Friday, December 7, 2018

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

4-7-1. And, in the end, the 100th season in Packers history was a complete fuckin’ disaster. A colossal meltdown of epic proportions. A low point in the recent history of the franchise. One of my least favorite seasons as a fan. A year to forget. With the utterly embarrassing loss to the lowly Cardinals - at the once proudly adored Lambeau Field - the team and their fans got knocked out of their misery. Beneath the misery, resides a presently dark existence. One of curiosity. One of concern. One of hope.

Michael Franti makes me feel good. As I begin writing, I’m listening to Stay Human 2, his new song.

Here are my quick vibes for the week:

Thanks for the memories, Mike McCarthy. I’ll remember you fondly. Others will consider your time as stale. Those - that do - are highly entitled fans. Sure, we're all disappointed that we didn't win more Super Bowls. We all wish that Julius Peppers did not tell Morgan Burnett to sit down in Seattle. We wish Bostick had caught the onside kick. We wish HaHa would've knocked down the 2-point conversion. If any of those things happen, the Packers are playing in a 2nd Super Bowl. None did and we're all forever haunted. That game is Holmgren's equivalent to Super Bowl 32. With that said, I hope that stale for the Packers will always be a 13-year stretch that includes 9 playoff appearances, a Super Bowl win, a 15-1 season and 4 NFC Championship Game appearances. Mike, you gave us a magical year of Favre and helped to develop Rodgers into a 2-time MVP at QB. Additionally, Mike, through the years, you've twice had to endure playing without your star QB for the better part of the season. Mike, you also lost three integral pieces to the core of the defense while they were in their prime in Nick Collins, Desmond Bishop and BJ Raji. We dealt with game ending heartbreaks. It was a tall task to keep this team together. You always did so. It's been a great stretch. Someday - Packers fans will yearn for the success of this last decade. With that, Coach Mac, best of luck in the future. I'll always be cheering for you.

Aaron Rodgers was awful against the Cards. The pass to ESB in the first quarter made it look like he wasn't even trying. The same could be said with the swing pass to Aaron Jones. Again, on a crucial 3rd down in the 4th Quarter, Rodgers was dumping the ball into the dirt and at the feet of an open WR. Baffling!

If Rodgers plays like he did against AZ for the rest of the year, the Packers will not win another game and they’ll end up with a top 5-7 pick of the Draft. That’s sad.

I actually like the timing of the firing. Saved MM the questions for the next month. Team was unprepared against AZ. Packers can start the search now — before others who will be searching for a new coach. And, they can do so openly.

The Packers can save roughly $20,000,000 in cap space for next year by cutting Graham, Crosby, Spriggs, Bulaga, Tramon and Perry. The Packers will have a boat load of dead money to pay out, but they would’ve rid themselves of all bad contracts on the roster. With the draft picks in his arsenal and the pending salary cap space, if Gutekunst has a two year plan in place and the Packers hire a good HC (whoever that may be); they should be ready to compete again in two years. And, with that strategy, the Packers would never have to go through a rebuilding phase with an aging Aaron Rodgers.

If the Packers do indeed free up a bunch of cash, I hope that the Packers sign Landon Collins. The Packers need a hard hitting, play making Safety. Collins would fit the bill. Collins hasn't played as well in 17 and 18 as he did in 16, but I'd still be willing to pay him the money that he demands. Give the Packers Landon Collins and a couple of EDGE rushers in the Draft and the defense should be in position to close games.

I have full confidence that Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst will identify a quality Head Coach.

Aaron Rodgers' and Brett Favre's careers have so many similarities. I'm hoping that Rodgers can find the Brett Favre version of Mike McCarthy. The one that ignited a spark in the suddenly declining player. McCarthy brought Favre another life. The Packers need to find someone who can inject a fire into Rodgers.

We have had two Super Bowl winning coaches in 50 years. Holmgren couldn’t wait to get out of GB. He quit on the team before the Super Bowl and essentially smirked his way off the field after the devastating loss in SF the following year. On the contrary, here is McCarthy two days after getting fired, absolutely yearning for one last speech. Amazing!

I do not want Josh McDaniels as the next Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers. I don't think he can be trusted. I don't have a wish list at this point, but I know I don't want McDaniels.

The Cards game was another really good day at the office for Kenny Clark and Jaire Alexander.

Dean Lowry shows glimpses of being a really good football player.

