Monday, April 27, 2015

My Take -> Sublimely Crafted Mock Draft

Greetings, G-Force.

I’ve pieced this together over 6 crazy weeks. A lot of short notes on scrap paper, on the back of used envelopes and on the iPad that have been compiled together. It’s all Packers-centric. If I didn’t see the player as potentially being a Packer, I didn’t include him. Additionally, there are a number of players that I didn’t give a brief comment on as I simply ran out of time. After the Draft, I’ll have a much more thorough analysis on the individual players that have been added to the team. Nonetheless, all of my favorite players in the Draft are listed below. I hope that this take can be a small guide on Draft Weekend; one of my favorite football weekends of the year.

Music is the weapon of the future. As I write, the Jimmy Cliff "Oh Jamaica" vinyl spins in the background. It's been a minute since I gave this LP a healthy listen. It's gorgeous music. I am accompanied with a Serenata Notturna from Crooked Stave. It's a Belgian Strong Golden Ale. At 12%, it's bold in ABV. Uber smooth for its potency. I like how it opens up with a funky sour goodness after it breathes for a bit. True palate delight!

It's that time of year. The time of year in which Ted Thompson outshines everyone. Unlike last year, Ted Thompson has multiple holes to fill heading into the Draft. Last year, outside of Safety and Center, the depth of Thompson's roster seemed rich heading into the Draft. This year, not so much. Purely from a numbers standpoint, the roster is thin.

Thus far, Thompson has had a brilliant offseason. He's kept Cobb, Bulaga, Guion, Barclay, Banjo, Kuhn, Richardson, and Raji. I hated losing T-Mon, but he was overpaid. Ras Davon was also overpaid and should net the Packers a 4th round pick next year. Thompson rid himself of some under performers in Brad Jones, AJ Hawk, Brandon Bostick, and Lattimore. He's put himself in position to win the offseason, once again. But, he needs to be a winner in the Draft and in undrafted Free Agency.

On offense, with Starks in the final year of his contract, another RB is needed via the Draft or via UDFA. I'm expecting Rajion Neal to have a decent preseason, but a RB needs to be added at some point. The same applies at QB. Thompson is sure to add a WR at some point. An addition at TE is mandatory. The OL is locked up for 2 years, so he doesn't need to target a big body on the offensive side of the ball. An addition at TE is mandatory.

Defensively, he needs depth at nearly every position. While there's depth on the DL; Raji, Daniels, and Guion are all in the final year of contracts. At OLB, Peppers, Neal and Perry are all possibly in their final year in Green Bay. Without Hawk, Jones, and Lattimore at ILB, the Packers are thin at ILB. For the record, I'm expecting BIG things out of Joe Thomas this year at ILB. It wouldn't shock me if he puts himself in position to see fairly significant playing time this year. Still, the Packers need another playmaker at ILB. CB is the thinnest position on the roster. With Banjo and Richardson entering the final year of contracts, the Packers could use another body.

I would like a trade up for someone like Trae Waynes or Danny Shelton, but that's unlikely. I would also like a trade down to ensure 4 of the top 100 picks. I'd like to see Thompson put himself in position to win multiple rounds. With three picks in round 6, he's already in position to win the round. With multiple picks in either round 2 or 3, he could do the same. Ideally, it'd happen in round 2.

Nonetheless, I anticipate that Ted Thompson stays put at #30. The wise man builds his franchise with youth. He constructs his team through the Draft. He's salivating at the notion of adding 27 players via the Draft and UDFA. Ted Thompson is salivating at the mouth right now.

As it stands today, Thompson has 9 picks. If he sticks with 9 picks, I hope he drafts 8 defenders and a TE. There are pressing needs to add to the depth of the defense via the Draft.

My Packers mock draft:

1.) Jalen Collins, CB, LSU. With the loss of T-Mon & Ras House, CB has become the #1 need for the Green Bay Packers. Collins is a physical CB. Somewhat green as he's seen limited playing time. But, Collins is a fearless tackler. He fills an immense need as he can play on the outside. He turns and runs like a natural in man-to-man coverage. He jams at the line of scrimmage. He's tough in run support. He's intelligent on the field and excels in zone coverage. He rocks dreads. He's bounces with Rasta style. He plays with a feel that his roots are Reggae. He fits.

2.) Paul Dawson, ILB, TCU. With a better combine, Dawson would've been a top 20 picks. Instead, he flopped in his 40. Regardless, when you watch Dawson play, he's fast. He plays with speed. The Big 12 is a spread 'em out Conference. Dawson excelled. He was a turnover forcing machine. He fits in the middle of the Packers defense. Right next to the Claymaker.

3.) Marcus Hardison, DL, Arizona State. He's a versatile defender who can get pressure from the inside in a 4-man front or he can attack in Cullen Jenkins fashion on the outside in a 3-man front. He's quick off the snap and has the strength to bring disruption with muscle. Hardison makes plays.

4.) Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State. A playmaking safety that provides great insurance for when Sean Richardson departs next year. Drummond breaks on the ball with pizzazz. He can cover in the slot with similar style as Micah Hyde. He displays on-field leadership qualities.

5.) Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State. Harper has shake. He shows strong hands on jump balls. He runs a great sideline routes and projects higher to me than most draft boards suggests. He plays with a similar movement as Davante Adams. He's confident. He's great after the catch much like Adams was in the Dallas and Miami games this year.

6.) Nick Boyle, TE, Delaware. A great blocking TE who'll help the Packers as what'll act like an extra OL. He possesses great hands, an ability to find the holes in the zone of a defense. He sits down well. He bounces off of tacklers with physical style.

6.) Joey Mbu, DL, Houston. A quick, high energy player in the mold of Josh Boyd. He plays smart and tracks down plays from behind. A smart on-the-field player who is quick to congratulate teammates after a big play. He's active. He's aggressive and moves up and down the line of scrimmage while holding the point of attack in the run game. Huge upside.

6.) Justin Coleman, CB,Tennessee. Quick in and out of his breaks. He jumps routes and tackles with aggression for an undersized CB. Great first step. A burst that excites. Not sure his game translates in great fashion to playing on the outside, but he has slot corner ability.

7.) Junior Sylvestre, ILB, Toledo. You can't teach speed. Sylvestre flies. And, he hustles. He can get sideline to sideline and can chase down anyone from behind. He finds the ball and plugs holes in a much bigger form than his size would suggest.

Here are my top 10 wishes for the 1st round:

1.) Randy Gregory, EDGE, Nebraska. He'd have been a top 5-7 pick had he not been busted for herb. Now I hear he's off of some draft boards. Gregory can get to the QB and, at times, he reminds of a young Julius Peppers. The Packers locker room would clean him up. And, as fans, he'll make us say EVERYONE'S GOTTA PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! EVERYBODY IS GONNA PARTY!

2.) Shane Ray, EDGE, Mizzou. It's been disclosed that he has a toe injury that'll keep him out for the next 5 months. Without the toe injury, he'd have been a top 7 pick. With the injury, he could drop. Far. If he's around when the Packers are on the clock, it'd be a no brainer that the Packers should draft this rock star pass rusher who has the ability to drop in coverage.

3.) Marcus Peters, CB, Washington. Top 10 on field player with massive personality issues. He was kicked off the team at Washington. He has swagger and elite skill. He's physical at the line and will jam you at the line of scrimmage. He has on field confidence. Although he has locker room issues, the Packers locker room cohesion wouldn't allow for conflict. He'd check his ego at the door. Titletown, U.S.A. is an easy place to fit in. It's a welcoming environment. A respected, unflappable community. The players are in lockstep with one another. Peters would find a home in Green Bay.

4.) Jalen Collins, CB, LSU. See above.

5.) Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson. A physical specimen who can do it all. He can come on the blitz and get to the QB. He can chase down ball carriers with first class speed. He can drop into coverage. He can cover the TE down the seam or RB's out of the backfield. He'd fill a major need in the middle of the Packers defense.

6.) Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota. When you watch Williams in college, you see a player who has played TE in a similar fashion as he would in Green Bay's system. He's a monster. A great Red Zone target. He can drop into the backfield and provide a seal for a RB. He can stretch the defense. He grabs yards after contact. He will come in motion and hold the edge to create a lane in run blocking.

7.) Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA. Kendricks is a high character leader on the inside of the defense. Arguably the best ILB in pass coverage. A solid run stopping ILB who doesn't shy from contact. He finds the pigskin. He'd bring a combination of high athleticism and awareness that the Packers haven't seen at ILB since Desmond Bishop's injury.

8.) Carl Davis, DL, Iowa. At times, he was absolutely dominant and played as though he was a sure fire top-20 pick. But, he was inconsistent. However, had DL been a top priority, I'd move him to #6 on this list. Instead, ILB is a bigger need and Maxx is far superior to any other TE in the Draft, so they skip Davis. Davis is quick off the snap. He moves well. He finds the backfield in the run game and he's absolutely disruptive as a pass rusher.

9.) Byron Jones, CB, UCONN. He's been as impressive as anyone since the end of the college season. A hero at the combine. Ideal size speed combination. A Workout Warrior. In the gym, he's the best one out there. Looks the part. Seems as though he could step into a nickel role on the outside, which would fill a need. Great length. Not sure how well he turns and runs. I wonder how well his gym speed will translate to the Pro game, but I'm confident Joe Whitt could turn him into a gem.

10.) Malcom Brown, DL, TX. Amazingly quick running straight ahead. Plays with brute force. Sniffs out plays as if he was in the offensive huddle. Can beat Guards and Centers with both his strength and his feet. Limited side to side range. Doesn't move well along the line, but he'll punish you as he's moving straight ahead. He'd be terrific insurance after the season when Daniels, Raji, and Guion all become FA's.

If Gregory, Ray or Peters falls to the Packers, I'll be wearing their jersey in Week 1 at Soldier Field. THE BEARS STILL SUCK!

Here are my rankings of positional targets that I project as fits for the Packers roster. As always, I don't comment on the player if I didn't watch them. I have little-to-no thoughts on the OL. If I believe there is no chance that they'll be available when the Packers select in Round 1, I've left them off my rankings.

QB:

I do not see the Packers drafting a QB in the first 5 rounds.

