Friday, December 8, 2017

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

6-6. The record is level. There’s an infusion of positive energy inside the Packers program with the pending return of Aaron Rodgers. Oddly, we are living in a time when some die-hard of Packers fans struggle with their emotions surrounding this franchise. Packers fans are conflicted with the tug-of-war between wanting change within the organization and wanting the team to win. Personally, it’s tough for me to imagine a scenario in which I’m not thrilled after a Packers victory. Wins feel good for the soul – regardless of the fashion. I’m not a frontrunner. I don’t believe in the consolation of playing well, but still losing. The Pittsburgh loss didn’t feel good. Yes, it was ugly, but the victory over Tampa was a positive step for this franchise. We faced adversity. We left victorious.

Since 2001, in some format, I’ve dug-in on a weekly basis and fought to find the time to sit down to write this blog. Admittedly, time has become harder for me to find. And, thus, the blog has become more of a work project and less fun. Further, I’ve lost nearly 85% of my readers over the last year. With that said, I’m not certain that the blog will stay in his current format for much longer. I hope to. I can’t guarantee it.

As I write, I listen to the Dirty Heads “Swim Team” album. While the album as a whole is my least favorite of the Dirty Heads albums, “So Glad You Made It” is arguable my favorite new release by any artist. Love the beat. Love the rhythm. So smooth. The energy of the tune brings goodness to my soul. If you don’t know it, vibe in. You’ll enjoy.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

Mike McCarthy. He lost his starting QB, who is NFL Royalty. He’s been crippled by an awful QB, whom he wrongly assessed. He’s had a Guard playing Tackle for most of the year. He’s been without his top 2 RB’s for portions of the year. His high-priced FA quit on his team. And, the Packers have what is arguable the softest secondary in the NFL. Still, McCarthy has kept the team together. They’re right in the thick of things. The locker room remains strong.

One down. Four to go!

Brett Hundley. Mark it down as one of the more uninspiring QB performances in Green Bay in my lifetime. He brought the offense to boredom. He was unable to hit open WR’s. He held onto the ball and walked into sacks. He didn’t look off safeties. He was predictable. He was terrible. But, when the season was on the line and the Packers needed point, Hundley turned to his feet to get the Packers into FG range to equalize. And, then, in OT, Hundley, once again, used his feet. Because of it, the Packers are back to even in the standings.

Aaron Jones! Great vision. Fantastic burst. A thrilling finish to an otherwise dull game.

Jamaal Williams. NFL Ground Player of the Week. A terrific game for the rookie. He ran hard. He was powerful. He had desire. His 1-yard TD run was sheer willpower. He’s enjoyable to watch. Williams is a good buzz. He’s a WiFi mojo hotspot for this team. He keeps things light with his playful nature. He’s easy to cheer for. One of those dudes you’re happy to see have success.

Jason Spriggs is quietly improving. He’s still not perfect, but he’s improving and he isn’t a total liability. He needs to continue to work on his footwork and his balance, which oddly I felt were his strengths at the college level. But, there’s reason to feel cautious optimism that the game has slowed down for Spriggs and that he could possibly be an option for the Packers as the future RT. With Bulaga’s injury history, the Packers need Spriggs to become that guy after a significant trade investment in him in the 2016 NFL Draft.

David Bakhtiari is a stud.

Great game from Lane Taylor. He manned up.

Feels like Jahri Evans’ game has diminished over the last month. Wondering if he’s hitting a wall, but we need a rejuvenation from him.

Corey Linsley is having a solid year. He’s going to command big-time money in FA this year.

Brett Hundley + Mike McCarthy have to get the ball into Randall Cobb’s hands. There’s no excuse for him not to touch the ball.

Davante Adams continues to impress. At times, it’s seemed as though he can’t be guarded.

It’s easy to criticize Hundley. But, take a step back for a second. He was booed as he walked off the field in regulation. Still, he had the composure to take the ball in OT and to lead us to victory in heroic fashion. I give him credit for the way he’s kept his confidence when it would’ve been easy for him to fold. He stayed calm with the season on the line and because of it, the Packers left with a win.

The jumbo package continues to frustrate me. With Hundley at QB, the Packers need to have confusion on offense. When we drop back and play teams straight up, we don’t win. When we keep defenses guessing and we’re dictating the tempo, McCarthy has seen modest success moving the football. McCarthy needs to stick with motion, disguise and misdirection.

KENNY CLARK! I love Clark’s game. Although it was his least impressive performance against the run, he was a force on the pass rush. Nice to see him get home twice; including the game changing sack and forced fumble that led to the Lowry touchdown. The Packers needed someone to make a big play on defense. To change the tide. Clark did so.

Dean Lowry. NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Think you’d ever hear that? Neither did I. Many props to the big guy who gives maximum effort each and every play. He gobbles up OL. The next aspect of his game is to get his hands up and to disrupt passing lanes. I expected him to bring that Johnny Jolly pass defense component. Haven’t seen that out of him much. I think it’ll come. Get your hands up, big guy!

Mike Daniels didn’t have his best game, but he was still extremely active taking on double teams.

That was Blake Martinez’s worst game of the year. He looked slower. He didn’t show the instincts that we’ve seen out of him all year. It was interesting to note that in a game in which Clark and Daniels had trouble getting off blocks, Martinez was less active. The Clark/Daniels and Martinez combination is ideal. Clark and Daniels win with push. Martinez’s strength is his recognition, his intelligence and his vision. Clark and Daniels have allowed Martinez to run. And, with his freedom to roam, he’s been a tackling machine. He’s a stat sheet stuffer. In large part, that’s due to the yoeman’s work that Clark and Daniels have done in the trenches.

Clay Matthews was dominant. A difference maker. Dynamite game from our all-time leading sack master.

Kyler Fackrell! Massive blocked punt. Momentum changer!

Jermaine Whitehead was exposed. Badly.

Sad to see Kevin King go to IR. I had huge expectations for him. Terrible to see Demetri Goodson as his replacement. The Packers can’t win a Super Bowl with Goodson, Whitehead and Josh Hawkins in the rotation. I’m baffled as to why Lenzy Pipkins doesn’t play. He’s an athlete. He has the attitude. He has toughness. I’d rather see him on the field over Goodson, Whitehead and Hawkins. Goodson isn’t good enough. There’s no reason for him to be on the roster. Further, where’s Marwin Evans last week? I realize that he hasn’t been as active in the Regular Season as he has been in the preseason games, but man, there’s at least a glimmer of hope with him.

Jamies Winston, a QB, outmuscled Joe Thomas, our ILB, on a 50/50 ball that was fumbled. Winston was on a hobbled leg, scrambling for his footing. Thomas was blasting towards the football with leverage.

It’s clear that Davon House and Nick Perry are banged up. House limited Evans, but when Evans did catch the ball, House wasn’t overly aggressive to seek contact. Perry looks hobbled getting off of the ball.

Need more out of Josh Jones. Where’d he go? He offered so much hope early in the season. Makes me wonder if he’s not trained up at the Safety position? Did the Packers bank on him being an ILB. He’s looked more comfortable around the box than he has playing deep in space. Need Jones to show up with a turnover soon. He’s shown all of the traits that you look for in a premier defender. He has the wits, the speed, the desire, the mindset and the toughness. He needs to put it altogether.

Quinton Dial eats up space, but he can’t shed and make plays. He’s also losing the leverage battle lately. Need him to be more powerful.

Someday – I hope we learn to defend the screen.


Trevor Davis needs to take the ball up the field on punts. 7-10 yards is better than no yards. Play the field position game. And, maybe, if you make once guy miss in the open field with a one-cut move, you can take it for a big gain. But, to start, you have to take the ball up the field.

I thought McCarthy should have asked for a spot prior to choosing a FG. Additionally, he had a challenge. And, timeouts. There was no reason to not challenge the spot. I thought Nelson was given a bad spot. Didn’t like McCarthy’s approach in that situation.

It’s Christmas season. And, once again, the Packers are relevant. Four more wins and we have a fighting chance to be playing into January.

Kenny Clark not only eats up blockers. But, he sheds blockers and makes plays. He allows Blake Martinez to roam freely behind him. Love Clark’s effort. He’s a fiery competitor and has brought significant toughness to the interior of the defense. The Daniels and Clark combination is the heart of this defense. It’s noteworthy that Clark displayed a pass rush at the college level. Fun to see him finally get to the QB at the pro level. He’s only 22 years old. There’s reason to hope that he can continue to develop that aspect of his game.

Mike McCarthy might not always be well-liked in Titletown, U.S.A., but his teams are 38-14 in December and January regular season games. I’d argue that he’s an extremely under-appreciated Head Coach.

This week – it’s the winless Browns. In Cleveland. In a dangerous game. If the Browns are going to win a game all year, this is the type of game they win. At home. Against a back-up QB. If the Packers can pull it off, we’ll be 7-6 and hopefully, Aaron Rodgers will be back for the remainder of the season. It’d be great to have Rodgers playing the role as savior. While the Browns are winless, they aren’t hopeless.