I'm a fan of Mike Pettine, but it should be noted that his defenses have not been the same team in the 4th Quarter as they have been in the 3rd Quarter. Granted, he's playing with a makeshift lineup, so he deserves a pass. Nonetheless, consider this: Pettine's defense couldn't get off the field when it mattered most in the 4th Quarter against Minnesota, the Rams, the Patriots, the Seahawks, and the Cardinals.

I'm officially worried that Josh Jackson will be really limited as an NFL player. I want him to be great. The Jackson and Alexander vibe seems to be good to be a true. It seems like a dream. They're buddies. But, JJ looks to be a step slow and he doesn't look tough enough. Over the last 4 weeks of the year, I'd argue that a JJ interception is near the top of my wish list. I want him to build some confidence before the end of the year.

It's time to see a whole lot of Robert Tonyan and none of Marcedes Lewis and Lance Kendricks. Tonyan is in the future plans. Lewis and Kendricks are not.

I was bummed that Kevin King went to IR. I really wanted to see the secondary with King, Jaire and Breeland in it. King has really handicapped the Packers. When he's on the field, he's been a decent perimeter CB, but availability has been key and at this point, King has left the Packers with a hole at CB. With King being unavailable, I am hoping to see the likes of Will Redmond, Natrell Jamerson and Tony Brown on the field. Let's see if these guys can be in the 2019 plans.

I liked the Natrell Jamerson signing. Jamerson can run. He has the physique and intangibles to be a slot CB. Prior to the Draft, I wrote this about Jamerson: "Natrell Jamerson, Wisconsin. Round 6-7. Jamerson is undersized for a pure safety, but translates well as a possible mid-to-late round slot CB. Jamerson can fly. He ran a 4.4 and was super quick in his 10 yard split. He has good lateral movements and he's willing to throw his body in the mix."

With the Jamerson signing, I found this little nugget: Gutekunst has not added 4 of the top 13 speedsters in the 40 at the Combine last year. He also has 3 players who finished in the top 8 in the 20-yard shuttle at the Combine last year. He feels the need for speed!

I'm happy that Donnerson is on the 53-man roster. I want to see Donnerson, Alex Light, Oren Burks, Tony Brown, Will Redmond, ESB, MVS, Tonyan, Kumerow, Looney, Lancaster, Adams, Raven Greene and Jamerson getting snaps. Let's invest in our future and see if the kids can bring us wins. I want to see ESB with a 7 catch, 100-yard game. The same can be said with MVS or Kumerow.

I hope that Cole Madison reports to camp in 2019.

If I were Brian Gutekunst, I'd say; "Hey Randall Cobb. You've been a really solid Packer. But, availability is a key to success in the NFL. You weren't available for the better part of 2018. With that, you're going to be relegated for the rest of the year to our 5th string WR behind Adams, MVS, ESB and Kumerow. As you know, you won't be back with the team in 2019, so the only really exposure that you're going to see will be as the Punt Returner. Thanks for your commitment to the Green Bay Packers."

I will forever wonder why Mike McCarthy never went no-huddle to try and create urgency in the offense in 2018. We played without a pulse on offense. I kept waiting for the shift. It never happened.

Eddie Pleasant. Can he please be cut? Like, seriously. How can his teammates ever look the guy in the eye again and think that he can be trusted to make a play? I'd rather have a 52-man roster than to see him on the team for another day.

In this week's Fanspeak Packers Mock Draft, the board rankings fell differently. Most of the guys that I've been high on throughout the year have climbed the overall rankings. Josh Allen was a player ranked in the 40's, he's now in the top 20. Brian Burks was also in the 40's, he's now in the 20's. It forced me to alter my Draft approach. I went heavy on the OL in the top 3 rounds. Cajuste can likely play either RT or RG. Edwards looks like a starting RT. It's interesting to note that the Packers will likely have 6 of the top 120 picks heading into Draft weekend. Here's how it fell for me:

Round 1a: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky.
Round 1b: Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama.
Round 2: Yodny Cajuste, OT, Dub-V.
Round 3: David Edwards, OT, WI.
Round 4a: Landis Durham, EDGE, Texas A&M.
Round 4b: Osahne Ximines, EDGE, ODU.
Round 5: Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford.
Round 6a: Tanner Muse, S, Clemson.
Round 6b: Iman Marshall, CB, USC.
Round 7: Sheldrick Redwine, S, []_[].

