Perhaps the best word for this past Sunday Night’s game is unorthodox. It’s hard to talk about what was the good and bad performances in real clear cut terms because often there was just a mix of the two together the whole night long. The offensive line had some great blocks in the run game and the pass game, but Rodgers also took some nasty shots. Rodgers had a pretty efficient night and running touchdown, but no passing touchdowns. The defense carried the day with two key turnovers and dominated in the second half, but was just owned in the first half. It’s all just confusing to process, but processing is a main part of what we do here, so let’s kick things off by looking at individual players before turning to how the units as a whole did.
MVP is going to be a bit more of a low key affair this week. None of the performances given by the Packers were truly eye popping. For example, the running game was a pleasant surprise again, but there was also no single 100 yard rusher. Rodgers was great, but not special. Many of the defenders made key contributions but it’s hard to say one stole the show. It’s not to say that they were bad or that no one is deserving, but the individual performances just were not there in the same way as in previous weeks.
Against this backdrop we meet this week’s nominee’s for MVP:
QB Aaron Rodgers – It’s rare where the term "game manager" can be aptly used to describe Rodgers’ play, but this week it just seems to fit…..and that’s not a bad thing at all. Rodgers threw for under 200 yards and did not throw for a TD, but he didn’t throw for an INT and made sound decisions at every turn. He also had one of the big plays of the night with a 27 yard touchdown run. Not a game for the stat sheet, but a very good game and a performance that helped the Packers find a way to win.
RB Alex Green – No Cedric Benson, No James Starks….no problem. For the second week in a row the Packers put together a solid running performance and scored a running touchdown. All of this was led by the tough running of Green. If I had typed that last sentence three weeks ago I probably would have been laughed off the site, but Green has started to run harder the last couple weeks and it showed tonight. Green ran for 69 yards on 13 carries averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He was able to get the tough third and short yardage runs, he was able to run up the middle, he was able to get it to the outside. On a night where the passing was not quite as strong an option as normal it was good to see Green finally emerge and show what he can do.
CB Sam Shields – Sam Shields may be the most underrated player with Packer fans right now. Here is a starting cornerback that was injured and basically forgotten about. His time away was not missed due to the rise of Casey Hayward and his return overshadowed by the potential return of Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews next week. Yet it was Shields who turned in the best defensive performance of the night for the Packers. He made a critical interception to stop the third drive for the Lions. He nearly got another interception or two from there, stayed in good coverage the rest of the night, and had some great open field tackles. Shields is still on the path to being a very, very good cornerback…and you can never have enough of those on your roster.
WR Randall Cobb – Cobb was clearly the number one target for Rodgers tonight. He was also the main target to bring in production for the night. James Jones was targeted 5 times but only caught the ball twice, including having a couple bad drops. Greg Jennings was targeting 4 times but only caught the ball once. Cobb caught the ball all seven times he was thrown to, made crucial conversions to keep drives alive, and was able to pick up some tough yards after the catch. Thrown in some decent work on special teams and it’s tough to find a more complete performance from a Packer on the night.
DE Mike Daniels – Daniels did an okay job in handling the run and providing a pass rush. More importantly though he was able to make the best play of the night when all hope seemed to be lost. Picking up a ball like that isn’t easy for skill players who handle the football all the time….and it’s even harder for linemen who rarely have that opportunity. Daniels got the job done and was rewarded with a Lambeau Leap as a result.
Now as always there are probably plenty of other players who you may think deserves a nomination as well. Maybe it's DuJuan Harris, or Casey Hayward, or Brad Jones. Take a moment and make a case for you nominee in the comments section.