Cody Fajardo, Nevada. Round 6-7. Great mobility. Can throw on the run. Solid athlete. The type of project that might tickle McCarthy's fancy. Has upside and a true developmental project.

Jake Waters, Kansas State. Round 7-UDFA. Earlier in the year, I saw him as a 5-6 round pick. He has a good arm, he's mobile and he plays with a moxie that reminds me of Matt Flynn. He knows the game and finds the 1st down marker.

Taylor Kelly, Arizona State. Round 7-UDFA. Has good size. Looks the part. Good leadership skills. A tough player who will rally the troops in the huddle. He wants the ball. Total developmental project.

RB:

With Starks’ contract expiring at the end of the year, it wouldn’t stun me if the Packers drafted a RB. I’m all but positive that Gurley and Gordon will be off the board by #30. If David Johnson is around in Round 3, he’d be a great addition.

David Johnson, Northern Iowa. Round 2-4. He's my #3 back in the Draft. He's a sublime one cut runner who sees the hole. He catches the ball with elite style. He runs with elegance. He lowers his shoulder with desire. He reminds me of Matt Forte.

Jeremy Langford, Michigan State. Round 3-4. He plays like Carlos Hyde who I loved entering the Draft last year. A big game player who guts out tough yards. Good hands. A mudder. A smart football player who has a pension for busting games open.

David Cobb, Minnesota. Round 3-4. A gamer. Runs tough. A quick, one cut runner who display patience. Has solid burst. Finds the hole and goes. Grabs yards in chunks. Likes contact. Plays hurt. A player for teammates to rally around.

Karlos Williams, Florida State. Round 5-7. He plays fast. Really fast. Always a threat. He hits the hole with a vengeance and a strut.

Terrell Watson, Azusa Pacific. Round 7-UDFA. Think James Starks. Taller back who runs high, but hard. Decent in the screen game. Gets better as the game goes along. Doesn't have breakaway speed, but will get to the second level. I have a feeling he might end up in GB as an UDFA.

TE:

At some point, there will be a huge run at TE. My guess is that there will be 6-7 TE's selected between picks 80-125. The Packers need a TE in this draft.

Maxx Williams, Minnesota. See above.

Clive Walford, []_[]. Round 2. For someone, Walford will make a great target. He can stretch the field. He's undoubtedly the 2nd best TE in the Draft. He can run. He's a willing blocker who'll use his massive frame to move defenders. Huge upside. Has the ability to do it all. He also finds the holes well in the defense and sits down like a veteran. I expect him to have a really solid career.

Devin Funchess, Michigan. Round 3-4. Most classify him as a WR. Possibly in the mold of Kelvin Benjamin. In my opinion, if he’s going to make it in the NFL, he’s going to have to play a role similar to J-Mike. A tweener. A big WR or a small TE? Don’t think he could create separation on the outside. But, as an in-line TE, he could be an absolutely dangerous weapon.

Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State. Round 3-4. He has all of the tools. Great strength. Tremendous blocker who was under utilized as a receiving TE in college. Statistically, he'll likely have a better career in the NFL than he did in college. He's a physical fist fighter at the line of scrimmage and a tough runner with the ball in his hands.

Nick O'Leary, FSU. Round 4. Under appreciated. Limited athleticism, but he always shows up. Clutch player who can play FB. He is an aggressive blocker who plays with heart. First class hands. Gets open. Tough to cover. Finds the end zone. A smart football player.

Ben Koyack, Notre Dame. Round 4. A steady blocker who plays with intelligence. Hard worker. Not an overwhelming receiving threat, but he can get it done in a similar manner that Tom Crabtree impacted the Packers offense. A move the chains player on 2nd down who'll grab yards after contact.

Jesse James, Penn State. Round 4. He’s a massive presence with solid hands. Underutilized in the college game, he, too, projects to have a better NFL career than he did in the NFL. Not an elite blocker, but has the frame to grow into a top-shelf blocker. He moves well. He presents a mismatch to most defenders as he can step outside and jump over defenders along the sidelines as well.

Nick Boyle, Delaware. Round 4-6. See above.

Gerald Christian, Louisville. Round 6-UDFA. Athletic player. Big frame. Decent, willing blocker. Not afraid to run across the middle. Solid hands. Red zone target. In many ways, he reminds me of Andrew Quarless. Looks the part, has the tools, but will likely never be a top-flight player.

WR:

Ted Thompson loves to draft WR’s. It’s a great year for depth at WR in the Draft. There’s strong value in the middle rounds. There will be double digit WR’s selected in the first 3 rounds.

Jaelen Strong, Arizona State. Round 1-2. Robustly confident WR, who can beat you with both speed, strength and toughness. Gets over the top. Catches with his hands. Runs a solid post. Lethal Red Zone threat. Bold in the mind.

Nelson Agholor, USC. Round 1-2. He’s absolutely in the mold of WR’s that Ted Thompson has drafted previously. Quick in-and-out of his breaks. Wicked after the catch. Graceful movements. A high-end athlete. If the Packers weren’t on the brink of a Super Bowl, it’d wouldn’t stun me if he were the pick.

Devin Smith, Ohio State. Round 2-3. Has Pro Bowl potential. High points the ball. Can flat out fly. Showed up in big games. When the lights are on, Smith is at his best. If he’s around in Round 2, he might qualify as the Best Player Available. And, we all know Thompson loves his WR’s.

Sammie Coates, Auburn. Round 2-3. All the potential in the world. Great physique. Tremendous deep threat. Inconsistency prevents him from being a top 20 pick. Looks the part in his uniform.

Tre McBride, William & Mary. Round 3. Had he played in the SEC, he’d be a 1st round pick. But, he didn’t get a chance to consistently perform against high level competition. Has all of the tools. Tough to find a weakness in his game and he’s still raw. Could develop into a truly special player.

Rashad Greene, FSU. Round 3. Reminds me of Antonio Freeman. Great in the slot. Plays faster than he times. On the field, no one catches him. Terrific 3rd down receiver. When the game is on the line, he’s getting open.

Justin Hardy, East Carolina. Round 3. Not overly fast. Not overwhelmingly powerful. But, he’s always making plays. Plays smart. Runs his routes past the marker. Efficient receiver. A tough cover who uses his body really well.

Josh Harper, Fresno State. Round 4-5. See above.

Tyler Lockett, Kansas State. Round 4-5. Special teams guru. Great slot receiver. Super quick. Tough cover. Seems as though he’s the ultimate team guy. Lethal with the ball in his hands.

Kenny Bell, Nebraska. Round 4-5. Big receiver who uses his height well. Good body control. But, his hands are inconsistent. Great punt return skills. Should make an impact this year as a receiver and on special teams. Like his size/speed combo.

Ty Montgomery, Stanford. Round 4-6. I’m higher on him than most are. He reminds me of a poor man’s Anquan Boldin. Tough, physical receiver who can also move into the backfield. Solid in the return game as well. Would instantly help on kick-off returns. Get the ball in his hands and he’ll find space. At this stage, he might be best used in the slot. He’s a classic Ted Thompson “football player.”

Chris Conley, Georgia. Round 4-6. His production warrants a lower round grade. But, his performances after the season ended give hope for a bright future. Conley is an athletic freak. He can jump. He has great size. He has solid body control. And, he can flat-out FLY!

Levi Norwood, Baylor. Round 7-UDFA. High statistical player. Works well in the slot. Dangerous after the catch. Plays with consistency and good energy.

Ricky Collins, Texas A&M-Commerce. Round 7-UDFA. I’ve watched every ounce of video that I can find on him online. Quit football to spend time with an ill family member. But, when he came back to football, he was the most dominant player on the field against his level of competition. He’s the type of player who you want to succeed. Seems grounded. Wants to win!

DL:

With Daniels, Raji, and Guion having contracts that expire at the end of the year, I fully anticipate the Packers to grab 1-2 DL in this years Draft. Potentially early.

Arik Armstead, Oregon. Round 1. In his uniform, he reminds me of Julius Peppers. An absolute monster of a man. He shows flashes of blinding brilliance. He looks as though he should be a top-5 pick. And, then, he disappears. Extremely inconsistent. I’d be surprised if he were around at #30. If he is, Thompson will think long and hard.

Carl Davis, Iowa. Round 1-2. See above.

Malcom Brown, Texas. Round 1-2. See above.

Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma. Round 1-2. Phillips is 6-5, 329. A mammoth man. He moves surprisingly well straight ahead. But, he’s slow as can be when he’s moving laterally. A classic run-stuffing DL. Would fill the role that was vacated when Ryan Pickett left. No real pass rush skills, but he’d be great in short-yardage situations and he’s a solid 1st and 2nd down player on run downs.

Eddie Goldman, FSU. Round 1-2. When he’s on, he’s as good as it gets. But, he tires and is inconsistent. Top 20 talent who shines with grand flavor, but he doesn’t always show up. He’s tough to move. Reminds of BJ Raji coming out of college. Shows good quickness and strength.

Xavier Cooper, Washington State. Round 2. I wish he’d become a Packer. Laser quick off the snap. Can beat you with speed, quickness and strength. Has great length. Could play on the edge and get around a Tackle. Could also push a Guard/Center back and/or beat the Guard/Center with quickness on the Inside. Tremendous versatility. Quick twitch player. Relentless effort.

Marcus Hardison, Arizona State. Round 2-3. See above.

Grady Jarrett, Clemson. Round 2-3. He’s slow off the snap, but when he gets going, he’s ultra quick. Can get sideline-to-sideline. Sniffs out plays. Has a good read on the game. High effort, high intensity. Been seems to take plays off.

Trey Flowers, Arkansas. Round 2-3. He’s a top-5 pass rusher in the Draft. Would fit the role of an elephant role. Comes off the left edge with greatness. Limited in the run game, but put him on the field on 3rd down and he’s getting home. EVERY GAME. A tweener in the 3-4. Might be best in a 4-3. Can’t drop in coverage. One trick pony, largely. He’s a pass rusher. And, he gets to the QB in consistent fashion. Wins with speed around the corner. Uses his arms well to create separation.