This week - it's the Falcons. I'll always remember the Packers at Falcons Divisional Playoff game. It was one of my favorite days in Packers history. I was in attendance with my Brother Bob and my Brother-in-Law, Paul. It was a legendary day in Packers history.

Can the Packers cover the Falcons in 2018? Well, that depends on if Breeland can play. If he can, then the Packers might be able to match up well. If he can't, well, then Atlanta could put up a minimum of 35 points. And, unless Rodgers finds his old form, the 2018 Packers aren't capable of putting up points in bundles.

My hunch is that Rodgers plays carefree. He hasn't played in a game like this Sunday since 2008. Consider that? Yes, as fans, we've been that fortunate during the Mike McCarthy era. We have played highly meaningful, non-desperate December games every year since 2009. The only other team that can say that is the Patriots. We've been spoiled. Nonetheless, look for Rodgers to play without stress and to be gunning the ball all over the field. We see the Rodgers of old. The one that we have adored since 2008. There's that confident spark to his step. The CA swag is back. Rodgers catches fire.

Packers 31.
Falcons 30.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, November 30, 2018

My Take -> Week 13

4-6-1. 1-4 in the season defining 5-game stretch. And, while the Packers are not officially eliminated from the playoffs, it doesn’t feel like this team has a pulse. However, we must remember that in life, fear is contagious. But, hope carries the same weight. And, optimism exists within each of us. Thus, even though it appears as though we are living a time of great despair in PackerLand; I’m going to promote positivity until the Packers reach 7 losses. I’m going to cling onto the hope that 9-6-1 will somehow earn a playoff berth. Go Pack Go, baby!

As I write, I listen to the Movement's "Set Sail" album. If you're not familiar with the Movement, give them a listen. Set Sail and Habit are two beach-style vibes that cleanse the soul. The music will uplift you. I promise.

My quick vibes from the last week:

Mike McCarthy. I swear he’ll never learn that he should not call a timeout near the end of the half. McCarthy’s offense showed creativity, disguise and some misdirection. It didn’t show execution. They looked like they are trying to install a new offense and they’re still working on the kinks.

This team is the equivalent of the 1999 Green Bay Packers, which was one of my least favorite years as a fan. Both teams consistently underachieved. Both teams had a couple of dramatic early season victories. Both teams had former MVP QBs that battled lingering injuries for a large part of the season. Both of those former MVP QBs played significantly below the level of play that we were accustomed to seeing them play at. Both offenses ran an extensive amount of go-routes. Both teams had defenses that melted down in the second half week-in and week-out.

The Packers are built around Aaron Rodgers. In 2018, Aaron Rodgers has failed this team.

Aaron Jones runs really hard. I’m happy that he’s locked up for two more years.

If this season falls short of a playoff berth, I’ll forever wonder why the 2018 Packers didn’t go to the hurry up offense to try and increase the urgency of the unit.

Congrats to Davante Adams on eclipsing 1,000 yards. I’m happy that he, too, is locked up for years to come.

Why doesn’t Aaron Rodgers look to MVS more often?

Once again, Kenny Clark was tremendous.

Montravious Adams played a pretty good game. I liked to see the way that he stacked and shed at the line in the run game a couple of times. He showed good quickness, too. He was non-existent as a pass rusher though.

Before the season is over, I hope to see what our defense looks like with Breeland, King and Alexander at CB.

There has been one year in my life in which I thought it was in the best interest of the franchise for the Packers to lose games. That was 2005. In ‘05, Favre was handing the ball off to Samkon Gado. He was throwing the ball to the likes of David Martin, Robert Ferguson, Andrae Thurman, Donald Lee and Antonio Chapman. Adrian Klemm and Will Whitticker were blocking for Favre. These weren’t players that I wanted around in 2006. So, whether we won or lost wasn’t important. I wanted Reggie Bush. I viewed Bush as a game changer. A difference maker. Potentially, a generational player. In 2018, we have Aaron Rodgers. He’s throwing the ball to Adams, MVS, ESB and hopefully Kumerow. He’s handing the ball off to Jones and Williams. Bakhtiari, Bulaga, Linsley, Taylor and Bell are all players that I want on the team next year. Clark, Martinez, Burks, Jaire, and JJ all have a shot to be crucial components to the core of our defense for years to come. I don’t want them to experience a losing culture. I don’t want them to think this is the norm. I want them to experience wins. I want a platform for them to build off of into the future. Let’s rise up, Packers fans. Let’s help this team find a win!

