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.
Many 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.
Most 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.
Rodgers 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, 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.
The 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.
It 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, 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.