ENTERING THE SEASON


Prior to the 2019 season, the Green Bay Packers split opinions maybe more than any other team in the NFL. 2018 was one of the most disappointing seasons of Aaron Rodgers career, they achieved a record of 6-9-1 which took them to their second consecutive 3rd place finish in the NFC North. Mike McCarthy had been fired, only to be replaced by Matt LaFleur, an “offensive guru” who only managed to lead a Tennessee offense to an incredibly uninspiring 6th worst offense in the NFL the previous year.

Image result for matt lafleur
Todd Olszewski/Getty

Moreover, General Manager Brian Gutekunst faced criticism for his offseason acquisitions. Despite bringing in some experienced talent (Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Adrian Amos & Billy Turner), at the time, not much was expected of these players.

The only positivity heading into the 2019 season was the buzz around the 3 players picked up in the first 2 rounds of the draft: Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage & Elgton Jenkins.


DURING THE SEASON


Week 1 in Chicago was a remarkable start that really set the tone for the Packers season. It was the first game of the NFL calendar, and many expected the match-up to be a shoot-out between two talented young offensive minds; Matt LaFleur & Matt Nagy. In fact, we saw the rise of Mike Pettine’s defense in a huge 5-sack performance. Also, the game was sealed by the new recruits; Adrian Amos getting a pick against his former team, and Za’Darius Smith with a big sack on the final play.

Week 7 was arguably the best performance of the season for the Packers, in a dominant 42-24 victory over the playoff contending Oakland Raiders. The game will be remembered for a majestic Aaron Rodgers passing performance, where he threw for 421 yards and 5 touchdowns with a perfect passer rating. The game was also an example of the Packers excellent pass blocking, who completely negated the Raiders talented pass rushers; Maxx Crosby & Clelin Ferrell. The leader of the offensive line in 2019 was Left Tackle David Bakhtiari, who finished the season as the only Packer to make the NFL All-Pro team. It’s also worth noting that, new offensive line recruits; Elgton Jenkins & Billy Turner played nearly every snap in the season.

Mike Roemer/AP

In week 8, against the eventual World Champion Chiefs, the Packers had a big win led by Aaron Jones in a truly breakout performance. Not only did he run for over 5 yards per carry, but he had 159 receiving for 2 TDs. The Packers used him in a variety of positions as part of their Empty passing formation. Jones really had an impressive year, ending the season leading all skill position players in the NFL with 19 Touchdowns.

The wins over the Chiefs & Raiders were the best performances by the Packers all year, but the sweep of the AFC West came to a crashing conclusion in week 9 against the LA Chargers. The Packers were dominated 26-11 on the road, in a game where the Chargers ran the ball for fun, and held the Packers rushing attack to a season low 45 yards.

After another loss to San Francisco in week 12 which took their record to 8-3, the Packers finished the regular season with a 5-game win streak over the Giants, Redskins, Bears, Vikings & Lions. The victory over the Vikings was particularly impressive as they held the Vikings offense to less than 140 yards. Outstanding performances along the defensive line by Kenny Clarke, Za’Darius Smith & Preston Smith shut down a rushing attack without the injured Dalvin Cook. Moreover, this 5 game run highlighted the dominance of Jaire Alexander who, in only his second season, showed his talent as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

Week 17 perfectly summed up the Packers regularly season, they snuck past a weak Lions side, led by David Blough, with a Field Goal in the closing moments. Here is a stunning stat: in the two wins over the Detroit Lions, they won both games, but the led for a grand total of 0 seconds.

In the 2019 Playoffs, the Packers beat the Seahawks in the Divisional round, before falling on the road to the #1 seed 49ers in the NFC Championship game.

The Seahawks game was a great example of what the Packers could do. They passed the ball extremely well, particularly to Davante Adams. Adams had his best game of the year, terrorising the Hawks DB unit with 8 catches for 160 yards and 2 TDs. Also, the mighty defensive line picked up yet another 5 sacks, which is even more impressive against the elusive Russell Wilson.

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being on the high of a 6-game win streak going into the NFC Championship game against the 49ers, the Packers dreams were crushed at the penultimate hurdle by a record-setting offensive performance. Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco offense ran for nearly 300 yards, only needing to throw the ball 8 times in a comfortable victory. Although the Packers defensive line is extremely talented at rushing the passer, they were abused by a far superior offensive line in the run game. On offense, Rodgers was sacked three times and had two bad interceptions. A poor performance by one of the best players to ever play QB.