With regards to a playoff push, we should think about this: Dallas still plays Philly. Philly plays Wash twice. In all of the things that are posted about the Packers qualifying, it never mentions the Cowboys, but it helps if Dallas loses 7 games; in case Wash or Philly does not. I'm confident that 2 of the 3 NFC East teams loses at 7 games. So, we turn our attention to MN, SEA and CAR. Oh, and I’m also the only person that you’ll hear say this: I’m not ready to give CHI a pass. NYG could beat them this weekend. After that, they’d still have the Packers, Rams and MN. They aren’t out of the woods yet. So, we'd need 3 out of 4 between CHI, MN, SEA and CAR to hit 7 losses. CAR would need to lose 2 games and they still have to play NO twice. MN plays both CHI and SEA, so someone has to lose. The bottom line is this; yes, we will be scoreboard watching, but if the Packers can somehow finish 9-6-1, there is a possibility of sneaking into the playoffs. Yes, I'm saying there's a chance!

In this week's Fanspeak Packers Mock Draft, I was able to draft two EDGE studs to kick it off and it opened up the Draft to focus on the best available player in addition to focusing on using the 3-player draft technique at a position of need in the late-to-mid rounds.

Round 1a: Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida.
Round 1b: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky.
Round 2: Greg Little, OT, Mississippi.
Round 3: Joe Jackson, EDGE, []_[].
Round 4a: Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri.
Round 4b: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington.
Round 5: David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State.
Round 6a: Alex Bars, G, Notre Dame.
Round 6b: Tanner Muse, S, Clemson
Round 7: Sheldrick Redwin, S, []_[].

This week - it's the Cardinals. One of my favorite Packers moments happened in January of 1983 when the Packers beat the Cardinals in the playoffs. It was a formative day in my life. I saw Lambeau Field living for the moment. Enjoying right now. Acting in spontaneity. And since winning was new, we weren't quite sure how to act. For a 5 year old boy, that was riveting. I was all-in. Hook, line and sinker. Gary Lewis blocking FG's. Lynn Dickey tossing tuddies. John Jefferson and James Lofton giving high fives. THAT WAS FUN! I'll forever cherish those memories.

For this week, I'm going to keep this simple. If the Packers can contain David Johnson and slow down the Cardinals pass rush, the Packers will win convincingly. If the Cardinals pass rush wins the battle or if Johnson controls the clock, the Packers could be in trouble.

Packers 34.
Cards 17.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

My Take -> Week 12

Greetings, G-Force.

4-5-1. 1-3 in the season defining 5-game stretch. Still winless on the road after another gut wrenching loss. Now, in order to make the playoffs, the Packers will likely need to win out. Yes, it’s possible that a 9-6-1 could sneak the Packers into the playoffs if things fall right as we scoreboard watch, but it’s highly unlikely.

As I write, I intensely listen to the Rolling Stones "Flashpoint" album. The Factory Girl on this album is on fleek. So is the Paint It Black. If you haven't listened to it recently, vibe in. You'll enjoy.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

I'm thankful for each of my readers. I'm thankful for the likes, the shares, the RT's, the comments. I'm thankful that you read and that you let me know that you did. It keeps me going. Even when the team is playing bad football.

I'm thankful that I'm born and raised in Green Bay, WI. I'm happy to be a Packers fan. I love Titletown, U.S.A. Even when my team is 4-5-1, I promise to watch, to cheer and to carry on with heavy faith in the future of the franchise. I'm a believer in the past, the present and the future. Even when I know that I have my Packers blinders on. I'm emotionally vested and I'll always root with optimism.

Plainly stated, Pete Carroll outcoached Mike McCarthy. It was painful. The Packers were the far superior team. But, the difference in the game was QB play and coaching. Seattle kept running the ball. Green Bay did not. Russell Wilson was clutch in the last 20 minutes of the game. Aaron Rodgers was not.

With the season slowly faltering directly in front of our eyes, Aaron Rodgers horrendously missed a 2-yard pass that would’ve extended the drive.