Offensively, the Browns have weapons. Josh Gordon is back. He’s as talented as it gets. Corey Coleman is a dangerous threat getting in and out of his breaks. Kenny Britt can still get down the field. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson are both solid in the screen game and they like to attack the interior of the defensive line. Both areas are where the Packers have been weak. At TE, David Njoku is a budding star. At some point, he’ll be a Pro Bowl player. I have an odd feeling that there will be a time in which DeShone Kizer will be the back-up QB in Green Bay. Kizer has all of the gifts to be a star QB in this league. He just hasn’t put it all together yet. But, he’s highly capable. He’s mobile. He can make all of the throws. Much like Hundley, he’s had a massive learning curve and he’s struggled to read defenses. In turn, turnovers have consistently been a problem for Kizer. Those turnovers have often come in the Red Zone. At some point, the Packers are going to have to force Kizer into a bad decision. The interior of the Browns OL brings brute force. Look for the Browns to try and pound the ball behind Tretter, Zietler and Bitonio. I believe the Packers can win on the edges against Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman.

Defensively, the Browns are significantly better than their record indicates. The Browns aren’t winless because of their defense. In fact, their offense has only scored 20 points in one game all year. However, the Browns defense has given up 30+ points on 6 occasions. Myles Garrett is a freak. He’ll give the Packers tackles everything they can handle. Danny Shelton is a run stuffer, but he’s injured and his status is in question. Larry Ogunjobi is an athletic DT who can cause havoc as a pass rusher. Carl Nassib is a high effort edge performer. He isn’t overly talented, but he gives maximum effort on every play. Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey have been solid performers for the Browns. They aren’t going to wow you with speed or power, but they’re going to be reliable game-in and game-out performers. They’re assignment sure and win with smarts rather than athleticism. The Cleveland secondary is banged up. They might be missing both Jabrill Peppers and Briean Boddy-Calhoun. Jamar Taylor and Jason McCourty are both experienced CB’s, but neither should be capable of slowing down Jordy Nelson or Davante Adams. Derrick Kindred is a capable Safety. He’ll plug the hole and he can run. He isn’t much of a playmaker and can be exposed in the passing game.

It’s no secret. The Browns are going to look to stop the run. Gregg Williams, the Browns DC, is a mean dude. He’s going to have the Browns defense possessed. He’ll have the ready. He’ll be in blitz mode. He’s going to try and punish Hundley after attempting to force the Packers into 3rd and long. He’ll give Hundley a wide variety of looks – similar to what the Ravens did. It’ll be important for McCarthy to try and dictate the tempo. He can’t let Williams get control of this game. McCarthy has to add the element of confusion. He has to give Williams looks that we haven’t seen this year. He has to show motion. The passing game should have a focus on the weak side of the field.

The Packers defense has to make strides to become tougher this weekend than we were against Tampa. We have to be the more physical trend. The infrastructure of the defense is built to compete up front with Daniels, Dial, Clark, Lowry, Matthews, Perry and Brooks. I’m hoping that Perry can play a situational role this week. But, I’m afraid his health might not allow it. Nonetheless, the defensive front has to come through and dominate the line of scrimmage. If not, we could see Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell pushing through the tackles for big chunks. That’ll open up play-action and big plays down the field. We can’t let Kizer get a sniff of confidence. We need to get in his face early and often. I’m banking on the Packers defensive front winning this game for us.

With the Browns beat up secondary, it’s possible that they’ll be left without a CB who can man the slot. Look for Cobb to be involved early.

Early in the game, the play action will be open. Expect McCarthy to take a shot deep down the field. This time, Hundley connects.

With the Packers beat up secondary, we’re going to be expecting Lenzy Pipkens, Damarious Randall and Josh Hawkins to be able to hold form. That’ll be a tough task against the talented Cleveland receivers. Thankfully, the Packers win the battle up front.

Two far-out predictions:

1.) Look for Jeff Janis to make a play on a reverse. I have a weird feeling that it’s happening this week.
2.) Lenzy Pipkins grabs an interception!

It’ll be tough to stomach, but it’ll be a win.

Packers 20.
Browns 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Friday, December 1, 2017

My Take -> Week 13

Greetings, G-Force.

5-6. It’s do or die time for the Packers. One more loss means the end to a once-promising season. But, get to 10 wins and let’s see what how it plays out. I’m still hopeful that the Packers have a winning run in them. I believe the Packers will beat an injury-rattled Bucs team and a hapless Browns team. I believe Aaron Rodgers will come back to join a 7-6 Packers team. I believe the Packers will beat the Panthers, ‘queens and Lions to finish the season with a motivated Rodgers leading the team. I know I’m on an island, but I’m sticking to it. I’m not giving up on this team until we have 7 losses.

I’m presently listening to John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.” Enough said on that.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* Mike McCarthy. His team came to play. In the stadium, there was a definite air of overconfidence from the Steelers fans and their sidelines. No one associated with the Steelers believed that the Packers could actually win. I was amazed at the amount of Rodgers conversations. The Steelers were thankful that #12 was out. As soon as Blake Martinez intercepted the tipped pass, the urgency inside the Stadium picked up. Suddenly, there was concern that the Packers could win. The crowd was anxious. The Steelers DL was pursuing with desperation. McCarthy confidently pounded away on three running plays and he picked up 14 yards. McCarthy knew he needed points. His defense was banged up and he knew that they could only hold the sublimely talented Steelers offense for so long. And, frankly, it didn’t matter if the Steelers had to travel 90 yards or 9 yards, the Stadium felt like the Steelers offense was going to respond. So, McCarthy went aggressive. He masterfully called play-action. He slipped Kendricks underneath. He rolled Hundley out. Kendricks was the clear cut #1 choice. He was wide open. I’ll go to my grave wondering why Hundley didn’t throw the ball to Kendricks. Kendricks might not have scored a TD, but he would’ve definitely picked up a first down. The Packers would’ve been inside the Red Zone. The Packers would’ve been in complete control. Inexplicably, Hundley didn’t throw the ball to Kendricks. Instead, he held onto the ball. Eventually, ate the ball long enough to where the Steelers sacked him for a 5 yard loss. On 2nd down, TJ Watt made a nice play covering Jordy Nelson over the middle. On third down, Hundley had Davante Adams deep down the sidelines in 1 on 1 coverage. Instead of giving his playmaker a chance to compete, Hundley, once again, ate the ball and took the sack. Then came the questionable decision. Like McCarthy, I’d have kicked the FG. Crosby had hit from 57 in pre-game warm-ups to that same end. He’d connected from 55 yards out to that same end zone in a 2015 pre-season game. McCarthy needed his veteran to deliver. Unfortunately, Crosby wasn’t even close. Personally, I really liked McCarthy’s aggressiveness. He needed to come away with points. Even if the FG attempt seemed desperate. I appreciated his confidence in Crosby. On the flip side, when Williams scored to make it 28-27, I was hoping that the Packers would go for 2. I wanted McCarthy to, once again, play aggressively. He still had 3 timeouts and he could’ve tried an on-side kick if he’d failed on the 2-point try. I can’t fault him for taking the extra point and tying the game, but I’d have gone for 2.

* 4th and 6. From the Steelers 12. Packers trailing 28-21. Towels waving. Crowd roaring. Game on the line. Hundley delivered. Impressive moment from the youngster. Hundley and Adams have a great connection. Same mindedness. Fun to watch them team.

* The Packers are going to have a tough decision to make with regards to Davante Adams. He’s a stud. I’m not sure that the Packers will be able to afford him. It’ll be interesting to see how much he commands after the year. He’ll undoubtedly be the most talked about Packers FA after the year.

* Jamaal Williams. Very impressive performance. He ran with power. He played faster than he’s looked all year. He showed good vision. I wish he’d have caught the deep ball down the sidelines that hit off of his hands. I thought he should have dove for it instead of trying to run underneath it. Would’ve been a big gainer. Nonetheless, Williams played a great game.

* Happy to hear that Aaron Jones is close to coming back. The Packers offense is going to have a number of options at RB with Jones, Williams and Montgomery. Williams and Jones have proven to be 3-down backs. Williams’ pass protection looks like it far exceed Jones’. I’ll be curious as to how much of a role that plays in McCarthy’s decision making with respect to playing time.

* I was sad to see Ty Montgomery put on IR. Always cheer for Ty. Appreciate his style. Love his heart. Seems like a genuine man.

* Happy to see that Michael Clark reaps the rewards of Ty’s roster spot. Hoping to see Clark as a red zone target before the year is over.

* Really fun to see Randall Cobb streaking free down the sidelines.

* McCarthy had a masterful game plan. He brought a lot of disguise. His misdirection, motion and shifts were consistently confusing the Steelers defense throughout. He mostly used Cobb as a decoy, but Cobb’s constant movement kept the defense guessing. McCarthy needs to toss the flip to Cobb play in the trash.

* Hmmm. Don’t look now. But, Jason Spriggs played a really good game. He was a big surprise. Let’s hope he can build off of that performance.

