When coming up with our midseason awards categories for the Green Bay Packers, we at Acme Packing Company wanted to give special acknowledgement to an entire unit. While individual players get recognized for their contributions when MVPs are named, this is a chance for a full group of players working together to get their day in the sun.
Perhaps it is by default that we chose our winner for the honor of "Best Position Group," but this unit certainly deserves recognition for the job that they have done through eight games this season. That unit, by nearly-unanimous decision, is the offensive line.
The line started out in a bit of turmoil coming out of training camp, as GM Ted Thompson unceremoniously released left guard Josh Sitton at final cuts. Sitton landed with Chicago, and Lane Taylor stepped into the vacant starting spot having to fill a three-time Pro Bowler’s shoes. While he has not necessarily played up to the lofty standards that Sitton set out over the past several years, Taylor has been more than adequate in his stead, and he has justified the organization’s faith in him as a starting-caliber lineman.
Meanwhile, left tackle David Bakhtiari has taken another step forward, living up to the big contract he got just before week one. Bryan Bulaga has remained healthy - always a challenge for him - and T.J. Lang has continued his exemplary play at the right guard position.
Finally, the uncertainty at center brought about by Corey Linsley’s injury over the summer quickly turned to confidence, with JC Tretter playing good football before suffering an injury of his own. However, as has been the case so often over the past few seasons, when one player has to sit out the other steps in without missing a beat. Having a relatively interchangeable pair of centers allows this unit to remain effective even when one is on the injured list.
All told, the week one starters have missed just a single start through eight team games - that one game was Tretter last week, and Linsley filled in as mentioned above. The continuity of the group has been critical, especially as the team faces question marks about their depth on the interior in particular. While nearly every other positional group on the team has faced significant injuries, the line has made it through the first half of the year relatively unscathed.
(Now excuse me while I go knock as hard as I can on the largest piece of wood I can find.)
Finally, it is worth noting that Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 17 times, which constitutes 5.1% of his dropbacks. Rodgers’ sack rate was below 6% in only one other season for his career - his MVP season of 2014, when he matched that 5.1% number.
Of the nine APC contributors who voted in the awards, the line got eight votes, with the defensive front accruing a single selection. That group has made the Packers one of the league’s very best run defenses and has a sack rate of 7.2%, which puts them in a tie for 6th in the NFL. However, the rest of the staff found it difficult to give the honor to a unit that has been so inconsistent in applying that pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Of course, the secondary, running back, tight end, and wide receiver units have all struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness, which is why none of them have been mentioned here.
Do you agree that the offensive line deserves to be considered as the best position group, or should the front line be given that distinction instead? Let us know in the comments and the poll below.