There were 9 minutes to play. The Packers were 12 yards from paydirt. Leading 21-20. It was 3rd and 5. Aaron Jones was wide open over the middle of the field. Aaron Rodgers never saw him. And, thus, Rodgers took a miserable sack.

Before the season, I thought the Packers would finish 9-7. At present, it looks like I’ve over projected. But, there's a lot of football left and I'm bullish on the way this team will finish the season.

If I’m Gutekunst, I demand a meeting with McCarthy and Murphy. I pound the table. I firmly request that Tonyan sees all of Kendricks’ snaps. I want to see what we have in this kid. He might be special.

I’m crazy, yes, but I still have faith that this team is going to turn it around. Throughout their careers, Rodgers and MM have almost always got the last laugh in the regular season. I’m banking on that happening again in 2018.

For those wanting to talk about Mike McCarthy's pending exit, there will be a time for that. That time is not now. For now, I focus on the Packers making a playoff run. And, when people ask me what I want in the remainder of the season, my reply is fairly simple. I'd like to see the NFC rankings go like this: 1.) Rams 2.) Saints 3.) Bears 4.) Redskins 5.) Packers 6.) Panthers. In the Wild Card, the Packers beat Washington and Chicago beats Carolina. The Packers beat the Rams and the Bears beat the Saints. The Packers flash trump card in Soldier Field, once again. The Packers play in the Super Bowl. Pipe dream? Undoubtedly. But, as long as there is a chance, I'll hold onto belief. I'm ready to enjoy this ride. One game at a time.

Kyler Fackrell! Wow! Where did that burst come from? He was a man on a mission. Hopefully, he can continue to play with purpose and to be a pass rushing demon.

Loved the Clay Matthews forced fumble. It was the exact thing that the Packers needed to start the game. It was fun to watch the Packers capitalize on the turnover as well.

Is Kumerow going to be activated?! You know that Rodgers is fired up about that possibility! If Kumerow plays, he will be targeted!!

Mettle is my favorite word in the direction. Mike McCarthy has displayed tremendous mental mettle throughout his career in the regular season. His teams have always handled adversity well. I'm confident that this team will finish the season with authority.

The Packers secondary has been in position to make plays, but their either not turning their head around or they are a half step late. Josh Jackson especially. He's really close to hauling in an interception. I think it happens this week.

With Davante Adams and Aaron Jones, the Packers have premier players at RB and WR. With ESB, MVS, Cobb, Kumerow and Williams, the Packers have great depth at both positions as well.

Well done, Trevor Davis. You got screwed on the long kickoff return. That was not a hold.

Not to gripe on the officiating, but how do you overturn that catch on the sideline? David Moore didn't even think he caught it. His body language told it all. Game changing call by the officials.

I loved when the Packers got Jones involved in the passing game to close the 2nd Quarter. Where was that in the second half? Rodgers has to look at his check downs. They're wide open!

Davante Adams. Total stallion.

Robert Tonyan. BOBBY!

Without Mike Daniels, our DL depth is razor thin. Expect all opponents to do exactly what Seattle did against us. They'll pound it right at the teeth of our defense. Time of Antonio Morrison to step up in the run game. He can stack and shed at ILB. He'll need to play a major role in the defense without Daniels. It's also time for Montravious Adams to step up and take advantage of his opportunity. Seize the moment, Adams!

MVS needs more than 3 targets a game.

The play design on the opening drive was fantastic. It had disguise. It had misdirection. It had motion. Then, it went back to the same old, same old deep ball.

Had Rodgers hit Adams in stride on the first deep ball, it'd have been a TD. Instead, the throw was a little behind him and because of it, Adams could not make a play after the catch.

Great grab, ESB!

Tony Brown has limited talents, but I love his fight and his confidence. He was put in a tough spot. He played well.

This team needs Breeland and King healthy. Badly. I want to see this secondary with Breeland, King and Jaire at CB.

This week - the board fell different than past weeks in my weekly Fanspeak Mock Draft. I was surprised that Greedy Williams was around with my 1st pick in the 1st round, so I had to grab him. I also went DL earlier than I would've preferred, but Derrick Brown was around in Round 2, so I couldn't pass him up. Because of it, my EDGE defenders are different than what I've been targeting on a weekly basis. Here's what I ended up with:

Round 1a.) Greedy Williams, CB, LSU.
Round 1b.) Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky.
Round 2.) Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn.
Round 3.) Chase Winovich, EDGE, Michigan.
Round 4a.) Yodny Cajuste, OT, Dub-V.
Round 4b.) Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford.
Round 5.) Max Scharping, OT, NIU.
Round 6a.) Carl Granderson, EDGE, Wyoming.
Round 6b.) Lukas Denis, S, Boston College.
Round 7.) Sheldrick Redwine, S, []_[].

