With the Packers finishing out the first quarter of the 2014 NFL season at 2-2, we decided to take a quick look back at the teams' first four games to identify the early leaders for the team's best players. As they do in the NFL on a league-wide basis, we decided to anoint MVPs for the Packers' offense and defense, as well as acknowledge the team's top rookie. We also identified an honorable mention for each category.
Without further ado, here are our awards for the top Packers after four games.
Offensive MVP: WR Jordy Nelson
Could this really be anyone else? Jordy has done it all for the Packers this season, and he leads the NFL in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, while trailing only DeMarco Murray and Le'Veon Bell in yards from scrimmage. Let's see, where else can we go here...he's third in the league in yards per route run (thanks, Pro Football Focus!) and is easily the top-graded wide receiver. He's making that big new contract look like a bargain.
Honorable Mention: QB Aaron Rodgers
The team typically goes as Rodgers goes, and he has been inconsistent to say the least early on. But when he's on, holy cow, there's still no better QB in the league than Aaron Rodgers at his peak, and he showed that against the Bears on Sunday and in the second half against the Jets.
Defensive MVP: DE Mike Daniels
Despite a rough game on Sunday against the Bears, Daniels has appeared to be the most consistent player on the defense against both the run and the pass. While Julius Peppers is still a menace to quarterbacks, he has struggled to defend the run somewhat. Daniels has not, recording 11 "stops" in the first quarter which ranks fourth in the league among 3-4 ends, while still recording seven quarterback pressures, including a sack.
Honorable Mention: OLB/DE Julius Peppers
See above. Peppers' transition to 3-4 outside linebacker has not affected his pass-rushing ability one bit - only five players at the position have more quarterback pressures, and he made one of the biggest plays of the entire season on his sack/forced fumble/recovery on Matthew Stafford in the red zone.
Best Rookie: S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
A team's first-round draft pick probably should be their best rookie, but the Alabama product is certainly earning his way into this spot. Over the past few weeks, Ha Ha's playing time has steadily increased, a fact which our Kris Burke examined earlier today. He has also been involved in two turnover plays (a recovery of a fumbled punt against Seattle and an interception in Detroit) and has, for the most part, been a sure tackler in the secondary.
Honorable mention: C Corey Linsley
While Linsley's performance from game to game has been up and down, the fact that he has stabilized the interior of the Packers' offensive line while JC Tretter is out with an injury deserves recognition in and of itself. He has held his own in pass protection, and the growing pains he's experiencing in the run game are to be expected for a first-year player.