Thursday, October 11, 2018

My Take -> Week 6

Greetings, G-Force.

2-2-1. The intent of this blog has always been to take an optimistic yet realistic approach towards the Green Bay Packers. Here’s the optimistic part: the NFC looks to be very mediocre. After 5 weeks, the Packers are still tied for the last Wild Card spot.

Here’s the realistic side: Presently, the Green Bay Packers are a team without an identity. They’re a team that’s been unable to get into an offensive rhythm, has been overwhelmingly inconsistent on the defensive side of the ball and has struggled mightily in the kicking game.

I put my mind at ease with Bob Dylan in the background. As the Packers continue their carousel at RB, I think to myself: “Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head. And pretend that he just doesn't see?”

Here are my quick vibes for the week:

We’ve reached the point in this season where it’ll be commonplace for fans to call for McCarthy to leave. At this stage, it appears as though we’ve reached that point. But, I’m not going to focus on that. I’m going to try and enjoy the season. I’m going to root on the Packers as I always have. I am going to envision Packers victories in the future. Bleak as it may seem.

Mike McCarthy actually called a decent first half. Yet, his team scored zero points. There was creativity. There were crossing routes. Good play action. But, his QB did not play well over the first 30 minutes of the game. Additionally, his normally reliable kicker was pathetic.

All things considered, the defense didn’t play terribly either. There was the bad break on the punt. By the way, that was terrible officiating. The ball hit a Lion, not King. The defense was also dealt a bad hand after the first Rodgers fumble and held the Lions to a FG.

As I watched the game, I started to feel bad for Mike Pettine. He can’t call a defense that rushes 4 people and expect to receive positive results. The Packers front 4 applies so little pressure that it’s really difficult to watch. It has to be even harder for Pettine to stomach. All in, I thought he called a decent game.

This team is built around Aaron Rodgers. Right now, Aaron Rodgers is not the QB that we are used to watching. He can’t extend plays with his legs. He’s not making good decisions and he’s missing a number of passes that we are accustomed to seeing him make. I hope this isn’t the new normal. I trust that his play will improve as the season goes along and his knee continues to feel better. A victory over SF and a bye week will be good for Rodgers’ buzz.

Through 5 weeks, it appears as though the Packers have three Pro Bowl caliber players: Davante Adams, David Bakhtiari and Kenny Clark. The slow start to the season is not indicative of their performance.

I read a tweet that sparked disbelief by the Packer Report: Rodgers ranks last in the NFL in first-quarter completion percentage.

I was so excited when Tony Brown jammed the receiver and broke up the pass. He showed attitude and physical determination. He followed it up with a nonsensical taunting penalty.

I was really happy with the way MVS and ESB played. Big games from both of the rookies.

Jimmy Graham has to catch the ball.

Thought Oren Burks showed great speed. Didn’t always wrap up, but I liked his presence.

Kevin King plays well when he can use the sideline as his friend. When he’s stuck in the middle of the field, he’s a liability.

Need more from Mike Daniels. He was in pursuit, but the Packers need a game changing play from him.

Kenny Clark. Superstar.

If you’ve followed this blog long enough, you know that I’ve been a big fan of Nick Perry since he was in college. Thus far, other than Rodgers, he’s been the most disappointing performer on the team.

I’m was more disappointed that Crosby missed the kick to beat MN than I was with his performance in DET. Post the MN kick, he hasn’t looked the same with the way he’s striking the ball. Remember that he also missed an XP against Buffalo.

My gut tells me that the Packers are on the brink of an offensive explosion.

I still want to believe that Jaire, TMon and JJ will combine for double digit interceptions. Big plays are on the horizon. They have to be!

As I think about the 2019 NFL Draft, I can’t help but think that Gutekunst is kicking himself for how he approached the 2018 NFL season at the EDGE. While I fully believe that Gutekunst was convinced that he was going to land Mack, he missed out and his team is paying the price for it. The Packers drafted 3 RB’s in the 2017 Draft and 3 WR’s in the 2018 Draft. The 2019 Draft will require 3 EDGE players. Here is my weekly fanspeak mock draft:

Round 1a.) Devin White, LB, LSU.
Round 1b.) Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky.
Round 2.) Brian Burns, EDGE, FSU.
Round 3.) Joe Jackson, EDGE, []_[]
Round 4.) JR Reed, S, Georgia.
Round 5.) Marvell Tell, S, USC.
Round 6a.) Kendall Baker, OT, Georgia.
Round 6b.) DeMarcus Christmas, DT, FSU.
Round 7.) Preston Williams, WR, Colorado State.

This week - it’s the 49ers coming to Lambeau Field. On Monday Night Football. I expect a celebratory Packers victory.

The 49ers entered the season full of hope. But, their dreams were dashed due to injury. Now, CJ Beathard will lead the 49ers into Titletown, U.S.A. You can guarantee that he'll see Mike Pettine's full arsenal of blitz packages. Pettine will be on a blitzing voyage. Matt Breida is questionable. If he plays, he's shown to be a worthy RB. If he doesn't play, Alfred Morris will get the bulk of the carries. If Alfred Morris hurts us at this stage of his career, the Packers have major problems. George Kittle is an under-appreciate, unknown TE. Kittle can flat out play. The 49ers will target Kittle in bundles. They love to run him underneath the line and to get him the ball in the flat. He's constantly in motion. He's moved all over the field. I think that Kyle Shanahan is one of the brightest offensive minds in football. He'll be creative in his ways to get Kittle open. Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon are tough WR's. They'll out-physical DB's. Dante Pettis is a big target that I wanted in Green Bay. He has a bright future. The 49ers possess a strong, imposing OL. They'll duke it out with the Packers DL and should be able to win most of the match-ups in 1 on 1 battles.

The 49ers defense is better than they appear. Solomon Thomas, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead have the length that gives the Packers OL all kinds of problems. Fred Warner and Reuben Foster are young football warriors who hunt down the ball with a mean mentality. Richard Sherman can still play CB in this league. Ahkello Witherspoon has all of the tools to be a 10-year starting CB. Jimmie Ward is a talented nickel CB. The 49ers Safety play leaves a lot to be desired. They can be beaten deep down the middle of the field. It'll be interesting to see if Rodgers is willing to look over the middle of the field on Monday Night. He's normally shy in regards to taking the field between the hashes.

The Packers need an evening to celebrate. Green Bay, WI deserves a night to celebrate. Under the lights in grand fashion.

The 49ers try to slow down the clock and the game by running the ball early and then mixing in basic underneath play-action calls. Then, Shanahan opens up the play book and attacks the Packers deep down the field. He's specifically looking at Kentrell Brice.

I fully anticipate that Aaron Rodgers has an MVP style of performance. I think he snaps out of his funk. Rodgers goes wild.

Davante tops 100 yards and scores 2. Graham also scores a TD.

Finally, the Packers have a game in which they finish Red Zone drives.

Packers 38
49ers 13

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, October 5, 2018

My Take -> Week 5

Greetings, G-Force.

2-1-1. With uncertainty lingering and expectations at a significantly lower than anticipated level, the Packers defense rose to the occasion in a relentlessly attacking fashion. Thus, a week after thwarting the ‘queens defense for 27 points in Minnesota, the Lambeau Field Stage proved to be far too grand for the Bills rookie QB, Josh Allen.

It was an unfamiliar style of victory for the Packers. The defense dominated. The offense lacked both substance and execution. The crowd showed up without intensity. Still, without the customary offensive flash, the Packers destroyed a feisty Bills team. Kudos to Mike Pettine.

Feeling chill, I listen to Bob Marley. Focusing on hits such as “Mellow Mood” and “Lively Up Yourself” - both of which feel relevant to me right now.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. On Sunday, McCarthy lacked all killer instinct. He was conservative. It almost feels like he’s so jaded by his experiences with Hundley and Kizer that he’s forgotten how to call a game with a 2-time MVP as his QB. 3rd and 11 draws and 3rd and long WR screens are now the norm. With Hundley or Kizer, sure, that’s fine. But with Rodgers, you have to let it rip!

Throughout his career, Rodgers has been among the most accurate QB’s in the history of the game. Thus far, to start the 2018 season, Rodgers hasn’t displayed the pin point accuracy that we’ve come to expect. Clearly, he needs practice. I’m hoping that his knee continues to improve and therefore, he should be able to increase his workload throughout the week. Rodgers’ mobility has improved tremendously. He’s been a warrior. He's showed guts. He’s showed toughness. He just hasn’t been as accurate as he has normally been.

Aaron Jones has superstar potential. He needs to be utilized. Hell, he even stepped up in pass protection!

Pettine mixed up his blitzes in a big way and the results were glorious! He came to Allen’s blindside and out witted the rookie QB for 60 minutes. Allen never felt comfortable. The pressure was too intense. The blitz was coming from everywhere and the Bills were unable to identify where the rush was coming from.

Davante Adams is a lethal weapon. He’s brimming with confidence. He wants to set the example for these young WR’s.

It was good to see Jimmy Graham scoring his first TD of the season.

G-Mo is a legit #2 WR. He is quick out of his breaks. He never gives up on plays. He’s mentally in tune with Rodgers.

The Bills scored ZERO points.

Loved seeing Ty streaking down the sidelines. McCarthy has to go into the play design shed and draft ways to get Jones and Ty on the field at the same time.

Jimmy Graham needs to continue to be involved in the offense. He’s a match-up nightmare. I like when he’s lined up on the perimeter. The holding penalty that he drew will be constant, if he’s targeted along the sideline.

It’s hard to interpret because it’s so uncharacteristic of our unique franchise, but for 60 minutes, Pettine graphed a defense that the Bills couldn’t decode.