* That Davante Adams double move on his deep TD. A thing of beauty.

* At first, I was irate that Williams went out of bounds on the last drive, but you’d have to imagine that Tomlin would’ve called a timeout after that plays and it’s noteworthy that the Steelers finished the game with a timeout in their pocket.

* Really expected to see more of Geronimo in 2017. The Rodgers injury really stunted his development. Geronimo’s increased performance could’ve helped to gauge Davante’s overall value at the negotiation table. But, without Geronimo getting significant playing time, Adams’ value seems to be overly inflated right now.

* Lane Taylor will have better days than he had against the Steelers on Sunday Night. Cam Heyward got the best of him.

* The Packers defense has been destroyed on the screen all year. It was nice to see Williams get loose on the screen.

* The Packers had Josh Hawkins covering Antonio Brown for a lot of the game. Every time I saw that match-up, I felt it was a victory when the Steelers did not score a TD. Seriously. That match-up isn’t fair.

* Simply stated, Blake Martinez is having a Pro Bowl year.

* Is Davon House terrible? Seems like it, at times. Felt like he wasn’t even trying on some occasions. It looked like he quit on the Steelers final touchdown play when he was beat down the sidelines.

* Nick Perry is hurt. Whether it’s reported or not, I’m telling you Nick Perry is hurt. He’s limping on and off the field. He’s trying to run. He’s trying to gut it out. He’s not fit.

* Ahmad Brooks was fantastic. His tipped ball fell into Martinez’s lap. Brooks brings power to the Packers front. He brings attitude. The Packers are a better team with him on the field.

* Thought Kyler Fackrell played with hustle. He lacks talent, but I was happy to see his effort.

* Super stoked that Kenny Clark is going to be back.

* Liked to see Montravious Adams fighting off of the ball.

* Quinton Dial was pushed backwards too often. Need him to be tougher.

* Mike Daniels gave everything he had against a top-tier interior of an OL.

* Whether Hundley was deemed a runner or not, the Watt helmet to helmet collision has to be a flag. Has to be. And, if you watch Watt’s reaction, he thought it should’ve been as well.

* Good to see Damarious Randall grabbing another interception. He played really well as a slot CB. He isn’t an aggressive blitzing CB, but he’s showed quickness against slot WR’s.

* I cringe every time the Packers go with Jumbo formations on offense. In order for this offense to be effective with Hundley, there has to be confusion. The play calling has to have disguise. We don’t win downs when things are predictable.

* Hundley showed massive improvement. But, he was far from perfect. He still missed open throws. He still held onto the ball too long. He still didn’t see open receivers. And, he didn’t relay to the huddle that the Packers were no longer in the 2-minute drill on the final possession. All massive errors.

* Dom Capers was unable to dial up pressure. He mostly had his secondary in position, but he couldn’t put together any semblance of a pass rush. Big Ben had all day to throw. It's maddening to watch Capers' defense in crunch time.

* Felt like Morgan Burnett brought organization to the defensive group. It didn’t appear as though there were many, if any, defensive breakdowns. Burnett was certainly a communicator on the field.

* I love the speed and intensity that Josh Jones brings to the field.

* The Packers showed heart. They showed togetherness. They showed unity. They wanted the game badly. What a bummer of a finish.

* Great fun to see Rodgers on the sidelines. He’s enjoying himself. Seems as though he wants another crack at the season. I have a hunch that if the Packers can win the next two, we’ll see our MVP against the Panthers.

* The Holidays are more fun when the Packers are relevant. I’m really hoping for a Packers victory this weekend to extend the NFL Season and to heighten my Holiday spirit!

This week it’s the Buccaneers. At Lambeau Field. In must-win fashion. And, frankly, if we can’t beat this version of Tampa Bay, then we don’t deserve a shot at the playoffs. The Buccaneers are banged up. The Buccaneers will be without 4 starters: Robert Ayers, Vernon Hargreaves, Doug Martin and TJ Ward. The Buccaneers also played two starting OL on IR this week. The Buccaneers will also be without two back-ups in Clinton McDonald and Josh Robinson. Jameis Winston will get the start, but he hasn’t played in a month. There is no reason for Tampa to come into 40 degree weather and to leave as winners.

Offensively, the Buccaneers are what they are. They’re traditional. They’re straightforward. There won’t be much confusion. They have great weapons, but they’re very predictable. DeSean Jackson will try to get over the top with his speed. Mike Evans is a do-it-all WR. Evans is among the best WR’s in the NFL. He’s great in traffic. He can get deep. He’s tough to bring down. He has great footwork along the sideline. Evans is All-Pro material. If the Buccaneers have any hope, Evans is going to have to top 150 yards. The Buccaneers OL is among the worst in the NFL. Evan Smith (yes, the artist formerly known as Evan Dietrich-Smith) and Seattle cast-off JR Sweezy are arguably their premier OL. Donovan Smith is an average LT. But, this Buccaneers OL can be run over. I have full confidence that the Packers DL will dominate this football game. At TE, Tampa Bay has two legitimate performers. Cameron Brate is an underrated performer. He’s a lethal third down target. He settles well in the zone. And he has great hands. OJ Howard will be a Pro Bowl TE for years to come. He does not have a weakness. With Doug Martin out, Tampa Bay will likely rotate Charles Sims, Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers. I expect Barber to get the bulk of the carries with Sims being used in the passing game as a receiving back. Sims has always had a nose for the first down stick.

Defensively, the Buccaneers are beat-up and lack depth. Gerald McCoy is their superstar. It’ll be up to Corey Linsley to double down on McCoy and to limit his effectiveness. Chris Baker is a pass rushing interior DT who wins with quickness and leverage. William Gholston has not realized the upside that he showed in college. He’s a limited athlete and shouldn’t be overly disruptive. Tampa Bay has athletes at LB. Lavonte David might be the most underappreciated player in the league. David is undersized, but he’s a punishing tackler and it could be argued that he plays with more speed than any LB in football. Kendell Beckwith is a promising rookie. Beckwith has shown that he has the skills to play in this league. Kwon Alexander gets sideline-to-sideline. He takes on blockers. He’s also talented in pass coverage. Without Hargreaves, there’s no reason the Bucs should be able to cover us. Brent Grimes will likely shadow Davante Adams. Brett Hundley better look to Jordy Nelson. Tampa has no one that can play with the veteran WR. Tampa has Justin Evans and Chris Conte at safety. Chris Conte is awful. The Packers should be able to attack him. Evans has all of the gifts you look for to be a star in this league. He just hasn’t put it all together yet.

Mike McCarthy has to come out aggressively. And, the Packers faithful have to rise up and make things difficult for Tampa. Let’s jump out early. If so, Tampa will fold their tent. They’ll look to pack their bags. They’ll be looking for a warm locker room, a bus to the airport and a flight to Sunny West Florida. But, it’s up to the Packers to deliver an early knock-out blow.

I expect to see the Packers running a lot of motion and a lot of misdirection. I expect to see the Packers attempting to keep the Tampa defense guessing. If so, Tampa won’t have the wits to keep up with McCarthy and his troops. If McCarthy tries to play straight up, the Packers will struggle to move the football.

Look for Tampa to try and attack the Packers deep down the field. I anticipate that Evans and/or Jackson will get fly patterns thrown their way in the 1st Quarter. I also expect OJ Howard to be streaking down the middle of the field in hopes of a big play.

Expect Jamaal Williams to crack through the middle of the Bucs defense and to get himself into the secondary. Lane Taylor puts a hat on Lavonte David to spring Williams loose.

Jordy Nelson FINALLY gets going. He scores his first TD without Rodgers as Hundley connects on a deep ball.

Clay Matthews grabs 2 sacks. Vince Biegel gets home, too.

The Packers jump out to an early lead. Winston tries to lead the comeback. He hits Brate for first-down yardage. He hits Sims on the screen who grabs chunks of yardage.

Right when you think Tampa has a shot at the comeback, Winston makes the mistake. HaHa grabs a big interception to give the Packers momentum back.

It’s December. It’s when the Packers get rolling. I wish I was going to this one. It’ll be a Lambeau celebration.

Packers 27
Buccaneers 16

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

My Take -> Week 12

Greetings, G-Force.

Well. That was ugly. A putrid performance. Shutout by a significantly below average Ravens team. At Lambeau Field. Amazingly, all hope is not lost. In fact, even if the Steelers drop 50 on us this Sunday and we fall to 5-6, we will still have a breathe. We have to beat Tampa and Cleveland and then hope the magical #12 is fit enough to come back.

As I write, I listen to John Denver’s Greatest Hits. Sitting in West Virginia, his music rings smoothly. And, yes, John: It’s “Almost Heaven.”

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

Mike McCarthy trusted his QB. After Hundley fooled him with his impressive 4th Quarter play at Chicago. Suddenly, McCarthy had enhanced faith in his QB. Hundley quickly proved that he wasn’t a worthwhile QB. McCarthy has to be angry with himself for unleashing Hundley.

