Football is won in the trenches. It’s about guys winning their individual match ups and coming together as a team to achieve victory. This year was a mixed bag for the Packers with their line play on both sides of the ball. Some guys had a pretty good season, like Ryan Pickett and Josh Sitton. Some guys showed promise but were inconsistent, such as Mike Neal and Don Barclay. Others weren't very good at all like T.J. Lang. As a result we have a lower number of players nominated for Working Class Hero of the Year, but many could be on cusp of a nomination.
I still believe that this award should just be named the Ryan Pickett award. Pickett was the Packers best run defender along the line, and probably the most consistent performer along the defensive line as well. In many ways the FA acquisition of Pickett is the opposite of Jeff Saturday. It went under the radar, but he has more than paid dividends for the Packers on the field, especially manning the nose and clogging running lanes. Meanwhile, Saturday is a bigger name but he also may have been the most disappointing free agent since Joe Johnson for the Packers.
Sitton once again was the Packers’ best offensive lineman. He may not have been quite as good as seasons past, but he was still one of the better right guards in the game and one of the few guys that could be counted on up front. How Jeff Saturday got elected to go to the Pro Bowl and Sitton did not (although now he’s going as an alternate) is simply beyond me, but such is the life of a Working Class Hero…getting overlooked for a flashier name while still performing at a high level.
The story of Brad Jones’ 2012 season is an interesting one. He started with a move to the ILB group from the OLB unit. During training camp he was a bit of a forgotten man, with many assuming that he made the team simply for his flexibility between the OLB and ILB position as well as contributions on special teams. Yet, after season ending injuries to Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith he provided something that the Packers missed after Bishop went down, namely, size and power on the inside of the field. Jones was able to fill the hole better than what A.J. Hawk or Smith were able to do early in the year. He was also a pleasant surprise in coverage, being a slight upgrade there as well. It was an excellent year to have at the end of his contract and puts the Packers in an interesting situation on whether to sign him or not.
There are endless other possibilities for this award, such as DuJuan Harris, John Kuhn, or Bryan Bulaga, but Pickett, Sitton, and Jones are probably the strongest three contenders. If you think someone was missed, or that a different Packer is more deserving let us know in the comments section.