Green Bay Packers: Bye Week Awards & Achievements

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images /

With a much-needed bye week officially here for the Green Bay Packers, let’s take a look back at the first 10 weeks and hand out some awards.

After undergoing an enormous amount of changes this past offseason, while there was plenty of excitement surrounding this 2019 Green Bay Packers team, I can’t imagine that many would have expected the first 10 weeks of the season to go as well as they did.

The Packers sit at 8-2 overall as the second seed in the very close NFC playoff picture and they are alone at the top of the NFC North which includes a 3-0 start against divisional opponents. To put it simply, Green Bay is sitting pretty and the number one seed in the NFC along with a Super Bowl push is well within their reach.

However, before we look ahead to what remains of the regular season, let’s take a look back at the Green Bay Packers’ first 10 games and hand out some awards.

Team MVP: Za’Darius Smith

There are a few different players who are worthy of this award, but I’m going to choose Za’Darius Smith for two main reasons. One obviously being his play on the field and second his leadership off of it.

Outside of the Green Bay Packers needing an infusion of talent on their roster, they also needed a culture change in the locker room after the last few seasons. And from day one, Smith stepped into that leadership role. He’s taken the young players under his wing, he’s been a vocal leader, and he has created a fun working environment which includes some on field celebrations after a sack or turnover.

Meanwhile from a production standpoint he has been spectacular. According to Pro Football Focus, through 10 games Smith has already totaled 57 quarterback pressures, nine of which have been sacks. For some context, Nick Perry and Clay Matthews had 43 combined pressures all of 2018. Whether it’s on the field or off, Za’Darius Smith sets the tone and he backs it up with some fantastic play.

Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Jones

While Aaron Rodgers is always a candidate for this award, up to this point it undoubtedly goes to Aaron Jones. In Jones’ first two NFL seasons, what has been lacking are the opportunities, but Matt LaFleur has given him plenty and he’s taken full advantage.

This season Jones has been a force both on the ground and in the passing game. He’s totaled nearly 600 rushing yards at 4.4 yards per carry with a league leading 11 touchdowns. And through the air, he was Rodgers top receiving target when Davante Adams was out and has 354 yards with an additional three touchdowns.

Defensive Player of the Year: Preston Smith

Although I chose Za’Darius Smith for MVP, Preston Smith was my runner-up for much of the same reasons. From day one he has stepped into that much-needed leadership role within this Packers team and he has put up fantastic numbers as well. Smith has 38 total pressures this season, with a new career high 10 sacks and his ability to drop into coverage, rush the passer, and set the edge, makes him a pivotal chess piece in the Mike Pettine defense.

Rookie of the Year: Elgton Jenkins

Given that Elgton Jenkins plays the unsexy position of guard, he has no chance of winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, but he should. Jenkins has been that good this season. When he’s on the field he looks like an NFL veteran and he has helped bring stability to the interior of the Green Bay offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, in 349 pass-blocking attempts, Jenkins hasn’t allowed a single sack or quarterback hit this season. Just incredible.

Breakout Player: Allen Lazard

Perhaps the biggest question surrounding this Green Bay Packers team heading into the season was, who would be the number two receiver behind Davante Adams? Well, at this point I think it is quite clear that it is Allen Lazard. Which I’m going to guess no one saw coming.

Since the Detroit game where Lazard hauled in that fantastic touchdown grab, he has caught 18 of 24 passes for 220 yards. Also during that span, he leads all receivers not named Davante Adams in receptions, targets, and yards. And most importantly, he has the trust and confidence of Aaron Rodgers.

The Unsung Hero: Bryan Bulaga

Over his career Bryan Bulaga has taken a lot of flack from fans in regard to his injury history. And yes, injuries have been a part of his career but not to the extent that many fans think. But regardless, this year he has been very good.

Against some of the best edge rushers in football this season which includes Khalil Mack, Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and DeMarcus Lawrence amongst others, Bulaga had not given up a single sack through the first seven weeks of the season. Now, he did have a rough outing in Kansas City but other than that game, he has given up just one sack and two quarterback hits in the other nine games. By and large, Bulaga has been excellent in 2019 and he deserves the credit.

Most Disappointing: David Bakhtiari

Now, I don’t mean to end on a bad note but I did think this was worth discussing. David Bakhtiari has been one of – if not the best – left tackle in football for a few years now but his play in 2019 certainly hasn’t been up to the lofty standards that he has set for himself.

This season Bakhtiari leads the team in penalties with 10 already, and the next closest is still at six. His biggest offense has been holding which he’s been called for five times. Between 2017 and 2018, he was called for holding just a total of four times. Not to mention that he’s already given up 24 pressures, compared to 25 all of last season and just 12 in 2017.

His issues this season could stem from injuries so let’s hope he gets healthy over the bye week and back to his old self.

Next. The Wide Receivers Continue to Underwhelm. dark

Be sure to let us know below who you would choose for each category or find us on Twitter @DairylandXpress.