Who Wears the Crown: Identifying the Packers' Best Player at the Midseason Mark
The Green Bay Packers have no shortage of talent on either side of the ball. Through the first half of the season, they have gotten big contributions from their usually suspect, big name players as well as some lesser known players. The Packers also have a nice mix of youth and experience among their top players.
On offense, the Packers have gotten expected production from Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, but also unexpected production from James Jones and Alex Green. Defensively, Clay Matthews and Tramon Williams have played up to expectations while A.J. Hawk, Sam Shields and Casey Hayward have gone above and beyond expectations.
On special teams, Tim Masthay and Randall Cobb have been very sharp while Mason Crosby has only been sharp from under 50 yards.
5. Randall Cobb
Randall Cobb is quickly becoming a start and has been one of the Packers' best players not only because of his receiving ability, but because of his versatility. He has lined up in multiple receiving positions as well as in the backfield as a running back. His contributions in the return game have also been a big factor this season.
Cobb is second on the team in receiving yards with 435 yards on 37 receptions. He also has three carries for 67 yards in the running game, all which went for first downs. His 27.3 yard kickoff return average and 11 yard punt return average are both very good and have added another threat for the Packers.
While Cobb has been a big contributor for the Packers in the first seven games, the best could still be ahead for Cobb. With his improvements in the passing game, Cobb could see an even bigger jump in the snaps he receives.
4. Jordy Nelson
You could easily make a case that James Jones deserves this spot because of his seven touchdown catches to Nelson's five. Nelson gets the nod because he has 209 more receiving yards and 27 catches for first downs.
Nelson has stepped up in a big way with Greg Jennings sidelined for much of the first half of the year with a groin injury. He has taken full ownership of the Packers' "number one" spot as Rodgers' go-to guy with 10 more targets than any other player.
Nelson has been the Packers' biggest deep-threat, catching six passes of over 20 yards with a long of 52 yards.
3. Tim Masthay
Yes, the Packers' third best player this season has been a punter. Tim Masthay has had a great season,consistently putting together solid performances week in and week out. Masthay is helping the Packers dominate the field position battle when they have been forced to punt.
Through seven games this season, Masthay has dropped 20 of his punts inside the 20-yard line. In all of 2011, he had 23 downed inside the 20-yard line. In all of 2010, he had 25. He has improved from 41.8 percent of his punts downed inside the 20-yard line all the way to 60.8 percent.
Masthay also has a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 because of the 27-yard touchdown pass he tossed to Tom Crabtree.
2. Clay Matthews
Clay Matthews has been a huge part of the transformation of the Packers' defense. Last season, Matthews finished the year with only six sacks. This season, he already has nine sacks in the Packers' first games. His pass rush ability has helped the Packers' get a ton more pressure on opposing quarterbacks than they did last year.
In addition to his pass rushing abilities, Matthews has shown great improvement in his overall game. He has become tremendous in his run support, often chasing down ball carriers from the backside. With the Packers' rash of injuries at inside linebacker, they have even been able to use Matthews in that position.
Matthews has been the best Packers' defender and on some teams he would even be deserving of best overall player.
1. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers is playing lights out football, especially over the last two weeks. Rodgers has been the best player on the Packers and probably the best in the NFL over the first half of the season. It hasn't been as smooth as last year's start, but the numbers don't lie.
Rodgers leads the league with 19 touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of 109.6 over the Packers' first seven games of the season. In addition to his 1979 passing yards, Rodgers has continued to be a consistent threat on the ground with 125 rushing yards.
When it comes to the Green Bay Packers, Mr. Rodgers definitely still holds the crown as the Packers' best player.
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