June 25, 2024

Without kicker Anders Carlson, the Green Bay Packers might not be meeting the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship Game this weekend.

Fair or not, the team wasted little time in bringing in competition for the starting job, signing Jack Podlesny on Wednesday, January 24. Podlesny was named first-team All-SEC at the University of Georgia in 2022, and he also won the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year Award, converting on 26-of-31 field goal attempts and 73-of-74 extra points.

Carlson, who also kicked in the Southeastern Conference for the University of Auburn, was taken in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL selection by the Packers (No. 207 overall).

Meanwhile, Podlesny was undrafted and eventually signed with the Minnesota Vikings. He signed a deal with the Vikings on April 30, according to Pro Football Reference, but the 23-year-old was cut midway through the preseason on August 17.

Anders Carlson Struggled in Rookie Year With Green Bay Packers

Green Bay’s decision to choose a kicker at all seemed puzzling, but Carlson has an older brother — Daniel Carlson — who was a successful placekicker with the Las Vegas Raiders for six seasons and received first-team All-Pro honors following the 2022 season.

Whatever the motivation for the Packers’ significant investment in Carlson, which included a four-year rookie contract worth $4 million, the decision hasn’t gone as planned.

Carlson missed six field goals (27-of-33) during the regular season and was 34-of-39 on extra point tries, according to Pro Football Reference. He also failed a 41-yard field goal attempt against the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC Divisional Round Playoff game on January 20.

The botched kick occurred with just over six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and would have put the Packers ahead by a touchdown. The Niners then marched 69 yards down the field in just over five minutes, establishing a three-point advantage that they would not lose.

 

Jack Podlesny

 

Matt LaFleur Indicated Lack of Faith in Anders Carlson Before Playoff Game

Tom Rinaldi of FOX Sports provided an in-game report nearly immediately after Carlson missed the vital kick, quoting comments made by Packers head coach Matt LaFleur during an interview conducted in a production meeting before to the game.

“When we talked to the head coach Matt LaFleur about this, he basically said, ‘When he goes out there, I just pray,'” Rinaldi said in a statement.

 

LaFleur spoke with media members on Monday, two days after Rinaldi’s report, and claimed that the seasoned reporter misinterpreted his words.

“That was extremely disappointing that that’s how that message got portrayed,” LaFleur went on to say. “I’ve been a part of production meetings ever since I became a coordinator, and I’ve never had an experience like that.”

The Packers’ head coach did not deny making the comment, but he did say it was meant as a joke. LaFleur said Monday that he had already spoken with Carlson about the allegation in an attempt to clear the air.

Whatever LaFleur intended with his statements and tone, the team’s actions on Wednesday, including signing Podlesny to a reserve/futures contract, scream louder than any words LaFleur could say.

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