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wpr
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Shawn Wagner wrote:

Chandon Sullivan was one of the Packers’ best surprises during its NFC Championship Game run in 2019. A 13-3 season, NFC North championship, and postseason run to the NFC Championship  Game were all fantastic surprises for the Green Bay Packers  over the course of the 2019 season. And while the team ultimately did fall short of its Super Bowl  aspirations, it was an encouraging sign for an organization that underwent a head coaching change the previous offseason and took an expensive gamble on a number of prized free agents.
Outside of Matt LaFleur’s rather surprising start to his NFL head coaching career, the Packers received a number of noteworthy, and perhaps overachieving, performances from other newcomers to the roster. As Green Bay enters the offseason and turns its attention toward the 2020 season, here is a look back at some of those surprising individuals from the past year.
Chandon Sullivan 
The second-year pro had to scratch and claw to make the Packers’ final roster, but by season’s end, Sullivan  became a real contributor in the secondary.
Although he only had one interception on the season, Sullivan leap-frogged recent draft picks Ka’Dar Hollman and Josh Jackson  and cemented himself as a dime cornerback so much that Tony Brown  became expendable. Sullivan added six pass deflections and a forced fumble while playing behind Jaire Alexander , Kevin King , and Tramon Williams. For what it is worth, Sullivan posted a higher grade from Pro Football Focus than all but Williams during the 2019 season. From roster bubble to a 16-game contributor, Sullivan should have another opportunity to make a difference next season.
Allen Lazard 
When the Packers initially trimmed their roster down to 53 at the end of summer, Lazard  was one of the final casualties despite having a solid training camp and earning a bit of praise from Aaron Rodgers. It did not take long for Lazard  to find his way back to Green Bay in some capacity, signing to the practice squad the following day and then getting elevated to the active roster three days later. What a difference he made for the offense from that point forward.
In a season in which Green Bay saw very few young receivers take a step forward as hoped, Lazard  may have guaranteed a roster spot for himself in 2020. The former Iowa State Cyclone appeared in all 16 games and even made three starts en route to a 35-catch, 477-yard season with a trio of touchdown receptions. While Lazard is not an athletic wonder, he does bring size to the position and became a reliable route runner over the middle. He continued to gain Rodgers’ trust over the course of the season and was the team’s number two pass-catcher as it came to a close.
Za’Darius Smith
Sure, Smith’s contract suggested the Packers thought highly of the fifth-year pro when they signed him last spring. But who could have expected the quick impact the pass rusher could make?
On the field, Smith became a leader of the defense with his emotional play and consistent effort. A 16-game starter, Smith tallied 13.5 sacks in his first season with Green Bay, adding 17 tackles for a loss and 37 quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Reference. Smith eventually worked his way into the Pro Bowl , but he was an absolute disrupter for the Packers’ defense and a player opposing offenses needed to account for at all times. While Preston Smith was also an instrumental addition to the team, Za’Darius gave Green Bay the type of versatile pass-rushing demon it searched for for a very long time. The future is bright for a player like Smith just entering his prime.
B.J. Goodson 
The Packers received Goodson  for next to nothing in a trade with the New York Giants  prior to the start of the regular season, but the fourth-year inside linebacker went on to start nine games for the Packers in 15 total appearances.
While Goodson ’s stats were not flashy with 35 tackles and no takeaways, the fact that he started half the team’s games was surprising. Oren Burks  was supposed to nail down that starting spot next to Blake Martinez  before a late injury in preseason. Although the Packers did use a combination of Raven Greene  and Ibraheim Campbell  in the inside on passing downs, Goodson’s overall addition and average of 17 snap counts per game were not expected in 2019.
Elgton Jenkins 
Darnell Savage  turned in a promising rookie season with 14 starts, but he was a first-round pick at a safety position looking for immediate upgrades. Jenkins, taken in the second round, was expected to sit behind Billy Turner  and Lane Taylor  at guard for a season before fighting for a starting role. When Taylor  was injured and lost for the season after just two games, that opportunity came quicker than expected.
The results were surprisingly comforting. Though Jenkins was penalized 10 times during the entire year, including six holding calls, he earned a spot on the Professional Football Writers of America All-Rookie team for his outstanding play. Jenkins allowed just one quarterback hit and no sacks as a pass protector, while only posting one blown block  in the running game. Green Bay has a decision to make in the offseason on its future at right tackle with Bryan Bulaga  entering free agency, but Jenkins’ play as a rookie is reassuring at the left guard spot for a long time to come.


