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31.05.2019 09:32
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The final weekend Antworten

of November has arrived Dexter Williams Jersey , with this Green Bay-Minnesota game predictably carrying plenty of weight toward the race for the NFC playoffs.The twist, though, is the Packers and Vikings are stuck in the thick of the wild-card mix. The Bears, having beaten the Vikings last week, are the team with a healthy lead in the NFC North, which has been won only by Green Bay (five) or Minnesota (two) since Chicago’s last division title in 2010.“I definitely didn’t expect to be sitting where we’re sitting, but our record is what it is,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Obviously, Minnesota has a strong team. They’re probably surprised where they’re sitting as well. So I don’t think either of us is out of the division race.”Both the Packers (4-5-1) and Vikings (5-4-1) have one more game remaining against the Bears (8-3), but they’re each lugging that 29-all tie in Green Bay on Sept. 16 down the stretch like a back tire that’s low on air.“Maybe it will help us, and maybe it’ll hurt us, too,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “I don’t really know.”The Packers will play three of their final five games at home, which is helpful because they’ve yet to win on the road this year. They’ll have a more-mobile Rodgers than in their last matchup with the Vikings, when he was grinding through a knee injury.“He looks like his old self, unfortunately,” Zimmer said.If the Vikings beat the Packers at home for the third straight time, they’ll at least own a tiebreaker over their biggest rival. They’d still be 1½ games behind the Bears, though, with a difficult stretch of the schedule ahead.“We’ll definitely have to play four quarters,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, “and maybe more than that.”Here are some other key angles to follow with the game:NOT-SO-PRIME TIMEThe Vikings are playing in the NFL’s premier Sunday night slot for the second straight week Elgton Jenkins Jersey , triggering a magnification of their struggles with the bright lights on this season. They’ve lost all three of their night games, in Los Angeles to the Rams on Sept. 27, at home against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 28. and at Chicago last week. The Rams, Saints and Bears boast the top three records in the NFC, a combined 28-5.“I guess we’re just playing good teams,” Zimmer said. “That might be the real factor.”Cousins has a 4-12 career record as a starter when kickoff is in the evening, though he has a 68 percent completion rate with 31 touchdowns and 16 interceptions and an average of 305 passing yards in those 16 games.“It gets a little bit convoluted when you try to look at a stat and pair it with a player,” Cousins said. “It becomes maybe a bigger, more complicated picture than just a win-loss record and trying to judge performance.”THIRD DOWNERSThe Packers are 19th in the NFL with a 38 percent conversion rate on third down. They’re up against a Vikings defense that leads the league on third downs, allowing the chains to move only 28 percent of the time.One problem for the Packers has been the absence of wide receiver Randall Cobb, long one of Rodgers’ most reliable options. He has missed half of Green Bay’s games with a hamstring injury, including the last two contests, but he could return to action Sunday.SACKMASTER FACKRELLOutside linebacker Nick Perry missed Green Bay’s last game at Seattle, but third-year backup Kyler Fackrell made his absence moot with three sacks, his second such performance this season. Fackrell has eight sacks this year, more than starters Perry and Clay Matthews combined.“The more you play, the more you get comfortable with it, the less encumbered you are with the thinking part,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said.JONESING FOR THE BALLPackers running back Aaron Jones didn’t play against the Vikings earlier this season because of a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Jones has 342 rushing yards and four touchdowns over the last four games, plus 12 receptions for 100 yards and a score. He’s the league leader in yards per rush with an average of 6.4.HELP FROM HARRISVikings safety Andrew Sendejo will miss his sixth straight game because of a groin injury, but Anthony Harris has capably filled in as the starter in the previous two games. He had two interceptions against the Bears.“I’m just coming in each day preparing like I’m going to be out there every snap and just trying to take advantage of any opportunities given,” Harris said. “So each year Dexter Williams Jersey , I’ve just been trying to take strides in getting better and increase my role and help this team win.”Harris signed with the Vikings in 2015 as undrafted rookie out of Virginia. Zimmer praised his progress with becoming more of a physical player as well as gaining a better understanding of the system.“I just think confidence,” Zimmer said. “You know, he sees things and reacts. He’s a good visual player, I think. He’s very smart.” Look around the league at the top offenses in football and you’re unlikely to find deadweight coaches trudging alongside the innovators. Andy Reid doesn’t employ stragglers. Matt Nagy packed his staff with young offensive minds. Doug Pederson might just have had the best offensive staff in football when the Eagles won the Super Bowl last season. And Sean McVay just had one former coach hired for a head job. Zac Taylor may be next. Hiring Joe Philbin to a major offensive position like coordinator doesn’t represent the way the modern NFL works. For whatever benefit there may have been to having a respected coach already in the room, he’s not the guy to push the offensive forward in a way it so desperately requires. The Green Bay Packers theoretically didn’t hire LaFleur for continuity’s sake. They did it to blow things up on a certain level. That leaves Green Bay