As I wrote before the game, the Packers had to protect the football against Baltimore. The Ravens feast on turnovers. Hundley was careless throughout. His interception on the first drive had me asking “if and only if” as I watched the rest of the game.

Devante Mays. What a disaster.

Jamaal Williams showed glimpses of being a legitimate RB, once again.

Davante Adams is earning himself a large contract.

Jordy Nelson was wide open for a deep TD. Hundley overthrew him. Would’ve been a game turning play.

HaHa made one beautiful interception. Should’ve had a second, too.

Clay looked dominant. Then, he got hurt. Looks like he’s going to miss the game this week as well. Need to be able to depend on him. He’s making it tough again.

Nick Perry showed moments of greatness.

Mike Daniels played another great game.

Hated seeing Kenny Clark getting hurt. He continues to be a bright spot for this defense.

Dean Lowry flashed again. He’s playing with power. He’s winning his one-on-one battle, but struggles when he meets the double team.

Stating the obvious: Brett Hundley is not ready to lead an NFL team. He seems to lack intelligence. He can’t read pre-snap defenses. He struggles to read the secondary and whether they are playing zone or man to man. He holds onto the ball too long. He appears to have very little football instincts. He’s not comfortable with the speed of the game.

With Aaron Rodgers, Jordy was a lethal target. With Hundley, Jordy is non-existent. Why won’t Hundley look his way?

This week - it’s the Steelers. In Pittsburgh. I’ll forever view the XLV Super Bowl as one of the most thrilling days of my life.

I’ll be at the Sunday Night battle. Excited to take in a game under the lights between these two historical titans. Speaking of Titans, the last time I saw the Packers play on the road was in Tennessee. The Packers gave up 47 points. After the Pittsburgh game, I suppose it’s possible that the Packers will have given up more than 100 combined points over a 2-game stretch in which I traveled to see the Packers. Let’s hope not. But, it’s certainly possible.

See, while the Packers are banged up, the Steelers are mostly healthy. They’ll have Bell, Ben, Brown and Bryant raging to go. 4/5 of their dominant OL will be in-tact. With Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro; the interior of the Steelers OL is as good as it gets in the NFL. The Steelers also will have TE's Jesse James and Vance McDonald as reliable targets for Big Ben. 10 of the 11 Steelers starters on offense will be ready to go. Top back-up WR, JuJu Smith-Schuster will miss the game, but Eli Rogers is a reliable slot WR and he'll be a dangerous target on 3rd down.

Defensively, the Steelers are healthy as well. They'll be missing their #1 CB, Joe Haden. But, otherwise, they'll be fit and ready to ball out. Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt are top-tier 3-4 DL. Javon Hargrave is a fast ascending pass rushing 3-4 DT. At LB, the Steelers have mastered the speed/size/muscle combination required to dominate the 3-4. Ryan Shazier and Vince Williams are studs at ILB. And, at OLB, the Steelers are thick with depth. TJ Watt, James Harrison, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo and Arthur Moats all fit the mold of an ideal 3-4 OLB. At CB, they are vulnerable. Mike Hilton has made plays, but he can be beaten. With Haden out, Artie Burns is their best CB. At Safety, the Steelers are physical with two intimidating presences in Sean Davis and Mike Mitchell.

Let's be real. This has the feeling of a game in which it's a complete celebration for the Steel City. They're under the lights. In prime time. Poised to roll. Playing as well as anyone in football. They're seemingly positioned to drop 50 points on the Packers. We're banged up and appear to be mentally defeated.

But, maybe, just maybe, the Packers will show up inspired to represent in McCarthy's home town.

Maybe, just maybe, the Packers will take advantage of the Steelers back-up RT. Nick Perry and Ahmad Brooks win with speed.

Maybe, just maybe, Mike Daniels dominates the interior and gets in Big Ben's face. And, as we've seen before, if you get in Big Ben's face, he'll make mistakes. And, maybe, just maybe, we return one of those mistakes for a TD. We're going to need a special teams TD or a defensive TD in order to win this week.

Maybe, just maybe, Brett Hundley finds accuracy on the deep ball. I believe that the Steelers will struggle to cover the Packers on the outside. I expect the Steelers to load the box. I'd be sending Nelson, Allison and Adams on go-routes. I'd like to see Hundley try the 15-yard back shoulder throw.

Maybe, just maybe, Jamaal Williams pounds away at the Steelers DL. We've seen the Steelers defense be vulnerable to the run this year. Maybe Williams gets himself into a foot race in the secondary and busts one loose.

Meanwhile, between each snap, the Packers are eating up clock. Slowing the pace of the game. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

Maybe, just maybe, the Packers defense will keep the Steelers out of the end zone early in the game. They're holding the Steelers to 3 instead of 7.

And, if these things happen, any thing is possible. With the season hanging by a thread, is Crosby true from 43 and the win?

Packers 24.
Steelers 23.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

My Take -> Week 11

Greetings, G-Force.

5-4! I love that winning feeling! And, it’s always best when it comes at the Bears expense. THE BEARS STILL SUCK. THE BEARS STILL SUCK. THEY REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY SUCK. THE BEARS STILL SUCK. That, my fellow Packers faithful, will never get old.

As I write, I listen to the recording of Widespread Panic at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, WI. 10/20/17. A magical night in my life. It was one of those “this is why I see so much live music” kinda night. “You Wreck Me” opener that was perfectly performed. Jimmy was on fire with in-your-face getting dirty with it Southern grooves. We got a couple of straight Irish leg skipping musical JoJo gigs. The Big Wooly Mammoth always offers permagrin. Bust IT Big was peace-popping, hips-hopping kind of good vibes. Jimmy really rocked out the Travelin’ Light with aggressive flair. Old Neighborhood was an appropriate 2nd set opener as I used live roughly a mile from the venue. Heavy drum and bass effects were profound throughout. Once again, Trucks proved to be a fantastic addition to the band. Schools’ bass was amped up to full capacity, which stepped up the intensity of the unit to a grand degree. Sunny offered bumping bongo bops. And, of course, JB was shining throughout. His raspy texture was best vocalized during Mercy. Great fun when you see JB pull out the mandolin because you know what’s next and the “Ain’t Life Grand” 2nd encore was the style that lives in you the morning after and beyond. Mil-wook-ee was in full vibrancy mode that evening. Sensational to re-live it.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* Mike McCarthy. I believe in him. Always have. Always will. I don’t review a man’s performance by how he shines when he’s on the mountain top in winning ways. Instead, I pay attention as to how he performs when he’s beat-up, down-and-out. I often say that my favorite word in the dictionary is “mettle.” Mike McCarthy operates in his best fashion when times are tough. He’s resilient. He rallies his troops in times of trouble. And, once again, against his hated rival, his team came through in a victorious way. Right when it appeared like victory was unattainable, in the eyes of the masses.

* Credit to Brett Hundley. He stayed composed in the toughest of circumstances. Yes, he had a couple of learning curve moments as he called a timeout before the end of the 1st Quarter and then he didn’t call one as the play-clock was winding down before the crucial 3rd down pass to Adams. But, overall, Hundley played well. He picked up a vital 1st down with his legs. He hit big 4th Quarter throws. He played with confidence. He played with composure. And, he protected the football. If he plays like that over the next 4 weeks, the Packers will beat the Ravens, Bucs and Browns.

* Dear Football Gods, man, you’re making this tough on us. Why do you feel the need to strip us from Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery? To steal both of them for what appears to be multiple-week injuries feels unfair.

* David Bakhtiari. If you haven’t watched his post-game locker room speech, you’re missing out. “I saw pads popping on defense. I saw playmakers making plays. And, Brett. I saw you being Brett.” Epic stuff. The Soldier Field visitors locker room has brought out some great words for Packers fans.

* McCarthy’s team was ready. They were determined to be the more physical team. They won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Packers were the more focused group. The Packers wanted this victory more. McCarthy continued to trust his group. And, because of it, the Packers, once again, found their winning ways. I was surprised at how many different formations McCarthy ran. So many different looks. A wide variety of players in those formations, too. This team was coached up. Players were ready. Very cool to see.

* Nice to see Davante Adams making plays, once again.

* Brett Hundley will forever hold a spot in my heart after beating the Bears at Soldier. The Bears Still Suck! For now. And forever.

* Jamaal Williams. Ballin’ out. Running over Bears defenders. Playing with passion. A true desire. Falling forward upon contact. Displaying heart. A remarkably memorable performance from the rookie.

* Hope the Kevin King injury isn’t too serious. He was playing his best game of the year.

* If Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Mike Daniels play in that fashion for the rest of the year, the Packers will be tough to beat.

* Brett Hundley as he was walking off Soldier Field: "Grinding it out today. First victory, baby, in the books. Feels good. We're all blessed, man. Go Pack! Keep it up. We're going strong."

* Sometime soon, the Packers need HaHa to make a play.

* Another strong game from Blake Martinez. Not his best by any means, but still impressive.

* This was an old-school black and blue NFC North battle. Mike McCarthy prevailed in riveting fashion! We saw 5-wide. We saw the I-formation. We saw 2-TE sets. We saw 3 WR sets with a single back and a TE. Mike McCarthy was not leaving anything on the table.

