It’s astounding to me how often this game has been called ugly, as if the Packers limped along and lucked into a victory. I don’t think that is the case. They were sleep walking in the first half to be sure, but then in the second the play of the Packers was anything but ugly….but it was dramatically different.
In the MVP post I mentioned that it was tough to highlight an MVP performance since there wasn’t many eye propping performances. This particular award tends to be the opposite side of the coin to MVP, because once again there is no shortage of viable candidates from a wide range of positions.
Yet again there is odd mixed bag in the nominations, mostly along the offensive and defensive lines. On the offensive side, the Packer run the ball effectively and seemed to have a pretty good pass protection most of the night. There were many times where Rodgers just had all day to throw the ball. Then again, he did get sack three times and stripped twice so it wasn’t really all that great. On the defensive side of the ball the Lions controlled the line of scrimmage in the first half and ran up and down the Packers easily. In the second half things dried up and the Packers even started to get a whiff of a pass rush.
Like I said, it's odd.
In the end this particular award is probably going to get graded on a curve, meaning some guys are going to get nominated based on their expectations rather than the actual performance. So the guys expected to be liabilities might end up getting a nomination (e.g. Don Barclay) where the guys expected to be the best at their job might get overlooked because a performance like last night is to be expected even though it was pretty good (e.g. Josh Sitton).
Let’s meet this week nominees:
RT Don Barclay – Coming into the week we were hoping for answers as to whether Barclay could hold is own. The answer is not a slam dunk, but so far things are looking good. Barclay showed a good push in the running game but struggled a bit in pass protection. In the end he looked like a slight upgrade from T.J. Lang which may cause Lang to shift back to the inside when he recovers from his ankle injury.
CB Tramon Williams – Williams had a ground swell of support in the MVP vote this week for his solid night against Calvin Johnson. For most of the night Johnson was a non-factor…even though he caught 10 balls for 118 yards. He didn’t score a touchdown and his longest reception was 20 yards. Not bad when facing a unique threat like Megatron. While limiting Johnson, Williams deflected two passes, kept tight coverage, tackled well, and avoided costly mistakes. That’s about as blue collar performance as you will find at CB.
LB Brad Jones – Jones struggled in the first half and was not the greatest in coverage again tonight, but he was instrumental to stopping the Lions running game in the second half. Jones has shown to be on the of the better LB’s the Packers have at hitting the hole and stopping a RB dead in his tracks, which is not an easy task when facing a hard runner like Mikel Leshoure (Sr.).
NT B.J. Raji – Like Jones, Raji struggled in the first half of the game, but also like Jones he put together a nice little second half performance. Raji got back to causing havoc in the middle of the field for the Lions running game and ended with four solo tackles on the night. He may not be the pass rushing force many were hoping for but Raji is still a very solid piece of the puzzle in the middle of the field for the Packers.
LG Evan Dietrich-Smith – Remember this one is graded on a curve. EDS did not have a great night, allowing a sack and getting beat more than once by Nick Fairley, but it was his best night yet…and the first time that it looked like the Packers may be okay if he needs to fill in the rest of the season. EDS fared much better this time against Fairley and was even able to get some good run blocks in. For as much as EDS is a downgrade from Lang, he does pull and run block better than Lang was able to do which may open up other possibilities for the Packers should EDS remain in the lineup.
There are many arguments to be had for other Packers as well. Marshall Newhouse had a respectable game. Josh Sitton was solid as always. Ryan Pickett was able to two gap with the best of them in the second half. If you think any of these players should have been nominated, or another Packer, make your case in the comment section.