After sifting through the numerous post-season report card grades from reporters and bloggers from various outlets, I thought it was important to single out Tramon Williams as the single most outstanding player on the Packers roster when taking into account the entire season.
I realize the case can be made that quarterback Aaron Rodgers may be the team MVP, an honor which he undoubtedly deserves. That’s why I chose my words carefully and said “most outstanding” instead of “most valuable” to describe the cornerback.
But, for my money, Williams was the best player on the team, and that includes outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who finished runner-up in the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year standings and won the Sporting News version of the award.
The biggest reason for this unofficial honor is that Williams played at a such high level pretty much from Week 1 through the Super Bowl, which is a longer stretch than either Rodgers and Matthews.
Not to minimize the impact of the aforementioned dynamic duo, but Rodgers started the season slowly and missed an entire game and a half against Detroit and New England late in the season.
For Matthews, after getting off to a blazing start, he seemed to disappear for stretches at midseason when he was fighting through a painful shin injury that frequently prevented him from even practicing. Dealing with double teams was certainly part of his regression in production, but injury took its toll as well.
Williams was not only consistent all season long, he was consistently good.
Among his most impressive statistics, Williams led the NFL with three postseason interceptions and was likewise no. 1 in combined regular season and postseason interceptions with nine.
Several of his interceptions were highlight-reel, momentum-shifting plays.
Think back to Williams’ interception in the first half of the win over Brett Favre and the Vikings and Minnesota for which he was praised by jumping a route he knew was coming thanks to his film study.
Remember his interception in the Packers’ Week 16 must-win game over the New York Giants at Lambeau Field that kept alive their hopes of a playoff berth.
Once in the playoffs, recall his interception of Michael Vick in the endzone that iced the win over the Eagles in the card round.
And summon memories of his two-interception game the following week against the no. 1 seeded Atlanta Falcons on the road when one of his I.N.T.s went for a pick-six.
But that’s not all.
In the Week 8 win at the New York Jets––one of the season’s defining victories––he also recorded an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery all in the same game.
In Week 5, Williams became the first player in franchise history to post a 50-yard punt return and a 60-yard interception return in the same game. He was just the third player in NFL history since the AFL-NFL merger to accomplish such a feat, joining names such as Deion Sanders and Darrent Williams.
Williams led the team with 23 regular season passes defensed this season, held many opponents’ top receivers in check and became a much more aggressive tackler too. And don’t forget that he spent the entire season as the punt returner without losing a single fumble or muff.
Add it all up and Williams had the best season of any Green Bay Packer.