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Green Bay Packers Midseason Awards

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Green Bay Packers Midseason Awards

Considering some of the early hurdles put in front of the Green Bay Packers, a 6-3 record through nine games of the 2012 season doesn't seem nearly as catastrophic as it might have back in August. A difficult early schedule, the debacle in Seattle and a rash of injuries to both sides of the football has throughly tested the mettle of this football team. Mike McCarthy always considers the bye week the midway point of any season, so here's a look at some midseason awards for this Packers team:

Hat-tip to James Carlton at CBS Sports for the format of these awards. You can check out his take on the midseason awards here

MVP, Offense -- WR James Jones. The easy choice here would be Aaron Rodgers, who is on pace to throw for 4,200 yards and 44 touchdowns. But Jones has made big play after big play for this offense. The majority of his NFL-high eight touchdown catches have come with a high degree of difficulty, and on over 60 targets, he's yet to drop a pass. For a unit that has been so up-and-down this season, Jones remains the rock.

MVP, Defense -- LB Clay Matthews. This one is no contest. Matthews has accounted for nearly a third of the defense's quarterback disruptions (sacks, hits, hurries) this season, and maybe only Ryan Pickett is better playing the run. His nine sacks are second in the NFL and a big chunk of the team's 28 total sacks. The Packers will get a taste of just how important Matthews is if he has to miss any time coming out of the bye.

MVP, Rookie -- CB Casey Hayward. He's not the biggest, strongest or fastest, but Hayward simply has a knack for playing the cornerback position. At one point, his four interceptions were good for the NFL lead. Hayward still hasn't allowed a passing touchdown this season, and his 38.3 passer rating against is the fourth-best mark in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. He has star potential.

Top assistant coach -- Special teams coach Shawn Slocum. The Packers special teams have been the most consistent unit of the three through nine games, and Slocum deserves a lot of the credit for the drastic turnaround. Trick plays have resulted in points, extended drives and extra possessions, the punt team blocked its first kick in almost 10 years and Randall Cobb is a returning star. Only a botched fake field goal and Mason Crosby's struggles have kept Slocum from receiving a perfect review in 2012.

Biggest surprise -- Lack of big plays. The Packers have just 25 passing plays over 20 yards this season, which puts the offense on pace to be about 23 short of where they ended last season. Defenses are obviously playing Rodgers much different in 2012, using a lot of two-high safeties to keep everything in front. But with all the playmakers, and Rodgers' ability to beat any defense, few would have guessed such a sharp decline in explosive plays. A run of tough early defenses is unquestionably part of the equation.

Biggest disappointment -- TE Jermichael Finley. At least numbers-wise, Finley's impact on the offense has been mostly negligible (29 catches, 271 yards, TD). The film still shows a number of double teams thrown Finley's way every week, but he simply hasn't won many one-on-one matchups. There just doesn't seem to be any explosion or burst to his game. And, of course, Finley leads all tight ends in drops with seven. Gobs of that other-worldly potential seems to fade away each week.

Biggest strength -- Receiving depth. Not many offenses could sustain the loss of both top receivers and still keep rolling. But the Packers have managed with both Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson missing time, thanks mostly to the emergence of Cobb and Jones' career-year. Donald Driver is just a guy now, but he's also better than 99 percent of most fifth receivers in the NFL. Jarrett Boykin (6-2, 218 lbs.) is a big body. This is a complete group that the Packers offense leans on heavily every single week.

Biggest weakness -- Protecting the quarterback. 29 sacks through nine weeks is unacceptable, especially for a team that possesses such a mobile and intelligent quarterback. Granted, a number of the sacks came early in the season (or during one half in the Pacific Northwest), but this is still a big issue as the playoffs come into sight. The top NFC teams can each get after the passer. Potentially losing Bryan Bulaga for a long stretch won't help matters, although T.J. Lang looked mostly comfortable at right tackle in Week 9.

Projected final record -- 11-5. The final stretch isn't an easy one, and this team still has too many lapses to think they'll go anything better than 5-2 the rest of the way. Games at Detroit, at New York and at Chicago will test this football team over the final seven weeks.

One fact you may not know but should know -- At 30.5, tight end Tom Crabtree leads all players with at least five catches in yards per catch. All three of his touchdowns have been over 20 yards (27, 48, 72).

Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at zachkruse2@gmail.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (22) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Martin's picture

Jones is playing great. Would have never expected him to produce on that level, but naming him team-mvp over Rodgers is just wrong.

Tommyboy's picture

Rodgers is the MVP. Harrell's brief appearance proved that. Cobb comes in second and if Nelson wasn't injured, he may be second. I have been a fan of Jones throughout and this year he has shown he can be a stud #2 wideout, but MVP of this offense is a reach. I'll go along with the rest, though.

Bearmeat's picture

Assuming we beat duh Bares, if we get to 12-4, we'll win the division and probably the #2 or #3 seed (behind ATL/SF).

If we lose to duh Bares or drop 2 games, we'll be a wild card. Probably headed to NYG as a #5 vs #4.

Gotta win the division. Should do it..

Evan's picture

I don't think they "gotta" win the division. I think they will, but it's hardly a necessity.

denniseckersley's picture

it is a necessity if losing it means the bears win the nfc north

Pack fan from ATL's picture

Nope. See 2010.

Evan's picture

Agreed.

Looking back over the past 5 years or so, I'd almost prefer to be a wild card team. That bye week can be a killer.

Tony's picture

Packers and Bears will be tied at this time next week. I don't see them winning out in SF, and I don't see GB losing in Detroit.

Evan's picture

Especially if Cuter can't go.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

A scoche off topic...

I'm seeing the pundits with their mid season MVP's and I don't hear about Rodgers.

WTF over!?!? His #'s coupled with his teams position AND the number of offensive weapons he's been without... Should be the frontrunner IMO.

GBP 4 LIFE

Pack fan from ATL's picture

Agreed

Mr.Bigg's picture

I think we need to give an award to a few packer fans on this site that have tremendously large mood swings. I would like to be the "Official Pop psychologist" of CHeeseheadTV.

And I would like to start with the ability of "letting go." This is something the Buddhists have been working on for a few thousand years. I personally have been working on it since I got manipulated out of a job I had for the past 25 years.

Letting GO is something the Packers themselves are very good at. Like letting go of the Seattle crap.

So where do we start? The zen of packer watching: This is the ability to watch the packers with a calmer mind and finding more enjoyment in the struggle, more enjoyment if the journey, more colors of enjoyment because you are not stuck on the "Red" color of panic. And a side benefit would be your kids will actually sit next to you again when the Packer game is on.

Jamie's picture

I needed that. Thank you

Mr.Bigg's picture

You can call me Dr. Mr. Bigg

GBPDan's picture

Jones is playing lights out, but, I too would give the MVP to Rodgers. I could see winning games without Jones (having nelson or Jennings would help), but, I don't see winning ANY games without Aaron. Plus, Rodgers has been playing most of the season with a shakey O-line, bad running game and missing weapons.

wgbeethree's picture

http://stats.washingtonpost.com/fb/leaders.asp?range=nfl&type=receiv...
Drops aren't an official stat and they are highly subjective.
According to this. Graham (8) and Witten (6) have more drops than Finley (5) while Gronkowski, Pettigrew, Gresham, and Celek have the same amount.

SHODAN's picture

Maybe he doesn't have as many drops as it seems he does, but each of those other tight ends has also pretty soundly outplayed #88 this year. Given his obvious talent level and his arrogance, he's been a disappointment this year by nearly any definition.

Evan's picture

Now divide the drops by # of targets. That's the key.

packsmack25's picture

All of those guys have a much higher catch-to-drop ratio.

BrianD's picture

This Sunday made the Packers look good. Seahawks beat the Jets, Saints beat the Falcons, Rams and Niners tied, and the Texans dismantled the pretender Bears.

Lou's picture

I like Jones as well,not a single drop and many tough catches made under tight coverage. Crosby has to be the biggest disappointment hands down, he will choke under pressure.

MarkinMadison's picture

One of the comments made in the #12 v. "he who shall not be named" debate was that #12 takes what the defenses give him. So the lack of big plays is not too surprising. Teams adjust; they are not going to let you beat them the same way every year.

What IS surprising to me is the OL play this year. Setting aside the injuries for a minute, I think we all thought this group would be better than they have played so far this year. Veterans at every position. 4/5 back from last year. Sitton and Bulaga always on the verge of making the Pro Bowl (allegedly). The pass pro has been mediocre. The run blocking has been poor.

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