in search of an offensive coordinator, someone who the team reportedly would like to have ties to the Shanahan-McVay offense. Remember, for all the plaudits McVay rightly receives for his offense, the bones of it are Shanahan the elder’s, while the younger Shanahan and McVay have developed their own modern wrinkles. Any job coaching Aaron Rodgers will be desirable, but not having the chance to call plays could limit the field of candidates for LaFleur and the Packers. The most obvious choice is a name many fans considered before LaFleur got the job: Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor. Some suggested a Vic Fangio head coach with Taylor running the offense represented the best option for the Packers offense. But while McVay let LaFleur go to Tennessee because he was going to get to call plays, it appears unlikely he’ll do the same for Taylor — precisely because he won’t. That signals LaFleur will, indeed, call plays for the Packers which may potentially complicate the search. Green Bay could run into the same issue with Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron, who has garnered some head coaching buzz, including reported interest from the Bengals. McVay appears to be a coach who, like McCarthy in Green Bay, wants to see his coaches go off and succeed, but only in the right situations. The playcalling problem once again crops up. But there are two Rams coaches who make sense and could view the Packers OC as a step up for them, assuming McVay agrees to let them leave. The first is Aaron Kromer, a veteran offensive line coach who coached on Sean Payton’s Saints staff as part of their Super Bowl run. He also served as Bears OC and line coach for two seasons. His teams consistently maximize their talent along the offensive line and he would be an excellent coach to make sure the franchise quarterback stays clean. The other possible option is the peripatetic Jedd Fisch who, because he’s moved around so much, has worked for coaches like Steve Spurrier Vince Biegel Color Rush Jersey , Brian Billick, Mike Shanahan, Pete Carroll, and Jim Harbaugh. Still, Fisch is just 42, comes with that diverse background in multiple offenses with college connections, and could be the kind of coach who offers unique suggestions to a coach like LaFleur, who has really only ever coached one type of offense. Another intuitive choice would be Matt’s brother Mike, the 49ers’ receivers coach and passing game coordinator. He checks the requisite boxes in terms of experience and relationship, but according to NBC Sports in the Bay Area, would prefer to remain in San Francisco. Working with your brother is certainly different than working for him, plus it’s not hard to see why a young candidate like the 35-year-old LaFleur the young would view an OC job without playcalling as a lateral move. This speaks to the difficulty the Packers might have filling this void. LaFleur, at 39, has been around myriad quality coaches, but many of them have also graduated to bigger roles. Even though a coach like Gary Kubiak expressed interest in returning to coaching as a coordinator, that kind of move doesn’t fit with Green Bay’s vision moving forward. LaFleur may lack the kind of longstanding relationships with coaches to come in just to be an offensive consigliere. When Mike McCarthy wanted to revamp his offense, he had coaches he could call, including Philbin. While ultimately that turned out to be insufficient, at least he had a cell phone with legitimate names on it. Looking at the Titans staff LaFleur put together, there’s no name that jumps out from the usual places. The quarterbacks coach, Pat O’Hara, spent most of his career coaching in the arena league and before Tennessee was in Houston as an offensive assistant. Receivers coach Rob Moore has only ever filled that role , going back to 2013 with the Bills and Raiders.The most intriguing name on the list of potential candidates is Mike McDaniel, a name to watch in the coming days. A former receiver at Yale, McDaniel has climbed all over the Shanahan tree along with LaFleur. The two coached together for a season on Gary Kubiak’s staff in Houston. Then, while LaFleur coached the QBs in Washington, McDaniel served as an offensive assistant and receivers coach. The two once again reunited in Atlanta for the Matt Ryan renaissance, before LaFleur went to LA and McDaniel to San Francisco with —wait for it — Kyle Shanahan.Experience in the Shanahan offense? Check. Previous coaching connection and relationship with LaFleur? Check. Sharp, up-and-coming coach who won’t be afraid to adjust on the fly? Check. One outside-the-box choice would be Shane Steichen, the Chargers quarterbacks coach. He’s said to be well-respected inside the Packers organization and although he’s not a Shanahan disciple, he worked under Frank Reich and Mike McCoy in San Diego (before the LA move) and survived McCoy’s firing. His experience with Philip Rivers could dovetail nicely with an offense built around Aaron Rodgers as his physical tools inevitably decline as he ages. He was set to be the OC for Josh McDaniels in Indianapolis before the infamous pull-out, which confirms he’s seen as a future OC by at least one smart offensive coach. Ultimately, the Packers must find a coach they see as able to both challenge LaFleur to keep the offense fresh, while working with him to revamp it from the ground up. There likely won’t be the sexy, splash hire like Zac Taylor, but there are quality options available to the Packers. Getting the OC hire right won’t be nearly as important as the DC hire, and the entire organization seems sure that’s been taken care of by keeping Mike Pettine. Still, a first-time head coach has to find someone who can keep the ship steady even if he’s not calling plays, while balancing the desire to innovate and create anew. That mantra is the story of the Packers 2019 offseason, so why should such an important hire be any different?

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