Has Aaron Rodgers been good enough through four games to be considered the Green Bay Packers' MVP?
Thanks to an early bye week, the Green Bay Packers have only played four games through five weeks. That puts them at their personal quarter mark for the season, and that means it's time to roll out our first set of awards for the Packers.
At a record of 2-2, the Packers haven't had quite the season that many expected them to have coming into the year. However, there have been some bright spots who deserve some recognition.
Let's take a look at a handful of awards for the Packers through four games.
This one should really come as no surprise to anyone. Not only has Eddie Lacy stabilized a ground game that was lacking in previous years, but he's already playing like one of the better running backs in the league.
Lacy is currently graded as the 19th-best running back in the league, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). That's higher than elite talents like Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles.
While Lacy has only gained 150 yards on the year, his impact is felt much more than just statistics. With Lacy as a constant threat on the ground, defenses can no longer focus solely on quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. This type of balanced offense will only make the Green Bay Packers even more dangerous on offense, which is a scary thought for the rest of the league.
As long as Lacy stays healthy, he should continue to be a high-impact player for Green Bay. Don't be surprised at all if he has a legitimate shot at winning Offensive Rookie of the Year by season's end.
This was the hardest award to give out because quite honestly, no rookie defender deserves any type of praise. The defensive rookies that were considered were Datone Jones, Micah Hyde, Chris Banjo, Josh Boyd, Nate Palmer and Sam Barrington.
Of those players, only Jones, Hyde and Banjo were up for consideration due to playing time. And of those three, Hyde has been the least disappointing. He's recorded five total tackles on the season and has been just so-so in pass coverage.
This is an award that the Green Bay Packers desperately need to not be a disappointment. Their defense is struggling this year, and they could really use improved play from the likes of Hyde, Banjo and Jones.
The Green Bay Packers made Mike Neal switch positions from defensive end to outside linebacker before the start of the season. It was a bold move, but it completely paid off in Week 5.
Neal started ahead of Nick Perry and recorded six total tackles and a sack against the Detroit Lions this past week. He was also able to consistently get pressure on quarterback Matthew Stafford throughout the day.
However, the most surprising part of Neal's season at outside linebacker is the fact that he's graded out better than Clay Matthews. Matthews currently has a 0.8 grade, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), while Neal is boasting a 0.9 grade.
If Neal continues to play at a high level, the Packers defense should be able to get back to being a dominant unit.
We briefly touched on rookie Datone Jones earlier, but now let's break down why he's been the most disappointing player for the Green Bay Packers this year.
For starters, Jones has only played 73-of-266 possible snaps through four games. During those snaps, Jones has been unable to make much of an impact. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) currently gives him a grade of negative-5.6. If Jones played enough snaps to qualify, he'd currently be graded out as the second-worst 3-4 defensive end with his grade.
That's simply not a good sign for a first-round pick. Many expected Jones to compete for Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he isn't even close to doing that.
This is why he's been the most disappointing player of the season so far.
In a close game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, rookie Johnathan Franklin entered the game for an injured James Starks.
His play throughout the game was incredible. He totaled 103 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries. Unfortunately, no one will remember that due to this fumble on 4th-and-1 that turned into the go-ahead touchdown for the Bengals.
Had that fumble occurred at any other time, it wouldn't have been that big of a deal. However, it happened at such a crucial time that Franklin has lost the confidence of the coach.
If this play never happened, the Green Bay Packers are likely 3-1 right now instead of 2-2. This play is a definition of a terrible play.
The thing with the Green Bay Packers' season is that there haven't been that many "big" plays. There hasn't been a play that sticks out as crucial to a victory, so this award will go to the most incredible play of the year, which was Randall Cobb's reception in Week 5.
Early in the Packers' win over the Detroit Lions, Cobb ran a corner route. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a perfect pass between two defenders and Cobb made an extremely impressive one-handed catch.
It was the type of athletic play that only a player like Cobb is capable of and it is the Packers' best play of the season.
Are you really surprised?
While Aaron Rodgers hasn't been his normal dominant self, he has still been one of the better quarterbacks in the league. Through four games, Rodgers has thrown for 1,331 yards, nine touchdowns and only three interceptions.
His statistics are certainly nice, but it's the throws he's making on a consistent basis that really makes him the Green Bay Packers' MVP through four games. Rodgers constantly places the ball where only his receivers can catch it.
Rodgers is always going to the front-runner for the Packers' MVP, and through four games this season, that certainly hasn't changed.