* Clay Matthews was taking his pass rush up the field. He was coming on speed rushes. I hope the Packers are tabling his stunt to the inside. When he applies pressure around the edge, he forces the QB off of his spot. He was consistently irritating Trubisky.

* Kenny Clark is a physical demon in the middle of the DL. Love his play.

* Brett Hundley's theme for the week: "We just have to keep this momentum going. We have to ride the wave." Yes, Brett. Yes, we do.

* Montravious Adams showed flashes of being quick off the ball. Hoping that this continues to improve with more playing time.

* This defense is so much better with Ahmad Brooks than it is without him.

* The Bears were anywhere from a 5-5.5 point favorite for most of the week. Vegas was predicting a Bears win. Packers fans were feeling the same. Bears fans were thinking Trubisky would start off 0-1 as a starter against Green Bay. McCarthy proved otherwise. I have no idea how Packers fans can have ill feelings toward McCarthy.

* I’d like to see Pipkins playing this weekend if King isn’t able to play. Would rather see Pipkins on the field than Josh Hawkins.

* You could argue that Brett Hundley outplayed Matt Ryan, Big Ben, Cam Newton, and Sam Bradford when they played at Soldier Field. You could also easily argue that Mike McCarthy’s team performed better than the Falcons, Steelers, ‘queens, and Panthers when they showed up at Soldier Field. Really impressive day for the Hundley + McCarthy combination.

* Feels like Josh Jones is going to force a big turnover soon.

* McCray, Evans, Linsley, Taylor, and Bakhtiari. Very well done, men.

* After the John Fox challenge, I was pining for the ref to say: AFTER FURTHER REVIEW, THE BEARS STILL SUCK.

* Thought that Marwin Evans would be more active than he’s been on the field. He’s been non-existent. That surprises me.

* Prior to the injury, it was fun to watch Ty Montgomery in his groove. Felt like he was going to easily top 100 yards.

* Damarious Randall has no interest in making open field tackles.

* Hundley needs to look to the TE. Kendricks is open. If he does look to Kendricks, Hundley will have his escape. It feels like Kendricks is uncovered, at times.

* Need better, Davon House. That was unacceptable.

* Good to watch RIP catching the ball in the flat for the 1st down. I’d like to see more of that.

* Trevor Davis. Catch the ball and go. No dancing. Take the ball up the field. Eat yards.

* The amount of special teams penalties is puzzling. In fact, our intelligence in nearly every facet of our special teams has been disastrous. Gotta get that cleaned up. If the Packers are going to continue to win without Rodgers, we’re going to continue to need to get sacks and we’re going to need to start forcing turnovers. We’re also going to have to execute the snap and the hold on FG’s. Further, we’re going to need a special teams TD at some point. We need to start swinging the field position battle on special teams.

This week – it’s the Ravens. At Lambeau Field. In a must-win game for the Packers. With a win, the dream is alive. With a loss, things get tricky. It’s time to elevate, Lambeau. Get loud, baby. Make a difference!

Once again, Vegas is spitting in the face of the Packers organization. The 4-5 Ravens enter Lambeau as a 2-point favorite. That's bulletin board material. Get the troops motivated, Coach Mac!

The Ravens are not a very good football team. If they don’t force turnovers or make plays on special teams, they don’t have the weapons to win on the offensive side of the ball. Mike Wallace can still run, but he wasn’t what he was 7 years ago. Jeremy Maclin has strictly become a possession WR. He can no longer stretch the field. Breshad Perriman is athletically gifted, but he’s battled injuries and hasn’t been the player the Ravens thought he’d be. Still, he’s a threat. Michael Campanaro is a solid slot WR who can cause problems on 3rd down. Benjamin Watson continues to get it done. The grizzly vet is a steady performer. He still gets open. He can still block. He’s also tough to bring down. Maxx Williams is a beast, but he hasn’t been overly productive. Nick Boyle isn’t a star, but he can do it all at TE. The Ravens are stacked with talent at TE. Joe Flacco. How did this guy win a Super Bowl? I’ll never understand. He’s a stationary passer who is prone to turnovers. Yes, he can throw the deep ball and he’s clutch in the 2-minute drill, but as an every down QB, he’s in the bottom tier of the league. The Ravens will be without Ronnie Stanley, their best OL. The Ravens OL has protected Flacco well this year, but they aren’t an intimidating bunch. The Packers DL should win the line of scrimmage. When Alex Collins is in traffic, the Packers have to slap his wrists. If so, he’ll put the ball on the turf. He’s a fumbler. Expect Danny Woodhead to be back from injury. He’s dangerous. Every time he touches the ball, he seems to find the marker. He’ll present a big challenge for Blake Martinez in the passing game. Terrance West isn’t scaring anyone.

The Ravens defense lives off turnovers. Terrell Suggs remains an elite player in the league. He’s a dominant pass rusher. A future Hall of Famer. Carl Davis, Michael Pierce, Brandon Williams, and Chris Wormley aren’t household names, but they are high energy, physical defenders. Za’Darius Smith is a tireless pass rusher as well. CJ Mosley is a dynamite ILB. Matt Judon is an intelligent, hustling strong side LB. Jimmy Smith is among the best CB’s in football. He’s hurt with a bum Achilles, but he’s expected to play. He needs to be tested deep early and often. If he’s unable to go, that’d be a big blow to the Ravens secondary. Brandon Carr is a solid CB. He has the length and the speed that you crave, but his play has been inconsistent. Ladarius Webb is a gamer. I wish he was in Green Bay. Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle are savvy, talented safeties who can do it all. Marlon Humphrey is a promising rookie CB.

The strengths of the Ravens team is special teams, their secondary and their TE’s. Sam Koch and Justin Tucker are as good as it gets as a specialist duo. I feel as though Tucker is the best Kicker in the game. The Ravens utilize their TE’s to create mismatches on offense and to show disguise. Their confidence in their secondary allows them to blitz in abundance.

Coming off of a victory, the Packers walk into Lambeau Field with a ton of confidence. They expect to win this game. The crowd is amped as well. With temperatures in the 30’s, it’s fall football weather. I love these games. Grind it out. Physical games.

Expect the Packers to pound Williams early in the game. This sets up a 2nd and 7 play action. It’s Hundley to Adams deep down the sideline for a big game.

Nick Perry has another incredible game. He overpowers the Ravens makeshift OL. Mike Daniels does the same. Clay Matthews is flying off the edge. Matthews is disruptive. He forces the immobile Flacco off of his spot and into the arms of Ahmad Brooks for a sack. The Packers DL is in control. The crowd is rowdy. High fives, all around.

The Packers defense forces two turnovers.

The Ravens aim is to slow down the pass rush and the brute force of the Packers DL. The Packers have been awful against the screen. I expect Woodhead to grab multiple first downs in the passing game.

Defensively, the Ravens blitz. On nearly every passing down. They confuse Hundley. They frustrate Hundley. They force a bad decision that ends up in CJ Mosley’s hands.

But, Hundley gets the last laugh. He’s glowing with confidence. Showing his California swagger. It’s not the sand in your toes Ocean breeze blowing his cares away, but the brisk Titletown, U.S.A. winds keep him equally free-flowing and grounded. Hundley leads a late game-winning TD drive on a pass to Nelson.

If the Packers don’t turn the ball over this weekend, the Packers will win by double digits. Mark my words.

Packers 20.
Ravens 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

My Take -> Week 10

Greetings, G-Force.

Much to the surprise of most Packers fans, all is not lost. Here’s the reality: the Packers are 4-4. With games against Chicago, Tampa, Baltimore and Cleveland awaiting. All games we can win. With them, we have 8 wins and if Rodgers is healthy, he returns. Without wins in those games, we’re done. But, I’m not ready to cash it in yet. A loss to Chicago would be damaging. With a win, we have a lifeline.

The Black Friday Record Store Day nears. The Ziggy Marley “Love Is My Religion” album will be making its way to wax. I can’t wait. I listen. Not to be political, but in light of world events, it’s refreshing for the ears.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* Time to chill on Mike McCarthy. Of course he’s going to stand up in front of the media and back Brett Hundley. Hundley is his QB. He’s done everything in his power – within the guidelines of the new CBA – to prepare Hundley for this moment. But, the one thing you can’t simulate during practice is the speed of the game. McCarthy has to be counting on the fact that the speed of the game will slow down for Hundley over time. On multiple occasions, there were WR’s streaking WIDE OPEN. For some reason, Hundley didn’t see those WR’s. Oddly, it appeared to me as though the #1 receiver in the route was open and Hundley appears to be looking at the pass rush and not the secondary. Thus, he’s making the OL look shaky and any fundamental error is being exposed. Take, for example, the play on the opening drive in which Jones missed his block. Jordy is streaking down the middle of the field. Wide open. Hundley never sees him. The Jones missed block should’ve never been a topic, but Hundley didn’t step up and deliver a strike. If so, it’d have been 7-0 Green Bay. On a number of occasions, Hundley did not see Kendricks running open across the middle. He’s looking for the check-down too quickly. Plainly stated, Hundley isn’t seeing the field. I have confidence that – as he watches the film – he’s going to learn. Quickly. And, he’ll develop quickly. With that, wins will come.