I want to be a massive MVS fan. I love his size-speed combo. It's not often that you see someone who is 6-4, 205 and runs a 4.37. It's rare to find some with that physique who can play both in the slot and the perimeter. I love how fluid he moves. I like the way he carries himself. We haven’t had a tall, fast deep threat since Javon Walker in 2004. I am hopeful that MVS can still grow into that role. At this stage, McCarthy has to play to his young WR’s strengths. MVS isn’t strong enough to get off of a jam. He needs to be more physical and learn how to fight off jams at the line of scrimmage. When he gets a free release, he’s a tough cover. The 38-yard completion to MVS is the type of play that should be targeted 2-3 times per game. Right now, MVS has limited routes in his tree that he can dominate. The go-route is one in which he is a tough cover. You can’t teach speed. MVS has it. As the rest of his game is being refined, he needs to be utilized in a fashion that will get him a free release. I’d like to see him in motion. I’d like to see him in a stacked WR formation. Without a free release, at this stage, it’ll be difficult for MVS to get open.

Very well done, Byron Bell. Hard fought performance by the big guy.

The Packers are 2-1-1 and Aaron Rodgers has been mostly mediocre. Rodgers is also regaining his mobility. With that, I hold onto belief that this team has some high quality offensive football in front of them.

Bulaga and Bakhtiari balled out at Tackle. Best yet, they’re teammates. Bulaga was a gamer. All guts. In clear pain. At times, he didn’t appear to be able to get off the ground on his own power, but each time, Bakhtiari was there to lend a helping hand and what appeared to be a pep talk that was likely full of encouragement. A week after the Buffalo DL wrecked the MN offense, Bakhtiari and Bulaga were masterful in pass protection.

I was happy to see that Tony Brown was active. I like his persona, his speed and his physicality. He didn’t perform as well as I’d hoped as a gunner, but I like him as a young prospect.

If Brown is who I hope he can become and if King can be healthy, the Packers will be rich at CB for the foreseeable future. Additionally, it'll be interesting to follow how the Breeland situation plays out.

The Packers are a much better team with Randall Cobb on the field.

How is it possible for Kendricks to see so many snaps? He can’t be depended on as a receiving option. Tonyan needs a shot. Tonyan moves well, showed solid hands and was a good blocker in the preseason.

Congrats to Jostling Jaire on his first career interception. Kid moves like he’s good juju in his ears.

I think that part of the 12/MM “hug it out discussion” was that 12 wants more Jones in his life.

JJ is a hard worker. Midwest mentality. I dig.

Outside of his silly 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, Blake Martinez was dynamite.

Kyler Fackrell. WOW! What a way to finish a game!

HaHa with a forcefully stallion style interception!

Kenny Clark is a tremendous football player.

The Packers need more from Mile Daniels.

In all, the defense had 7 sacks and forced three turnovers. Oh, and the defense didn’t give up a point.

In past years, the Packers might’ve lost a game in which the offense was sluggish. Mike Pettine was having none of that. His defense won the game.

Walking out of Lambeau Field was oddly somber. The Packers had just shutout the Bills. If the season were to have ended today, the Packers would hold a wild card playoff berth. Yet, still, the Packers Faithful half heartedly limped out of America’s most storied NFL theater. It’s important to remember that the NFL is a week-to-week league and the “Just Win, baby” mentality has never been so dear. Survive the week and get onto the next. The Packers didn’t just survive, they held another NFL team pointless. That’s joyful.

In Green Bay, we are used to seeing highly potent, proficient offenses. The victory over the Bills was certainly not that type of performance. Rodgers was grumpy, frustrated, and highly inaccurate. McCarthy was confident that the Packers could run the ball and he pounded away early. Had he stuck with Aaron Jones as his primary back, he’d likely have been rewarded with a 25-carry, 125-yard performance. Instead, McCarthy continues to feel the need to be politically correct as he shares snaps across the entire slate of RB’s.

Defense should be celebrated, too. Defensive wins are often uglier to the eye, but they count just the same. And, when the defense is rising up and carrying the responsibility, it’s the fans job to elevate and to make Lambeau Field an even more difficult place for the opposition to play. Instead, I can’t recall a 3rd down when more than 10% of the Stadium was off of their ass and on their feet.

Fret not. The offense has plenty of talent. We have to continue to gel and utilize our players properly. Aaron Jones will eventually see more than half of the teams snaps. We have to remember that our OL had played zero snaps together before the start of the regular season. Rodgers seems to be getting healthier. There are good times around the bend for the Packers offense.

The Packers really need the queens to lose at Philly this week. It’d cancel out the bad loss to Washington as both teams would’ve lost their NFC EAST game. Between the MN @ PHI game and the GB @ DET game, we will remember Week 5 in December. This is a vital early October week for football.

An NFL Season is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. At any given moment, a teams fortunes can change. A win is a win in this league. No matter how poorly one phase of the game may have played. Consider this: beat Detroit and SF. Go to 4-1-1. Rodgers gets healthy with the bye week that follows. The 5 weeks following the bye is a really tough stretch, but if Rodgers is fully fit, anything is possible.

When thinking about the 2019 Packers mock draft, I’m fairly connvinced that I want either Noah Fant (Iowa) or Kaden Smith (Stanford) at TE. I also want either Brian Burns (FSU) or Joe Jackson ([]_[]) at EDGE. In a perfect world, the Packers could get both. That’s why - for my eye - this Saturday, the FSU v []_[] game at 1:30 MST is a must watch. At this stage, my knowledge of players at DL/S isn’t as deep as I’d like, so when the players I was familiar with went off the board, I was left empty handed at those positions. Reminder: I only draft those that I’ve watched. My weekly fanspeak mock draft:

Round 1a: Brian Burns, EDGE, FSU.
Round 1b: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State.
Round 2: Joe Jackson, EDGE, []_[].
Round 3: Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford.
Round 4: Shaquille Quarterman, ILB, []_[].
Round 5: Will Grier, QB, Dub-V.
Round 6a: Jonathan Ledbetter, EDGE, Georgia.
Round 6b: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas.
Round 7: Jordan Miller, CB, Washington.

This week - it’s the Lions. In Detroit. In a game that carries a lot of importance. It’d be comforting to get off to a 2-0-1 start in the Division. In order for the Packers to earn a victory, Pettine’s unit will have to, once again, elevate to the occasion. The Packers defense will have to win the early downs. It’ll be vital for the Packers defense to force the Lions into 3rd and long situations. If so, Stafford is prone to make a mistake.

The Lions offense has tried to change their identity. Yes, Stanford’s arm is still their greatest weapon, but they’ve attempted to become more physical in the run game. They’ve brought in Kerryon Johnson and Legarrette Blount to pound away. Johnson also has a shifty texture to his game. They’ve added Luke Willson to help them become a better blocking front. They’ll be without long-time Packer star, TJ Lang, but they still have a well constructed OL that wins with power, but can be beaten with quickness on both the edge and on the inside. However, as they’re revamping the organizational structure, they know that - for today - they’re best way to win is via Stafford’s lethal right arm. Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay are dangerous targets who are sure to present problems for the Packers secondary. Theo Riddick is a nightmare to cover out of the backfield.

Defensively, the Lions will be without Ziggy Ansah. Ansah is a superstar and that’s a major loss for the Lions. It’s tough to reconstruct your defense. It’s tougher to do it without your best defender. Without him, the Lions DL hasn’t been able to consistently generate pressure. Kerry Hyder can apply pressure from the inside as a high octane performer. Sylvester Williams and Da’Shawn Hand are really good football players, but they’re both learning new roles and haven’t gotten off to the type of start to the year that one would expect. Jarrad Davis is a stud at ILB. I love his game, especially in run support. Christian Jones and Devon Kennard are both active defenders with severe limitations. Neither can cover Jimmy Graham. In the secondary, the Lions have a couple of legitimate playmakers. Darius Slay is among the best CB’s in the NFL. Quandre Diggs is a tough nosed Safety who will likely be playing one week after breaking his hand. Glover Quin seems to play better every time I watch him. Nevin Lawson needs to be attacked. He is a physical, undersized CB who is quick to grab. The Packers can draw penalties on Lawson if they hit him with a double move. Jalen Tabor must be targeted as well. If MVS can get a free release against Tabor or Lawson, a big play will follow. Neither can run with MVS. I imagine that Slay will follow Adams all day.

***Quick side note - with Ziggy Ansah in the last year of his contract, don't be surprised if he's in Green Bay next year. Gutekunst will be aggressive in rebuilding his pass rush. Ansah would fill the need. I don't envision the Lions franchising him. I also don't envision the Lions making a significant push to sign him.***

Last week - Zeke Elliot had 240 total yards against DET. Matt Breida had 159 in Week 2 against DET. Crowell and Powell combined for 167 total yards in Week 1 against DET. You’re up, Aaron Jones. Give the guy 20 carries. You’ll get 100 yards.

On two occasions, the Packers have given Aaron Jones significant carries. Once, Jones went 17 carries for 131 yards against NO. The other time, Jones went 19 carries for 125 yards against Dallas. It’s time to free Aaron Jones. Feed him!

The Packers do run Jones early. The run opens up the pass. Marcedes Lewis gets his first catch down the seam off of play action.

If Allison and Adams are limited, look for MVS to play on the outside and ESB in the slot. Moore will also see perimeter snaps. Look for ESB to grab a catch out of the slot on a crossing route.

The offense will have a different feel to it. Look for some jumbo 2 or 3 TE packages with Rodgers in command at the line of scrimmage. Under center.

We might even see Tonyan this week.

Defensively, Mike Daniels has a really big game.

When the Packers have won in Detroit in recent years, the defense has forced crucial turnovers. Look for TMon to grab his first pick of the year.

It’s going to be a nail biting, somewhat frustrating game as the Packers occasionally fail to get off the field in 3rd down.

In the end, Rodgers executes! He hits Graham for the game winner.

