The Green Bay Packers‘ NFL Playoffs hopes are hanging by a thread as they enter their Week 17 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. The situation is simple: the Packers have to win in order to have any realistic shot at the postseason. If they do come out victorious, and then go on to beat the Chicago Bears at home in Week 18, they have a 95% chance of making the playoffs.
Unfortunately, Green Bay is also going into this game without Jaire Alexander, their two-time Pro Bowl cornerback. On Wednesday, Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur announced the team’s decision to suspend Alexander following his decision to make himself a captain for the coin toss on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
After the Packers narrowly beat the Panthers 33-30 following yet another defensive meltdown, Alexander explained to reporters that he sent himself out for the coin toss because the game took place in his hometown of Charlotte and that LaFleur was unaware of that fact.
Ever since the decision to suspend the two-time Second Team All Pro was announced, fans and analysts alike have disagreed over who is more responsible for the drama in the Packers’ locker room: players like Alexander or the coaching staff. While each side has valid arguments, one former player is pointing the finger solely at the star cornerback.
Former Green Bay Packers Lineman Mark Tauscher Says Jaire Alexander Suspended Himself
Former Packers offensive lineman Mark Tauscher never played with Alexander, but the Super Bowl XLV Champion played with plenty of players with unique personalities throughout his 11-year career. From Brett Favre to Greg Jennings to Aaron Rodgers, he is familiar with just about every kind of locker room issue that a team could possibly face.
Now an analyst and radio host with ESPN Milwaukee, Tauscher revealed that he believes there is one person and one person only to blame for this situation: Alexander himself.
“𝙅𝙖𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙨𝙪𝙨𝙥𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙙 𝙝𝙞𝙢𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛.” –@MarkTauscher65
— Wilde & Tausch (@WildeAndTausch) December 27, 2023
At the beginning of the video clip, Jason Wilde says that Alexander could view this suspension as a turning point in his career in that the two-time Pro Bowler may view the organization negatively as a result. In response, Tauscher said:
“If that’s the way he views this, it’s time to move on. This is what you want to do as an organization. You want to give second chances, but you have to see that changes are being made in situations that are not working for you as an organization.
“So, you could be a talented player. Nobody is saying anything right now about Jaire’s great talent the last two seasons. They have not. We’ve said he’s been injured, he’s not playing at the level that he’s supposed to, he’s being paid a lot of money.
“So, from the Packers’ standpoint, this is real easy. You set a line in the sand and you say, ‘Here you go. It’s up to you now.’
“You know, when we used to get fined, they’d say ‘It’s not us as an organization fining you for being overweight or if you’re doing something wrong. You’re fining yourself.’ Jaire suspended himself. The Packers just went through and did it.
“And now, here you go. You get an opportunity to decide for yourself what you want to be about for the second half of your career.”
Tauscher goes onto to say that if Alexander chooses to apply himself and dedicates himself to being the best player he can be, then it will be awesome. However, if he does not, the Packers should move on from him.
The Green Bay Packers Are at a Crossroads
To counter just one point Tauscher made, it is important to note that Alexander was a Pro Bowler and Second Team All-Pro just last season. It is unfair to say that he has stopped caring or trying ever since he got paid as he had one of the best seasons of his career in the first year of that massive extension that he signed.
That being said, this has certainly been a frustrating year for the defense. While the defensive side of the ball was supposed to be the most reliable phase of the team this season, it has provided more questions than the young and inexperienced offense has. While the Jordan Love and his young pass catchers have everyone excited about the future, Joe Barry’s defense has everyone questioning what is going on and who is to blame on the other side of the ball.
The Green Bay Packers Coaches Shoulder Much of the Blame
While LaFleur has refused to fire Barry during the season, it is a foregone conclusion that the Packers will have a new defensive coordinator in 2024. The decision to allow Barry to complete all three years of his contract was a bad one. Obviously, it has had negative consequences in the locker room and is one of the worst blemishes on LaFleur’s coaching resume.
The fact of the matter is that LaFleur has to hit a home run with his next defensive coordinator. If he does not, it may cost him his own job.