Preston Smith, Mississippi State. Round 2-3. Like Flowers, he’d fit the Elephant role. Less of a pass rusher than Flowers, but his effort is as robust as anyone’s. Consistent player who excels as a pass rusher. Quick off the ball and plays with more strength than his weight might seem he’d offer. Reminds me of Justin Tuck.

Michael Bennett, Ohio State. Round 2-3. High energy player. Makes flash plays, but disappears too often. Statistically, he makes a number of plays because he simply out-works his opponent.

Tyeler Davison, Fresno State. Round 3-4. Tremendous work ethic. Plays with pizzazz. Gets a good push on the inside. Uses his feet well. 3-down player. Shifty for his size. Impressive interior pass rusher. Also shows up well in short-yardage situations. I’d really like him in the middle rounds.

Anthony Chickillo, []_[]. Round 3-4. Another one of those EDGE players, who’d fit into an Elephant role. Tweener. But, high pursuit player. Great size. Good athlete who plays with intensity and attitude. Talents didn’t translate to statistical dominance, but his performance on the field was more impressive than the numbers suggest.

Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky. Round 4. Playing across Bud Dupree, Smith wasn’t the focal point of attention for opposing offenses. Again, a tweener. An elephant. He made a bunch of plays and was relentless in pursuit even when Kentucky was not competitive. He’s limited athletically, but he’s a high effort player.

Joey Mbu, Houston. Round 5-6. See above.

Louis Trinca-Pasat, Iowa. Round 5-6. Gives great effort. Plays with intensity. While he’s limited athletically, his effort makes him uniquely dynamic. He has average quickness, size and strength, but his desire makes him an attractive player. I’d gladly take him in Green & Gold as a late round pick.

Olsen Pierre, []_[]. Round 7-UDFA. Great ability. All of the talent is there. But, the effort has not been there. There were times earlier in his career that I thought he looked like a 3rd to 4th round pick. But, he never developed into the player that I thought he’d become. Still, the talent is there. I’d take a chance.

Cameron Botticelli, Minnesota. Round 7-UDFA. Hard working WI boy! Milwaukee roots. Can play inside on passing downs and can hold the edge on run downs. Active, tireless performer.

Ellis McCarthy, UCLA. Round 7-UCLA. Big body, highly athletic underachiever. Has some pass rushing ability from the inside. But, largely, best suited to be a rotational run stopping defender.

OLB:

Neal and Perry have contracts that expire at the end of the year. Clay has to continue to play some at ILB. And, Peppers is 35 years old.

Randy Gregory, Nebraska. Round 1. See above.

Shane Ray, Missouri. Round 1. See above.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA. Round 1-2. Could be an Elephant in the Packers defense. Has the physical tools. Found himself in the offense’s backfield a lot in his Senior year. But, he’s a tweener in a 3-4 defense. Might be best suited for a 4-3 defense.

Nate Orchard, Utah. Round 1-2. Elite pass rushing skills who flashed good lateral quickness at the Combine and showed that he might be able to drop into coverage in a 3-4. But, there’s not significant tape to show the same. Has the makings as a prime-time pass rusher on 3rd down. Could be a target for the Packers at #30.

Eli Harold, Virginia. Round 2. Showed really solid pass rushing skills in college. Did a decent job of holding the point in the run game, but his ability to drop in coverage is a huge question mark. Wouldn’t be stoked with him at #30. If he falls to the late 2nd, which I doubt he does, he has to be considered.

Hau’oli Kikaha. Round 2-3. Take away the knee injuries and he could be a 1st round pick. A little smaller than an ideal 3-4 OLB. He’s 6-2, but he looks smaller than that against bigger OT as he gets swallowed, on occasion. But, Kikaha is fun. He has a great burst off the edge. Elite speed rusher. Fun attitude. A true teammate. He can drop in coverage. He wins around the corner in the pass rush game. Until the Senior Bowl, I was absolutely positive that I wanted him in Titletown, U.S.A., but he was swallowed for most of the Senior Bowl game. That said, leading up to the game, Kikaha was a stud as a pass rusher in the Senior Bowl practices.

Danielle Hunter, LSU. Round 2-3. Absolutely ideal size for an OLB in a 3-4. Moves well. Looks the part. Intimidates at the line of scrimmage. Can drop in space. In his pads, he looks like a 1st round pick. But, his performance is lacking. He struggled to get home as a pass rusher. And, at times, he was knocked backwards as a run stopper. Still, his physique and athleticism warrants a look. And, if it all comes together, the sky is the limit.

Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville. Round 2-3. Looks like an OLB. Moves a little stiff for a 3-4 OLB, but that’s likely where he’ll get his crack. Not great at any one trait, but can drop in space, can hold the point and will apply pressure to the QB. Has the chance to develop into a solid starter.

Tony Washington, Oregion. Round 4-5. Washington excites. He loves football. A week after the BCS Championship, he was heading to participate in College All-Star Games. And, he was making plays. He can rush the QB. He can drop in coverage. But, he struggles at holding the point in the run game. He has the makings of having a solid NFL career. Should be able to jump in and instantly help on special teams as well. For most of the year, I saw him as a 3rd round pick. He has the physique that teams crave at OLB in a 3-4 defense.

Markus Golden, Missouri. Round 4-5. A tough minded stats machine. He’ll fill up the box score, but there’s no middle ground with him. He’ll either make a big play or he’ll get blown up. Early in his career, his best attribute might be his ability to make plays on special teams. Going to be a high intensity performer. Was a playmaker at the college level.

Deiontrez Mount, Louisville. Round 5-6. Breakout year in 2014. Showed pass rush skills as well as an ability to hold the point and play the run. He’s long and lanky, which might prevent him from winning the leverage battle at the next level, but he has the athletic traits that are required and he looks like a highly coachable talent.

Junior Sylvestre, Toledo. Round 6-7. See above.

Zack Wagenmann, Montana. Round 6-7. A try hard player that will get a crack somewhere as a 3-4 OLB. Reminds of Frank Zombo. Not going to win plays because of his athleticism. Rather, he’ll win because he out works the opposition. He has a good jump off the ball and fights on every play. Seeks the pigskin with desire. He never gives up on a play. Would fit into the culture of Green Bay nicely.

Andrew Hudson, Washington. Round 7-UDFA. Underappreciated player. He got the QB with sound intent. Played well against the run. Somewhat limited athletically, but a really high intensity player who flat-out wins plays. Had great success getting after the QB in big situations.

ILB:

I love CM3 at ILB. I believe in Joe Thomas. I think he has an opportunity to play in the NFL. Barrington will never be a star, but he’s good enough to start in the league. I’m excited to see Bradford brings to the ILB position. Still, the Packers need another BALLER at ILB. And, someone with speed!

Stephone Anthony, Clemson. Round 1-2. See above.

Eric Kendricks, UCLA. Round 1-2. See above.

Paul Dawson, TCU. Round 2-3. See above.

Shaq Thompson, Washington. Round 2-3. Love him as a football player. As a RB, when he hit you, you went backgrounds and he fell forward. As an ILB, when he hit you, you hit the ground and often, you lost the ball. Great instincts.

Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State. Round 2-3. Work hard ILB. Active in the middle of the defense. Directs traffic. A leader. Long defender with great reach. He glides as he runs. But, isn’t a punisher.

Denzel Perryman, []_[]. Round 2-3. The fiercest of the hitters at ILB in the Draft. I first saw him when he was a Senior in High School. If the Packers draft him, I’ll share a story. It was awesome.

Jake Ryan, Michigan. Round 4-5. A football player. Smart. Savvy. Finds the football. Wants to succeed. A natural. Awesome hustle. But, somewhat limited athletically. After his ACL tear, he didn’t develop as fast or as much as I thought he might. Plays a little like AJ Hawk.

Ramik Wilson, Georgia. Round 4-5. His best is elite. His worst is undraftable. And, he offers both. Often. Lots of wasted steps. He trusts his instincts. He’s often wrong. But, when he’s right, he makes an immense impact. Great athlete. Can’t tell if some of his shortcomings were because the Georgia defense was so bad. It’s possible that he might elevate into a star if he were surrounded with great talent. High ceiling. Boom or bust player.

Ben Heeney, Kansas. Round 4-5. Classic Midwestern mindset. Hard worker. Tough. Smart. Leader. Limited athleticism.

Bryce Hager, Baylor. Round 5-6. Tenacious defender. Brings labor to each play with a blue collar approach. Excelled in a conference which really spread him out and limited his strengths. Still, he persevered and made plays. Seems like a fit for the NFC NORTH.

Martrell Spaight, Arkansas. Round 5-6. Good inside blitz. Recognizes and reads plays with excellence. Solid leader. Decent athleticism. But, has a tough time getting off of blockers. Solid player with limited upside.

Jeff Luc, Cincinnati. Round 5-6. A bully in the middle. Short, stout, and robust in his approach. Doesn’t look like an ideal ILB, but then you see him move and you’re shocked. Moves very well. And, he’ll pop you. Second hardest hitting ILB in the Draft, behind Perryman. Great football player.

Zach Vigil, Utah State. Round 5-6. A little undersized, but an overachiever. Would instantly make plays on special teams coverage units. He gets off blocks well. He shoots gaps with firmness. He comes on the blitz with committed intent. He can drop in coverage. Might be underrated and overlooked.

John Timu, Washington. Round 7-UDFA. Timu was underappreciated due to the other stars on the Washington defense. But, Timu keeps things together in the middle of the field. A leader. He sees things before they occur. He’s great in coverage. A little stiff, but capable as a run defender. He’s a fighter.

Quayshawn Nealy, Georgia Tech. Round 7-UDFA. If Nealy were 2 inches taller, he’d be a mid-round pick. He was the heart and soul of the Georgia Tech defense. He can come on the blitz. He’s gritty. A max effort performer.

Derrick Malone, Jr., Oregon. Round 7-UDFA. Exciting athlete who played a lot of OLB. Can drop with excellence. Loses the point of attack, but would benefit from hiding behind the DL on the inside of a defense. He has quickness. Solid role player potential who could aid on special teams.

Karl Mickelsen, Fresno State. Round 7-UDFA. Plays a lot bigger than he lists. A huge heart. A nose for the ball. A great competitor. Likely undrafted, I’d love to see him in Green Bay’s Training Camp.