Packers 27
Lions 23

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

My Take -> Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

1 win. 1 loss. 1 tie. Yes, 1-1-1 after 3 games. The intent of this blog has always been to aim for an optimistic, yet realistic outlook on the state of the Green Bay Packers Union. On weeks like this, it’s tough to keep the optimistic part at the forefront of my perspective. But, it’s important to remind yourself that the NFL – now more than ever – is a week-to-week league. Who you are this week is not necessarily who you’ll be next week. We live in a parity driven league. Consider this: after three games, the Patriots, Steelers, Falcons, Giants, Packers, ‘queens, Seahawks, and Cowboys all only have 1 win. That’s some NFL firepower that can’t be feeling good about where they stand through 3 weeks.

Prior to the season, I projected the 2018 team to finish 9-7. I held onto hope after two weeks that we were possibly better defensively than I had presumed and therefore, I thought there was a possibility that we could be a 10 win team. Either way, when you’re destined to win 9 games, you’re going to have games like we saw in Washington. If you’re an early season contender who is an 11 or 12 win team, you beat the Skins easily. Sadly, the Packers aren’t the early season contender that we hoped. In order for them to be a contender, we need the OL to stay healthy and we need Aaron Jones to be the clear-cut #1 RB. Jones offers a big-play threat that not many backs in the NFL present. His presence will prevent the opposition from consistently playing with 2-deep safeties.

As I write, I listen to the Greensky Bluegrass show from 9-21-18 from the Ogden Theater. If you don’t have the nugs app, the link for the show can be found here: Greensky was in Denver for three nights this past weekend. They were uplifting for the soul post a heartless Packers performance on Sunday night. I’m headed back to WI this weekend. I’m going to celebrate my parents turning 70. I’m going to see Greensky in Milwaukee on Saturday Night – if you aren’t going, you should be. And, I’m going to see the Packers get back into the win column over the Bills. Heading back to Green Bay is always sentimental for me. It’s where I was born. It’s where I was raised. It’s where my roots run deep. At the 9-21-18 show, Greensky played “Tied down.” A great tune. A tribute to their homeland in Michigan. The lyrics towards Michigan remind me of my sensation for Green Bay. “I won’t ever betray my memories tasting other seas and landscapes. These trees are fruit and these dreams are free. I’m tied down to Michigan, there ain’t no home like this one. I’m leaving Michigan, with my heart on my sleeve for the world to steal.” I’m looking forward to getting back to Titletown, U.S.A. And, seriously, if you have yet to see Greensky, make it to the show on Saturday night at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. It’s can’t miss music.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

The last time we saw the Packers play as poorly as they did on Sunday was in 2016 when they played the Redskins. In Washington. In 2016, we lost 42-24. And, showed little pulse. It was apparent early in the game on Sunday that the Packers were lethargic and unprepared. And, because of it, even though I have remained as big of a Mike McCarthy fan as there is, I have to wonder if he’s nearing his expiration date. With a new offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and GM; there was supposed to be a new mojo in the locker room. If there is a new mojo, it certainly didn’t show up on the field. That, my friends, falls on the Leader. McCarthy has to own that his team wasn’t ready for a football game. He failed in Washington.

I’m not going to fully jump off of the Mike Pettine bandwagon. But, the early returns have me nail-bitingly worried. It was only the third game in which I’ve seen him coach the Packers defense and I was already able to count how many defenders were coming on the blitz. It looks to me as though the players are telegraphing who is coming and thus, the disguise of the defense is minimized.

Oren Burks’ speed is going to be a welcomed addition to this defense. I hope he sees more playing time this week.

Davante Adams knows how to find the end zone. He smells the goal line with excellence.

With the current design of the Packers hierarchy, I’m not sure who is in charge of determining the 53-man roster. But, be it McCarthy or Gutekunst – whoever it is - he needs to make an in-season statement. Kendricks should be cut. He had a below average preseason and his drop should be intolerable. It’s time to move on. Tonyan should be playing his snaps. At this stage, Kendricks is not doing the Packers any favors.

In the end, Davon House’s best was no longer good enough. Stinks to hear that the dude was hurt. I wish they’d bring up Tony Brown. He has the speed to work as a gunner on special teams. He also has the speed to run on the perimeter.

I like the Breshaud Breeland signing. Breeland brings starting experience and has 4 years of playing experience. He can also play on the perimeter. Early in his career, I thought Breeland struggled in man coverage. I thought he was someone that could be targeted. But, there’s no doubt that he’s improved. He’s become more physical on the outside and he’s learned to turn out of his backpedal. Due to his continued improvement, Breeland had earned a 3-year, $24 million deal prior to the start of the season. The Packers likely got Breeland for a 1-year bargain base deal. Good move by Gutekunst.

I don’t understand why McCarthy isn’t utilizing MVS in the slot and sending him deep down the field. He’d get a free release and I’d have to imagine that he could outrun most, if not all, of the oppositions 4th CB’s. Let’s take a shot to him and see what we have.

Over the first two weeks, Randall Cobb was a wizard after the catch. In Week 3, he couldn’t catch and when he did, he fumbled in a crucial moment.

Aaron Jones should carry the ball 20 times. Early. Often. He’ll take pressure off of the OL and Rodgers. He’s a game changer. I’d also like to see two back formations with Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones on the field. It’d be interesting to see Montgomery motioning into the slot or out to the perimeter. I can’t imagine that there is a LB in the league that can cover Montgomery on the outside. And, if the defense comes with a safety, it’d open up the middle of the field for Rodgers to adjust at the line of scrimmage.

Geronimo has become a legitimate NFL threat at WR. He’s dependable. He has all of the routes in his toolkit and he’s catching the ball with his hands. He’s been reliable and Rodgers clearly trusts him.

I feel bad for Mo Wilk. I was really excited for him to grow into this defense.

If Bulaga’s injury lingers, the Packers are in big trouble. Jason Spriggs can’t play in this league.

Bottom line: it’s hard to find positives from the game in Washington. But, it’s a September loss. There’s a lot of time to recover. The Packers can’t dwell on it. This week, they play the Bills who are coming off of a dominating performance against the ‘queens in Minnesota. This would be a great rebound win for the Packers and a win to put the ugly drudgery from a week ago behind us.

In this week’s Packers mock draft, here’s what I ended up with:

Round 1a: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson.
Round 1b: Martez Ivey, OT, FL.
Round 2: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky.
Round 3: Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford.
Round 4: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama.
Round 5: Iman Marshall, CB, USC.
Round 6a: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas.
Round 6b: Kendall Baker, OT, Georgia.
Round 7: Jordan Miller, CB, Washington.

This week – the Bills come to Lambeau. I can’t wait to attend. A trip to Titletown, U.S.A. always brings a sense of joy to the heart. The Bill have to be brimming with confidence. Fresh off of a stunning road victory over the hated ‘queens. The Bills have to carry a sense of belief.

Over the first two weeks of the season, the Bills appeared to be the worst team in the NFL. They seemed destined for the 1st pick of the NFL Draft. In Week 3, they gave Josh Allen the reigns to the offense. They simplified the offense. The Bill ran a number of dump off and swing passes. They made the game easier for Allen. I have to imagine that Shady McCoy will be healthy for this weekend and he could receive 10 targets in the flat. McCoy will be a nightmare for the Packers to tackle in the open field. Chris Ivory is also a powerful back who is tough to bring down in space. The Packers struggled to make open field tackles in Washington. Allen has targets who can beat you deep. Kelvin Benjamin is a big target who can get over the top of a secondary. Zay Jones is also a speedy deep threat. Both will present significant height issues on the long ball – especially if Alexander is working against them. Benjamin is a full 7 inches taller than Alexander. If King can’t go, the Packers will be vulnerable on the deep ball, assuming the Bills are willing to trust Allen. Charles Clay is a reliable option at TE. Clay is smart, sure handed and knows how to find the hole in the defensive zone. The Bills offensive line is the weakest link to their offense. It’s time for Daniels, Perry and Matthews to earn their pay checks.

Defensively, the Bills destroyed the ‘queens offensive front. They had 4 sacks and forced two fumbles. Trent Murphy brings length to the EDGE of the Bills defense. Jerry Hughes brings a speed + power combination that the Packers are desperately striving to find on defense. Kyle Williams is a force on the interior of the Bills defense. Star Lotulelei is a physical demon at DT and Harrison Phillips is a rookie DT with a really high upside. Shaq Lawson, when healthy, is a solid rotation DE. Matt Milano is an overachieving, highly productive LB. He’s all over the field. Lorenzo Alexander is an underappreciated, highly confident strong side LB in the Bills 4-3 defense. Tremaine Edmunds has all of the physical tools, but does he have the smarts to man the middle in the 4-3? I’d target him over the middle in the passing game. If the Packers can protect Rodgers, the 2-time MVP will have a field day. The Bills lack depth in the secondary. Tre’Davious White had a great rookie season and is primed for a solid NFL career. Micah Hyde is a dynamic playmaker. But, Jordan Poyer and Taron Johnson are not up to the task of covering the Packers receiving targets. Neither is Phillip Gaines, who is banged up.

I expect a Lambeau celebration. After another sluggish start, the Packers wake up.

Aaron Jones shows that he’s a mudder, once again. Jones grabs 15 carries and tops 100 yards. The run opens up the pass. Imagine that?!

Rodgers finds Graham for his first TD of the year. Adams also catches a TD this week.

Kenny Clark will show up. I expect Clark to grab a sack this weekend.

Look for Montravious Adams to have some productive snaps this week.

The Lambeau vibrations prove to be too powerful for Josh Allen. This game has the makings of a day in which the Packers defense forces 3 turnovers.

It’ll be fall weather and the Packers get back on track.

I hope to see everyone at Greensky Bluegrass in Milwaukee on Saturday night.