This week - it's the 'queens. In Minnesota. On Sunday Night. When we last walked into this Dome, the Packers were 4-1 coming off of a season that fell one game short of the Super Bowl. The vibes around the Franchise were overwhelmingly optimistic. Rodgers went down and ever since then, the Franchise's buzz has been spiraling down hill. Well, "the roller coaster has to roll to the bottom before it climbs to the top again" and I can't think of a better place to reenergize this franchise than to find a win in the building that started this nasty state of mind.

We know them. They know us. When we played earlier in the year, Minnesota threw the ball 48 times and ran it 18 times. The 'queens would be crazy to only run the ball 18 times this week. In fact, I believe that the team that rushes the ball for more yards this weekend will win the game. I don't envision a scenario in which the Packers can stop Minnesota's run game. The DL is too depleted. The only thing that will stop Minnesota's run game is their impatience. Thankfully, I believe that Minnesota will try to throw the football. They'll look to Diggs deep down the field. They'll target Thielen on slants and ten-yard in-routes. They'll try to get the ball to Rudolph in the flat. They'll want to find Cook and Murray on swing passes. And, Cousins will make a mistake.

I really believe that Josh Jackson will have an interception this week.

McCarthy must stay patient with the run game. Big plays can happen at the teeth of the Minnesota defense. If you try to win with speed to the edge, the queens LB's are too fast. You have to attack run between the tackles. Win the trenches.

And, Rodgers has to look at the crossing route. It'll be open. Behind the LB and in front of the safety.

With Rhodes likely marking Adams all day, MVS will be a speed mismatch for Trae Waynes. Waynes cannot keep up with MVS. And, Waynes is susceptible to either giving up the big play on the deep ball or to being called for pass interference. I'd target him early.

The Packers have to finish in the Red Zone and Rodgers has to focus on three step drops on 3rd down.

This has the makings of a thriller!

Packers 31.
queens 27.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

My Take -> Week 11

Greetings, G-Force.

4-4-1. 1-2 in the season defining 5-game stretch. Firmly in position to make our push in both the NFC North and the Wild Card race. Really, when it’s all said and done, it feels like this will be the outlining week when describing the 2018 Green Bay Packers. With the win over the Fins, the Packers improved to 4-0-1 at home. On the road, the Packers are 0-4. And, now, the Packers travel to Seattle, which has been a house of horrors for our great franchise. Making matters even more complicated, the Packers travel on a short week to play in the Pacific Northwest.

When life needs a pick me up, I listen to Michael Franti. Right now, I'm vibing into his new tune, "Stay Human 2" and it hits home.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

Yes, an aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. But, McCarthy has to keep his wits with him. He should be most concerned with the down and distance coupled with the situation at hand. There was no reason to go for it on 4th and 2. Punt the ball. Play field position. Don’t let the opposition in the game. There’s a difference between being aggressive and being intelligent.

It was an absolute treat to see the Packers converting Red Zone opportunities into TD’s.

The Packers backs were against the wall. In return, the Packers based the majority of their offense around Davante Adams and Aaron Jones. The results were unsurprisingly splendid. It offers optimism for the future.

Aaron Jones is a flat-out superstar. A gem of a runner. His burst, his leverage and his toughness are an extremely unique combination. He has to continue to get a minimum of 15 carries and ideally, he’ll get 20 per game. He’s a true difference maker.

Breeland and Jostling Jaire bring an attitude that accompanies winning football. They’re confident. They’re physical. They’re tough. They break on the football.

Mad props to Raven Greene! The sack was awesome! The fake punt was thrilling. I loved how he broke on the ball near the goal line. He needs to hang onto the football, but still, it was a great treat to see him in position to make a play.

Tony Brown continues to play with a confident swagger to his step. He’s an intense mind. A weaker character would be defeated with his boneheaded plays in past weeks. Not Brown. He mans up and fearlessly sticks his nose into each play.

Looking around the secondary, we feel way more athletic with Josh Jones, Breeland, TMon, Jostling Jaire and Greene manning the back end of our defense.