CB:

The greatest need on the roster. Without a doubt. It’s too bad that there’s almost no chance Waynes is in Titletown, U.S.A. For the record, I don’t want PJ Williams or Ronald Darby.

Marcus Peters, Washington. Round 1-2. See above.

Jalen Collins, LSU. Round 1-2. See above.

Byron Jones, UCONN. Round 1-2. See above.

Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest. Round 1-2. Plays faster than he times and bigger than he checks in at the weigh in. Has a great break on the ball. Really quick. Should be able to play on the outside as well as in the slot. Jumps routes with confidence. But, not sure how tough he is.

Eric Rowe, Utah. Round 2-3. Is he a Safety or is he a CB? He’s fast enough to play CB, but he seems to me as though he doesn’t play with the speed that he times at. Looks like he might be a better Cover-2 CB. Or a zone CB. Not sure that he can turn and run. He’ll hit you. Plays with power. If he’s there in the 3rd round, he’s a no brainer.

Quinten Rollins, Miami of Ohio. Round 2-3. Plays like a middleweight boxer. He’s a feisty fighter. Quick on his feet. Utilizing his basketball skills to steal the ball, he displays great coordination. Both hand-eye coordination and foot-eye coordination. But, I see him solely as a slot CB.

Steven Nelson, Oregon State. Round 3. If he were 2 inches taller, he’d be a sure fire 1st round pick. He has great playmaking skills. A tough-minded CB who’ll get in your face and can offer a variety of talents. He’ll come on the blitz. Though he doesn’t have great speed, he’ll turn and run with a WR. He’ll help out in the run game as a sound tackler.

Josh Shaw, USC. Round 3. He runs with a confident swagger. He turns and runs with goodness. He sees the football. But, toughness might be an issue.

Alex Carter, Stanford. Round 4. While Carter isn’t littered with stats, he does get his hands on a fair amount of balls. He is aggressive and sees the ball; he just didn’t finish the play. He’s not afraid to step up in run support. Plays with resolve. Should have a future in the league as a 3rd or 4th CB.

Justin Coleman, Tennessee. Round 6. See above.

Ladarius Gunter, []_[]. Round 6-7. Gunter can turn and run with the best of them. He’s a little soft, but he’s willing. He might translate best to FS, but he has a future in the league. High points the ball. Made some big plays when the lights were on. Some might have him as an undrafted prospect. I think he has a bright future.

Justin Cox, Mississippi State. Round 6-7. YOU CANNOT TEACH SPEED! Cox has it. He might have character issues, but that shouldn’t be an issue inside the Packers locker room. Get Joe Whitt’s hands on him and great things might follow. Has starters tools, but the film shows significant limitations. As a rookie, he’s likely to solely be a gunner on special teams. Truly, a developmental prospect.

Curtis Riley, Fresno State. Round 7-UDFA. Every time I watched Riley, he was making a play. Granted, he didn’t pick off passes, but he was doing everything else. He was fighting WR’s to break up passes. He was jumping routes. He was helping out in the run game. He’s a little stiff, but he has decent speed and could develop into a solid man-to-man cover corner. Raw player. Hope he gets a shot as he has upside.

Bernard Blake, Colorado State. Round 7-UDFA. Looks like he could step into the slot and play right away. Not afraid to get his hands on you, but he’s undersized. He high points the ball, so if he can add weight/strength, he might be able to develop into a player that can play on the outside.

S

The starters are set for the next couple of years, but the depth is a concern as Sean Richardson is likely gone after this year. Landon Collins is the only high-end prospect and he’ll be gone before the Packers select at #30.

Damarious Randall, Arizona State. Round 2-3. Hard hitter who finds the football. Great in the run game. Plays with passion. He can also step into the slot and cover a receiver. Gets his hands on the receiver and does a good job directing rounds.

Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State. Round 3-4. See above.

Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss. Round 3-4. An intimidator. Physical, middle-of-the field presence. Brings an attitude. Also, a playmaker who reads the QB and grabs picks. Good leadership qualities. Struggles in coverage, but if the balls in front of him, he’s going to make a play that’ll excite.

James Sample, Louisville. Round 4. Limited sample size, but what’s out there is a lot to like. 4 interceptions. Active around the line of scrimmage as he came up in run support. Great tackler. Put him in the box and he’ll be an additional LB.


Derron Smith, Fresno State. Round 4. A little undersized, but an absolutely confident football player. Carries himself with pride. Plays bigger than his height would suggest. High points the ball. Mentally, he’s robustly physical. Gets sideline to sideline in the secondary.

Gerod Holliman, Louisville. Round 5. Leader in the heart of the secondary. Bounce to his step. Plays with big time awareness and reads plays well. 14 interceptions last year. But, he misses a ton of tackles.

Chris Hackett, TCU. Round 6. A big time playmaker. 7 picks on the year. Plays the ball in the air. Not afraid to stick his nose in the box and make a tackle. If not for major speed concerns, he’d have all of the tools to be a starter in the NFL.

Jordan Richards, Stanford. Round 6. Razor sharp in the mind. He was the captain, the unquestioned leader. It was clear on the field and on the sideline. Richards was in charge. Highly productive on the field as a tackler. Not fleet of foot, so he’s best used just outside the 7-man box. Solid tackler who attacks with a vengeance in run support. Huge liability over the top, but should make for a solid special teams performer.

Nick Perry, Alabama. Round 7. There are times in which he flashes and shows mid-round potential. But, he’s still a developmental player who has not seen enough playing time. One-year starter. Made some key plays in the passing game, but also overran a number of plays in the run game. Was learning on the fly last year and improved as the year went along.

Yes, it’s Draft Weekend. Where Ted Thompson goes back to his Roots. And builds his team through the draft. This year – we’ll also see extremely heightened activity in UDFA. I’m anticipating Ted will trade down at some point to draft 11 players. He’ll add 15-16 via UDFA. There’s no one I’d prefer over Ted Thompson this weekend.

In Ted, I trust.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.
Talkins-mac.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Take -> Free Agency Happenings

Greetings, G-Force.

The 2015 NFL Season has kicked off. I celebrate. I sip a Crooked Stave Surette Cassis. It's highly carbonated. Potentially too much. I'm excited to let a couple of these age for a bit. Let the carbonation die down. It has a heavy Brett and Lacto funky feel. As it ages, I fancy the yeast bacteria will work wonders as becomes less carbonated. It's stunningly tart. Robustly currant in flavor. It's alive! A true winner! Much like Ted Thompson over the first week of Free Agency.

I casually jam Honey Boy, a slow low-key 1970's Reggae vibe. I imagine Ted Thompson is in chilled out mode after dropping the hammer as he locked down Bryan Bulaga and Randall Cobb. Honey Boy's "Guitar Man" is a terrific beat when you're looking to slow down your speed after a busy week.

Ted Thompson. Victorious. He needed to lock down Bulaga and Cobb. He did so. He still has more than $20 million to make magic happen. He's going to sign Raji. He's going to sign Guion for a great bargain. Barclay is going to be back. Sean Richardson will be signed. Now, we wait for phase 2 of Free Agency.

At present, there are zero CB's on an NFL Roster that are over the age of 31. Tramon Williams is a 32-year old CB. He's without a contract. His market value is not in high demand as most CB vacancies have been satisfied. He needs to be brought back to GB. I'm sure Thompson is trying to sign him. It's tine for TMon to oblige. Two years. $9 million. Make it happen. We need him. He needs us. It'd fill a huge hole for the Packers. TMon can MAN UP on the outside. He still has legs. He'd allow Casey SHOWCASE Hayward to stay inside. He'd solidify the depth in the secondary.

Bradley Fletcher is also an intriguing talent on a short term deal at a reasonable price. He can play on the outside. He's the type of player that might overachieve in Titletown, similar to Guion. At times, Fletcher has been exposed on double moves and on the deep ball. He cannot be left alone on an island. Nonetheless, he would offer depth and an attractive size/speed combo. Plus, Ted Thompson has been fortunate with Iowa graduates.

Ted Thompson has a trick up his sleeve. Often, he adds a player that was cut, which wouldn't impact the compensatory pick that he will gain from the loss of Ras Davon House. This year, It might be Percy Harvin. Harvin would be the ideal player to fill the role that I presume the Packers wanted DuJuan Harris to play last year. Harvin could likely come on a 1-year deal. He'd be lethal on special teams in the return game. He could slide into the backfield. He'd be sensational in the screen game. Opposite Cobb, he would cause havoc in the slot. He'd be tremendous on the wheel route out of the backfield. He'd be an ideal player to sign to a 1-year "prove-it" deal. My Brother Bob compared it to a Desmond Howard type signing in 1996. I'm on board with that thought. Except he'd have a bigger role on the offense. He'd also be insurance at WR in case injuries occurred. There'd be less dependency on with Abbrederis or Janis having to potentially make a big impact in 2015. They'd be able to continue to ease them into the offense.

Further, there aren't many locker rooms that would be able to tolerate Harvin's antics. Mike McCarthy has the leadership skills to make Harvin feel welcomed. The camaraderie on this roster is special. There is strong continuity. Harvin would be embraced.

Harvin is unlikely to be offered more than $4-5 million. Even that might be rich. The Packers have the money to spend. Ted Thompson is playing to win a Super Bowl this year. Harvin might be a missing piece. One thing is for sure: he'd be extra motivated to pick up a crucial 4th Quarter 1st down in Seattle.

It feels as though Thompson has a trick up his sleeve to close Free Agency. Harvin fits! And, after he's signed, the draft is all about the defensive side of the ball and a TE addition.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
Talkins-Mac.blogspot.com

Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Take -> Offseason Rumblings

Greetings, G-Force.

I'm still sulking. It was the worst playoff collapse since the New York Giants melted down and gave up 25 unanswered points against San Francisco in January of 2003. Brandon Bostick is the biggest Green Bay Packers failure in the Super Bowl era. All because of one play. He was mentally, emotionally, and physically incapable of making a play in the biggest situation of his career.

There - I've said it again. I'll try not to mention it again for a long while.