Packers 34.
Bills 13.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Friday, September 21, 2018

My Take -> Week 3

Greetings, G-Force.

1-0-1. If, as you’re reading this blog post, you feel like all of my writing grace is lost, well you’re probably right. For today, I have emotion and I’ve tossed all elegance straight to the ditch. Intentionally. I wanted this one. We had it. Our defense had made the play. Not once, but twice! An odd sensation came over me as I was thinking who are these Green Bay Packers? A team that wins with defense and special teams? Until, suddenly, in painstaking, gutting fashion, victory was ripped away by a horrendous officiating decision. Plainly: The NFL cheated the Packers out of a 2-0 start. The Packers were robbed, man. There is no other way to put it.

With ambitious hearts, Packers fans could taste a 2-0 start. Unified. Until, once again, the Packers franchise met what felt like a strong moment of darkness. The pain was ever so present at the end of regulation. The 80+ degree light shining bright onto Lambeau Field. It felt like it was supposed to be a glorious day in Titletown, U.S.A. Instead, the final whistle sounded without victory that was so closely in our grasps. Empty, man. Empty.

The Clay Matthews penalty makes the NFL seem like a scam. It felt like I was watching the old-school WWF Saturday Night Main Event from the late 80’s. Highly entertaining and full o’ drama. But, really: Why are they wearing pads? A helmet? Let’s put flags on them!

Isn’t it amazing that in the Packers 100th season; the coaches, players and fans do not know the rules of the game?

I saw this tweet posted by Jim Owczarski: “Crazy stat of the day - 31% of all of the #Vikings offensive plays were run after the flag on Clay Matthews. Packers D was gassed late.”

I also saw that Marques Eversoll posted this to Twitter: “Kirk Cousins was 35-48 for 425 yards, 4 TD 1 INT. If the Clay Matthews flag wasn't thrown, Cousins woulda been 23-32 for 284 yards, 3 TD 2 INT.”

‘queens fans that I have talked to - and there were a number of them - also believe that the call on Matthews was absolutely nonsensical. They’re quick to point out that Rodgers got the same call earlier. They’re right. He did. Both were brutal calls that are indicative of the sports downward spiral. The difference between those calls is extreme however. When the call went in the Packers favor, the Packers were already getting a first down on the play as Griffen was penalized for being offsides, so the penalty simply nullified another penalty on the ‘queens and gifted the Packers 10-yards. When the call went in the ‘queens favor, it cost the Packers a victory. It cost Jaire his first career interception. It’s the type of call that could cost the Packers a the division, a first round bye, or possibly even home field throughout. It’s a horrific display of officiating. It’s really tough to stomach. And, worse yet, the NFL doesn’t even own up to the mistake. It’s unacceptable.

Had the Matthews hit been called correctly - no one really knows what’s correct any more, I guess. But, had the play been officiated like nearly every other play in the history of the NFL, and the tone of this blog would be on the immediate impact that this team has received from Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, Mike Pettine, and JK Scott. The Packers would’ve beaten the ‘queens not off of the 2-time MVPs arm but off of special teams and defense. Instead, we saw Minnesota’s kicker meltdown on two separate occasions and because of it, both teams are wondering “what if.”

As I write, I listen to the Dirty Heads “Phantoms of Summer: The Acoustic Sessions” album. It’s calming acoustic Reggae chop soothes the soul and bring perspective. The album also offers lyrical strength that relates to the NFL: “It burns higher and higher. They can't put out the fire. It burns higher and higher. They can't put out the fire.”

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

Packers antagonists will laud Mike Zimmer for managing the clock and protecting his timeouts. I'm of the opposite mindset. Mike McCarthy's team outclassed Mike Zimmer's team for the first 58:30 of the game. Had Davante Adams caught the ball on 2-separate passes in the end zone, Zimmer would've taken the bus back to the Land of 10,000 Lakes with a 12-point loss and 2-timeouts in his pocket. But, Adams dropped the ball twice and he kept the 'queens alive. McCarthy's team was more physical for most of the game. McCarthy's team was better prepared. McCarthy kept with the crossing route, he also got his prized free agent TE involved. Zimmer had no answer except to continuously bench his CB's in an attempt to find a match-up that worked. Really, the only things that seemed to stop the Packers offense were Davante Adams dropping the ball and a couple of highly questionable officiating decisions that played a significant role in stymying drives that were potentially game altering.

An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. McCarthy was in attack mode. He played to win. I loved the Packers decision making with the exception of two of Rodgers' decisions at the line of scrimmage, which I'll get to shortly.

Aaron Rodgers is in a class of his own. But, let's come clean. A week after Rodgers was an absolute mastermind, down 20, at Lambeau Field, in the game that marked the start of the Packers 100th anniversary; well, one week later, Rodgers wasn't himself. He almost out-thought himself. His decision audible out of a pass and into a run on 3rd and short - up 2 - inside the Red Zone late in the 4th was costly as the 'queens blew up the play. And, then, he made a devastating decision when he kept the ball and lost control of it on 2nd and short when the Packers were in FG range in OT. Had Rodgers simply handed the ball to J-Will, he'd have definitely gotten back to the line of scrimmage and kept the Packers within Crosby's range.

G-Mo finna be a fixture in this offense for years to come. He’s been a reliable 3rd down target. A YAC gatherer. Special teams, too, yo!

Kenny Clark. Dude dominates.

Jostling Jaire looks like T-Buck with a punch to him. Love the way he carries himself. A shepherd for positivity on the defensive side of the ball. Kid loves to celebrate. He’s shockingly physical. I can dig on that.

JJ and Jostling Jaire on the double slot blitz looks like a thing to come.

JJ has a pick coming. Soon. Love the way he tries to undercut routes and goes full extension on his leap to defend passes.

I don’t believe that Pettine trusted Jostling Jaire on the outside, at this stage. Hence, he went to House. And, he got burned.

It was nice to see the harmony between Rodgers and Graham. Let’s hope that’s a sign of what is to come.

Randall Cobb has been a Jedi after the catch.

Stoked to see Aaron Jones returning to the lineup! In a perfect world, he will have grown in the pass blocking game like Ty and J-Will have. J-Will and Ty have both been beasts as pass protectors to start the season.

Can’t wait to see Oren Burks making his debut this Sunday. Somehow, Someway this team needs to improve its pass rush. I’m hoping that Burks will be able to get home on inside blitzes. Dude is a dawg!

MVS is on the board! 1 catch for 3 yards. I want to see him running underneath a deep ball this week out of the slot. He should get a free release and very little attention. Could be a big play waiting in the wings.

Not to fully complain about the officiating, but I wouldn’t be showing my emotions in a justifiable fashion without pointing out how one-sided the game was called on significant plays. The holding call on Lane Taylor that negated the Jimmy Graham TD and a 3-score lead was highly questionable. I thought it was fairly clear that Richardson slipped on the play. The two back-to-back pass interference plays in the second quarter with the Packers looking to take a two-score lead left the Packers on the wrong end of the stick. On the first play, Graham was clearly interfered with, but there was no call. One play later, yes, Adams created separation with his hand, but that’s called roughly 50% of the time. It was terrible officiating for the Packers to get a bum deal on both calls - especially at Lambeau Field.

On the play after the Matthews penalty, Mo Wilk had a chance to seal it and he couldn’t hold on.

Mason Crosby is normally money on that game winning kick. I had no doubt in my mind that he was going to make the kick. He missed it.

Davon House. Unacceptable. Absolutely terrible. In one play, Minnesota was right back in the game. Terrible defense by the veteran CB.

As I mentioned last week, I'm going to use the website to put together a Mock Draft on a weekly basis. I'm really pulling for Saints losses to pile up. They have tough road games at Atlanta and at the NYG on the horizon. The schedule doesn't get easier for them either as they will have games against ATL, TB, CAR (x2), Pitt, MN, Philly and the Rams after this 2-game stretch. Can you imagine if NO has a 7-9 season and the Packers net a top 14 pick in the trade last year? That'd be yoeman's work from Gutekunst. For this week, I didn't draft anyone that was not on their recently updated board. As I also stated last week, I wanted to try and mix things up from week-to-week. Here's what I came up with this week:

Round 1a - Nkeal Harry, WR, ASU
Round 1b - Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Round 2 - David Edward, OT, WI
Round 3 - Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford
Round 4 - Jordan Fuller, S, Ohio State
Round 5 - Carl Granderson, EDGE, Wyoming
Round 6a - Deshaun Davis, LB, Auburn
Round 6b - Jordan Miller, CB, Washington
Round 7 - Cody Thompson, WR, Toledo

This week - the Packers travel to Washington to take on the Redskins. It'll be a challenge to escape this vat of negativity. It'll be a test for the Packers to be emotionally ready. It's their first road game of the year. They're coming off of two highly intense, playoff atmosphere, home games. Now, they'll head to the Nation's capital to find a stadium that won't be stuffed with football maniacs. The 'Skins are coming off an embarrassing home loss. And, in today's week-to-week league, you have to imagine that the 'Skins play with pizzazz. They'll be ready. And, when you're destined for a 7-9 season, as the 'Skins are, you're going to have really bad weeks and you're going to have really good weeks. The Packers better be ready for Washington's best shot.

Offensively, look for the Redskins to utilize ball-control. They'll be patient. They'll try to pound Adrian Peterson on early downs and look to find themselves in 3rd & 4 or less to go for a first-down. Then, they'll try to utilize Alex Smith's smart decision making and accuracy to move the sticks. Smith will quickly look to the check downs to Chris Thompson out of the backfield. Blake Martinez better be ready to cover and make open field tackles on the elusive Thompson. Smith's first option will be Jamison Crowder though. Crowder will live in the slot and he'll mostly sit down just past the first-down marker. Crowder is a witty route runner and possesses reliable hands. Jordan Reed isn't what he used to be, but he's still a dangerous target down the seam. Throughout the years, Reed has had big games against the Packers defense. Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson are deep threats for Washington. The Packers should match up well against both Doctson and Richardson. Look for Mo-Wilk, Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark to collapse the pocket against Chase Roullier and Casey Dunn - who will likely be playing for the injured Shaun Lauvao. The left interior of the 'Skins line does not resemble the Hogs that I grew up watching in Washington DC. They can be had.

