Green Bay Packers 2014 Midseason Awards

CheeseheadTV hands out some midseason awards for the Packers, who are 5-3 after eight games in 2014. 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers by Derick E. Hingle—USA TODAY Sports.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers by Derick E. Hingle—USA TODAY Sports.

The Green Bay Packers are 5-3 at the half-way point of the 2014 season, with five wins by a margin of 84 points and three road losses by a 53-point deficit. Head coach Mike McCarthy has always liked to separate the season by quarters; in the first, Green Bay went 2-2, in the second, 3-1. The Packers' five wins are against teams with a combined record of 14-24-1, while the three losses have come against opposition with a total record of 13-9. Here's a look at some awards for the 2014 Packers at the midway point: 

 

MVP, Offense—QB Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers has been otherworldly in Green Bay's five wins, and merely mortal in the three losses. He's thrown 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions with a 130.2 passer rating when the Packers win, and three scores and three picks with a 88.3 rating in the losses. Add it all up, and Rodgers is on pace to throw for almost 4,200 yards, 38 touchdowns and just six picks, and his 113.6 passer rating is still second best in the NFL. Amazingly, all three of Rodgers' interceptions have hit the hands of his intended receiver, a reality that highlights his unflinching ability to protect the football. Rodgers is the easy choice for offensive MVP, but Jordy Nelson is on pace to catch 100 passes for 1,468 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Randall Cobb is tied for the league lead with nine touchdown receptions. Josh Sitton is having another All-Pro season at left guard. With a strong second half, Rodgers could easily push for his second league MVP.   

 

MVP, Defense—DE Mike Daniels

Julius Peppers has added some much needed punch to Green Bay's pass rush, and Clay Matthews can still change games, but Daniels remains the Packers' most consistently disruptive defensive player. According to Pro Football Focus, Daniels is in the top five of 3-4 defensive ends in overall grade, run defense grade and stops—he leads the Packers in all three categories. His 18 total quarterback disruptions rank third on the defense, behind only Peppers and Matthews. When Daniels and the edge rushers are on, the Packers are difficult-to-impossible to handle up front. However, Daniels is particularly important because Green Bay doesn't have another interior disruptor, especially with Datone Jones still nursing a nagging (and concerning) ankle injury.

 

MVP, Offensive Rookie—C Corey Linsley

JC Tretter's training camp injury could have been a catastrophic loss, but Linsley's emergence as a legitimate starting center has quieted all concerns. As a rookie learning on the fly, he still occasionally draws the ire of Rodgers. But could the Packers have asked for anything more out of the fifth-round pick? PFF ranks Linsley as the game's fourth-best center this season. He hasn't allowed a sack, while proving to be a considerably better run blocker than his predecessor, Evan Dietrich-Smith. It will be difficult (impossible?) for Tretter to regain his spot in the starting 11. Linsley looks like a 10-year starter. 

 

MVP, Defensive Rookie—FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

There have been some growing pains for Green Bay's first-round pick. He misses too many tackles while playing somewhat out of control, and he's gotten away with a few misreads as the deep safety. But those are mostly nitpicks, because Clinton-Dix has been a breath of fresh air for the Packers safety position. He plays the game at a different speed than almost everyone on the Green Bay defense. Whether he's crashing down against the run or closing on a receiver, everything is full speed and without hesitation. The aggression mistakes can be handled while he learns the pro game. One thing is crystal clear: Clinton-Dix is light years more capable of playing the safety position than both M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian. In fact, he's further ahead right now than Nick Collins was as a rookie back in 2005. His ceiling is very high. 

 

Top Assistant Coach—WR Coach Edgar Bennett

Bennett will be a coordinator somewhere within a few years. Book it. The Packers continue to groom him for the job, and he's knocked his current gig out of the park. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are plus talents, but could the Packers really get anything more out of either? Bennett has helped maximize both. And while Jarrett Boykin hasn't been a factor in 2014, rookie Davante Adams has emerged as a legitimate weapon both in the present and for the future. Remember, Bennett was a pro running back. He brings a different viewpoint to the position, and you better believe he's had an impact on how well the Packers receivers have blocked downfield this season. His next promotion is looming. 