Summary of the Packers season: Rarely impressive, but largely successful.


OFFSEASON OUTLOOK


The 2019 Packers were fundamentally different to any Packers team within the Aaron Rodgers era. General Manager Brian Gutekunst brought in some amazing free-agent talent and, except for 1st round flop Rashan Gary, drafted well. 2nd round picks Darnell Savage & Elgton Jenkins may be pivotal Packers for years to come. Also, Head Coach Matt LaFleur showed that he could lead a team to a Championship game in his first year.

From an offensive perspective, the team has a completely new identity. In 2018, Matt McCarthy’s offense had become stale and predictable. His offense aligned in an 11-personnel grouping (1 Running Back & 1 Tight End) on 72% of all offensive plays, the 2nd highest usage in the NFL. However, under LaFleur, 11-personnel was only used on 53% of plays, this was the 9th lowest in the NFL. The formations and personnel groups were more creative and more effective than previous years. Going into 2020, there are plenty of positive signs for the offense.

Image result for brian gutekunst matt lafluer
Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK

From a defensive perspective, at the time of writing this article, Mike Pettine is still the Defensive Coordinator for the Packers. However, he had a pretty shaky season where the legitimacy of his defensive philosophy was brought into question. The Packers gave up more than 120 rushing yards in 12 games during the 2019 season.

There are plenty of talented players on the Packers defense, but schematically Blake Martinez is asked to do too much as the singular inside Linebacker. Either the Packers need to find a world class LB, or Pettine needs to change his scheme to fit the talent available.

Overall, it’s hard to ignore the issues highlighted in San Francisco’s dominant win over Green Bay. The Packers have two clear areas of concern: The skill position players struggle to win in man coverage & they cannot stop the run. However, if they can find solutions to these issues, then they could be a Superbowl favourite in 2020.

In Gutekunst we trust.

Hype Train Station – Week 16

By James Fotheringham (@NFLHypeTrain)

This is it. Hopefully if you are taking the time to read this, you are in your championship game (if not, good luck in avoiding the toilet bowl or any forfeits your league must have). There are a few things to consider this week. Teams who have qualified and cannot improve their seeding, teams that are trying to qualify and will be going all out to win, and teams looking to grab home advantage for the playoffs.

Houston and Tampa Bay may have a shootout although only the Texans have a chance to make the playoffs. The Bills play New England with a possible chance of usurping them as AFC East leaders and potentially end up with a first round bye. Dallas and Philly playoff in what may be a winner takes all match. The 49ers look to eliminate the Rams, the Titans look to hold onto their playoff hopes against a Saints team looking for the #1 seed in the NFC. Minnesota and Green Bay fight for supremacy in the NFC North, while at the other end the Bengals face the Dolphins in the latest Tankbowl.




Devonta Freeman (ATL vsJAX)

The Falcons and Jags are both out of contention, so this is a dead rubber, however Freeman needs to get into a groove and the Jags run defence are in a rut. There is a chance they use the time to try out rookie Quadree Olinson as the lead back after his performances in previous weeks so if you need a hail Mary play, there’s an option. 


Chris Carson (SEA vsARI)

The most one sides matchup where the favourite is playing for something and the other team is out of it. Seattle have a lot to fight for with the 49ers in sight and they will be looking for their workhorse to power them on.

Those needing a plausible deep option the play may be looking for players trying to establish themselves in the lead role or make their HC pay attention. The likes of Patrick Laird (MIA vsCIN), Chris Thompson (WAS vsNYG), Ryquell Armstead (JAX @ATL) and Justin Jackson (LAC vsOAK) all may have points to prove. There are others, but this is not an easy week for matchups.



Deandre Hopkins/Will Fuller (HOU @TB)

Again, this game will be fire and if both of these guys play, one or both are going to come up big. If they don’t then the Titans and steelers may just drag them out of the playoffs. The Pressure is on.


Tyler Lockett/DK Metcalf (SEA vsARI)

These two might both have big days as the Seahawks try and firm up a wildcard spot and take aim at the 49ers and a first round bye. Carson won’t be able to do all the work, and with how poorly the Cardinals secondary has played this year, Wilson will be out to exploit it as he does.


Darius Slayton (NYG @WAS)

Going a bit deeper, Slayton has been a great find for the Giants and against the Redskins he can keep that run going. Shepard, Tate and Engram would be the usual top 3 targets, but Slayton is making the most of each of them missing time and has solidified a position on the team going forwards. Slayton is fast becoming owned so those needing to dig deeper have: Chris Conley (JAX @ATL), Dionte Johnson (PIT @NYJ), Miles Boykin (BAL @CLE) and Scott Miller (TB vsHOU).




