Packers fan ratings: Strong backfield highlights bounce-back 2019 campaign

Brad Star
Packers News
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An anticlimactic finish to the 2019 season did not sour Green Bay fans’ opinion of their team, as the Packers received mostly average to above-average scores in USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s year-end ratings.

After two consecutive sub-.500 seasons, the Packers bounced back in a big way under rookie head coach Matt LaFleur. They won the NFC North for the first time since 2016 while posting their best record since 2011. Despite numerous “ugly wins” in 2019, Green Bay tied for the best record in the NFC and earned the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. The Packers held off the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC divisional playoff before meeting their end against a juggernaut San Francisco 49ers squad in the NFC championship game.

In that championship game, the 49ers for the most part managed to stymie what had been Green Bay’s bread and butter in 2019: the running game. Packers running backs garnered a team-high average rating of 4.2 on a 1-5 scale, with one being terrible and five being terrific. About 1,360 readers voted on the ratings.

Green Bay’s plan of attack revolved around 2017 fifth-round pick Aaron Jones, who, after showing flashes of brilliance in 2017 and 2018, blossomed into one of the game’s top running backs in 2019. He tied with Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey for the NFL lead in touchdowns (19) during the regular season, and then added four more in the playoffs.

However, to preserve his health, Jones was used as more of a “1A” back as opposed to workhorses such as McCaffrey or the Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry. This system allowed LaFleur to get second-string running back Jamaal Williams some time, and he thrived when given the opportunity. Williams had just one rushing touchdown in 2019 but found the end zone five times as a receiver.

The emergence of both Jones and Williams as pass-catchers partially mitigated the Packers’ receiving corps, which fans saw as a major weakness in 2019. Wide receivers and tight ends were punished with an average rating of 2.5, the worst of Green Bay’s position groups. Davante Adams, despite missing four games early in the season, stood out as the No. 1 receiver with 997 yards on the year, but the Packers struggled mightily to find a consistent No. 2. Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling were phased out of the offense due to drops, which led to undrafted free agent Allen Lazard netting 477 receiving yards.

The defensive line and special teams tied for the next lowest rating at 2.8. Kicker Mason Crosby had a phenomenal year, hitting 22 of 24 (91.7%) of his field goals and 40 of 41 (97.6%) extra-point attempts. However, the Packers ranked dead last in the NFL in punt return average (4.5 yards).

The quarterback position received an average rating of 3.0. Aaron Rodgers had his first fully healthy season since 2016, and, by Rodgers’ standards, posted relatively pedestrian statistics. He did reach 4,000 passing yards for the eighth time in his career but had his third-worst passer rating (95.4) since becoming the Packers’ starter in 2008. However, he also had the second-best interception percentage (0.7) of his career, leading the NFL in the statistic for the fourth time in his career.

Linebackers had a relatively average rating of 3.1, while the defensive backs tied with the coaching staff at 3.3. The offensive line, which was solid when both David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga were at full health, were rewarded the second-highest rating of 3.7.

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