As I move forward, I sip on a New Glarus Enigma. Sour cherry bliss with grand carbonation. If you haven't tasted it, make it a point to get your hands on a bottle. As I enjoy an Enigma, I spin the Hard Working Americans self-titled album. The B-side of this vinyl is pure musical magic. The Mountain Song --> Stomp and Holler --> Straight to Hell. Give it a listen.

It is early, so I'll call it my offseason meandering, but the Packers have an intriguing offseason ahead of them. Sure, Cobb & Bulaga are must signs. Let's hope that both want to return as badly as the Packers want them back. I'd be shocked if both don't rock a 'G' on their helmet next year.

Frankly, I'm concerned about the CB position. We have tough decisions ahead. T-Mon is soon to be 32 years old. While he's still incredibly athletic, he's nearing an age in which CB's have historically declined at a rapid rate. I hope he comes back on a cap-friendly 3-year deal. With guaranteed money up front and an out in year 3. T-Mon will forever be a favorite of mine. I want him to retire in Green Bay.

It'd be great to have Ras Davon back. I don't think we can afford him. He'll get starters salary somewhere and he'll likely net the Packers a 4th round compensatory pick. I'll always wonder 'what could've been' with regards to House. He is a physical CB who matches up well with bigger WR's. He's tough in the run game. But, he was never able to stay healthy. Bummer.

J-Bush has been a mainstay on the Packers roster for nearly a decade. He's likely to have his gunner role on special teams replaced by Demetri Goodson. Thanks for the Super Bowl interception, J-Bush! That was a monstrous play!

I'd ask Peppers to say "no mas" to his big contract. I want him back. In a largely reduced role. Mostly as an interior pass rusher, but also on the outside on a limited basis. It'd be great to get his salary reduced by $3-4 million. If we were able to free up money from
Peppers, we might be in a space to land another big time free agent.

I'd attempt to bring Raji back on a discounted deal.

And, on Draft weekend, I'd get aggressive at LB. Big, athletic, versatile players that can come from the inside and get around the edge on the outside. Here's my late February mock draft and to remind you, this is what I'd do, not what I think Ted Thompson will do.

Round 1. Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson. It's potentially a little early for him, but we are desperate for ILB help. Anthony can rush the passer. He can drop in coverage. He's experienced. He fits our most pressing defensive need. Others: Paul Dawson, ILB, TCU; Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA; Marcus Peters, CB, WASHINGTON.

Round 2. Hau'oli Kikaha, OLB, WASHINGTON. A gifted athlete. Without the knee injuries, he'd be a lick for my 1st round pick. He can drop in coverage. He has elite pass rushing skills. He has great burst off the ball. Occasionally, he's gets swallowed by bigger tackles. Wins with quickness.

Round 3. Marcus Hardison, DL, Arizona State. Good speed off the snap. Quick first step. Slippery. Has 3-down potential. Tireless in his pursuit. Other: Ramik Wilson, ILB, GEORGIA. He might be undervalued due to the inadequacy of the Georgia defense, but he has shown inconsistent football instincts. He has quickness towards the ball. He's feisty in the interior of the defense. But, occasionally, he gets gobbled up on the inside. He is a battler, but does have trouble releasing from blocks.

Round 4. Kenny Bell, WR, NEBRASKA. Great height. Blazing speed. Strong return skills. He can get over the top on the outside and isn't afraid to run across the middle. Occasional drops, but still consider his hands to be above average.

Round 5. Nick Boyle, TE, Delaware. Big, solid blocker. Underrated athleticism. Good glands. Fits the Green Bay scheme as he could also line-up as a lead blocker.

Round 5 (compensatory for James Jones). Jeff Luc, ILB, Cincinnati. Almost looks awkward due to his large size, but he plays with speed and when he hits you, he means business. Great at going for the ball. Forces turnovers. Has decent coverage skills. Reminds me of Vontaze Burfict. Other: LaDarius Gunter, CB, []_[]. Long, lanky player. In the mold of Davon House. Solid open field tackler. Had a big Senior Bowl. Has played vs big time competition. Might need a year to fully develop.

Round 5 (compensatory for EDS). Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State. He can cover in the slot. He has a nose for the football. A leader. Smart player. Plays with great recognition. A potential mid-round gem.

Round 6. Tyeler Davison, DL, Fresno State. Hole plugger in the middle who can add a pass rushing push. Quick. Uses his weight well. Has the makings of a player with a nice career ahead of him. Other: Gerald Christian, TE, Louisville. At some point, the Packers will draft a TE this year. Christian provides a target that can get down the seam. He moves well. He's a willing blocker. He's a threat in the Red Zone.

Round 7. Justin Coleman, CB, Tennessee. Top flight athlete. Great upside. Quick out of his break. Aggressive. Other: Curtis Riley, CB, Fresno State. Good length. NFL stature. Plays the ball. Solid late round prospect.

More to come in the near future.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
talkins-mac.blogspot.com



Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Take -> To conclude

Greetings, G-Force.

The last time I felt this way was January of 2004. After the 4th & 26 loss to the Eagles. At that time, my take was in an email form. After reading my writing, I had a number of people opt out of the email chain for a variety of reasons. It was odd. It was real. It put an end to the blog for 3+ years until Josh King, Richard Evans, Neil Buethe and Russ Thompson encouraged me to reignite it prior to the 2007 NFL Season.

Packers fans are intense. When we win, it's a glorious feeling. When we meet defeat, it's painful. It devastates. It tears at the soul. With that said, life goes on. And, we carry on. Thus, I'm prepared to take whatever heat comes at my thoughts. I'm also aware that many people will stop reading after my delivery.

I caution: I'm a big Mike McCarthy fan. I feel that he's a SUPER coach.

In December of 1993, I traveled to Florida to participate in the Cocoa Beach Cup. With my good friend, Mike Brugman. Bruti & I were decked out in the Red, White & Blue as we represented the state of WI as a part of the Olympic Development Program. We played against the Canadian and Russian Under-19 National soccer teams. We were both 16 years old. We also played the Louisiana State team.

When we played Louisiana, I started at right FB. The player I was marking was far better than I. He was bigger, faster and stronger than I was. At halftime, we led 1-0 as Bruti assisted on the goal. Yet, the man I was defending was abusing me. He hit the post twice. He shot wide a couple of other times. I was no match for him. I tried everything. One time, I even jumped on his back to try and tackle him after he beat me. I failed to bring him to the ground. I was given a yellow card. I was replaced in the 60th minute. We still led 1-0. As I walked off the field, my Coach was shaking his head with disappointment. He grabbed my shirt and emphatically said emphatically something I'll never forget: WE HAVE TO GRAB THIS GAME BY THE SCARF OF THE NECK AND STRANGLE IT UNTIL IT'S ALL OVER!

Yes, it was me - the player - who had to finish off the game. Not him - the coach.

Fast forward to January 2015. Mike McCarthy had his team ready. They were aggressive. They were in attack mode. They were determined to win the fight. But, the players couldn't finish. In fact, for those of you that are questioning McCarthy's play calling in the 4th Quarter, I ask you: did you watch the 2014 Green Bay Packers? If not, let me educate you. When the Packers had a 4th Quarter lead, his calling was consistent. He leaned on his beefy OL and his stud RB to power forward on 1st & 2nd down. And, then on 3rd down, depending on the circumstance, he either gave it back to Lacy or he let the MVP win it with his arm. He did it vs NE, at MN, vs ATL (with Starks), and vs Dallas. Each time, he did the same thing. Each time, he was successful. This time? Well, the right side of his OL got blown up. If not, there are no conversations around McCarthy being conservative. Instead, we are discussing the genius game plan drawn up by McCarthy and Capers.

In fact, I had absolutely ZERO problems with the coaching decisions other than the 3 man rush on 3rd & 19. We needed to attack. Instead, we sat back and got burned. It was devastating.

Players have to play. Coaches have to coach.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers thought that Seattle jumped offsides on the opening drive and therefore, he forced a ball into coverage that was intercepted.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Mike Daniels drew a silly penalty after HaHa's first interception.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Kuhn got stopped a foot short instead go carrying forward for a TD.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that EDDIE couldn't win a 1v1 battle with Earl Thomas on the following play. I expected that to be a TD. For the record, I would've gone for a TD on the next play, but I didn't mind the points. Especially in light of what happened vs DET in Week 17.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers missed an open Jordy from the 5 yard line on the next play.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers missed Cobb high on 3rd and 13 in the 2nd Quarter with a 13-0 lead. Thankfully, there was an Avril penalty on the play to extend the drive. McCarthy was aggressive and had Rodgers hit Cobb in stride, he might've scored.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers threw an interception on 1st and 10 from the 33 yard line with a 16-0 lead. McCarthy had his hand firmly placed on the throats of the Seahawks. He was going for the dagger with aggressive intent. Rodgers and Cobb miscommunicated. We lost a crucial shot to take a 3-score lead.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that the offense stalled in the 2-minute drill to end the first half. McCarthy was firmly in aggressive mode and gave the drive to his MVP. We couldn't connect.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers didn't hit Cobb in stride on 3rd and 7 on the opening drive of the 2nd half. Had he done so, it looked as though Cobb would've had a big gain. Instead, it was 4th & 1 and the Packers were forced to punt.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Starks couldn't hang onto Rodgers' deep ball near the goal line early in the 4th Quarter.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that HaHa dropped a potential pick-6.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that AQ81! dropped a 1st down pass with just over 5 minutes left in the game. That play would've been a first down. It wouldn't have sealed the game, but it really felt like things were rolling.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that JP told Morgan Burnett "no mas"!

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that the right side of the OL were blown up on 1st down to make it 2nd and 14 and then 3rd and 16. On 3rd and 16, did you really want to pass? I didn't. Eating clock was precious and Rodgers hadn't been on point.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Masthay got off a poor 30 yard punt.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Brandon Bostick made the most individually collapsing play that I've seen by a Packer in my lifetime. The moment was too crucial to be disobedient. Instantly, the vibe changed from an epic celebration to a gigantic choke.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that HaHa didn't knock down the 2-point pass.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Casey Hayward got beat off the line of scrimmage and gave up 35 yards on 3rd & 7 in OT.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that T-Mon lost inside leverage without help over the top.