Jameis Winston/DeSean Watson (TB vsHOU)

This may be a shootout even though only one team really has something to play for. Winston is a low end league winner and Watson, a high end one. Both have back secondary’s and have been leaking points, which makes it very eye catching for the neutral and for fantasy.


Russell Wilson (SEA vsARI)

I’ve put a lot of Seattle players in here and Wilson is an obvious addition. Obviously throughout this article I’ve picked players who are going to be owned so this is aimed at DFS or those teams with line-up decisions in the final, hence why the next option is much more left field…


Drew Lock (DEN vsDET)

Lock has been having a ball since becoming the starter and against a weak Detroit defence, he can continue that trend. In a slightly similar situation (two teams out of contention) I like Gardner Minshew (JAX @ATL) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA vsCIN) if you need deeper options.



Zach Ertz/Dallas Goedert (PHI vsDAL)

I’ve been avoiding the huge NFC East game as it’s hard to call, but the one thing I feel comfortable saying, is that the Eagles passing offence will be largely centred around their Tight Ends. Injuries have hurt the Eagles and they should use a lot of two TE sets to allow Goedert and Ertz to receive looks. Jason Witten may also have relevance, but Ertz may be the #1.


OJ Howard/Cameron Brate (TB vsHOU)

Evans and Godwin are OUT. The load has to go somewhere and we know Jameis will pass the ball a lot.


Jacob Hollister (SEA vsARI)

Play your TE against Arizona, especially when your QB is Russel Wilson and you have everything on the line as I’ve probably said 4 times already. He may even be on the wire in a few places. If not but you are in need you could look for: Darren Fells (HOU @TB), Jack Doyle (IND vsCAR), Noah Fant (DEN vsDET), Jonnu Smith (TEN vsNO) and Hayden Hurst (BAL @CLE).  



Steelers (PIT @NYJ)

Again, I have to back my team in defence. They are doing the work to allow the offence to do just enough. Pittsburgh have a great shot at the last Wildcard which would potentially put them up against the NFC South victor which is gives them a genuine opportunity to rematch against the Patriots once more. The Jets wont offer much, even with Lev Bell playing his former employers.


Ravens (BAL @CLE)

The Ravens should be able to pick off Baker and the Browns and will be using this as a warmup fore tougher tests to come. They are improving and beginning to peak at the right moment.


49ers (SF vsLAR)

This is a difficult one, but Jared Goff still gives the ball away too often and I think the 49ers defence will be the difference. The Patriots have a similar scenario against the Bills and both these games see teams who are a win apart and will be scrapping to make the playoffs. It may be too little too late for the Rams though and the 49ers should show their playoff intentions.


Chiefs (KC @CHI)

Those needing to dig deeper may be able to use the Chiefs against the Bears since it is still Mitchell Trubisky and his inconsistency is his downfall. The Chiefs could still get a first round bye so they will be fighting hard, while the Bears are eliminated.


So, there you go. My last ramblings for this season and big thanks to the Full10Yards guys for their support this season and I look forward to working with them and improving over the coming years. Listen out for the podcasts, keep your eyes peeled on twitter and the fantasy sector will see you next season, but for now:

“We have arrived at week 16, where this Hype Train terminates. Please gather all your belongings, Check for trophies, belts and prize money before leaving the train. We thank you for using the Hype Train this season and we hope to see you again soon.”

Where Do They Go From Here; LA Rams

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Los Angeles Rams.

Don’t forget to check out the NFC West podcast where we talked to a fan from each team and got their thoughts on them!

How Did Last Season Go?

It’s hard to determine whether or not this was a successful season or not. I guess with a gun to my head that you’d have to call the season disappointing overall despite the Super Bowl appearance. The reason I call it a failure is not only the performance in the Super Bowl, but also the luck involved in getting them there (more on that shortly) and the fact that they pushed all their chips into the middle for this season with their signings on defence.

Suh, Talib et al were all drafted in to make a Madden Ultimate Team in effect and just came up short. Yes, they’ll be among the favourites again in 2019 but you wonder if this was their boat sailing? Sometimes, you only get one chance.

Let’s rewind back to the regular season, stormed out to an 8-0 record before their humbling by the New Orleans Saints in a high scoring 35-45 affair with nearly 1000 yards of offence in the game (not one for Lee). Other season highlights was of course the week 11 slobber knocker in LA (which should have been in Mexico) which had over 100 points to its name.