Toughen up, Josh Jackson. Don’t grab. Tackle! I keep waiting for him to make a game changing play. He’s been close. He’s yet to finish.

Oren Burks is a bulldog on special teams. I want to see him coming on inside blitzes.

Again, Kyler Fackrell deserves props. Crucial third down sack. He’s dropping into coverage. He’s playing his best football as a Packer.

Kenny Clark. All Pro. Synonymous.

Breeland with the pick!

Save three plays and this was a mostly impressive performance! Take away the TMon fumble, the blocked punt and the decision to go for it on 4th and 2 in the 2nd Quarter. Other than those moments, this team felt a little different than other games this year. Sure, Rodgers still missed throws. Yes, Rodgers took a sack to knock us out of FG range. Yes, the tackling could’ve been better. But, overall, the team looked faster, better prepared and more efficient than we have all year.

Imagine this defense with two EDGE rushers? Pettine is doing wonders with a severe lack of pass rushing talent. Still, somehow, this team notched 6 sacks. It was very cool to see Jaire calling Pettine the best DC that he’s ever been around.

Corey Linsley was a stud. He consistently got to the second level. He ate up defenders and took out multiple players on a number of Jones’ big runs.

A gutty performance by Byron Bell. He played through pain and again, he stepped up on the interior of the OL.

Another really solid day for MVS. It’s clear that defenses are shifting a safety over the top to help track MVS on the deep ball. Once again, his hands were money. Instead of targeting him deep down the field, they targeted him underneath the sticks to keep the defense honest. In return, look for a wheel route

Wins cure all. It’s time to build a little momentum. It’s time for Rodgers to get in a quick release rhythm. It’s time for the defense to continue to force turnovers.

It’s easy to be a leader when things are going smoothly. It’s tough to lead when it feels like things are falling apart. I’m not being the body language police, but it feels as though MM is grumpy. I want the fiery MM. The motivating MM. The MM that has consistently had his team playing fantastic football as the weather changes. I’m hoping that this victory continues to swing the vibes at 1265 back to full out positivity.

There’s a lot to like about this team. I like our OL. I like 12. I like Jones. Williams is a solid back up RB. I like Adams, Cobb, MVS and ESB. I like Graham in the Red Zone. I like Daniels and Clark. Lowry is a solid rotational DL, too. I like Martinez and OB. I like Jaire and Breeland. When healthy, I like King. I like TMon. Greene and Brown offer a sparkling personality. Josh Jackson has had good moments. I like Crosby. I like Scott. We just need to put it all together and we need Matthews + Perry to apply a pass rush. This season is not lost.

As long as there is hope for a playoff run, I’m not going to toss this season into the blender. We’ve seen Wild Card teams make Super Bowl runs too many times over the last 15 years. So, as long as there is a chance, I’m going to watch with positivity. I’m going to hope to see Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy as a unifying force. As Leaders. I’m going to expect to watch this team playing with extensive fight. I’m going to expect to watch this team playing with composure as they hold onto a lifeline. For today, the Packers are in good position to make a significant playoff push over the last 7 weeks.

Congrats on the career, Jordy! XLV FOREVER!

In the Fanspeak Packers Mock Draft this week, things fell really well for me. I was able to grab the premier TE in the Draft. I was able to draft two OT’s to build depth behind Bakhtiari and to give me insurance for Bulaga’s future. I was able to draft 3 EDGE rushers. I was able to find 2 Safeties that could immediately compete for playing time. I was able to get a talented ILB and I drafted a highly talented DL in the 6th Round. Here goes:

Round 1a: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa.
Round 1b: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky.
Round 2: David Edwards, OT, WI.
Round 3: Joe Jackson, EDGE, []_[].
Round 4a: Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan.
Round 4b: J.R. Reed, S, Georgia.
Round 5: Jordan Fuller, S, Ohio State.
Round 6a: Dontavius Russell, DL, Auburn.
Round 6b: Kendall Baker, OT, Georgia.
Round 7: CeCe Jefferson, EDGE, Florida.

This week – it’s the Seahawks. In Seattle. It is difficult to imagine Seattle making the playoffs if they lose this week. And, while the game is not a must win for the Packers, per se, it also carries significant weight as a loss would leave very little room for error over the last 6 games. A loss would also mean that the Packers are going to have to start scoreboard watching on a week-in and week-out basis. If the Packers don’t win on the road, they don’t belong sniffing the thought of the playoffs. The Packers need this one for their confidence. The Packers need this one for momentum sake. The Packers need this one to inspire believe within the locker room.