* Great to see Vince Biegel on the field. I’ve been anxiously awaiting that moment.

* Thought Josh Jones played well. He was flying around the field. Strong showing for the rookie.

* Once again, Blake Martinez was a tackling machine.

* What was Mike Daniels doing? We have to play as close to mistake-free football as possible. The defense has scored their 3-and-out. Daniels gave it away. Huge blow.

* I’ll never understand why Dom Capers loves the zone defense. It consistently fails him. Let’s man up. Simply the defense. Put a foundation of accountabilities in place. Seems like there’s too many confused faces. And, when you man up, let’s not find Davon House lined up against a slot WR.

* It’s baffling that the Packers aren’t jamming WR’s. The CB’s are in the WR’s face, but they aren’t knocking the WR’s off of their routes and because of it, the free release is destroying the Packers. Over the last three weeks, we’ve had almost zero pass rush and CB’s aren’t disrupting routes. That’s a recipe for disaster. And, because of the clean pocket, three weeks in a row, we’ve seen QB’s torch the Packers secondary.

* Kenny Clark can play on the Packers any day. I enjoy his game.

* Kevin King showed glimpses of goodness. Hoping that he has a big play or two in him over the second half of the season. I think he’d benefit from a simplified defense. Less zone. More man. Let him run with WR’s. Let him utilize the sideline as his friend. Let him use his length.

* Need HaHa to have some game changing plays in him. Need him to be a difference maker.

* Why is Clay Matthews consistently coming on stunts to the inside? He’s best as a speed rusher. Let’s see him flying around the edge and forcing the QB to step up in the pocket. That’s when he’s best.

* Poor game by Nick Perry. He was dancing with the Tackle. Need him to power through.

* Liked seeing Randall Cobb streaking down the sideline. Finding his way into the open field.

* Thought Ty Montgomery played with a ton of heart. He should be used as our 3rd down back exclusively.

* David Bakhtiari is a stud.

* Jahri Evans can still play football.

* Nice to see Lowery making plays.

* Sad to see Bulaga go down. Have so much respect for him. He just couldn't stay healthy this year.

* Need more effort from Davante on the deep ball. Needed him to lay out for that. Someone has to elevate and be a play-maker. Davante had a shot. He failed. He looks really frustrated. Yo Davante, it's a contract year.

* Derek Hart. Disaster. Would’ve been nice to get points on the opening drive. That snap + his block were colossal failures.

* 2-minute offense was a highlight. Packers might need to play more read-option, no-huddle offense this week. Keep the defense guessing. Play with more urgency. Pick up the speed. Get Hundley in a rhythm. Hundley looked most comfortable when his blood was flowing as he rushed to the line of scrimmage.

* Wonder why Trevor Davis was utilized so much in the receiving game. Thought Geronimo would be utilized more as the #4 WR. He’s match-up problem. And, on the reverse, Janis was great on that play last year. Wonder why Janis wasn’t used on that play this year? Davis looked unsure of himself attacking the secondary with pace. He’s thinking too much. He needs to trust his instincts.

* Book it. Martellus Bennett. My least favorite Packer player. Ever.

* Ahmad Brooks coming back this week will do wonders for the pass rush. He is a difference maker. I'm hoping to see Brooks, Matthews, Perry and Biegel on the field on 3rd down. Martinez is not a pass rusher. Fackrell can't play in this league.

* Mike McCarthy teams seem to face severe adversity each and every year. And, each and every year, McCarthy seems to rally the troops. McCarthy has the buy-in of the locker room. He's trusted in times of trouble. He keeps the roster unified when things get difficult. Yes, Rodgers is injured. Yes, it appears to be bleak. But, I trust that McCarthy will have the team prepared. With Rodgers, the Packers are a top 3 team in the League. Without, we might be a bottom 10 team in the league. But, so are the Bears, Ravens, Bucs and Browns. Thankfully, they're all on the schedule. Let's win. One week at a time.

This week - it's the Bears. In Chicago. In a must-win. Win and the locker gasps a sigh of relief. Lose and things become nail biting. Through the years, the Packers have played well at Soldier Field. I have full belief that the Packers will play well this Sunday at Soldier again. McCarthy's team will be prepared. We'll be physical. We'll win the line of scrimmage.

Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen have to be contained. They offer a dangerous tandem at RB. Every time Cohen touches the ball, he's thinking about 6 points. Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton and Josh Bellamy make up what might be the worst WR unit in the league. Dion Sims has not been the pro that most envisioned. Thus far, Mitch Trubisky has not been impressive. The Bears have taken the ball out of hands and mostly instructed him to not lose the game. Outside of the Minnesota game, he has not been turnover prone at big moments. The Packers will need to apply pressure. If so, Trubisky will weak arm balls into traffic. If Trubisky is allowed to roll out with time to see the field, that's when he plays best. I imagine the Bears will use play action and expect their OL to win the line of scrimmage. It'll be up to the Packers front 4 to win the line of scrimmage.

Defensively, the Bears have been opportunistic. Akiem Hicks has been a true star on the DL. Pernell McPhee and Leonard Floyd can get to the QB. Eddie Jackson has had a nose for the football. So has Adrian Amos. The Bears CB's have been destroyed most of the year. The Bears secondary is vulnerable. Big plays will be available. But, in order to attack Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamara, you have to be willing to look down the field with an aggressive mentality. You can't play with fear. Hundley has to play with confidence.

Look for the Bears to try and control the clock early. They're going to run the ball. They're going to roll out Trubisky on play-action and look to get the ball to Sims or Wheaton in the flat. They'll pound Howard between the tackles. They'll flip the ball to Cohen on a pitch to the outside. They'll consistently use most of play clock on every down. John Fox will feel as though his defense and/or special teams can create a game altering play.

With each week, Hundley's confidence grows. The 4th Quarter of the Lions game proves to be a turning point for Hundley. He finds a belief in himself. He finds Kendricks over the middle for big yardage. He finds Adams on a crossing route. He hits Jordy on the deep ball for 6.

Throughout, both teams play the field position game. At times, both teams appear to be overly conservative on offense. The Bears have success converting 3rd downs until they enter the Red Zone. At that point, they settle for FG's.

Ty Montgomery grabs 4 passes. He moves sticks. Jones runs the ball successfully, once again. The Packers find a true rotation at RB.

Kevin King has a game turning moment when he grabs his first interception.

Crosby is true on a late game winner.

Packers 20.
Bears 19.


Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

My Take -> Week 9

Greetings, G-Force.

4-3. One game in the loss column out of first place in the Division. Now is not the time to give up. In fact, now more than ever, we need to rally behind this team. The bye week came at a good time. We need to amp up the volume on Monday Night. It’s a crucial game for the 2017 Green Bay Packers.

I'm bobbing my head to Moon Taxi's Daybreaker album. You know when you go thru waves of listening extensively to a band that you normally don't have in your rotation? Well, for me, that's Moon Taxi right now. It's a pop, jam blend. Good mix of tunes. Groovy!

Here are my quick vibes since I last wrote:

* I look at what the Browns offered the Bengals for AJ McCarron and it triggers this thought: Yo, Coach McCarthy! Let’s allow Hundley to rip it. This is not the time for McCarthy to go conservative with Hundley. Hundley is our guy for 2017. The schedule is light until mid-December. If we’re aggressive and if the offense is in attack mode, we’re going to win games. If we’re passive and afraid of failure, well, then we may as well fold and play for a draft pick. That’s not my mentality and that doesn’t seem to be Mike McCarthy’s approach either. The Packers have home games against Detroit, Baltimore, and Tampa. We have road games against Chicago, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. If the McCarthy/Capers/Hundley combo can manage a 4-2 record in those games, Rodgers becomes eligible to return with the Packers at 8-5. If he’s healthy, it’d make sense for Rodgers to come off IR and for the Packers to look to salvage the 2017 season. In order for the Packers to go 4-2, McCarthy has to trust Hundley to run the offense. Hundley will finally have the starting 5 OL in front of him. He’ll have the full-group at RB. He’ll have his supporting cast at WR. Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers are a go. Martellus Bennett might be out. There’s no reason for the Packers to not trust their offense and to play with an offensive design aimed at dictating the tempo of the game.

* Now is not the time for Packers fans to give up. First and foremost, the Packers have to win games. Of course. But, consider this: over the last 8 games, Minnesota has games at Washington, Detroit, ATL, Carolina and Green Bay. They also host the Rams. Minnesota is not going 13-3 or 12-4. They have losses on their schedule. A loss to the Lions and the what-if game becomes less fun to play, but if the Packers can pull it off in Green Bay on MNF, there's rush of enthusiasm that'll run through 1265 Lombardi Ave.

