Green Bay Packers

Thursday Morning Ramblings: Bye Week Superlatives for the 9-3 Green Bay Packers

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The bye week has finally arrived for the Green Bay Packers this week, much later than usual. They could have used it several weeks ago, but being able to beat the Los Angeles Rams while shorthanded was certainly sweet.

With there being a break from Green Bay Packers football this week, I figured this week’s article would be a good time for us to reflect on what the team has accomplished so far this season and which performers have stood out the most.

With this in mind, I’ve got a few superlatives to hand out to this 9-3 Packers team. With five games left plus the playoffs there’s plenty of time for additional performers to make their mark on this season.

But for now, here’s who’s earned some special praise, at least in my eyes, after 12 weeks.

Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers

A boring selection, I know, but trying to pick anyone else at this point would just be me trying to get too cute with this award.

We all saw what the offense looked like with Jordan Love at quarterback against Kansas City. I know he was put in a poor position by his coach and offensive line. But the man simply isn’t ready to be a starter in the NFL yet. With Aaron Rodgers out of the lineup, this team is certainly not championship caliber, and probably not playoff caliber.

Rodgers has not lived up to his 2020 level of play, but that’s a nearly impossible task to ask of anyone, particularly a quarterback who turns 38 today. Rodgers has not been the best player or quarterback in football this year, but he still plays a bigger role than anyone on this roster in making this team a contender, and is still on pace for a strong statistical season.

Honorable Mentions: Elgton Jenkins, Davante Adams, De’Vondre Campbell

Best Addition to the Roster: De’Vondre Campbell

Campbell has been a revelation at inside linebacker, and has consistently graded out as one of the top defenders (and ILBs) in the game. This one a one-year flyer deal after being unceremoniously let go from Arizona. 

It’s been a long time since the Packers had a player as dynamic as Campbell in the middle of the field. He’s capable of defending the run and the pass, and has strong lateral quickness. He’s got a nose for the ball and is a strong tackler and leader. 

Green Bay will need to find a way to hold on to him.

Honorable mentions: Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas, Corey Bojorquez

Defensive Player of the Year: Kenny Clark

Somehow Kenny Clark once again is flying under the radar with how great he’s played throughout the season. He’s constantly pushing linemen into the backfield, making crucial stops in the running game and sacking quarterbacks. He’s opening up avenues for other players to also get in and make plays, including the inside linebackers who have played better this season.

Clark has had his healthiest season in a while and is looking like an absolute game wrecker. If he doesn’t get pro bowl/all pro nods this year it’s an absolute sham.

Honorable mentions: Adrian Amos, De’Vondre Campbell, Rashan Gary

Most Improved Player: AJ Dillon

When the Packers let Jamaal Williams walk in the offseason, it was clear AJ Dillon was going to end up having a larger role with the team. All that remained to be seen was whether he was ready for it. I felt pretty confident he was.

Sure enough, Dillon has been a workhorse this season for the Packers and a perfect complement for Aaron Jones. Dillon’s pass catching is far beyond what most expected of him coming out of college and even significantly improved from the minimal exposure we got to those skills in 2020. He’s powerful, quick and versatile, and is even making key blocks in the passing game.

Really fun, throwback kind of player who is only going to get more fun to watch as the weather gets colder.

Honorable mentions: Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Jon Runyan Jr.

Positional Coach of the Year: Adam Stenavich

What Stenavich has accomplished this season with his ragtag crew of offensive linemen has been nothing short of miraculous. The Packers have relatively minimized the pass rushes from players like Von Miller, Aaron Donald and Nick Bosa while being extremely shorthanded on the offensive line. Despite the sheer number of games missed in the unit this year, they’ve still played at a mostly high level.

Stenavich is going to be getting some looks for promotions around the league based on his work this season.

Honorable mentions: Jerry Gray, Mike Smith

Quick Hits: Week 13

Here are some random thoughts I have related to the Green Bay Packers and football in general as we head into the week 13 bye.

  • The Packers and De”Vondre Campbell really dodged a bullet with him going on the COVID list Tuesday during the bye instead of any other week. He should hopefully be back in time for the Bears.

 

  • The NFL moved the Packers/Ravens game from noon to 3:25, and I AM SICK OF GAMES IN THAT TIMESLOT. If you have children (especially young children) it is the absolute worst.

 

  • On the subject of scheduling, I’m surprised the NFL didn’t de-flex the Packers’ SNF bout against the Bears. Just goes to show the drawing power of the rivalry and of the Packers fanbase. 

 

  • Hopefully Randall Cobb’s injury isn’t too severe. He was dicing up the Rams’ defense before going down with his groin injury. This is the kind of injury that tends to linger, but hopefully he’ll be available for a stretch run.

 

  • Going to be very interesting to see what kind of news we get about guys like David Bakhtiari, Za’Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander coming out of the bye. Gotta think Bakh is the one who’s going to be first in line to return.

 

  • Aaron Rodgers has looked better on a bum toe than he did in the weeks before that. Not sure what kind of correlation there is there, if any, but he’s definitely been playing some of his best football in the last couple weeks. 

 

  • Part of Rodgers’ stronger play has been the resurgence of the deep ball. The Packers are hitting on these deep passes with much greater frequency than they had been earlier in the season. Rodgers has spent most of the year being terribly inaccurate on long passes, so if this is an element that can reliably return to the offense then the rest of the league needs to be seriously terrified of this Packers team.

 

  • Draft nerds are so mad that AJ Dillon is good and I love it so much.

 

  • Schedule be damned. The Patriots are back and should be considered the top contenders in the AFC right now. But don’t look past the Chiefs, and even the Bengals.

 

  • I never really realized how soft the Rams are, or how dirty Aaron Donald is. Disappointing from one of the truly great players of all time.

 

  • Seriously, what the Packers have accomplished so far this season given their ridiculous onslaught of injuries should make Matt LaFleur a shoo-in for coach of the year. But it’ll probably go to Zac Taylor or Kliff Kingsbury or someone like that.

 

The prediction

No Packers game to predict this weekend, so instead, my prediction is that this weekend I’ll try my damndest to watch football but almost definitely fail while I get caught up in family and work obligations. Ah, how I long for the days when I could watch 11 hours of football on a Sunday…

Enjoy the bye, folks. See you next week.

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