Defensively, Washington has an intriguingly young team that is both overly aggressive and extremely confident. The 'Skins have invested mightily in their defense. They start three first round picks and a second round pick. They also start two prized Free Agent signings in Zach Brown and Josh Norman. DJ Swearinger brings attitude to the safety position and Mason Foster is a steady LB that won't be found making mistakes. Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathan Allen, and Da'Ron Payne are disruptive. Ziggy Hood and Matt Ioannidis add good depth to the DL. Pernell McPhee can still rush the QB on 3rd down and must be accounted for. The secondary has youthful, developing talent in Montae Nicholson, Fabian Moreau, Greg Stroman, Troy Apke and Adonis Alexander. Look for Quinton Dunbar to get the start across from Josh Norman. Rodgers will target Dunbar early and often.

My guess is that the Packers receive a big-time wake-up call early. The Packers come out lethargic. Emotionally unfit. The Redskins strike first, the 'Skins fans start to show excitement and carry belief.

But, Rodgers gets going. In a big way. He goes for Davante. It's Rodgers to Adams on consecutive plays for first downs. It's Rodgers to Adams for an equalizer.

Rodgers also finds Graham for a TD. And, this time, it counts!

Mike Daniels plays without fear of grabbing a penalty and latches onto his first sack of the year. Clay also collects a sack.

If the Packers are a legit early-season contender, they win 30-13. But, they aren't that far along yet. Instead, it's a dog fight and the Packers stave off a late Redskins rally.

Packers 24.
Redskins 20.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

My Take -> Week 2

Greetings, G-Force.

1-0. In smiling fashion. It's always a delight to remind ourselves that the Bears Still Suck. But, when it happens in fairy tale fashion as we're staring at the Al Michaels focused spotlight of Sunday Night Football, the victory tastes even grander. Throw in the Khalil Mack story line and the 20-0 deficit and the comeback and well, a grown man, yeah a grown man, well, he can grow far from dry eyed.

See, let me tell y'all a story. We have all been kids. Dreaming of what it was like to be a big star in life. I grew up in the 80's. In Green Bay, WI. People called it Titletown, U.S.A. That didn't make sense to me. The Packers were far from title contenders when I was a tike. We had tailgates and we had family. Those big, bad city boys had the Bears and they felt mean. They were intimidating to a single digit aged lil' boy. They were loud. They were rambunctious. They were scary. They had no commonality for the humanity that lived in my hometown. In some ways, it felt like Green Bay was little pieces settled on their own ways. It was a big reason that I've grown to hold a massive disdain for the Chicago Bears. The Bears would play the Packers and the city boys would be calling around. So, growing up in the small town when all the big stars played in the big city, it felt like all of the beautiful things had to come in big places. That thought seemed far fetched and unfair. The small town that owned an NFL franchise needed to come around and stop spinning. It needed to, once again, feel proud. In 1992, Ron Wolf, Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre woke up the Franchise. They instilled the dreams I'd heard about the old school Packers franchise into the youthful fan base. Being a Packer fan no longer hurt the most. Lambeau field was no longer a pleasant host to the competition. The Wolf, Holmgren, and Favre combination eliminated the ghosts of years past. We found fortune. We found fame. And, with the Wolf, Holmgren, and Favre arrival, the Packers and Bears rivalry took a trapeze-like swing on the pendulum into the Packers favor. After the glorious Packers victory last Sunday, since 1992, the Packers are 39-14 against the hated big-city, annoyingly boisterous rival to the South.

Shine on, Packers fans. The Bears Still Suck!

This week - I received the Grateful Dead 5/19/74 vinyl in the mail. A crystallized copy from Portland's Memorial Coliseum. It's beautiful. Buy it.

Here are my vibes from the last week:

* I kept thinking of the first verse of the Bears Still Suck last night as I watched my text messages from Bears fans flow in during the first half last night:

“How many times must we take this disgrace?
Another Bears fan throwing insults in our face.
The Packers are the greatest team to ever play the game.
Even if from time to time they've been a little lame.”

* The Bears Still Suck. Yes, The Bears Still Suck.

* Rob Demovsky posted this stat and it blew me away: Entering Sunday, the Packers had a record of 0-107 in the regular season -- and 0-4 in postseason -- when entering the fourth quarter facing a deficit of 17 or more points, according to ELIAS. Yes, the Bears Still Suck!

* Aaron Rodgers. A Herculean effort. A heroic performance. Historically profound. He’s supernatural. It's one I'll remember for eternity. And, if there's ever a day in which I don't remember it, I'd prefer to not be alive. I mean, seriously, consider it. The dude was carted off. When is the last time you've seen someone carted off of a football game and re-enter the playing field. Like, never? Yeah, well, Aaron Rodgers came back. He came back down 20-0. To the most hated rival in all of sports. Small town hosting big city. And, Aaron Rodgers showed that he's the biggest pimp in the NFL. Total stallion. Man. I love that dude. What a win. Aaron. Freakin'. Rodgers. Wow.

* Davante Adams. Flash those arms with potency! With 11:20 to play, the Packers trailed 20-10. They faced 2nd and 10. 75 yards from pay dirt. Over the net 2:19, Adams had 3 catches totaling 69 yards and a TD. Suddenly, the Packers were within striking distance. Don't be mistaken, there's more of this to come.

* GERONIMO! His role cannot be understated. None of the magic could've happened without G-Mo. Among the biggest plays - and there were many of them - was when the Packers trailed 20-3 and facing 3rd and 14 from their own 15. Rodgers hit Allison 2 yards short of the 1st down marker, but G-Mo had the wit to lunge forward across the 1st down marker. On the next play, Rodgers hit Allison for 12 against Fuller for another Packers first down. Rodgers hit Allison again on the next play and although the yardage gain was minimal, suddenly, Packers felt the vibe that something good was cookin'. Three plays later, Rodgers found Allison streaking down the field in single coverage against the Bears top CB. Of course, the Packers #3 CB owns TRUMP CARD over the Bears #1 CB. The play resulted in 39 yards and a Packers Touchdown. The TD pass hit all of the beautiful rainbow color spectrums. Suddenly, there was belief.

* Randall Cobb. Let's go outside. Yes, let's go outside and play. Let's be kids against dunce mates. Oh, those poor soul Bear fates. First, it was 4th & 8 from the 48 with 00:38 to clinch the NFC North Crown and then it's 75 yards of blissful grace to culminate a 20-point comeback victory. Blessing, Randall. For now. Forever. Memories arched in commanding fashion.

* David Bakhtiari. All-Pro. He dominates.

* The Packers made great offensive adjustments when Rodgers first got hurt. Yes, the offense got into a rhythm. And, Rodgers was getting rid of the ball quickly. But, from a coaching perspective, the routes also didn’t appear to be as long to develop as initially designed. The no-huddle offense that was utilized in the second half also picked up the pace of the game and appeared to wear down the Bears defensive front. On an individual basis, McCray and Bulaga were manhandled in the first half, but both seemed to really dig in and settle down. Both showed great grit as the game wore on. Big ups to both of them!

* The Rodgers injury is scary. What makes Rodgers so unique is his ability to extend plays with his legs and then throw on the run. His legs make him an incomparable talent. If his mobility is going to be limited and if he’s going to more or less be a statue in the pocket, it severely handicaps the game plan and limits Rodgers’ ability to escape pressure. This injury can't linger or it'll cripple the season.

* Offensively, I thought the game plan adjustments really started when Rodgers went out. Early in the game, there was a high level of predictability. I don’t believe that the Packers showed the Bears defense any respect. Admittedly, I never watched the replay of the first half, but other than the dump off to Montgomery, it looked like the Packers were running slower developing, deep route plays and Rodgers didn’t seem to have any options underneath when the Bears DL was dominating the line of scrimmage. When Kizer came in, we saw the return of the crossing route and in turn, the Packers started to move the football.

* I'm likely along here, but I have not lost confidence in Kizer. Yes, I wish he was the #3 QB with a proven, veteran QB as the back-up. But, what we saw on the opening drive of the Bears game and for most of the preseason is who Kizer is. He was a decent quarterback between the 20’s, but he couldn’t finish drives last year. He was turnover prone and he had poor ball placement. My sense is that Kizer has the desire to be a great QB and with proper coaching, he’ll develop into a QB that will learn to finish drives.

* Defensively, I felt the Packers were fortunate that the Bears went away from the shenanigans, the gimmick style plays. Had the Bears stuck with the trickery, I’m not sure how long it’d have taken the Packers to solve it. But, when the Bears went to a more traditional, somewhat conservative offense, Pettine was able to show his disguised blitzes on defense. I was really impressed how Pettine overloaded the right side of the Bears OL and got in Trubisky’s face. Pettine’s pressure along with the noise from the Lambeau Faithful seemed to make the moment too big for Trubisky over the last 20 minutes of the game.

* I’ll forever wonder what the Packers offered him. He certainly fits the Packers most pressing need. And, I guess it’ll be extremely logical to play the “what if” game surrounding Mack for years to come. Unless, of course, Gutekunst crushes the 1st round next year with a couple of stallion EDGE rushers.