* Aaron Jones. What a stallion. A rising star. Terrific vision. He showed the burst required to take one to the house. I questioned whether he had that in his arsenal. He proved me wrong.

* Ty Montgomery. It is not the time to get frustrated, my man. Stay focused. Stay competitive. Attack the line of scrimmage when you get your opportunities.

* Hundley has to trust his instincts. There were multiple occasions in which Adams, Cobb and Nelson were open. They’d won their battle. Hundley didn’t deliver. He played with hesitation.

* Game defining play for me was when the Packers trailed 16-14. Late third. McCarthy knew he needed to slow the Saints offense down and the Packers defense no longer looked capable of getting a stop. So McCarthy went big to start the drive. He had at least 2 TE's in the game. He was pounding the ball at the heart of the Saints. Challenging their toughness. He was setting up play action to the TE. There was 00:25 left in the 3rd Quarter. It was 1st and 10. McCarthy showed play action and designed a roll-out to the right. Lance Kendricks was the #1 target down the field. He was wide open for a TD. Hundley didn't see him in time. By the time, Hundley recognized Kendricks, he was well covered. McCarthy had the play call. Hundley didn't execute it. If Hundley had his eyes down field, it'd have been 21-16, Green Bay. Easily.

* Josh Jones had a welcome to the NFL kinda game. He was no match for Alvin Kamara. He often tried to get underneath the blocker and Kamara was too fast for him. What could’ve been short yardage gains became big chunk plays. He couldn’t get off blocks. He was clearly confused by the Saints offensive design. He was put in position to be a difference maker. He wasn’t one.

* Kevin King needs to vet up. Quickly. He’s being picked on. He’s studying the backfield. He’s guessing. He’s often wrong. Any time a WR is putting on a double move on him, he’s falling for it. He’s been prone to the big play. He needs to play with more balance. In college, I thought he used the sideline as his teammate. He has not been doing so in the NFL. He’s often playing to the outside and his eyes have been in the backfield.

* Kenny Clark. What a baller. Hope he has a 10+ year career for the Packers.

* Was bummed that Brice was put on the IR. Hoping this opens the door for Marwin Evans to play safety. Want to see Evans jumping routes. I'm sure Jones will get the first look, but I'm really wanting to see more of Evans.

* VINCE BIEGEL! I'm pining for Biegel to get 3rd down snaps. I'd be fine if Fackrell never plays another down for the Packers.

* Montravious Adams needs a shot. With Quinton Dial injured, I'm expecting Adams to see an abundance of snaps.

* Prior to the year, I was overly stoked to see CM3, Perry, Daniels, Biegel, and Adams on the field on 3rd down. This week - we might get our first opportunity to witness it.

* As fans, we've long begged for TT to be aggressive in Free Agency. I was excited about this years additions via Free Agency. But, Bennett has been disinterested and unable to separate as a pass receiver. Brooks has been injured as much as he's played. And, now, Dial is banged up.

* I can't wait to see the starting 5 OL lined up together. Let's hope for more than 5 snaps out of them.

* Damarious Randall has an interception in 3 straight games. That's noteworthy.

* Blake Martinez continues to be a beast in the run game.

* Loved seeing Davon House with the Rasta swag post his pick. What a phenomenal play!

* Need HaHa to have a streak of game changing plays. He's been a disappointment.

* I have an odd feeling that Deshone Kizer will be a Packer someday.

This week - it's the Lions. At Lambeau. On MNF. Since 1992, the Packers have lost to Detroit 1 time at Lambeau Field. The last time the Packers started their back-up QB against the Lions at Lambeau, Matt Flynn dropped 480 yards and 6 TD's on their ass in a 45-41 victory. If the Packers aren't able to pressure Matthew Stafford, it might take a similar performance from Brett Hundley to beat the Lions.

The Lions bring a top tier Offense into Lambeau. Golden Tate is a weapon at WR. He's tough to tackle. The Lions love to get the ball to Tate on quick WR screens. He's shifty with the ball in his hands and he's going to outmuscle would-be tacklers in the secondary as well. Marvin Jones torched the Packers at Lambeau last year. He has speed. He can get over the top. Kenny Golladay is a big target and an fast rising Red Zone threat. Eric Ebron has inconsistent hands, but he has no problem getting open. He's a tough match-up. I'd like to see Morgan Burnett matched up against Ebron. Ameer Abdullah has been healthy and living up to his potential. Theo Riddick is a dangerous receiver out of the backfield. Look for him to catch at least 5 passes this weekend. I expect Josh Jones to be on the field when Riddick is seeing snaps. The Lions have invested in their OL. I'll love TJ Lang forever. A Packer HOF. If you're reading; TJ, THANK YOU. You're a true throwback. A Super Bowl winner. I'm forever grateful for what you gave to Green Bay. Travis Swanson is a bully at Center. Graham Glasgow fights at Guard. Greg Robinson and Ricky Wagner were investments at Tackle. They've been inconsistent. Especially on the road. If the Packers are going to win, the Packers are going to have to win on the edges. If Wagner and Robinson are in control, this defense will get worn down. Someday, I think Matthew Stafford will win an NFL MVP.

Defensively, the Lions are banged up on the DL. But, they still have Ziggy Ansah who can flat out ball. Anthony Zettel is a hard working young DE. A'Shawn Robinson is littered with talent. I have great respect for Jarrad Davis at ILB. If you've been following this blog long enough, you know that I talked him up when he was in college. The Lions have some big-time play makers in the secondary. Darius Slay is a stallion at CB. Quandre Diggs makes plays. Glover Quin is a machine. Nevin Lawson will be grabbing all game. He can be beaten. His goal is to get in your head. He's a trash talking, undersized CB who uses his hands all-day. I expect him to get at least one flag.

The lights are on. It's time to sparkle. Hundley is given the opportunity to shine. He hits Nelson on a deep ball. The Packers grab the early lead.

The Lions try to run the ball between the tackles. But, Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels own that terrain. So, the Lions forget about running the football. They let Stafford sling it 50 times. Stafford is patient. He's not picky. He'll take the underneath stuff. The Packers struggle to get pressure. Stafford gets hot.

I asked my 5 year old, Dylan, who was going to win. He said, "Dad, don't be mad at me. I'm going to be cheering for the Packers. Really hard. But, think about it. The Lions beat the Vikings. The Packers played the Vikings without Aaron Rodgers and lost. Aaron Rodgers is still hurt. So, it's going to be hard for the Packers to win." When I've asked him how the Packers can win, he says, "#11 needs to score. Davis needs to run really fast. He's good." Call Dylan by his new name 'Nostradamus.' Look for Trevor Davis to break one this weekend.

Additionally, the Packers defense makes a big play. It's Marwin Evans stepping in front of a crossing route. It, too, leads to 6 points.

The normally reliable Matt Prater has a miss as he cuts through temperatures in the low 30's.

The Lions consistently move the ball. But, their 3 TD's and 3 FG's aren't enough.

It'll take some fortune. And, some points to come from abnormal places. It'll also require a rowdy Lambeau faithful to show up. It all happens. I'm stoked!


Packers 31.
Lions 30.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Take -> Week 7

Greetings, G-Force.

Dear, Football Gods. Have mercy on us. Sure, you can strip away the NFL’s MVP from us. But, to take our Pro Bowl Tackles from us and our budding star at Guard away in the same game? Well, that’s not fair. I’m not crying. I’m being real. All I’m looking for is a fighting chance. Let me continue to be real: a lot of people want to blog or write as a journalist. I’m a blogger. A Packers blogger. It’s easy to sit down and write when you’re pondering the amazement of Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers. For me, as a lover of the Green Bay Packers, it’s just as easy to write about Brett Hundley. If you’re reading someone who makes you feel differently, you’re looking in the wrong place. This is not a time for doldrums. This is a time for unity. A time to come together. A time to help ensure that we do everything in our power to help this team go 8-0 at Lambeau Field. Go 8-0 at home and 2-6 on the road, finish 10-6. See what happens. Further, when looking at the road schedule, we have games against Chicago and Cleveland. I’d like to think we can win those game with Hundley. While, yes, the outlook is bleak, if we take care of Lambeau, we have a shot at a January run. You owe it to yourself to be as rowdy as possible at Lambeau this week. You owe it to the Green Bay Packers organization to be loud and to be proud this weekend. You owe it to Aaron Rodgers to go to Lambeau Field and to make a difference this weekend. Let’s get this team to 8-0 at home this year.

Don’t just do as I say. Do as I do. I’m headed to Lambeau this weekend. Flying in on Thursday night. Flying out on Monday. I’m going to do everything in my power to help get the win this weekend.