Continue Reading @ Shawn Wagner 



Lazard and Goodson are a little bit of a reach. Overall I was pleased with the results.
earthquake
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A reach? Lazard was undrafted, went to the practice squad initially, and ended the season as the Packer's #2 WR. To say he was a pleasant surprise is an understatement.
wpr
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Originally Posted by: earthquake 

A reach? Lazard was undrafted, went to the practice squad initially, and ended the season as the Packer's #2 WR. To say he was a pleasant surprise is an understatement.



I get it he was an UDFA who was cut before the season. All things considered he did a decent job. I didn't mean to imply he had a terrible season. I guess that shows how lousy the receiving corps were this year. 35 receptions (5th) on 56 targets (6th) for 477 yards (2nd) is considered wonderful.

My list would be Aaron Jones, Jenkins, Z Smith, Savage and Sullivan.
Zero2Cool
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Originally Posted by: wpr 

I get it he was an UDFA who was cut before the season. All things considered he did a decent job. I didn't mean to imply he had a terrible season. I guess that shows how lousy the receiving corps were this year. 35 receptions (5th) on 56 targets (6th) for 477 yards (2nd) is considered wonderful.

My list would be Aaron Jones, Jenkins, Z Smith, Savage and Sullivan.



I don't think the stats alone are what is considered wonderful. It is getting that kind of production from an undrafted rookie that is wonderful.
wpr
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Originally Posted by: Zero2Cool 

I don't think the stats alone are what is considered wonderful. It is getting that kind of production from an undrafted rookie that is wonderful.



I understand. I don't totally and completely disagree. That's why my first comment was that I thought it was "a little but of a reach". Not that Shawn's selections were unwarranted. I then posted my choices.

I see criticism of my opinion but I don't see anyone else putting their choices out there. I even think P Smith gave us more than expected.
Zero2Cool
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Originally Posted by: wpr 

I understand. I don't totally and completely disagree. That's why my first comment was that I thought it was "a little but of a reach". Not that Shawn's selections were unwarranted. I then posted my choices.

I see criticism of my opinion but I don't see anyone else putting their choices out there. I even think P Smith gave us more than expected.



I haven't really had time to look at it much. I do think the OLB's were heads and shoulders better than I would have expected even on a homer-ish level of thinking.
Nonstopdrivel
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Quote:

He continued to gain Rodgers’ trust over the course of the season and was the team’s number two pass-catcher as it came to a close.


Ugh, that wretched phrase again. 🤮 Has there ever been another top-flight quarterback about whose tender feelings reporters and commentators were so solicitous the way they are for Rodgers'? I don't remember ever hearing endless references to Peyton Manning's or Brett Favre's need for trust in their receivers. I don't hear it with Tom Brady or Drew Brees either. They make do with what they have.

That being said, the drop-off in production between the No. 1 receiver and the No. 2 receiver is pretty dramatic. Like fall-off-a-cliff dramatic.
earthquake
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Originally Posted by: wpr 

I get it he was an UDFA who was cut before the season. All things considered he did a decent job. I didn't mean to imply he had a terrible season. I guess that shows how lousy the receiving corps were this year. 35 receptions (5th) on 56 targets (6th) for 477 yards (2nd) is considered wonderful.



Context is important. The article states that these players were pleasant surprises, not that they were all-pros. A pleasant surprise generally means to get more than you expected out of a player, or to get anything out of someone who is a fringe sort of guy like Lazard. At no point did the article claim he was "wonderful", in fact, the article states that he may have earned roster spot, which is a fairly reserved take on the young fellow.

Quote:

My list would be Aaron Jones, Jenkins, Z Smith, Savage and Sullivan.



These are not terrible choices, but all but Sullivan had high expectations going into the season.
beast
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Lazzard went from not making the roster to being the starter in the same season... if that's not the definition of a surprise, then I don't know what is....

He should clearly be on this list more than anyone else...

Sullivan as well....

Goodson I got mixed feelings about, but he was good in a very limited role...

But trying to think of other names, that are better surprise in positivitie ways is tough.

Maybe Bulaga? Clark being used in a new role, which I don't think suits him as well, think he can be an all pro NT but not as good as the 3 tech, but did better than expected. S Greene until his injury.
wpr
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Originally Posted by: earthquake 

Context is important. The article states that these players were pleasant surprises, not that they were all-pros. A pleasant surprise generally means to get more than you expected out of a player, or to get anything out of someone who is a fringe sort of guy like Lazard. At no point did the article claim he was "wonderful", in fact, the article states that he may have earned roster spot, which is a fairly reserved take on the young fellow.



