The 2021 Packers Midseason Awards

The 2021 Packers Midseason Awards

NFL

The 2021 Packers Midseason Awards

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Since the NFL went to a 17-game schedule this season, the Green Bay Packers reached the halfway point of their season at halftime of their game against the Chiefs last Sunday. With that in mind here is a look at the Packers midseason awards for the first half of the season.

The awards are based solely on the players performance during the first nine games of the 2021 season so injuries, slumps and streaks are all taken into consideration. Feel free to comment on who you think deserves these awards.

Most Valuable Player of the Half Season: QB Aaron Rodgers

This wasn’t so clear cut, but the award goes to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers hasn’t played up to his MVP level play of 2020, but despite missing two of his best offensive linemen for three plus games and playing one game without his top three receivers, Rodgers led the Packers to a seven-game winning streak and a 7-2 record.

Rodgers has completed 67.1 percent of his passes this season for 1,894 yards. He has thrown 17 touchdowns against just three interceptions for a quarterback rating of 105.7. That is well below last season’s rating of 121.5, but keep in mind that was the second highest quarterback rating of all-time for a single season.

The offense struggled when Rodgers was unavailable against a bad Chiefs defense. He is the leader of the team and the face of the franchise right now although his future with the Packers beyond this season remains up in the air. It also remains to be seen how his controversial handling of the vaccine situation will affect the way the team responds to him going forward.

Despite the off the field drama both before and during this season, Rodgers remains the team’s MVP for the first half of 2021.

Rookie of the Half Season: CB Eric Stokes

The Packers first round pick has been thrust into the starting lineup sooner than expected because of injuries to Kevin King and Jaire Alexander.

Stokes started six straight games before getting injured in pre-game warmups and missing the Week 9 contest in Kansas City.

The former Georgia star made his first career interception against the Steelers. He is credited with 30 total tackles and eight passes broken up.

Stokes has elite speed but still needs to work on tracking the ball in the air. He has the right attitude and a short-term memory that all effective NFL cornerbacks need. While Stokes makes his share of rookie mistakes, he works hard at improving his game and has been getting better throughout the season.

According to pro-football-reference.com, opposing quarterbacks have completed just 54 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Stokes and they have a quarterback rating of 81.0.

Considering that most rookie cornerbacks struggle, Stokes is off to a strong start to his NFL career.

Offensive Player of the Half Season: WR Davante Adams

Many experts considered Adams the league’s best receiver entering this season and he’s done little to dispel that belief. Even though Adams missed one game due to Covid-19 protocols, he has 58 catches for 786 yards and three touchdowns through eight games.

Adams’ best game came in Cincinnati in Week 5 when he caught 11 passes for a career-high 206 yards and a touchdown.

Adams is a master craftsman at his position. His body control and his ability to disguise his intentions off the snap of the ball give him a big advantage against defenders and his unique connection to Rodgers helps them make big plays when they need to improvise.

The Packers have a tough decision coming with Adams who will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason unless the Packers sign him to a new contract.

Defensive Player of the Half Season: Kenny Clark

Injuries complicated this category and it was close but Kenny Clark has been healthy most of this season (he left the Chiefs game early due to an injury) and he’s been playing at an elite level.

Clark has already recorded more sacks than last season, more quarterback hits and in half a season, he’s doubled his tackles for loss from three in 2020 to six in nine games in 2021.

During the offseason, Clark slimmed down and took off a few pounds and it increased his quickness while still allowing him to hold his ground against opposing blockers.

Clark deserves Pro Bowl honors for his first half performance. If he keeps it up, he may even make All Pro by season’s end. He’s been the most consistent performer on defense so far this season.

Special Teams Player of the Half Season: Corey Bojorquez

Brian Gutekunst acquired Bojorquez just after the Packers final preseason game and he’s been a major upgrade at punter for the Packers. Bojorquez has excellent hang time and has made several punts that helped flip field position for his team.

Through nine games, Bojorquez is averaging 48.7-yards per punt. His 82-yard blast is the second longest punt in Packers franchise history. He’s placed 10 kicks inside the opponent’s 20 and five inside the 10-yard line.

Bojorquez has given the Packers shaky special teams a real boost in this one area and any progress at those positions are most welcomed.

Assistant Coach of the Half Season: Adam Stenavich, Offensive Line

There are many assistant coaches who have helped this team this season but none have done as good a job at juggling a difficult situation as offensive line coach Adam Stenavich.

The offensive line was without All Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari for the entire season. They moved Elgton Jenkins to left tackle while starting two rookies (center Josh Myers and right guard Royce Newman) and a second-year man who had never started a game prior to this season in Jon Runyan, Jr.

Myers has been out of the lineup due to a finger injury and then a knee injury and Jenkins went down for three games with an ankle injury and the Packers offensive line still managed to excel during the team’s seven-game winning streak.

The offensive line should get Bakhtiari back very soon and hopefully Myers as well. But Stenavich did a great job of making sure some inexperienced players like Yosh Nijman were ready to step in and keep the offense going.

Biggest Surprise of the Half Season: De’Vondre Campbell

The Packers signed Campbell before the start of the season. Campbell was a five-year starter in his NFL career but he never made a Pro Bowl and didn’t make many headlines.

He has come to the Packers and been a great fit in Joe Barry’s defense. He leads the team in tackles with 83, 27 more than any other player. Campbell also has two forced fumbles, recovered one fumble, recorded one sack and two tackles for loss while intercepting two passes.

Campbell has the speed to get sideline to sideline on run plays and to successfully cover backs and tight ends when they run patterns.

The former University of Minnesota star has been the best inside linebacker the Packers have had in several years and has helped solidify the middle of the defense.

Biggest Disappointment of the Half Season: Mason Crosby

Nobody expected Crosby to have another perfect season kicking field goals like he did in 2020, but the veteran kicker has missed six field goals and an extra point in nine games this year after missing a total of two field goals in the last two seasons combined.

It’s not all Crosby’s fault as there have been issues with his blocking, long snapper and holder, but the Packers didn’t expect Crosby to convert on only 68.4 percent of his field goals so far this season. His career conversion percentage on three pointers is 81.2 percent.

The Packers need Crosby to bounce back in the second half of the season and may need him to kick some important and clutch field goals down the stretch.

Unsung Hero of the Half Season, Offense: Yosh Nijman

Nijman filled in for three games at left tackle and they were his first three NFL starts. While Nijman needed some help with his pass blocking from tight ends and running backs, he did a solid job for the team during Jenkins’ absence. Having a depth player like Nijman step up and get the job done speaks volumes about the mentality of this football team.

Unsung Hero of the Half Season, Defense: Rasul Douglas

Douglas was signed off the Cardinals practice squad on October 2 and with both Alexander and King out of the lineup, he had to step up and play significant snaps. Douglas has started three games and played a big role in four.

He made the game-saving interception against the Cardinals in the closing seconds and has played well. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 55 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Douglas and their quarterback rating is just 54.0. That means Douglas has provided the team with more than just the one big play. He has been a key reason for the defense’s strong play in the absence of several key players.

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