There was a slight wobble after the bye in weeks 14 and 15 with losses @Chicago and at home to a Nick Foles led Eagles, costing them the #1 seed. None the less, a #2 seed and a 1st round bye, they proved too strong for the Cowboys (though you have to wonder whether if Zeke converted on that 4th down, how it may have played out).

The NFC title game will forever be remembered for the non PI call which would’ve let New Orleans run the clock down to a few seconds and Lutz to kick a chip shot, but that is now why coaches will be able to challenge these calls in 2019. Some like it, I hate it but it’s happening. Make your own judgement call on whether it is good for the game.

The main storyline over the latter part of the season on top of the charge to the biggest game of them all was Todd Gurley’s injury niggles. CJ Anderson was signed from week 15 and produced a stand out performance in his absence which trickled in to the post season. His rumbled over Dallas with a 100+ yd performance and a couple of touchdowns which leave many scratching their heads as to why he wasn’t re-signed. It was later released that Todd Gurley has arthritis in his left knee and we all knew that the Rams were playing it down and Todd Gurley telling a few white lies about him playing soft. No-one ever really bought it though because it told on the field with the amount of snaps CJ Anderson saw. It remains to be seen what lie ahead for the highest paid RB in the game in terms of next season’s workload. Dynasty owners, hold your breath.

Housekeeping

The Rams own pick number 31 for being Super Bowl runners up.

They hold no 2nd round picks but 2 3rd rounders (pick 99 is compensatory) along with a pick in rounds 4,5,6 and 7.

The Rams’ pursestrings are a bit tight with around $5m cap space at this moment.

Outgoings

LaMarcus Joyner, Roger Saffold, Mark Barron and Ndamukong Suh and the main names out the door.

Incomings

Replacing them are Green Bay legend with the long golden locks Clay Matthews, Eric Weddle and his great beard and clearly the biggest signing of them all, Blake Bortles. You watch him get turned into Dan Marino by McVay.

Outlook for Next Year

Pretty much as you were for the Rams with a few pieces being changed. The Rams will be expecting to visit the big one again and go one better.

Cooper Kupp, who seemingly was the glue that kept this team together should be back and raring to go and a lot of eyes will be on Todd Gurley and his knees. Expect a top offence once more with plenty of points to go around everywhere. The Rams will play a winners schedule as well as the NFC South and AFC North. Added on top, a trip to London to take on Zac Taylor who was employed by the Rams in 2018.

Prediction

There may well be stiffer competition in the NFC West in 2019 with the Seahawks and also Jimmy G being welcomed back by Kyle Shanahan. Should be another division title for the Rams but the division plays hard. Another season of double digit wins if Gurley’s war wounds are nothing too serious and Sean McVay does Sean McVay things on the Rams offence. To the post season, the Rams will once again be a juggernaut to stop, but someone will.

Fantasy Football

Jared Goff – later rounds – low QB1

Todd Gurley – 1st round pick (buyer beware) – RB1, if fit and firing.

Brandin Cooks – 3rd/4th Round pick – WR2 – potential bargain

Cooper Kupp – 5th round – low WR2 – PPR machine

Robert Woods – 4th round – WR2

Tight Ends – no chance!

Championship OT Overdose!

The Super Bowl teams have been decided, but it wasn’t without controversy!
Tim and Lee are joined by Adam to recap both of the games and to also talk about the International Series games and the coverage of the NFL in this country.
Tuesday means quizzing so Lee from All32UK joins us to test his NFL knowledge in the Full10Questions.

QB or not to QB…

Championship Weekend! Bittersweet feelings with only 3 games left in the 2018 season but Tim and Lee give you the low down on the Conference Championship games.

Which QB could be the downfall to one team’s chances? And what is the key to the Patriots causing an upset in Arrowhead?

Adam and Tim then go through their best bets for the weekend’s games and also…which Italian chain has the best restaurants?

We finish off with a quick conversation about Lee’s new Mock Draft 2.0 which was put up recently.

 

Podcast 15 – Let’s get divisional

Good friend Lee Wakefield (@wakefield90) joins us as we take an early look at how the divisions could play out this year. We also run the rule over some end of season awards and decide whether or not Saquon Barkley is a shoo in for Offensive Rookie of the Year but also, why are the Quarterbacks so low in price?

(PS- Apologies for the sound difficulties you may hear in this podcast).