 

Biggest Surprise—Run Game Struggles

The Packers finished 2013 ranked seventh in the NFL with 2,136 rushing yards. The offense scored 17 times on the ground (fifth) and averaged 4.7 yards per carry (fourth). This season, Green Bay is on pace to rush for just 1,560 yards, down about 36 per game. The average per carry has plummeted to just 4.0 yards, which ranks 22nd. The Packers are also on pace to run 71 times less this season. That's a product of Rodgers being healthy and the offense feeding Lacy less. In 2013, Lacy had 10 games with 20 or more carries, but he doesn't have a single one this season (high of 17). The Packers will need to run the football better as the weather turns poor later in the year. Expect to see Lacy's touches to go up when the temp dips and no one with a rational brain wants to tackle the 230-pounder. 

 

Biggest Disappointment—Implosions in Tough Environments

The Packers have been outscored 54-13 in the second half of the team's three losses. Costly turnovers, offensive ineptitude and defensive collapses have pervaded the three failures away from Lambeau Field. Of course, CenturyLink Field and the Superdome are arguably the two toughest places to play in football, and Ford Field has recently become a place of horrors for the Packers offense. But you know what they say about excuses. While winning games on the road in the NFL is tough, the Packers have already suffered through three embarrassments, and it's certainly possible a return trip to any of the three locales could happen come January. In all reality, the Packers haven't gone on the road and beat a really solid team in far too long. It's probably a good thing Green Bay's biggest games in the second half—Chicago, Philadelphia, New England and Detroit—will all be played at Lambeau Field. The Packers need home playoff games.

 

Biggest Strength—Rodgers to Nelson, Cobb

The numbers are mind-boggling. Through eight games, Rodgers has completed 90 of 130 (69.2 percent) attempts for 1,315 yards (10.1/attempt), 15 touchdowns and one interception when targeting Nelson and Cobb. His passer rating is 137.2. Rodgers' rating when targeting Cobb is 148.0, which is best among receivers this season. Nelson is seventh at 118.1. The 1,315 receiving yards from Nelson and Cobb represent 62.9 percent of Rodgers' season total, while only two other players—Adams and tight end Andrew Quarless—have caught one of Rodgers' 19 touchdowns. The Packers should be thankful for the emergence of Adams, and the offense is still trying to get more out of the tight end position, but throwing the football to Nelson and Cobb has been mostly unstoppable this season. It's a nice constant. 

 

Biggest Weakness—Run Defense

Green Bay's inability to stop the run was a predictable outcome, especially after B.J. Raji went down for the season in August. The Packers are undersized upfront, and the revolving door at inside linebacker isn't nearly good enough to compensate. The result is a run defense that has allowed the most rushing yards (153.5 per game) and fourth-highest yards per carry (4.8) this season. The Seahawks and Saints especially embarrassed the Packers up front. Green Bay could get away with hemorrhaging rushing yards against the likes of the Jets and Bears, two teams without a top quarterback. But when Russell Wilson and Drew Brees are given a multi-dimensional offense, it's game over for Dom Capers. Wilson completed 6-of-9 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns (143.5 passer rating) off play action back in Week 1; Brees hit on 8-of-9 attempts for 146 yards and three scores (perfect 158.3) Sunday night. It isn't rocket science. The Packers will be one-and-done in January—when good quarterbacks is all you face—if the run defense isn't any better. 

 

One Fact You May Not Know But Should Know—100.0+ Ratings

The Packers have allowed the following quarterbacks to have a passer rating of at least 100.0 since January of 2012: Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler and Drew Brees. The idea that the Packers play poorly against good quarterbacks isn't merely opinion. 

