Packers Season Awards
After nine games of the Green Bay Packers’ regular season, I handed out midseason awards. Naturally, now that the season has concluded, it’s time to give out the same awards, but this time for the entire season’s work.
Non-Aaron Rodgers MVP: Eddie Lacy
Honorable mention: Jordy Nelson
Midseason winner: Jordy Nelson
As long as Aaron Rodgers is quarterback of this team, he will be the MVP. Even in a season when he only plays eight full games. We all saw how this team played once he went out.
So, I like to name the next-most important player, because that’s actually up for debate. I decided to go with Eddie Lacy this time, narrowly edging out Jordy Nelson.
When Rodgers went out, Lacy proved just how valuable he was. In those eight games, the offense needed him to produce, and produce he did. Despite defenses loading up against him, Lacy’s production increased in those eight games. His averages of 83.3 yards per game, 4.4 yards per rush and .88 touchdowns per game were all better than during the other seven games when Rodgers played – 73.1 yards per game, 3.8 yards per rush and .57 touchdowns per game.
Rookie of the Year: Eddie Lacy
Honorable mention: David Bakhtiari
Midseason winner: Eddie Lacy
In a draft class loaded with potential, Lacy stood above the rest. Statistically, the Packers haven’t had a running back like Lacy since Ryan Grant in 2009, but they haven’t had a talent like him since Ahaman Green in the early 2000s. His style of play doesn’t bode well for his long-term future, but the Packers sure have found themselves a treat for the next few years.
Defensive Player of the Year: Sam Shields
Honorable mention: Mike Daniels
Midseason winner: Ryan Pickett
For the first part of the season, Shields played like solid cornerback. He had good, but not great coverage, and he struggled with tackling again. But in the second half, he really stepped up his production and played like one of the better corners in the game. He looked a lot more like the 2010 guy who helped win a Super Bowl rather than the 2011 one who couldn’t shut down anyone.
Special Teams Player of the Year: Mason Crosby
Honorable mention: Tim Masthay
Midseason winner: Mason Crosby
I was part of the crowd who was convinced Crosby’s season was over. As if a career-worst 63.6 percent success rate wasn’t bad enough, he seemed to hit rock bottom during training camp when he only made half of his attempts on family night. But ever since then, he’s been better than ever. He fell just short of hitting 90 percent of his tries at 89.2 percent. That’s a full 3.5 percent better than his next-best season and 10.5 percent better than his career success rate.
Most Improved: Mike Daniels
Honorable mention: Andrew Quarless
Midseason winner: Mike Daniels
Ever since Cullen Jenkins left in the 2011 offseason, the Packers have been trying to replace him with a productive pass-rusher along the offensive line. They may have finally found their man. Daniels was a rotational player this year, but his 6.5 sacks prove he took advantage when given an opportunity. He also was very stout against the run. It’ll be exciting to see him take on a bigger role next season.
Coach of the Year: Shawn Slocum
Honorable mention: James Campen
Midseason winner: James Campen
I went with Campen at midseason because I thought the offensive line had a huge role in finally establishing a powerful running game. I still believe that, but I came to realize I was giving too much credit to the line and not enough to Lacy.
As for Slocum, he has to be recognized for the work he did with bringing Crosby back from the dead. Whatever the problem was – mechanics, mentality, whatever – Crosby got over it, and Slocum helped him do it.
Most Pleasant Surprise: David Bakhtiari
Honorable mention: Matt Flynn
Midseason winner: David Bakhtiari
Not many teams can go into their season with their starting left tackle tearing his ACL and still be OK. Turns out, the Packers were more than OK. In fact, I think they are now better off because of it. A rookie 4th-round pick, David Bakhtiari came out of nowhere to become a stable blindside protector at left tackle despite being widely considered to still be quite raw. The future is bright for this one.
Biggest Disappointment: Morgan Burnett
Honorable mention: Jerron McMillian
Midseason winner: Jeremy Ross
So many safties, so little satisfaction. M.D. Jennings never turned into anything reliable. Jerron McMillian was so unreliable, he was cut just a year-and-a-half into his career, despite being taken in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. But no one has been as disappointing as Morgan Burnett. He was given a contract extension in the offseason just shy of $25 million, so he expected to solidify the back end of the defense. He did anything but that. It’s only one year into the contract, and he only just turned 25 on Monday, he’s still got time to turn it around. But he’s not off to a great start.