Players are going to play. Coaches are going to coach. The players choked. Other than a conservative 3rd and 19 defensive decision, I don't think the coaching staff is at fault in this one.

Here are some other quick vibes from the past week:

* Aaron Rodgers is the NFL's MVP. But, he wasn't in the NFC Championship.

* Clay Matthews was a monster. And, then he was emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. Really, Clay? With the Super Bowl on the line? That makes me sick to my stomach.

* Julius Peppers was going to be the next REGGIE or Sir Charles and then he said "no mas"!

* HaHa and Burnett really grew together as a Safety combo.

* Really nice showing from Barrington. Wished he'd have gone over the top of the pick instead of underneath it. Hell, if he went thru it, he'd likely have been able to draw a flag. He made the wrong choice there. But, he earned my confidence heading into next year.

* I hope Bulaga, Cobb and Guion are back next year. Same with Raji. If Bulaga and Cobb are back, the core of the offense will have two years together to try and redeem themselves.

* Brandon Bostick, Brad Jones and AJ Hawk will not be back with the Packers next year.

* I'm really curious to see if Adrian Hubbard and Joe Thomas make an impact next year. Same goes for Rajion Neal. It wouldn't shock me if Joe Thomas competes for a starting ILB role.

* The 2014 Packers team was going to be my 2nd favorite Packers team ever. So determined. So much camaraderie. Veteran leadership. Rookies rising. I love this team, man. What a buzzkill to see it finish the way it did.

* Tim Masthay's job should not be safe heading into training camp next year.

* The Packers OL will be better than ever next year if Bulaga comes back. We will also get Donny Barclay back. Further, I'll be excited to see what Tretter and Joe Madsen do with a full offseason.

* I was stoked to see that the Packers met with Danny Shelton, DL, Washington and Denzel Perryman, ILB, []_[] at the Senior Bowl.

* I'll have my first mock draft posted in the next 2 weeks.

This one will sting. Forever. Rodgers may never get that close to a Super Bowl again. And the Packers players didn't grab the game by the scarf of the neck and strangle it until it was all over. They didn't seal the deal.

Cherish the moment. You never know what life will bring.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
talkins-Mac.blogspot.com

Friday, January 16, 2015

My Take -> NFC Championship

Greetings, G-Force.

We are one game away from the opportunity to play for all the marbles. I can taste it. It's Super.

As I do my best to stay calm, I settle into a Paradox End of the Beginning. It's a sour beer that'll make you pucker. It's cloudy at the pour, but it settles nicely. Much like the Packers performance against Dallas. I chill to the Bob Marley "Exodus" album. I don't want to wait in vain. I want to enjoy a Super offseason.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. 3rd & 11. Game on the line. I might have run the ball. Then punted it and forced Dallas to go 90 yards with just over a minute to play. Not McCarthy. He went swinging and trusted his MVP. The tipped pass landed in Cobb's hands as the good Lord was shining his light on Lambeau. After all, Titletown, U.S.A. is Football Heaven.

* R-E-L-A-X. I'm sorry, MVP. I can't. I'm too ecstatic. You amaze me, Aaron. Your brilliance overwhelms.

* JP is taking his role as a playoff captain seriously. He wants to be the next REGGIE or Sir Charles in the eyes of the modern day Packers kinfolk. He played his best game as a Packer.

* Clay Matthews was tremendous. Great move by Capers to move out of the zone and to put Clay on Witten in man-to-man coverage. The coverage was sound. The sacks followed. Huge of the Claymaker to tuck the ego aside and to take one for the team.

* I like the Pistol formation with Kuhn lined up next to the MVP. Gives Lacy a veteran FB to help pave the way. On the 3rd play from scrimmage, EDDIE might have gone all of the way if he had followed Kuhn.

* NEW YORK BOZO!

* Really fun to see AQ81! extending his route on the first TD.

* The interior of the OL continues to be absolutely punishing in the run game.

* Peppers at DT on passing downs. It's a thing. Loved Clay's reaction after Julius' strip sack on the opening drive. Teammates!

* Good blocking, Randall Cobb.

* Davante Adams' catch on the HUGE 4th Quarter 3rd and 3 was special. It was a bad pass. But, Adams wanted it more. Then, he showed the mental wherewithal to stay in bounds. Veteran play by the rookie. Also, great fun to watch BJ Raji's excitement on the sideline during the play. Come back on the cheap, big fella!

* Our defense is extremely vulnerable on WR screens.

* Oh, that Julius Peppers strip of DeMarco Murray. If the Packers finish Super, that play will carry the same weight as the Desmond Bishop shoestring tackle do DeSean Jackson. Without it, nothing else matters.

* John Kuhn. Man, he was great on the first drive of the game.

* I'd really like to see Randall Cobb give the Packers a home town discount.

* Thought that Barrington came out attacking. He needs to keep that mentality for 60 minutes.

* Mike Daniels is a beast.

* Good effort, Mike Neal. His skills are limited. His effort is not.

* Nick Perry flashes, at times. He made a couple of big plays. But, I wish he'd be more consistent.

* We need better T-Mon.

* Solid game from Sammy Swagga.

* I really like when Starks runs as a one-cut back. Plant and go, James.

* To my eye, it looks as though Clay is evolving into a top notch leader.

* The MVP on the hard count. Mint!

* Datone Jones has good quickness. He has a good work rate. Unfortunately, he gets pushed around often.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!

* The 15-yard penalty on Lang was horrible officiating. He was about to make contact right as the whistle blew. There was no way to avoid it. And, well after the whistle, Adams got slammed to the turf. Penalty should have been called on Dallas.

* We cannot count on Josh Boyd to pressure the QB from an end position. Where's Jayrone Elliot in that situation?

* Huge tip on the FG by Datone Jones!

* I like seeing Hyde on the blitz.

* The Rodgers to Cobb pass at the end of the first half was spectacular. And, good footwork, Randall!

* Guion should focus on being powerful. Not slippery.

* Davante Adams just busted through the rookie wall.

* Bakhtiari and Bulaga. Steady as rocks.

* It was 3rd & 3. 3:21 left in the 3rd Quarter. The prospects of victory felt dim. We had the ball at our own 17. Rodgers hit Adams on a short hitch route. Adams shook loose and rattled off 17 yards. Over the last 18:21 of the fame, Aaron Rodgers added to his legend in a Super way. It was a performance that'll be discussed for ages. MVP! MVP! MVP!

* 1:52 remaining in the 3rd. 3rd and 15. Trips right empty backfield. Adams fights off a jam. Gets out of his break akin to a youthful Greg Jennings. Rodgers hits him in stripe. Then, Adams goes pimpin' in the open field. Momentum swung greatly on that play. Delightful!

* Enormous fumble recovery by AQ81!

* Thought Capers did a solid job of mixing up the blitzes. He disguised Clay in a wide variety of ways.

* Brad Jones makes a lot of mistakes. His tackle on the 3rd down play prior to the 4th down Dez Bryant drop at the goal line was not one of them. Big play by Jones.

* Fantastic catch, Richard Rodgers! He might have the best hands on the team.

* Rodgers' ball handling is an under discussed art.

* AQ81! fighting for first down yardage after the catch!

* Shake and bake, Davante Adams! His after the catch moves are Au Natural. You can't teach that. It's innate.

* Mike Pennel tries hard. Has to get stronger.

* Ah. The Rodgers to Rodgers TD. A laser of a pass. An emphatic BELT!

* Prior to the Cowboy game, I thought Sean Richardson would be an upgrade if he saw more time. But, against Dallas, he looked slow and took bad angles.

* Felt HaHa was also slow in the run game. He, too, was taking bad angles.

* Julius Peppers at DT on the pass rush. Reminds me of Justin Tuck for the Giants in 2007 and 2011. Hands in the air. Altering plays. Getting a push. Providing an interior pass rush.

* Davante Adams. With the spin move!

Welcome to Championship weekend! It’s the Packers traveling to play the defending Super Bowl Champions. In Seattle. Call me crazy, but I trust Mike McCarthy. And, I believe in Aaron Rodgers. I also ask Packers fans to heed these words: ENJOY this weekend! Cherish it. It doesn’t happen often. Just think about how awesome the Favre years were. Then remember that he made 4 Championship games with the Packers. It’s not often that you get this opportunity. Embrace this weekend. Most fans watch a game and feel tense. Packers fans watch games with intensity. Throughout the regular season, we watch with great anticipation as to our playoff seed. Thus, when the playoffs start, we have to throw away the nerves. Have fun watching the games. Spit positive energy at the TV. Imagination creates reality. Picture the Packers in Arizona. Playing for the Super Bowl. Let’s go grab a ring for the thumb!

The Seahawks have attitude. They have confidence. They believe in themselves. They’re the Champions. I’ve been waiting 2 years for this game. I wanted to play them last year. I like the way we match up. I firmly believe that with a healthy Bulaga in Week 1, the result might have been different. Sherrod was exposed at RT. In a big way. We’ll need Bulaga to be at his best against Avril and Irvin.

Offensively, Seattle uses deception. Wilson is great with play-action and the read-option. Lynch is nicknamed Beast Mode for a reason. I give props where props are due. Robert Turbin is underrated. He’s fast, tough and is a great compliment to Lynch. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are also underappreciated. Baldwin reminds me of Antonio Freeman. He finds the zone. He sneaks behind the defense. He’s smart. He’s savvy. Kearse is a big target who is a tough cover. Ricardo Lockette had a big game against us in Week 1. He shouldn’t pose too much of a threat though. Luke Willson is a legitimate weapon. He runs a solid down and out route. He uses his body well. He has good hands. He’s tough to bring down. Seattle’s offensive line leans on you. Their intent is to wear you down. To beat you up. They’ve invested in their OL with 2 first round picks and 2 second round picks.

If I’m Dom Capers, I’m exclusively using Clay and Barrington at ILB. Clay is a spy on Wilson. He never follows the RB. His two eyes are glued to Wilson all day. When Clay is at OLB, he can be attacked in the read-option. He over pursues and gives up big plays. Clay’s role should be to limit Wilson’s mobility. Barrington, on the other hand, should solely focus on Lynch. His aim is to stand Lynch up. Not to bring him to the ground. Then, the Safety – either Burnett or HaHa – comes to gang tackle, while the 3rd man goes for the ball. Lynch will occasionally fumble. Let’s go force one!