* I really liked the confidence that Jackson and Alexander brought to the secondary. Between Jackson, Alexander and King there was a swagger to the group. It was also nice to see Tramon flying around the field. Alexander really looks like a physical, tough minded tackler. He brings an attitude. A community to the group that can’t be overstated. And, I think the Bears last drive of the game was an indication of what’s to come. We saw Jackson break up a pass over the middle, we saw King blanketing Allen Robinson down the sideline, we saw Alexander breaking up the 4th down pass that Clay was penalized on and we saw a coverage sack on the 4th down sack by Perry to seal the game. A very impressive Week 1 performance for the young secondary.

* Kentrell Brice was phenomenal.

* Kenny Clark is a beast. He's ready to dominate in 2018.

* Mo Wilk was close on a couple of occasions. Trubisky was too elusive for him. Mo Wilk will get home this year.

* 2:59 to play. 2 & 13. Bears ball at the 25. The Packers are grinding to get a stop. The Bears run Jordan Howard. The Packers are lined up perfectly to stop the play. But, HaHa wimps out and doesn't plug the hole. Brotherman Haha, we need you, my man. Belly up. Fill the hole. Seal the deal.

* Clay Matthews. Yikes!

* Macho man Mike Pettine scared me. 3:28 left. Game apparently on the line. Bears ball. 3rd and 7. From the 49. And, Pettine rushed 3? I was gutted. But, Pettine responded. On the last drive of the game, Pettine faced two third downs and on both, he came with heavy pressure. And, on both instances, Trubisky hurried his throw and threw incomplete.

* Props to Antonio Morrison and Jermaine Whitehead for making the special teams tackle at the 18 to ensure that the Bears had a long field on the last drive.

* Mason Crosby. Young soul. Wise old man veins. Cold blooded. Zero fear to that man.

* I’ve decided to add a new segment to the weekly blog. Each week - I’m going to post a 2019 Packers mock draft. Thank you to the Bucs for their win over the Saints. It’ll be fun to cheer against the Saints each week. As always, I only draft players who I’ve studied. I’m going to do a couple of mock drafts over at and I’ll post my favorite result of the week. If a player is not on the fanspeak draft board, I will draft him at the approximate round that I envision him being selected. I’ll do my best to frequently mix up my picks.

Round 1a Noah Fant, TE, Iowa.
Round 1b Brian Burns, EDGE, FSU.
Round 2 Joe Jackson, EDGE, []__[].
Round 3 Mitch Hyatt, T, Clemson.
Round 4 Nate Hall, ILB, Northwestern.
Round 5 JoJo McIntosh, S, Washington.
Round 6a Darrell Williams, ILB, Auburn.
Round 6b Jonathan Ledbetter, EDGE, Georgia.
Round 7 Kavontae Turpin, WR/KR, TCU.

This week - it's the 'queens from Minnesota. Fresh off a victory over San Francisco in which they played with very little emotion. It almost felt like the 'queens were saving themselves for this weekend. You know that the 'queens circle 2-games a year. They want to beat the Packers.

Against the Bears, we saw the Packers mental fortitude. It had appeared as though the Packers were defeated, but the team showed the mental capacity to overcome deficit. This week, the Packers will be faced with a new set of fortitude challenges. The Packers will have to battle the emotional deficit. While Minnesota coasted to a relatively easy victory, Green Bay had a hard fought prime time battle against their arch-nemesis. Now, one week later, the field will be lit by sun rather than bright lights. Gone is the Week 1 adrenaline rush and the freshness of a new season. It's time to grind. The Packers have to be able to press the refresh button and start anew from an emotional perspective. If not, the chances of victory are bleak. Additionally, the Packers must be ready to perform from the onset.

At 2-0, one would have to feel good about the Packers playoff chances to start the year. Especially in a season in which the Saints, Falcons, Seahawks, Lions, Cowboys, 49ers and Giants all suffered early season losses. Further, the ACF went 3-1 against the NFC in Week 1. Those statistics end up at the end of the year.

Against the 'queens, the Packers will be challenged to see how far we’ve come on the defensive side of the ball. Can we pressure Cousins? The 49ers were able to get in Cousins’ face. The Packers need to do the same. In the past, Thielen and Diggs have been tough to stop. But, the Packers new secondary has to be up to the task. Dalvin Cook will pound at the defensive front, but Daniels, Clark, Mo Wilk and Lowry have to be up to the task. If the 'queens are vulnerable, it's on the offensive line. The Packers DL has to outplay the MN OL.

Defensively, Minnesota will bring the heat. They have talent. In abundance. Anthony Barr, Linval Joseph, Harrison Smith, Danielle Hunter, Shelon Richardson, Eric Kendricks, Andrew Sendejo, Everson Griffen, Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes. Studs. All on defense. Scary. Mike Hughes, their first round pick, is someone that I really admired coming out of college. I liked his game. He added a pick-6 in Week 1. Rodgers, assuming he plays, will have to get rid of the ball quickly. He'll need outlets underneath. Rodgers will look to beat Waynes and Hughes on quick passes.

Expect Minnesota's offense to try and grind it out early to slow down the pace of the Packers front. But, the Packers defensive front is up to the task. Mo Wilk and Nick Perry each grab sacks.

Look for the Packers to show some 3-TE sets early to slow down the pace of the MN defense and to slow down the game. Eventually, the Packers will go no-huddle, but not early. McCarthy will want to test the physicality of his team. Williams runs behind Bulaga and Lewis to the right side of the field.

It'll be important for McCarthy to show the versatility of his offense to wear down the Minnesota defense. McCarthy has options. He has to be patient and use those options early.

Minnesota will likely come with a traditional offensive attack. It'll be important for the Packers defense to nut-up and trust Pettine's schemes. The defense will give up yards, but has to prevent TD's.

T-Mon grabs a pick.

Rodgers shows guts. Adams gets nasty. Graham finds pay dirt.

Crosby connects late.

Packers 20.
'queens 19.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

My Take -> Week 1

Greetings, G-Force.

The anticipation is eating at me. The Packers, who are one year older than the NFL, prepare for their 100th season. Launching #100 against the hated Bears. For that, I give thanks as I listen to the Jimmy Cliff “Give Thanx” album.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

If Aaron Jones can master the art of pass blocking, he might become a top 5 back in the league. He has Rodgers’ trust. He has great vision. He has Quick feet. He has good hands. He has natural instincts as a runner that you simply can’t teach. But, he has to learn how to pass block.

As people, we all have quirky components that make us individuals. Some watch sitcoms. Some post videos or pictures of themselves to social media. Me? I listen to music and watch football - often times on mute. I scour college games in hopes of finding an up and coming prospect. In college, I loved Vince Biegel. Biegel failing in GB is exactly why I would never be qualified to be a scout. I was POSITIVE that he could play in the NFL. When drafted, I thought he was a 4th round steal. Instead, he was brutal. I try to pretend that I have a clue. I don’t.

The depth at OLB is overly concerning. I wish they’d sign Nate Orchard. I liked him coming out of college. He was injured early on, but he’s healthy now. He’d bring a physical presence to the EDGE and he showed pass rushing skills at the college level. Hau'oli Kikaha was a dominant OLB in college. I wish the Packers would take a look at him, too.

The Packers have tremendous talent on the DL. But, with the limited depth at OLB and with the Matthews & Perry injury histories; we could eventually see some version of a 3-2-6, a 4-2-5 or a 3-3-5. With that said, it might make sense to add depth on the DL.
Anthony Zettel is a proven pass rushing specialist. I hope the Packers claim him if no one puts in a waiver claim before them. Zettel isn't a game changer, but he's a hard worker who will apply pressure on the QB. Zettel won't be dropping into coverage, but he should be able to hold the edge in the run game and he'd be an experienced high-effort performer on the edge.

I’m happy that the Packers kept the young WRs. Tonyan at TE, too. All have humongous upside and offer great versatility to the offense. We might not see much of them early, but they’ll progress as the season ages and I’m confident that we will see Tonyan, ESB and MVS catching balls before the end of the year.

Kudos to James Crawford. He earned his roster spot. I had him pegged for the practice squad. He was close to getting home on a couple of inside blitzes throughout the preseason. But, he won with Special Teams. And, because of his efforts, he'll likely be active on GameDay early in the season.

Raven Greene also stepped up and earned himself a roster spot. He's showed quickness and a decent burst out of his breaks to pass defend.

Trevor Davis is on the active roster -- for now. And, while he's on the roster, expect to see him as a gunner on special teams and as the primary Kickoff and Punt Returner. Yes, he coughs up the ball and he's unimpressive as a WR, but he has been the best returner that we have one the roster.

It didn't get much attention, but a move that piqued my interest was when Gutekunst added Tony Brown to the Practice Squad. I was high on him coming out of college. Here's what I wrote: "Tony Brown, Alabama. Round 5-6. Dude flies. He ran a 4.35 40. Can play on the inside and the outside. Looks really strong. He's carved up. Should be an immediate star as a gunner on special teams. Like most Alabama CB's, he's willing to step up and take on a ball carrier as well. Wasn't much a factor in the turnover game." It wouldn't shock me to see him on the active roster at some point.

Heading into the 2018 Regular Season opener, I’m not as bullish as others. I see the Packers finishing 9-7 this year. The Packers will have to rely on Aaron Rodgers to bail them out late in games. I’m concerned about the depth on the OL, at ILB and at OLB. We’ve historically had health issues at OLB and OL and Burks is already banged up at ILB. Further, I’m really concerned about our play at Safety. There are areas of the team that will get exposed. We will see growing pains with our young CB’s, too. Regardless, I fully expect to watch an entertaining team during a transition season. The Packers will be a fun team to watch, but my sense is that we win less games than most are projecting. I’m hoping for 10 because if this team can make the playoffs, they should be in a position to be extremely dangerous.

