Green Bay Packers Midseason Awards


After last week’s beatdown at the hands of the Denver Broncos, the Green Bay Packers have made it to the halfway point of the NFL season, despite not having played eight games yet. Instead of looking into what went wrong last week (hint: it was everything), we’re going to instead dish out some midseason awards for the team before we look ahead to the Carolina Panthers.

MVP: Clay Matthews

I know, I know. It’s pretty easy to give this award to Aaron Rodgers, and he has been MVP-worthy for this team, but if you take a step back, you might see that Matthews has had a bigger impact through the first seven games. For instance, aside from Rodgers, no player would be more missed than Matthews, who is pretty much the quarterback of the defense.

After making the switch to inside — a position he now plays more often — the Packers defense has been much improved. Through the first six games, they were leading the league in scoring defense, ranked second in sacks, and were a quarterback hitting machine.

While the team has been playing better overall, a lot of this can be credited to Clay, who took his skill set to an entire new level once he became, essentially, a hybrid linebacker. He is currently ranked 10th in rush defense according to Pro Football Focus, and who knows where the Packers would be without him this year.

Rookie of the Year: Damarious Randall 

I considered dishing out awards for both offensive and defensive rookies, but the fact is that no offensive rookie has really shined bright enough to be considered an MVP of the team. However, Damarious Randall most certainly has. 

As seems to be the case every year, the Packers are getting major help from at least one rookie player, and this year that player is easily Randall. Drafted in the first round, not many people knew what to expect from Randall; he was a safety out of college, but many said he could learn the cornerback position just as easily. Those people were right. 

Prior to the game at Denver, Randall had only allowed 18 receptions on 37 targets. While Peyton Manning did go 5-for-6 throwing at Randall, it was clear that he learned while on the job, making a wonderful play by picking off Manning.  

While Quinten Rollins has been equally stunning (for a rookie) himself, Randall has made himself stand out as a player to watch as we head down the final half of the season. 

Biggest Surprise: Defensive Pressure

I’ve said it before, but coming into the 2015 season, I don’t think many expected a lot from the Packers defense. They were always a group that played second fiddle to the offense, and many players wanted that to change. Halfway through the year, it seems they have … for now.

While the last two weeks have been problematic and at times cringe inducing, the Packers defense was nearly spotless in its first four weeks, and showed extreme promise in what it could be.

With guys like Matthews, Mike Daniels and B.J. Raji around, as well as a young, but talented secondary, the sky could be the limit for this team, so long as they remember what made them succeed early on: hit the QB.

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Biggest Shocker: Offensive Woes

It’s been said enough for the past two weeks, but should Green Bay continue to struggle against Carolina, the offense will officially become a huge problem. To be fair, the team is dealing with a pretty big string of injuries, and surely if Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy were 100 percent, the offense might be in a different scenario, but unfortunately that is not the case.

No one can say for certain what the problem is with the offense. Sure, the receivers are having problems getting open, and the running game is sputtering at times, but it seems like all of this rolls into one, potentially huge problem.

However, after what Mike McCarthy called a “humbling loss,” it’s safe to say that something will be done in order to get the team back on track. While it might be easier said than done, kickstarting the running game will most likely open up some room in the backfield for receivers, and when one domino falls, the others are sure to follow.

While the Packers offense is not in total panic mode yet, it’s clear that McCarthy and Tom Clements do need to get together and re-tool some things. The good news is that it’s only Week 9, and there’s plenty of time left to right the ship.

What’s left: 

Thankfully, the “hard” part of the schedule will come to a close with Green Bay’s visit to Carolina. At the beginning of the year, it looked the first half of the season would be a time of trial for Green Bay; having to play Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, and others was a tough stretch.

Luckily for the team, the worst that they can come out of it is 6-2, which would put them in great footing for another stretch run at the playoffs.