This week’s working class hero is closely related to two of the of the honorable mentions for the MVP of the Week. There I highlighted Jerel Worthy and C.J. Wilson due to the ability they showed to rush the passer and stuff the run. Well, stuffing the run was probably one of the most critical things the Packers did on Sunday against the Texans. Yes, Aaron Rodgers, passing, offense doing great…fine; that said, the defense took one of the higher powered offenses and shut it down. Moreover they shut down that offense in a way I didn’t expect….they took away the run (of a very talented running team) and forced them to pass. That’s something we haven’t seen since the Jets game of 2010 people. Thus, one more person gets recognition in the working class hero of the week: NT Ryan Pickett.
Last week the Packers defense folded once B.J. Raji went down. Suddenly the middle of the defense softened and the Colts were able to protect Andrew Luck and move the ball on the ground. It was bad. This week the Packers faced an offense with more playmakers and a much more potent running attack. Worse, Raji was out the entire game which forced Pickett to take over the NT role for the first time since 2009 when the Packers first made the switch to the 3-4. Pickett is a great two gapper and run stuffer, but could he really handle that sort of role against a tough Texan offensive line?
Turns out the answer is yes. Pickett didn’t have any sack or very splashy plays, but he was essential to the Packers controlling the offensive line. He was the player who opened things up for A.J. Hawk, and allowed Chris Collingsworth to sing Hawk’s praises on national TV. Seriously, Hawk needs to buy Pickett a nice dinner this week.
Pickett got the job done and has continued to build on his great season thus far. I don’t know if he’s a long term fixture of the Packers at this point in his career, but he has been killing it this year and that’s what matters at the moment. As the Packers wait for Raji to heal up, he’s going to be even more important to this Packer defense.
Let’s hope that he can earn a few more of honors like this one.
Honorable Mention: RG Josh Sitton.
J.J. Watt is a beast and probably the best defensive player in the league right now (all respect to Clay Matthews, but Watt is just phenomenal). So it’s all the more impressive that Sitton was able to keep Watt in check for most of the game. Yes, Watt got two sacks, but both of those came when he was matched up against T.J. Lang. Keeping Watt contained for most of the game shows once again why Sitton is one of the premiere RG’s in the game, and why the Packers were right to lock him up for the foreseeable future.