I kind of like the idea of NFL players getting to be an honorary captain in their hometown. It would be a nice touch. The hometown kid done good can receive some love from his people. I am pretty sure, though, that is not currently standard NFL procedure. For Jaire Alexander to stroll out to midfield, uninvited and then have the audacity to make the call on the coin toss, that’s presumptuous even for a cornerback.
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When speaking to the media after the game, he said that he decided to walk out with the captains just prior to the start of the Green Bay Packers’ Week 16, 33-30 victory against the Carolina Panthers because he is from Charlotte. Alexander also called the toss that day and won it. However, he did not know what to say afterwards and almost cost the Packers an offensive possession.
“I said ‘I want our defense to be out there, and they all looked at me like I was crazy.” Alexander said to the media. “I’m like, ‘I mean it’s pretty simple what I said.’ Like, I want the defense to be out there, and they’re like ‘do you mean defer?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah. I guess.’”
The referee bailed him out, because if it was interpreted that Alexander was electing for his team to begin the game with a kickoff, then the Panthers could have chosen to receive the opening kick, and gotten it again after halftime. The point of electing to defer is to put the onus on the loser of the toss to choose to receive the opening kick, thereby giving the winning team the choice of which end zone to defend as well as the choice to receive ball to begin the second half. Alexander was a captain during his final season at Louisville in 2017, so I don’t know how he forgot coin-toss protocol.
Not that I’m upset with him. His astonishment after seeing everyone within arms reach of him looking at him like he just slapped an award show presenter, created a picture in my mind that I can go to whenever I have a bad day. On top of that, I also found out how much Packers fans dislike the team’s defensive coordinator.
Maybe Matt LaFleur found Alexander’s near mistake humorous or maybe not. The head coach of the Packers decided to suspend the team’s best cornerback for their Week 17 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. The cause, “conduct detrimental to the team.” On Wednesday, LaFleur told the media “there’s standards that we’re all held accountable for.” Packers fans swooped in on Xwitter to question where LaFleur’s standards are for his struggling defense.
Apparently, defensive coordinator Joe Barry is in the dog house of most cheeseheads. According to the owners of the team, the taxpayers of Green Bay, Wisc., accountability needs to start with that annually disappointing defense. Look in the quotes and replies of any post about the suspension. Packers fans would much rather see accountability for a true institutional failure. A defense with one of the best pass rushers in the NFL — Rashan Gary — can’t stop a Big Wheel. Even the YouTube chat that accompanied LaFleur’s press conference on the platform was littered with comments wanting a change at defensive coordinator.
The Packers committed no turnovers against the two-win Panthers and still allowed 30 points. One of the worst offenses in the NFL was down 14 points with less than 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter and still managed to tie the game. Regardless of Alexander’s near-miss by way of incompetence, the referees allowed the Packers to defer the opening kickoff. It was the Green Bay defense that allowed the Panthers to score 22 points in the second half.
Regarding the reason for Alexander’s suspension, LaFleur said to the media that “it’s never one thing,” while also denying that it had anything to do with the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback missing a significant amount of time in 2023 due to injury. He also said that Alexander being suspended was not for him taking on unassigned pregame duties.
LaFleur does not owe the public any concrete explanation for his decision. That being said, the public can also let their speculation run wild about why one of the Packers’ highest-paid defensive players is suspended for the second-to-last game of the season when they are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt. Also, the why does not matter.
The only objective truth going into Week 17 is that the Packers viewed making their team worse as an imperative move.