Regardless of wins and losses, I'm under the impression that this team will be fascinating to watch. The Packers roster has a healthy amount of returning stars to bring familiarity to the roster. The Packers roster has a talented draft class that brings a mix of enthusiasm for the future and hope that they can make an immediate impact. The Packers roster has enough veteran Free Agent signings to bring confidence that the locker room will remain strong and that the new acquisitions will add game changing plays throughout the season. But, depth is a major concern on this roster.

It's beyond critical for the Packers to start the season 2-0. Both home games. Both against Division foes. The Packers must win them both or they'll be staring at an uphill climb throughout the season.

It's Bear Week. Week 1. At Lambeau Field. On Sunday Night Football. If that doesn't get you stoked, then you're not an NFL fan. Wildly, the NFL's oldest rivalry has an unfamiliar look. While the Packers have added a number of new players, a new defensive coordinator and a new offensive coordinator; the Bears have a new Head Coach, a new Offensive Coordinator and they've added a number of high priced Free Agents. The Bears are built to contend in the NFC North this year. And, frankly, they better. The Bears do not have a 1st round pick over the next two years. They don't have a second round pick this year and they'll be without a 3rd round pick the following year. Further, as of now, the Packers are nearly $15.5 million more under the cap than the Bears. Presently, the Packers are $39,284,649 under the 2019 cap; while the Bears are $23,841,114 under the cap. Additionally, the Packers are armed with two first round picks in next years draft. I admire the Bears aggressive approach towards Free Agency and the Mack trade, but the Bears better win now.

Mitch Trubisky will be the Bears starting QB. Is it me or has he already been crowned the Bears savior? Trubisky has a lot of unproven talent. He's athletic. He can throw on the run. But, let's be honest, he completed 59% of his passes, he threw 7 TD's and 7 interceptions and he averaged 6.6 yards per attempt. I understand that the Bears are pining for a QB that they hail as their own and I agree that Trubisky has a bunch of attractive qualities. However, prior to crowning him a savior, he needs to win football games. Trubisky has been given a plethora of weapons. The Bears spent significant money on Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton. Former first round pick, Kevin White, is finally healthy. The Bears also traded up to acquire Anthony Miller in the 2nd round of this years draft. Robinson was a top 5 WR in the league before he blew out his ACL. Gabriel has given the Packers troubles on the deep ball in the past. Burton will have an opportunity to showcase his skills as the premier TE in the Bears offense. He has the talent, but he's sometimes not mentally focused. Trubisky will have weapons, a new system and no excuses. He has to win.

With Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, the Bears have an intriguing 1-2 combo at RB. Howard will pound it at you and wear down the defense. Cohen is a speed demon. I anticipate that the Bears will use Cohen in motion. We'll see Cohen lined up all over the field. He'll catch screens. He'll be spread out wide. The Bears might try to use Cohen in a somewhat similar fashion to how Kansas City uses Tyreek Hill on gimmick plays.

The Bears OL can be beaten. Charles Leno and Bobby Massie can both be pushed around. Nick Perry has to beat up Bobby Massie. All game. Eric Kush is a journeyman at Guard. He, too, can be moved backwards and he'll have his hands full with the physical Packers DL. Cody Whitehair has a gifted Center. He anchors well and is solid in the run game. Kyle Long is a superstar when he's healthy. I expect the Packers to be able to win the line of scrimmage against the Bears.

It'll be an interesting chess war between Mike Pettine and Matt Nagy. Neither will have any idea of what to expect. We'll see who is the sharper mind in Week 1. If Nagy outwits Pettine, the Bears could be in position to pull off the upset. If Pettine can fool the Bears young QB and force him into a couple of mistakes, the Packers should win by two scores. I also expect Pettine to design a couple of blitzes that leave a free rusher into the face of Trubisky. Trubisky is elusive. It'll be crucial for the Packers defense to finish plays and to show sure tackling ability.

Defensively, the Bears feel like they're ready to win the line of scrimmage. Akiem Hicks is an animal on the DL. Eddie Goldman and Jonathan Bullard are both high draft picks that are expected to have come of age. Leonard Floyd will be playing with a cast on his hand, but the Bears fully expect their 2016 1st round pick to be able to win with a speed rush around the edge. I question how much of an impact Khalil Mack will be able to make in Week 1, but the Bears should be bullish on his long term prospects. Roquan Smith, the Bears 1st round pick, was arguably my favorite player in the Draft. Danny Trevathan is a head-hunting, trash-talking intense ILB. The Bears have a front 7 that should be disruptive. At CB, I believe the Bears can be beaten and I don't think the Bears can cover the Packers on the outside. Prince Amukamara is an aged veteran who can't run with Davante Adams nor Geronimo Allison. Randall Cobb has had a number of big games against the Bears and I look for him to do the same against Bryce Callahan. Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson are a young Safety tandem that surprised many last year. They excelled in the secondary.

I'm going to be curious to see how the Bears plan on covering Jimmy Graham. I don't see how they can possibly match-up.

Over the last couple of years, McCarthy has found success running the ball right at the gut of the Bears defense. He's won with physicality and then he's opened up the field and he's let Rodgers go to work. Hell, in Chicago last year, McCarthy won by letting Hundley open up the offense late.

Look for the Packers to give the ball to the 2-time MVP early. Let Rodgers run the no-huddle. 3 WR's. Jimmy Graham. J-Swag Williams. Let's attack with crossing routes. I don't believe the Bears can cover us and if Mack isn't on the field early, it'll be tough to sub him in. And, if he is on the field early, his endurance will be tested. Strategically, I'd look for a free play early.

The Lambeau Faithful arrives early. The fanbase arrives with electricity in the air. Fully anticipating a dominating performance. The fans help the Packers defense get off of the field early.

It's Rodgers to Adams. It's Rodgers to G-Mo. It's Rodgers to Graham for a Lambeau Leap. The place will be rockin'!

But, the Bears will be feisty. They'll be organized. They'll be disciplined. They'll hang tough. Howard will pound away. Nagy will find creative ways to get Cohen in space. Robinson will make a play. The Bears will hang around.

Early in the 4th, with tensions high, Pettine will alter the game. He'll confuse Trubisky. He'll force the mistake. T-Mon capitalizes with a pick.

I know Vic Fangio has had success against Rodgers in the past, but I fully expect the Packers to put up big points this weekend. I look for a much higher scoring affair than what most project.

Packers 34.
Bears 23.


Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

My Take -> Preseason Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

I brought myself back to my 90s living and went to a Dave Matthews Band concert on Saturday night. The show had a monumentally Jazz feel with a heavy dose of funk. Now, I’m living in a reminiscent state of mind and listening to DMB’s “Under the Table and Dreaming” album.

One week after the Packers delivered a preseason performance for the ages, they followed suit with a dud that would leave even the most diehard fan yawning for the final whistle.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

Aaron Rodgers is locked in. Rodgers has 6 years to win two more titles. If he does, he will retire as the greatest Packer ever.

Gutekunst means business. Now, Khalil Mack is a realistic possibility as there is cap space clarity to negotiate an extension. If it’s going to happen, it has to happen soon though or he won’t be fit for the season.

I could be wrong, but my gut tells me that Gutekunst doesn’t value the Practice Squad in the same way that TT did. It was telling when McCarthy stated that they weren’t going to hide players in preseason games like they did in the past. TT used to try to stash players away on the Practice Squad for a rainy day. My guess is that Gutekunst wants to show off his talent in hopes of acquiring additional assets in a trade as cut-down day approaches.

Mike McCarthy seems to be happy with the construction of the roster. This comment spoke volumes: “I say young men. We are a little older than I’m used to. Thank you Brian Gutekunst and Mark Murphy.” Clearly, McCarthy's mentality had grown tired of TT's desires to keep the team youthful. McCarthy has to believe that this roster has a better appearance than recent years.

Our 2nd team OL was so porous that it became impossible to assess Hundley or Kizer. The OL unit was so bad that we were unable to see anything from ESB, MVS and Tonyan. Kizer and Hundley has little to no time and had to subconsciously be looking at the pass rush rather than receiving options. Frankly, I can’t blame them. As a result, all excitement for watching MVS, ESB and Tonyan went for naught. MVS and ESB saw targets, but both went without a catch. A week after Tonyan looked like a strong candidate for the 53-man roster, he did not even get a target.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Lance Kendricks thinned our over the offseason. He has added quickness to his game. He looks more fluid. But, dude has to catch the ball.

G-Mo is the clear cut 3rd WR, at this stage. Although it’s highly unlikely that he’d net anyone worthwhile, if there was a shot to trade him for a decent back-up OT; Gutekunst has to at least consider the move. With that said, the Packers have to feel comfortable with him as the 3rd WR.

Trevor Davis has been hurt all preseason. He brings both punt and kickoff return skills. If he proves he’s healthy this week, I wonder if he could be dealt for a back-up OT or a late round draft pick. The Browns would be an obvious target for a trade, but they have the #1 waiver claim spot, so they might hold out on a trade in hopes of claiming him on waivers. At this point, Davis has a shot to still make the team as no one has been able to prove worthy of being a Kick or Punt Returner. MVS and Ty both fumbled kickoffs and Jaire was shaky as a punt returner.

Josh Jackson has played really well in the slot. He’s earning himself regular season playing time right now.

Jaire Alexander. What you saw is what you get. He brings speed, attitude and confidence. He’s undersized and will lose the jump ball. He has great acceleration that will put him in position to intercept passes.

I was happy to see Jah’Mon leading the team in yards and tied for the team lead in receptions.

Devante Mays gets one last chance to make a push for a roster spot this weekend. His climb is steeply uphill. His hike to the roster summit offers no time for switchbacks.

Continuing in the tradition of Packers WRs, ESB showed well as a blocker in the run game.

It was good to see Dillon Day getting work at Guard. He showed the versatility required to make the roster. The play in which he was penalized twice seemed to be extremely unfortunate. It appeared as though he lost his footing in the dirt and it left him in a no-win position.