 

Projected Final Record—11-5

The final eight games include five at home, where the Packers haven't lost this season. Games at Minnesota, vs. Atlanta and at Tampa Bay look like wins. But it's tough otherwise: the sinking Bears will be desperate coming out of the bye, Chip Kelly vs. Capers is a laugher matchup, Tom Brady and the Patriots are rolling, Buffalo can play defense and Detroit in Week 17 might determine the division champion. I think 10-6 is the safer pick, but winning six out of the final eight is certainly attainable. I said 11-5 before the season, so I'll stick with it here. If Rodgers plays 16 games, the Packers are playoff bound. 

 

Zach Kruse contributes to Cheesehead TV. He is also the Lead Writer for the NFC North at Bleacher Report. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].

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Comments (12)

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Razor's picture

October 28, 2014 at 10:22 am

They have only beaten one team with a winning record - Miami. They don't seem to be much better than last year, especially on defense. Same story for the last three years. I just don't understand why they aren't improving. They have so many deficiencies that don't get corrected.

When I sit down to watch a game, I never know what to expect - strong performance or embarrassing. They seem to rely more on schemes and getting hot than consistently winning each play.

If I could have one wish at this point, please no more stretch plays on third or fourth and one.

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Evan's picture

October 28, 2014 at 10:43 am

"When I sit down to watch a game, I never know what to expect - strong performance or embarrassing."

To be fair, I don't think there is a single team this couldn't be said about this season.

Not to dismiss your broader points. Just sayin', this NFL season is insane.

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denniseckersley's picture

October 28, 2014 at 11:02 am

Rodgers is 25-1 (regular season) at Lambeau field since losing to Miami in 2010. I'm excluding the Bears game last year for obvious reasons.

We have five home games coming up. I think 6-2 is not only doable, but should be expected -- health permitting.

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Imma Fubared's picture

October 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I do not see any improvement in the D. Thought they were playing better than last year and probably were but the good team with winning records seem to be able to not just exploit our D but sadly, make it look easy. NO was 2-4 and dismantled our defense. Yes NO wasn't as bad as the record but they aren't SB contenders either.

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Idiot Fan's picture

October 28, 2014 at 07:55 pm

"Chip Kelly vs. Capers is a laugher matchup"

I laughed at this.......then I sighed......then I hung my head.....

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Lphill's picture

October 28, 2014 at 07:59 pm

Denzel Perryman should be number 1 target in next years draft. watch film of him. text book tackler.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 28, 2014 at 09:41 pm

I'm hopeful but several embarrassing losses and the potential for another 2 or 3 is not a recipe for winning in the playoffs. I had thought the D would show up Sunday but who am I kidding. You can not win without a strong middle and we have gone backwards in that regard if that is even possible.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 28, 2014 at 09:42 pm

Team playing poorly? How do you fix it ? Play our d

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Razor's picture

October 29, 2014 at 09:42 am

Long season - I agree. Six wins in the last eight games - ok. But I don't think they are good enough for playoff teams. Yes they could get hot and make a run, but it has been four years of the same old thing since 2010.

It feels like the same old, same old every year. Maybe Mike and Ted and Mark believe their own hype.

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Razor's picture

October 29, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Thanks for the comment. I don't want to be negative or mean, but the team has not improved since winning the Super Bowl. New players have been added but the results are no better - why - weak talent, poor coaching, poor scheme?

If I have to neglect my family to work long hours for a team that just keeps doing the same thing year after year, I might resign so that I could spend more time with my family.

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guenaj15's picture

October 29, 2014 at 01:15 pm

"but the team has not improved since winning the Super Bowl."
Most teams don't win a Super Bowl and then improve. Its kind of the pinnacle, you go down from there - USUALLY. I know its semantics and I am nitpicking... but sometimes the game is more fun if you have realistic expectations. Can't win the big one every year.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 03, 2014 at 01:31 am

Wow, Daniels is a top-5 DE in the 3-4 scheme according to PFF. I will have to redouble my skepticism about PFF and its grades. I would have nominated Tramon Williams for Defensive MVP, then Shields, and only then Daniels, who has had some fine games, but seems rather inconsistent.

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