The bye week not only gives the team a needed breather, but also those who cover and blog about the team, since god only knows that Ol’ Bag of Donuts needs a break! I kid, I kid. However, the bye week does let us have a little more fun with our posts since there isn’t much daily news on the team this week. So what better time to hand our midseason awards? These will be kept classy and straight forward (I know, not our style), but Chris and I will be handing our “donuts” for the first half later this week and believe me, you don’t want to miss those.
Bryan Bulaga. The team’s top draft pick has lived up to expectations and has slowly become a force on the right side of the line. I still believe the ultimate goal is to move him over to the left side, but the way Clifton is playing there is no need to. Bulaga has played so well that he has kept Mark Tauscher from regaining his starting role after his injury. To the fans who didn’t like the Bulaga pick this past April and wanted the team to go after a pass rusher or secondary help, this team wouldn’t be 6-3 without the solid, if not very good play, from the offensive line. That has a lot to do with Bulaga.
Runner up: Sam Shields
Most surprising player
Desmond Bishop. Not sure if it was Chris providing motivation to Bishop over twitter this summer that caused Bishop to raise his game or just simply taking advantage of an opportunity, but either way Bishop has been very solid since replacing Nick Barnett in the middle. His pick-six against Favre has definitely been one of the top moments so far in the 2010 season and he has eliminated many worries about how the team was going to fill Barnett’s shoes.
Runner up: Sam Shields (again!)
A.J. Hawk. I always look at a comeback player to meet one of two traits: coming back from injury or tragedy the year before or rebounding from sheer disappointment in play. It is safe to say the team will have plenty of comeback candidates next year, but not many this year, so the award goes to Hawk after a disappointing 2009 season. While he has never reached his top-5 potential and probably never will, Hawk has had a very good first half and has become an important cog with all the injuries on defense. This will ultimately be his final year in a Packers’ uniform (unless he is willing to restructure his deal), but he is setting up for a pretty nice contract with someone else this offseason.
Runner up: Chad Clifton
Best Special Teams player
(TIE) Mason Crosby; Jarrett Bush. Special teams has definitely been one of the weakest areas of the team this year, but Crosby has bounced back nicely after a rocky ‘09 campaign. He is only 13-18 of FG’s this year, lower than his career average, but it just seems he is kicking with more confidence this year. Let’s not also forget about the 56-yard kick he made in Week One at Philly, impressive indeed. As for Bush, he has been the proverbial whipping-boy for OBOD since our inception, but let’s be honest when he is strictly playing special teams, he is one of the league’s best in that role. It is just when he is in pass coverage he gives us the willies. His play against Dallas definitely highlights his impact on the kick coverage units.
Top Defensive Player
Clay Matthews. I thought about typing another name in here as a joke, but I am honestly afraid Matthews would come after me in my sleep if I did. I do not need to give any explanation for Matthews receiving this award and if you don’t know why, you should probably stop cheering for the Packers.
Runner up(s): Tramon Williams, B.J. Raji
Top Offensive Player
Chad Clifton. Before any of you get in fits why I didn’t chose say a sexier name like Aaron Rodgers or Greg Jennings for this award, let me ask you this: For the first nine weeks, what Packer has played the best at their given position on the offensive side of the ball? It has been Clifton, hands down. Perhaps it is because he is fully healthy or maybe even he felt a little pressure that Bulaga was drafted for his job, but whatever the case is, Clifton is playing as well as he ever has in Packers’ uniform. In a span of three weeks he has shut down two of the game’s premier pass rushers in Jared Allen and DeMarcus Ware and has turned a position of weakness last year into one of the team’s strengths this year. Will the Packers’ chances to make a deep playoff run rest on the shoulders on Rodgers? Undoubtedly. But for right now, through the first half the season Clifton has been the team’s best offensive player.
Runner up: Aaron Rodgers
Clay Matthews. Could it be anyone else? The man has grown to be the most feared pass rusher in the game before our very eyes in just nine weeks. When there is talk of him being the league’s first defensive player to win MVP since Lawrence Taylor in 1986, he is easily been the team’s MVP. Matthews has also been so much more than a pass rusher as evidenced last week against Dallas. Teams need to focus on him every single play, run or pass, because he can be anywhere at anytime. Also, for all we know Matthews isn’t even playing 100% right now with his hamstring injury. At the end of the year, Matthews will be carrying home a lot of hardware and right now deserves the NFL MVP over Peyton Manning in my opinon. Remember, it was Charles Woodson who stole the Heisman from Manning as a defensive player, so it would be fitting for Matthews to do the same. The man is a pure animal with an endless motor and I could go on for another 1000 words describing the importance of the man known as “Claymaker”, but we already know all the reasons. Well done Mr. Matthews, well done indeed.
Runner up: Tramon Williams
As always folks, feel free to agree, disagree or blatantly rip my selections for the awards and their runner-ups. Some of these will more than likely change by the end of the season (I do feel pretty safe with Matthews, though), but that is the fun of it. Make sure to check back later this week when Chris and I give out our first-half donuts to the team.