Our heavy rotation on the DL should keep us fresh as they attempt to wear us down up front. Boyd, Daniels, Guion and Pennel all play with conviction and give maximum effort.

Hyde mans up on Luke Willson. We trust Sammy Swagga and T-Mon in man-to-man coverage. We’ll have an opportunity to make a pick. Carpe diem!

Defensively, the Seahawks bring as much intensity as any team in the NFL. Bennett, Avril, and Irvin are undersized, but they bring speed, power and sheer will. Kevin Williams and Tony McDaniel add beef to the DL. Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright bring extreme quickness to the LB core. They get sideline to sideline. They can do it all. Richard Sherman is the best CB in football. Byron Maxwell has had a huge year. Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are the best safety combination in football. Jeremy Lane has had a solid year as a nickel CB.

If I’m the Packers, I want to play defense to start the game. While a 10-0 Seattle lead would be devastating, Seattle has not started games well. They’ve had big second halves. With that said, I want to get an early stop. Then, I want to limit possessions in the first quarter. I want to survive the heat of the playoff environment. I want to see Rodgers in the Pistol. Kuhn lined up next to him. I want Lacy to pound away.

As the 2nd Quarter begins, I spread the Seahawks out. Cobb in the backfield. I’d put Boykin on Sherman’s side of the field. I’d have Nelson in the slot. I’d have Adams in a position where Maxwell is covering him. Adams has shake on his double move. Maxwell often grabs on a double move. There's a good chance that we'll draw a flag or two in that match-up. I want Cobb and Nelson in match-ups that they can win. They’re our bread and butter. I want Richard Rodgers and AQ81! lined up against the smaller LB’s to see if they can box them with their bigger bodies. Maybe, just maybe, Richard Rodgers has a 5 catch game. We dink. We dunk. We should exceptional patience. Our OL holds the point of attack.

At some point, we know Seattle will grab momentum. The crowd will be rocking. The intensity will peak. They may rattle off 14 quick points. We have to be able to respond.

Defensively, we give up yards. But, we don’t give up touchdowns. It keeps us in the game. On 3rd down, we have Neal and Perry on the outside. Peppers and Jones on the inside. Jones and Peppers are long and tall. The shorter Wilson will have a harder time seeing over them. If Peppers and Jones can’t get home, they have to get their hands up and play big. Neal and Perry keep Wilson in the pocket. Matthews is the spy.

The Packers trail 23-17. It’s late. Aaron Rodgers has his Joe Montana moment. It’s Rodgers to Nelson. And the Packers are going to the Super Bowl!

Packers 24
Seahawks 23

Enjoy it. When the Seahawks grab momentum, stay positive. This won’t be easy.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.
Talkins-mac.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My Take -> NFC Divisional Round

Greetings, G-Force.

NFC NORTH CHAMPIONS! 4 years in a row. It's importance to both recognize and embrace such brilliance. These are exciting times. Cherish it!

To toast our excellence, I raise a glass of Crooked Stave Motif. It's dark at the pour. A Belgian Style Sour Beer that is aged in Sherry casks. It carries a scent of beauty. It's perfectly sour. Plainly stated, this one is tremendous!

Musically, I entertain myself with the Mighty Diamonds "Right Time" album. Purely roots. A Rub-A-Dub vibe that elicits goodness. A grand texture of happiness awaits with this reggae beat!

Here are some quick vibes:

* Mike McCarthy. Wizardry! Great in-game adjustments. He kept the Lions defense guessing. This team was ready to dominate. They were prepared. They were physical. It was a Championship performance. Will done, Irishman! Congrats!

* Aaron Rodgers. Seriously. Aaron Rodgers. MVP! What a superstar. Entering legendary status. A lifelong hero. Playing thru pain. Showing toughness. Willing victory to the franchise. Gutty. Truly, a Titletown, U.S.A. hero.

* Here's Championship football: after the 4th Quarter blocked FG, Burnett recovers a fumble. Then, the Packers go 42 yards on 9 plays, eating up 4:43 on the clock. The mentally tough MVP plunges in from a yard out. Giving the Packers a two TD lead.

* The Packers defense played at a Championship level. In the 4 Detroit drives after their game tying touchdown, they picked up 2 first downs, they had a fumble and a safety. That's winning football.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! Bruising defenders. Carrying piles. Winning the leverage battle upon impact. He has changed the physical mentality of this team.

* Jordy Nelson. He's ours. FOREVER. An exceptional year capped by another performance in which the Detroit defense had no answer for him.

* Randall Cobb. Please stick around. We need you. You need us. We are better together.

* Cobb & Nelson combined for 10 catches for 166 yards and 2 TD's on a day that decided the NFC North.

* Richard Rodgers continues to gain the confidence of the MVP. Aaron Rodgers is looking to Richard Rodgers as a target. 5 targets. 5 receptions. And, the big TE is fighting for yards after the catch. He's plowed thru the rookie wall.

* Speaking of rookie wall. Time to knock the wall down, Davante Adams.

* For the record, when this OL was healthy this year, the Packers record was 11-1. If Bakhtiari, Sitton, Linsley, Lang and Bulaga are healthy throughout the playoffs, we will feel Super this offseason. What's also epic, if Bulaga signs, this unit will remain together for at least two more years. Further, Donny Barclay will be back next year. The future is bright on the OL.

* Jarrett Boykin was open for a TD. He looked to be the primary read. Rodgers never even glanced his way. That's how much confidence he has in Boykin right now.

* Thought AQ81! did a great job blocking throughout. Gave the necessary effort. Won some battles.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! Before the game, we heard how tough the Lions fun defense was. Then, EDDIE went for 100 yards in convincing fashion.

* James Starks. Running with pizzazz. The Green & Yellow Hornet was stinging people as he bulled forward for over 5 yards per carry.

* McCarthy called a running play on the first 6 plays of the fame. He gained 61 yards. Then, on 3 straight downs from the 1 after a pass interference penalty, Eddie Lacy was not on the field. Come on, Coach. Stick to what's working there. That wasn't the time to get creative. I'd give it to Lacy three downs in a row from the 1, if necessary.

* The Claymaker! Another All-Pro performance by Clay. Filling the box score. A crucial 3rd down sack on the opening drive. Two monstrous tackles for loss. A QB Hit. A pass defensed. A Championship performance.

* Mike Daniels was a beast. Powerful. Quick as a cat. Pouncing towards the ball.

* Another really strong performance by Morgan Burnett. He continues to impress.

* The Lambeau crowd was terrific!

* Casey Hayward always seems to get his hands on the football. SHOWCASE has a big play coming in the playoffs.

* T-Mon played really well. Gave up a couple of short completions, but nothing came over the top.

* Need something big from Sammy Swagga.

* I like when we see Sean Richardson on the field. Wish we'd see him on the field as an ILB on 3rd down.

* Demetri Goodson can play special teams.

* Sam Barrington was steady as a rock. He dan still be exposed on the outside. Especially in pass coverage. But, he's been a significant upgrade.

* It's sad to see AJ Hawk like this.

* Brad Jones. Why? There was no need to hit Stafford in the head. Think, man. Think.

* Julius Peppers has a BIG play coming.

* Need more consistency from Datone Jones. Occasionally, he'll flash a burst off the snap. But, we need more of it.

* Same goes for Mike Neal & Nick Perry.

* Lacy with the diving catch!

* I really wish we'd see more of Clay at ILB on 1st and 2nd downs.

* Letroy Guion continues to shine. He's getting a push. He making plays in the run game. He's going to continue to be tested in a big way in the playoffs.

* Micah Hyde has become a weapon as a return man. He's made a number of monstrous plays this year. I get the feeling that he has another game changing play in him this year.

* Josh Boyd continues to play with the desired effort.

*'Barrington's celebration on Burnett's 4th Quarter recovery was grand. So was the Claymaker's. Love the camaraderie on this team.

* The 3rd & 4 catch by Richard Rodgers with 12:15 left makes me smile.

* Clays effort on the 2-point conversion was truly spectacular.

* I really, really like seeing Julius Peppers at DT on 3rd down. I think that's his future. He's disruptive there. Gets his hands in the air. Uses his strength. Alters the play with excellence.

* Josh Sitton can do it all.

* Eddie on the spin!

* Our kickoff coverage team scares me.

* Letroy Guion has surprised me with his pass rushing push on 1st & 2nd down.

* On occasion, Mike Neal flashes brilliance when he plants his left foot and cuts to the inside on a pass rush.

* HaHa wants to be a star in this League. He's willing. He's able. I hope it all comes together for him. He has all of the natural gifts.

* I can't get enough of watching Randall Cobb get in and out of his breaks. He's so low to the ground. He's so determined. It's beautiful.

* I'm so sick of all of these blocked kicks. It's seriously baffling.

* The precision on the 3rd & 4 TD pass to Cobb was precious. Aaron Freakin' Rodgers!

* Be sure to hang onto the ball, EDDIE.

* I still cannot believe that Tony Washington, OLB, Oregon is listed as a 5th-6th round pick. I'd take him in round 3. Maybe round 2. Watch him in the National Championship game on Monday Night. He's #91.

This week - it's the Cowboys. It's the first time in NFL history in which a team that went 8-0 at home will play a team that went 8-0 on the road. And, yes, it's the Packers hosting the Cowboys.

These two teams carry a rich history. The most famous game is obviously the Ice Bowl. But, the year before was a legendary game as well. If you haven't seen video of the game, find it. Starr was brilliant with 304 yards, 4 TDs and 0 interceptions. The game ends as Tom Brown intercepts Don Meredith in the end zone. It could be argued that had the Starr sneak and the Brown interception went the other way, the Lombardi Trophy might be the Landry Trophy. And, it would've been Meredith - not Starr - who would've been the Super Bowl I & II MVP. Yes, three yards might have been the difference.

In the 90's, the Cowboys got revenge. In a big way. They ended the Packers season in 1993, 1994 and 1995. It was painful. Had Sean Jones intercepted that pass in 1995 when the Packers led 27-24 in the 4th Quarter...