These are not terrible choices, but all but Sullivan had high expectations going into the season.



I'm glad Lazard made the team and had a somewhat decent season all things considered. But don't tell me you had that high of expectations for the players I named.

You mean to tell me you expected Jones to lead the league in TDs? He doubled his output from last year. No one saw that coming. Not even close.

Z Smith got his big payday and it was hoped he would sort of kinda live up to it somewhat. People were saying GB only needed to keep him for 2 years of his 4 year deal. I don't think anyone expected him to step up as much as he did. He out performed that contract and earned every nickle he got and then some. 

Jenkins? Common man. Yes he was a second round pick but what a year he had. No one knew he would not only be the starter but he was a shut down lineman far exceeding his rookie expectations by miles. 

People hoped Savage would be a solid player given the dire need GB had for him but look at how many safeties need 2 or 3 years before they play at the level he played at this year. Nick Collins?

Just because someone is a big name doesn't mean they can't out perform what is expected of them by miles and miles.
wpr
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Originally Posted by: beast 

Lazzard went from not making the roster to being the starter in the same season... if that's not the definition of a surprise, then I don't know what is....

He should clearly be on this list more than anyone else...

Sullivan as well....

Goodson I got mixed feelings about, but he was good in a very limited role...

But trying to think of other names, that are better surprise in positivitie ways is tough.

Maybe Bulaga? Clark being used in a new role, which I don't think suits him as well, think he can be an all pro NT but not as good as the 3 tech, but did better than expected. S Greene until his injury.



Untrue. Players who start because of the outstanding quality is one thing. Players who start because of a total lack of better options is something completely different. There was no stand out WR after Adams.

Last year Josh Jones started some games. Hardly a ringing endorsement. So did Kentrell Brice, Josh Jackson, Antoino Morrison, Tony Brown and Jermaine Whitehead just to name a few. Jackson is the only one still on the team and his days are numbered.
go.pack.go.
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Originally Posted by: Nonstopdrivel 

Ugh, that wretched phrase again. 🤮 Has there ever been another top-flight quarterback about whose tender feelings reporters and commentators were so solicitous the way they are for Rodgers'? I don't remember ever hearing endless references to Peyton Manning's or Brett Favre's need for trust in their receivers. I don't hear it with Tom Brady or Drew Brees either. They make do with what they have.

That being said, the drop-off in production between the No. 1 receiver and the No. 2 receiver is pretty dramatic. Like fall-off-a-cliff dramatic.



Yes. In fact, QB’s in the NFL (or at any level) have certain trust levels with certain receivers. It is not something specific to Rodgers. Look at the trust level between Brees and Michael Thomas compared to the rest of his receivers. It’s obvious that Thomas is trusted more than anyone with that number of targets.
beast
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Originally Posted by: wpr 

You mean to tell me you expected Jones to lead the league in TDs? He doubled his output from last year. No one saw that coming. Not even close.

Actually I believe some people did see Jones numbers taking a large incline (maybe not those exact numbers but a good bump up) due to he fact the Packers pass the ball at a higher percentage under Mike McCarthy last year, more than any other team in years....

And the basic of LaFleur scheme is running the ball...

And there was concerns about Jones staying healthy, buy most of his injuries have come in the from pass blocking, which LaFleur asks his RBs to do less of, and gets them in receiving routes much more often.

Originally Posted by: wpr 

Untrue. Players who start because of the outstanding quality is one thing. Players who start because of a total lack of better options is something completely different. There was no stand out WR after Adams.

Last year Josh Jones started some games. Hardly a ringing endorsement. So did Kentrell Brice, Josh Jackson, Antoino Morrison, Tony Brown and Jermaine Whitehead just to name a few. Jackson is the only one still on the team and his days are numbered.

You completely missed the point... you're talking shit about starters... I'm pointing out a guy that was released by the team in the same exact year that same exact team made him their #2 guy at the position.

Not a single one of your many examples relates to that same standard...

They freaking released him...

People could have guessed your examples would become the starters for a few games. No one would guess the released guy...
Nonstopdrivel
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I think what the venerable wpr is saying it that while you could say that the cut wide receiver managing to make a contribution was a pleasant surprise, the other way to look at it is that it's concerning that there was so little talent behind the No. 1 receiver, a player who had been cut became the de facto No. 2 receiver, despite generating less than half the production of the top receiver. Is that a sign that the coaching staff underestimated Lazard—or that they way overestimated the other receivers on the squad? I think it's a little of both, exacerbated by Rodgers' weird insistence on only working with his favorites.
wpr
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