As I write, the Widespread Panic 2012 Wood tour spins. Love the acoustic feel. The sound quality is absolutely perfect on this album. I’m super stoked to couple a Packers weekend with a music. Excited to see good friends in Milwaukee for the Friday Night WSP show. Hoping to hear JoJo’s keys taking over the show so that the Irish dancing legs are swinging.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* Enough of the talk about Kaep joining. It’s not a political thing. It’s being real. This team has enough distractions and Mike McCarthy has invested significant time in Brett Hundley. If Brett Hundley is the guy and he helps push the Packers to the playoffs, then after the season, the Packers will be in position to trade Hundley for a top 45 pick. If Hundley is not the guy, well then the Packers will have two top 45 picks as we’ll be among in the bottom half of the league. But, the Packers have to see what they have in Hundley. The Packers have to give him the rest of the year. They’ve invested time in Hundley. Now, we have to see if we can reap the rewards of that time investment. In order to see Hundley perform, the Packers need their OL together. We need Bakhtiari, Taylor and Bulaga healthy. Without them, it’s impossible to make an accurate assessment as to the quality of Hundley’s play.

* Martellus Bennett. Wow. Dude. We need better. Much better. I expected Bennett to be a passionate, physical force who brought a sure handed presence to the middle of field.

* Gotta make that catch, Ty. That was an easy 6 points. We needed it. Different ball game if it’s 14-14 at that point in the game.

* Blake Martinez is flashing Pro Bowl potential. He’s everywhere. Wish he’d have grabbed the pick, but man, he’s putting himself in position and he’s making plays.

* Kenny Clark gets better and better each and every week. He, too, is flashing Pro Bowl potential. He takes on the double team and anchors. He releases and pushes through. He eats ball carriers. He’s a force on the interior.

* Liked Quinton Dial’s push. He’s been a really solid addition.

* Another highly productive game from Clay Matthews. He’s playing better than he has since 2014.

* Really quiet game for Nick Perry. Needed him to step up. He didn’t.

* Great to see that Biegel is going to get practice reps this week. Fackrell can’t play.

* Plug that hole, Jake Ryan! Should’ve stepped up and taken McKinnon to the floor at the goal line. Would’ve forced 4th down.

* Kentrell Brice has had a rough year trying to make tackles in the open field. I expected so much more. A part of me thinks they should give Evans a look over Brice.

* Mike Daniels. We need Mike Daniels to be the guy that he was against Seattle. He was a superstar then. He’s been slightly above average since his return from injury. Daniels has to be a difference maker.

* Loved Dean Lowry’s motor. Great hustle play-in and play-out. Disruptive a handful of plays.

* Lenzy Pipkins impressed. Like his size and his athleticism. He should be our slot CB from here on out. Without a question.

* Really hope Lane Taylor is ok. That injury looked bad.

* I'm not going to complain about the officiating, but man, it felt like the Packers caught a lot of tough breaks. Felt like the officiating was one-sided. Especially the 3rd down pass to McKinnon that clearly hit the ground and went for a first down. How does the ref miss that? It clearly hit the ground. It would've given the Packers the ball back trailing 14-10. Instead, the 'queens went down an added a FG. Blatant missed call and it shifted momentum.

* The #1 thing that the Packers have to focus on in practice this week is blitz pick-up. Hundley was not seeing the pre-snap blitz. It was obvious on TV. It was not so obvious for Hundley during his first significant regular season action. Not only does Hundley have to study, but so does Aaron Jones. Together, they were clueless with respect to identifying the disguise of the ‘queens blitzes.

* Jerod Evans was a solid signing. Like him as a Practice Squad developmental player. He has great athleticism. He's mobile. He has a big arm. He seeks the big play. He needs maturity. He's going to take time to develop. I like having him in the Packers QB room.

* Brad Kaaya was just released. I don’t love his mobility, but he has tools to be a pro style drop back QB. He’d be an interesting name for the Packers to consider as a developmental prospect.

* This really felt like it was our year. The overall quality of play in the NFL is at an all-time low. Injuries aren’t just affecting the Packers, but they seem to be hurting more teams than not. It felt as though the Packers were playing at a level above the rest of the NFL. Rodgers was playing at an MVP level. It appeared as though we were primed for a serious run at the Super Bowl. It felt as though that playoff run was going to go through Green Bay with the Packers as the #1 seed. Now, in many ways, it’s up to us. Yes, it’s up to the fans to be supportive and to help propel this team to victory in what will be an extremely emotional contest this weekend. If we can win this weekend, we can regroup during the bye at 5-2. We can be overly prepared for a date with the Lions at Lambeau after the bye. If we own Lambeau, everything is possible. We can’t get down on this team. We can’t get frustrated. This team needs us to keep the faith. This team needs us to stay positive. As fans, we can’t focus on a playoff run. We have to focus on the play at hand. As fans, we have to make a difference each and every play. As we saw in Minnesota, you never know when that game changing – and potentially season changing – play is going to happen.

* Here are some reasons that I feel we shouldn’t give up on the year: Mike McCarthy is a demanding Head Coach with a history of winning in the NFL. If healthy, we have an OL that is among the best in the NFL. I assume that most, if not all, of our OL are going to be available after the bye. I have great confidence in Adams, Cobb, Allison, and Nelson. Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery should make up a solid rotation at RB. Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, Dean Lowry, Quinton Dial, Blake Martinez, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Ahmad Brooks, Josh Jones, Morgan Burnett, Marwin Evans, Kentrell Brice and HaHa Clinton-Dix are winners. The Packers have 5 games on the schedule at Lambeau Field. I’m hopeful that Davon House and Kevin King can be answers at CB on the perimeter along with Lenzy Pipkins in the slot. If so, we’ll be competitive throughout. And, if Hundley can limit turnovers, I think we can win more games than we lose.

This week - it's the Saints. At Lambeau. I can't wait to be in attendance. The Packers need their Faithful to be rowdy. I promise to do my part.

The Saints offense has found their stride. Drew Brees is in control. He's whipping the ball around. He's using all of his weapons. Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn have been good targets. Ginn is often used on the end around. Sometimes as a disguise. Either way, when Ginn is in motion, good things are happening for the Saints offense. Thomas is a do-it-all kind of WR. Brandon Coleman is a big, long striding target who can get downfield and win jump balls. Josh Hill and Michael Hoomanawanui are good blocking TE's. Both are possession receivers who like to sit in the soft spot of the zone. When used properly, Coby Fleener is a talented who can get down the seam. The Saints have invested wisely on their OL and they're reaping the rewards. Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk are skilled Tackles. Max Unger is a star at Center. Andrus Peat and Larry Warford are tough, big bodied Guards. At RB, the Saints have a great combination in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Kamara is fast becoming a top-flight RB. Ingram has found his stride. Not only are Kamara and Ingram dangerous runners, but they're both lethal in the pass game. The Saints will run a number of different screen plays. Those plays will have great disguise. They'll confuse the Packers front. And, if the Packers happen to be blitzing on the screen play, the Saints are likely to find big results. It wouldn't stun me to see Kamara and Ingram combining for 10+ receptions this weekend. The Saints count on Kamara and Ingram to grab yardage in big chunks. Thus far, they've produced.

The Saints defense has been opportunistic. Cameron Jordan is an absolute beast at DE. Sheldon Rankins moves people on the interior. Tyeler Davison is a try-hard defender with an endless motor. Alex Okafor can get to the QB. He's a tireless pass rusher. AJ Klein is a work-hard ILB who finds the football. Klein lacks speed, but has heart. Kenny Vaccaro flies around the field. Marshon Lattimore is a solid rookie CB. Ken Crawley can be attacked at CB. He can cover any of the Packers WR's. He's the wink link. Rafael Bush is a below average safety. Vonn Bell hasn't been the CB that the Saints imagined.

The Packers have to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. This game starts with Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, Dean Lowry, Quinton Dial, Clay Matthews, Ahmad Brooks and Nick Perry. If those 7 players can't dominate the line, this is going to be a long day for the Packers. But, if we can stop the run and get in Brees' face, the Packers will get off the field. We might even force turnovers. If I'm Dom Capers, Jake Ryan wouldn't see much time. I'd give the game to Josh Jones. We need Jones' speed in attack mode. Pin the ears back, Double-J, and get after them. Jones can match up with Kamara. I'm not sure that we have anyone else who can.

If King and House can play, I actually like the way the Packers match up with the Saints on the outside. I expect the Packers to force a turnover or two. Without King and House, it could be a rough day for the Packers secondary. The Packers need King and House in a big way. Not just this week, but every week.

Instead of the screen pass, look for the Packers to get the ball to Jones and Montgomery in the flat on swing passes. The design of the screen pass hasn't worked this year. McCarthy switches it up and gets the ball to Montgomery and Jones as they're on the run attacking the Saints defense. Hundley finds his rhythm. He hits Adams on the back shoulder. He connects with Nelson deep down the middle of the field. He finds Cobb on a quick out for a first down. Hundley stays within himself. He uses his legs to pick up first downs. He's cool. He's calm. He's confident.

Look for Pipkins to make a play coming on a safety blitz.

With the temperatures calling for 62 degrees and rain, look for Jones and Montgomery to show their worth as mudders.

Look for Daniels and Clark to control the line of scrimmage.

Bakhtiari, Taylor and Bulaga gut it out. With a bye coming and a week to rest, they know the importance.

Josh Jones forces a turnover.

Jordy finds the end zone.

Packers 20.
Saints 19.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.