Ahhh, the Packers as a 6 point favorite in Vegas. Vegas never loses. And they're begging the public to get the Cowboys. The Packers as underdogs - in the eyes of the gambler. Not Vegas. But, the man who is placing the bet. I lithe the way that sounds. You can bet that Aaron Rodgers feels the same way. And, I have to admit, I don't trust Roger Goddell. Hence, I feel really good about this game.

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys.

Tony Romo returns to WI. DeMarco Murray is a running beast. Dez Bryant is ultra talented. Terrance Williams is a blossoming star. Cole Beasley has become a decent slot WR. He's emerged as a go-to target for Romo on 3rd down. Jason Witten is as tough as ever. He's a dedicated blocker and a trusted target. Gavin Escobar is growing into a weapon at TE. He can get deep. He can get down the seam. He'll test the coverage skills of our ILB's. Lance Dunbar is a fine back-up RB who offers a scat-back option. And, I believe that Dallas has the 2nd best OL in football. Behind the Green Bay Packers. Zack Martin is a Superstar as a Rookie at Guard. Tyron Smith is an animal at Tackle. Doug Free is a baller at Tackle. Travis Frederick is big-time at Center. Ronald Leary is their weakest link and can be attacked.

Expect Dallas to stay committed to the run. Early. And often. There will be heavy doses of Murray. He'll pound at our interior. We better see Clay at ILB or they could trash us for big yards. The Cowboys hope their run game will open up the play action pass. They'll look to get single coverage on the outside. Sammy Swagga and T-Mon are battle tested. Seasoned playoff veterans. I trust them. I believe Hayward will make a play vs Beasley in the slot. Look for a Hayward pick this week. Go egg the ball, SHOWCASE!

While Murray is uber gifted, he will put the ball on the turf. We have to gang tackle. The first guy wraps up. The next guy goes pinching for the ball. We can grab turnovers this week.

Micah Hyde - your assignment is Jason Witten. Man up.

Defensively, Dallas has overachieved this year. They can't stop us. But, they'll bring effort. George Selvie, Demarcus Lawrence, and Tyrone Crawford are all undersized, high effort players in the 4-3. They grind. They come with speed. They aren't littered with power. Bruce Carter is becoming elite at LB. He brings speed, intensity and high instinct. Rolando McClain has been great for the Cowboys at ILB. McClain is banged up and might not play. The Cowboys will attempt to cover the Packers WR's with Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr. Barry Church and JJ Wilcox won't be good enough at Safety. Sterling Moore will likely have the assignment of stopping Randall Cobb. Look to Randall, MVP. They can't cover him.

EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!
EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!
EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!

Chant down, Lambeau! He'll be the best back on the field. He brings cold weather football to the locker room. He'll amp up the intensity. They don't have an answer for him.

Aaron Rodgers will have options at the line of scrimmage. A plethora of them. Cobb on the slant. Lacy on the run. Jordy on the double move. Adams on the slant. Richard Rodgers in the flat. AQ81! on the out. They'll all be there. Be your cerebral self, MVP. It's your day.

Defensively, we need to force two turnovers. We will have our opportunities. I'm looking for JP to make a play. SHOWCASE , Sammy Swagga and T-Mon will all be in position. Carpe diem, secondary.

I'm really scared about Dwayne Harris. I've always liked his game. He's a lethal returner with a pension for the big play. He can alter a game every time he touches the ball. We have to show up on special teams.

Is this FINALLY the week that Brandon Bostick makes a play?

The Packers need to get the lead early. It'll slow down the run game. It'll allow Capers to dial up the blitz. If you overload the weak side of the Dallas OL, you can get free looks on the QB. When that happens, anticipate Romo's spin move. Play to Romo's outside hip. You have to tackle the outside hip. If not he'll get loose and that's when he makes the big play.

Rodgers has another big day. Lacy flexes his strength. Cobb finds the end zone. Romo makes a 4th Quarter mistake.

Packers 34
Cowboys 23

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
talkins-Mac.blogspot.com

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

'Tis the Holiday season. A grand December game at Lambeau awaits. This one will be special.

I was born and raised Catholic. In an Irish family. For me, Christmas means great laughs with family, gift giving in the spirit of Santa, more Christ, and intense Green Bay Packers football. But, I'm fully cognitive that religion divides people in the world. So, as I write, I take a break from Christmas music and I listen to Sly and the Family Stone's "Stand" vinyl. Everyday People. All for one. One for all. Music is the weapon of the future.

I sip an Avery "Tweak" as I damn near tweaked out with concern a couple of times last Sunday. At 17.81% ABV, it comes with a punch. An imperial stout. With coffee. And aged in bourbon barrels. Yes, it helps me to R-E-L-A-X.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* The team looks to be in a small funk right now. And, it's starting with McCarthy. I'll never understand the 3rd and goal handoff to Kuhn. On a counter nonetheless. Hey Coach, hand it to EDDIE! I was surprised to see 5 WR on the field on the 4th down. Why not kick a FG and take a two-score lead? Why not give it to EDDIE? McCarthy is searching for answers. I don't blame McCarthy for being stalwart to Rodgers' arm, but right now, Eddie is running with a purpose.

* EDDIE! Tackling him is a business decision. He's in playoff mode.

* Rodgers showing the toughness of a Champion. Confident in the pocket. A calming figure in the huddle. An MVP.

* While Rodgers is in peak form, the Packers have to go on another Super run. He's too good not to win another title.

* Jordy Nelson. FOREVER!

* Randall Cobb. Lock him up!

* This isn't the time for Davante Adams to lose both focus and confidence. Loved how Rodgers came back to him on an easy out pass to try and get him going again. I'm wondering if Adams has hit the rookie wall.

* Jarrett Boykin doesn't look like the same player that he was last year. Really frustrating. No rhythm to his game right now.

* AQ81! The big guy with another big reception!

* Kuhn as a lead run blocker was a solid addition to the offense early in the game. Opened a couple of really huge holes. Following Kuhn's lead, EDDIE grabbed chunks of yardage.

* EDDIE locking down nearly 6 yards per carry.

* Nice hands, Richard Rodgers. Keep working hard, young man. You've earned the MVP's confidence.

* I loved how McCarthy named the captains for huge playoffs already. Amp it up! Again, McCarthy shows a masterful pulse on this team.

* After a slow start, I thought Bakhtiari performed really well for the final 3 Quarters.

* TJ Lang. Josh Sitton. Best Guard duo in the National Football League.

* The Corey Lindsley holding call wasn't fair. He looked like a masterful technician on the play.

* Like that Tretter continues to see snaps.

* Bulaga toughed it out and played strong.

* James Starks needs an education on down and distance game situations. Too often he's trying to make something happen when it'd be wise to simply lower your shoulder and push for a couple of yards.

* Congrats to EDDIE for topping 1,000 yards for the second year in a row.

* Jordy is a security blanket.

* Randall Cobb is aging to perfection. So crafty.

* Once again, Clay Matthews comes thru with a monstrous performance. The Claymaker was fast, active and powerful. Since the bye, he's been an absolute Superstar.

* Mike Daniels with a dominant showing. Especially early in the game. He meant business.

* Need Letroy Guion winning the mini battles. He's been pushed backwards a lot over the last 6 Quarters. That was fine vs Tampa. But, it won't be OK vs future opponents.

* As Julius Peppers strives to etch his name alongside Sir Charles and REGGIE as veteran FA's who propelled the Packers to Super status, he has to continue to pursue QB's with the same intensity he brought vs Tampa. Two great sacks!

* Mike Neal with the burst for a sack.

* Really vibin' the Jayrone Elliot effort. Wish he had an extra gear and a quicker 1st step, but the dude could make an impact in the playoffs.

* Nick Perry will not be on the Packers next year.

* Datone with the pick! Great pressure by Elliot on the play.

* Barrington came with aggression on the blitz. He was an integral part of the commanding display of defense. While he lacks speed, he brings strength and desire.

* MORGAN BURNETT! Wow - what a day. He's made great strides this year. Attacking at the line of scrimmage. Terrific in run defense. Making plays on the blitz.

* Ha Ha can tackle really well, but he still isn't a playmaker when the ball is in the air. Gets beat often.

* Sammy Swagga has to get his swagger back.

* Hayward & T-Mon were rock steady.

* More positive effort for Josh Boyd. He's an important part of the defensive rotation.

* Need better from Tim Masthay.

* We are in the playoffs. That's the first step. Now, we need to handle the Lions and catch a week of rest.

This week - it's the Lions. For all the marbles. A win means a first round bye. A #2 seed. A chance to refresh, recharge and take aim at a 14th World Championship. A loss means a 6th seed and a date at Dallas next weekend. We need this one.

We know the Lions. They're littered with weapons. Stafford can whip it. Bush can run it. Calvin & Tate can catch it. We might not have an answer for Riddick. Bell will bury his head into our DL and push for yards. Pettigrew is gifted athletically, but makes mental challenges. If healthy, Ebron is a talented TE. But, their OL is soft. And, they can be bullied. Especially without Raiola. The Packers must attack the right side of the Lions OL. Riley Rieff can be had at LT.

Defensively, the Lions are as good as it gets at DL. DeAndre Levy makes plays. Darius Slay and Glover Quin have been great. Rashean Mathis has tested time and exceeded in the battle. James Ihedigbo has consistently made game changing plays. And, while their depth is limited in the secondary, they have performed at a high level.

Jeremy Ross. I had so much hope for him as a Packer. Prior to the draft, I had targeted him as a potential Packer. When he was claimed post the draft, I had high expectations. He showed glimpses of goodness. And, then the fateful fumble vs SF happened. I lost all faith. In Detroit, he's been dangerous. Though he can't be trusted, he'll be a factor.

Turnovers will play a story. I expect Peppers to make a play. T-Mon as well.

Randall Cobb is the key to the game. Yes, it's all about a Cobb. They can't cover him. He needs to be a priority. Early. And often.

The crowd will be raging. The excitement will be animated. The intensity will be high. The Packers will return to glory in the NFC North. The Lions haven't won in WI since 1991. The streak remains alive.

Rodgers throws for 260 and two. Eddie pounds away for 100 and two.

Packers 34
Lions 30

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.
talkins-mac.blogspot.com