Reggie Gilbert continues to play with a vengeance. Another really solid game from Gilbert. He’s displaying a wide array of moves. Winning with both force and quickness. His effort has been top shelf.

Kenny Clark looks like he’s ready to have a Pro Bowl year.

Pankey continues to belly up against defenders at the line. He’s showing versatility. He might be earning himself a roster spot.

Mo Wilk gobbles up blockers. It amazes me to see how often he and Clark eat up two blockers on a play.

Montravious Adams continues to shine. He’s the quickest player that we’ve had off of the snap. He knives through blockers. He’s been disruptive all preseason.

Ahmad Thomas showed ok in the pass game, but he’s lost in run support. Oren Burks must be healthy for Week 1. This defense needs him.

In the past, we’ve seen the Packers accumulate late round draft selections as compensatory. Gutekunst’s strategy appears to be different. He was aggressive in FA and he’s added a 6th round pick by slinging his depth for draft day currency. Gutekunst seemingly fleeced the Seahawks for a 6th round pick and, as it stands, he’s staring at 9 all-important picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. It wouldn't surprise me if Gutekunst has 1-2 more trades in him over the next week.

I liked Pipkins. He got caught in a numbers game. The Packers have made significant investments into the CB position. So, Pipkins became expendable.

I like the Morrison acquisition. He brings depth to a position group that was far too light. Give Gutekunst credit for knowing the weaknesses and strengths of an AFC South team. The Colts were weak at CB and heavy at ILB. Prior to the 2016 Draft, I wrote:
“Antonio Morrison, Florida. Round 6-7. Great athlete. Active. Wants it. Finds a thrill in attacking the QB from the inside. When he hits you, he means it. Underrated prospect. A true talent. He could end up being a nice score for someone.” Morrison has played in 31 games and made 19 starts over his first two seasons. He’s a mean dude. He hasn’t been the threat that I imagined on the blitz. But, he did produce more than 100 tackles last year. He found the football. He will bring an attitude to the defense.

I saw an interesting stat prior to the Raiders game that put this teams versatility in perspective. It also showed how different this team is put together compared to previous years:

* 100% of Jah’Mon routes are coming from the perimeter. They’re trying to simplify the game for him. They’re trying to slow the pace of the game down and make him comfortable.

* 70% of MVS routes are from the perimeter. I love him coming out of the slot. A 6-4 WR who is laden with 70’s funk-dancing hips and who runs a 4.37 40 running routes out of the slot? “So, you say you want a revolution?”

* 30% of ESB routes are from the perimeter. Yes, a 6-5 dude is in the slot 70% of the time, wow! It can’t be ignored that he ran a 4.48, too. MM is trying to change the make-up of an NFL offense.

The Packers are going to need both Nick Perry and Clay Matthews to notch 10+ sacks this year.

Here’s how I would build the 53-man roster. This is not a prediction, it’s what I would do it:

QB: (3) Rodgers, Boyle, Kizer. The Packers learned from the Taysom Hill experiment in 2018. They tried to stash him on the practice squad and failed. They won’t let the same thing happen with Boyle.

RB: (3) Williams, Montgomery, RIP. Jones arrives in week 3. We forget how well RIP ran the ball in 2016. He can be used in emergency situations over the first two weeks and is a valuable special teams player.

WR: (7) Adams, Cobb, G-Mo, MVS, ESB, Kumerow, Davis. If I had to, I'd try to find a way to keep 8 WR's. I wouldn't to expose the young WR's to waivers. But, someone needs to be hidden on the IR somehow/someway. I feel comfortable telling Jah'Mon Moore that he came down with a mysterious hamstring injury this weekend and therefore, he is tucked away on the IR for a year.

TE: (3) Graham, Lewis, Kendricks. Tonyan is a tough cut. If Kendricks could net a late round pick, I would likely pull the trigger and keep Tonyan instead.

OL: (9) Bakhtiari, Taylor, Bulaga, Linsley, McCray, Pankey, Day, Bell, Spriggs. This team feels the pain of Madison not making it into camp. He’d have brought valuable depth at Tackle and Guard. Maybe we can stick Murphy on IR to see if one more year of development helps. It can’t hurt and we’ve already invested plenty, so why not? Regrettably, Spriggs is kept. Can’t cut Bell due to his dead money.

DL: (5) Daniels, Clark, Mo Wilk, Adams, Lowry. The best unit on the roster.

EDGE: (6) Clay, Perry, Gilbert, Biegel, Fackrell, Donnerson. Gutekunst needs to be working diligently to find another EDGE player via waivers or trade. Donnerson isn’t ready and Fackrell can’t cut it. But, you need bodies on the EDGE of a 3-4 defense. Especially with Perry and Matthews' injury history. If he can find someone, Donnerson is an ideal practice squad candidate. But, as for now, I'm keeping both Fackrell and Donnerson. And, it pains me as I don't want to have to watch Fackrell failing on the EDGE anymore. At this point, cutting Fackrell would be an emotional decision. I'm fine with that, but there's no one remotely ready behind him.

ILB: (4) Burks, Martinez, Morrison, Thomas. I don't love the depth, but Morrison helps and Jones can offer ILB versatility on passing downs.

CB: (5) T-Mon, House, King, Alexander, Jackson. Whitehead, who I’ve listed as a Safety, can play in the slot, if needed. And, his versatility gives the CB position more depth than what meets the eye. I strongly considered keeping either Goodson or Rollins as a gunner, but I decided against it in favor of the riches at WR and our injury concerns at OLB and OL.

S: (5) HaHa, Brice, Jones, Evans, Whitehead.

ST: (3) Crosby, Scott, Triner.

Practice Squad: (10) If I'm only selecting from the Packers roster, I'm taking these 10 guys: DeAngelo Yancey, Herb Waters, Devante Mays, Joel Bouagnon, Raven Greene, Robert Tonyan, James Crawford, Greer Martini, Joey Mbu, and James Looney.

Here’s my overwhelmingly early 2019 Packers mock draft to kick off the college season. Thus far, I’ve given zero attention to OL prospects and, as always, if I haven’t studied the player myself, I don’t comment. I imagine myself looking at numerous EDGE, ILB, S, and TE prospects throughout the college season.

Round 1a) Jaquan Johnson, S, []_[]. If he checks in at 5-11 as he is listed, he has the makings of being a prototypical playmaking safety. He has no fear of contact. He's a magnet for the football in the way Ed Reed sought the ball. He's highly intelligent. He has sticky hands. He has a nose for creating turnovers.

Round 1b) Noah Fant, TE, Iowa. Do it all prospect. Stretches the seam. Forceful after the catch. Trustworthy hands. Plays with willpower. Lines up next to the tackle and fights to seal the edge. Agile. Can be moved all over the offense. Good quickness. Red Zone threat.

Round 2) Joe Jackson, EDGE, []_[]. Long pass rushing specialist. Disruptive. Not just looking for a sack. He wants the football. A game changer. Shows up when it matters most.

Round 3) TJ Edwards, ILB, WI. Old pro mentality. A gamer. Always around the ball. Leadership presence. Sure tackling machine.

Round 4) Derrick Baity, CB, Kentucky. Long, thin framed outside CB. Highly confident, smack talking CB who permeates attitude. Me against the world persona. Understands 1v1 mental battle. Has mindset required to play the perimeter. Fearless tackler in run game.

Round 5) Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA. Highley dependable middle-of-the-field target. Reliable hands. NFL height with the frame to get bigger. Plays a little soft with the ball. Doesn't break many tackles. Works the middle of the field like a magician and catches with his hands. Runs routes past the marker. Needs to improve as a blocker.

Round 6a) Oshane Ximenes, EDGE, Old Dominion. Dominates low level football. Turnover machine. Pension for playing in the oppositions backfield. Wins with speed and power against poor competition. Has chance to see his value sky rocket this year.

Round 6b) Marcus Epps, S, Wyoming. A 3-time captain. Mature, confident middle of the field safety. Steps up to deliver blows. Has the leadership, good locker room mentality that Gutekunst targets in roster depth. Plays with active excitement.

Round 7) Mike Edwards, DB, Kentucky. Fashionable demon defender. Best suited to play a slot or even an attacking safety role. An attacking spur. The type of defender that can alter a game plan. Great personality. Playmaker. Game saver. Has mindset to alter games. Has football make-up speed. Tremendous ball skills. Is he big enough?

This week – the Packers travel to Kansas City to close out the preseason. If you haven’t been to a game at Arrowhead, put it on your bucket list. It’s one of the best in the league. Without a doubt.

I expect Tim Boyle – who is likely a lock for the roster – to see most of the snaps. I’d give him every snap. All game.

I anticipate that Gutekunst and McCarthy will want to show off Tonyan and Byrd to see either is attractive enough for the 53-man roster or to see if either can warrant trade value. If Tonyan shows well, Kendricks might become trade bait, too.

I’m pining for our OL to show well enough for the Packers to put Boyle on display. Boyle loves the deep ball and man, I’m craving the chance to see ESB, MVS and Moore flying down the field. We won’t get this chance if the OL can’t protect Boyle.

In limited action, Montravious Adams will continue to dominate the preseason. Reggie Gilbert will do the same.

I don’t want to see any of the top 30 players on the roster. There’s no need for any of them to play.

Look for Donnerson to grab a sack.

Watch Marwin Evans read a route and grab a pick.

The rookie WR’s shine when given the opportunity, but for the most part, both teams are going to try and grind out the clock. There will be mostly run plays to keep the clock moving. As Devante Mays gets his opportunities to earn a spot on the roster, he isn't littered with running room and can't produce enough to be deemed worthy of the 53-man roster.

It's Boyle to MVS for 6!

Packers 23.
Chiefs 20.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.