Football is a complex sport that people for a variety of different reasons. Just check out the players our writers have enjoyed watching the most this year — it’s a pretty broad spread!
Who’s been your favorite player to watch 2021 and why?
Matub: Corey Bojorquez
BOJO BOMBS, BABY!
Not since the early days of Tim “The Ginger Wolverine” Masthay have I felt confident in a Packers’ punter. Watching a guy with a big leg being told to kick the hell out of it (and not completely changing his mechanics as a rookie MENNENGA YOU JERK) has been a delight.
Elite punters can be good for up to a touchdowns-worth of EPA. That’s a crazy amount of help for the defense. Bojo hasn’t been elite, but “better than the last 5 years” is all I’ve asked for.
Go special teams. Fire Zook. Forever and ever amen.
Rcon14: Aaron Rodgers
There are going to be a lot of good and unique answers to this question, but the answer to me, quite obviously, is Aaron Rodgers. While Rodgers has an incredibly grating personality off the field, that is not my problem. After spending a few years watching a version of Aaron Rodgers that was a bad caricature of himself, it is so enjoyable to watch him play at an MVP level again. His future in Green Bay is incredibly murky, and we got an unpleasant glimpse into a potential future without him against Kansas City, and I did not enjoy that one bit. While he may be an ass, he’s our ass, god damnit.
Paul Noonan: Marcedes Lewis
I do not say this in jest. Here are the cold hard facts:
- Lewis is 5th among TEs according to the grades given out by the experts at Pro Football Focus.
- Lewis ranks 14th among tight ends in DVOA.
- For blocking nerds, Lewis is still the epitome of what you look for in a tight end, able to match up with any given edge rusher, or pancake an inside linebacker in run-blocking.
- Lewis is without question the greatest tight end in the history of the Jacksonville franchise.
- Lewis is 2nd on the team with an 87.5% catch percentage to AJ Dillon.
- Lewis is 4th on the team in Yards per Target, ahead of MVS, Allen Lazard, EQ, and Aaron Jones.
More than anything, however, every single one of Lewis’ 21 catches has been a thing of beauty. An absolute embodiment of the energy exuded by old men playing basketball at the Y with guys 20 years younger knocking down stupid old-timey shots and playing just dirty enough to be effective while sending the clear message that if you call a foul you are a lesser man. When Lewis catches a pass in open space, which is shockingly frequent, you don’t get excited because he’s about to burst upfield. You get excited because some smaller man is about to have a giant paw cover the entirety of the front of his facemask, leaving his only hope that the laws of inertia permit his body to maintain pace with his now backward-accelerating head.
When Marcedes Lewis catches a ball, Marcedes Lewis is instantly offended that you allowed Marcedes Lewis to catch a ball. Marcedes isn’t what he used to be in terms of pure speed, and, well, frankly he expected better of you. And now he’s going to punish you for it, and maybe next time, you’ll have learned your lesson. When Marcedes Lewis catches a pass and plows you over for an extra three yards, your immediate reaction should be to go sit in a corner, because you’ve disappointed your father, but more than that, you’ve disappointed Marcedes Lewis.
Rich Madrid: Davante Adams
Aaron Rodgers would seem to garner a lot of favorites due to the sheer amount of ridiculous and absurd throws he makes week after week but my favorite player to watch this season hands down is Davante Adams and this past Sunday at Baltimore solidified that for me.
5 of Davante Adams 6 catches on Sunday converted to first down or a touchdown even with double coverage and 2 goings following him pre-snap. The 6th catch was a 6 yard loss on a weird busted play action throw where Rodgers wasn't even really looking to throw to him. pic.twitter.com/p379lx53H3— Rich (@richjmadrid) December 22, 2021
In that game, Adams only caught six passes for 44 yards and a touchdown, but five of those passes were first down conversions or a touchdown and all five of those came on every touchdown drive making his performance equally if not more important to their division-clinching game and helped them earn their third straight playoff berth.
That LaFleur was able to find ways to get him open versus the Ravens defensive scheme specifically designed to erase him from their offense makes his performance all the more remarkable. There is not a better wide receiver in the league currently. Everything he does is smooth. From his release to his route running to his sure hands, he is every musical artist in the symphony putting all the pieces together for the conductor and ensuring the show goes off without a hitch.
Jon Meerdink: AJ Dillon
You normally see the descriptor “dancing bear” assigned to a defensive lineman, but I think it works for the Packers’ sledgehammer running back, too. Dillon’s 247 pounds of wholesome destruction have been a joy to watch this year, and every time he touches the ball you’re just waiting for the moment he gets some unfortunate defensive back in his sights.
The joy of watching Dillon has only increased as the Packers have found new and exciting ways to deploy him. But no matter where he lines up or receives the ball, the ultimate hope is the same: I want to see him truck the poor defender who finds himself obligated to surrender his body before the freight train bearing down on him.
Tex Western: Rasul Douglas
Douglas’ journey this season is Hollywood material (take that, Kurt Warner), but it’s certainly possible for a player with his story to simply be a good, solid player. That’s not the case for this journeyman cornerback, who has made big play after big play and has been a true joy to watch blossom in the Packers’ defense.
Every week, Douglas seems to make a huge play, as his two pick-sixes and his game-sealing interception against the Cardinals are among the Packers’ most impactful plays all season long. But it’s not just ball skills that make him fun to watch; he is also a solid and physical tackler, with just three missed tackles on the season against 48 total stops, plus a forced fumble to his name. He even pitches in on special teams, playing 66 snaps there so far this season and even making the tackle on the opening kickoff against Baltimore.
It’s easy to appreciate Douglas for the route he has taken to get to Green Bay, but don’t forget to appreciate watching his play on the field just as much.
(Honorable mention to walking hit stick Krys Barnes. He might not always be in a position to make a play on you, but if he is, you’re going to feel it for a week.)
Kris Burke: De’Vondre Campbell
So THAT is what competent inside linebacker play looks like? NEAT!
Campbell has been everywhere for the Packers defense and has been a big reason why they have been so much better on that side of the ball. He’s quick to the ball and a sound tackler plus he’s been good in coverage! His signing very much went under the radar but he’s been anything but subtle since the season started.