The Seahawks offense is a different team when Chris Carson is on the field. If Seattle could have Wilson, Carson and Rashaad Penny on the field at the same time, they’d be in a position to create big plays in abundance. They’d redefine the way the RPO was put on film. Carson has a physically tough speed and power combination to him. He’s difficult to bring down and while he runs straight-up, he’s shifty in the open field. He also has the speed to hit the corner. Penny is a Homerun threat every time he touches the ball. Wilson remains among the most innovative in-play players in the game. When the play breaks down, he becomes even more dangerous. He’s always looking downfield when he is on the move and because of it, he often delivers a big play when it looks like a busted play. Historically, Mike Daniels has destroyed the interior of the Seahawks OL. He will have to, once again, do so. I can’t imagine that the Seahawks OL can move Daniels and Clark backwards. That battle will be a telltale of the game on Thursday Night. The Packers should have Jaire active. They need Breeland to be active as well. Baldwin and Lockett can get deep. And, they’re consistently in lockstep with Russell Wilson from a mental perspective. The Packers should have Jaire follow Baldwin all over the field. Nick Vannett has been a solid producer at TE for Seattle. He’s going to be a tough match-up for us. Vannett has minimized the impact that the Seahawks have felt by losing Jimmy Graham. David Moore has been a very good deep threat for Seattle. He catches the ball in traffic.

Defensively, Seattle is not what they once were. Frank Clark and Jarran Reed can get to the QB. Both have been stars at the line of scrimmage. Shamar Stephen has battled injury, but he’s been a pleasant surprise for the Seahawks when he’s been on the field. Bobby Wagner is still a stud at ILB. KJ Wright is also still playing at a really high level, but Wright might not play. Barkevious Mingo is littered with talent and has to keep putting his game together. He has not lived up to his expectations. Still, he can’t be discounted. The Seahawks secondary is still opportunistic, but they’re a far cry from the days of the Legion of Boom. There’s no reason for Rodgers to not eclipse 300 yards. Shaquill Griffin is the best of the bunch. He looks like Richard Sherman. He plays the ball well. He has a bright future. Brad McDougald is back from injury. When healthy, he plays the ball well in the air and is a decent tackler as well. Justin Coleman has the talent to be a slot CB. Tre Flowers is a classic John Schneider draft pick. He was little known, but he stands 6-3 and weighs 200 lbs. When you have those dimensions, Schneider is taking a shot. I hope Rodgers targets Flowers early and often. Neiko Thorpe is oft injured at the other CB spot. Tedric Thompson shouldn’t scare many at Safety.

Any interesting thing to watch will be the punting battle. Both Michael Dickson and JK Scott were 5th round picks in 2018.

Seattle is going to move the ball on Green Bay. Green Bay will move the ball on Seattle. Really, this game will come down to two things: Turnovers and Red Zone efficiency. Simply stated, it’s vital for the Packers to have to finish drives. Seattle’s run game scares me. I have a hard time envisioning the Packers keeping Seattle under 23 points. The Seahawks will likely have at least 5 scoring drives. It’s tough to play defense on a short week.

McCarthy would be wise to hurry up the offense. If Cobb is healthy, I’d like to see a lot of 4 WR sets with Jones in the backfield. I’d like to open up the middle of the field for the run game. It’d also open up the middle of the field for the newly found play-action crossing-route pass game that McCarthy has implemented over the last 4 weeks. But, it’s important for McCarthy to trust that his OL can block Seattle’s front. And, then, the big boys up front have to deliver. If so, the Packers will have success moving the ball.

We haven’t seen much of the play action roll out to the right shot play. We see it this week. It’s Rodgers to MVS for a big play and a tide turning TD to silence the Seattle crowd.

Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that Clay Matthews is going to come up with a big sack or two this week. He’ll be intent on hunting down Wilson. In many ways, I wish that the Packers would use either Matthews or Josh Jones as a spy on Wilson.

The Seattle run game scares me a lot. But, here’s to hoping that the Packers tackle better than I expect them to and then the Packers keep Seattle out of the end zone.

Jaire seals it with a pick late.

Packers 31.
Seahawks 23.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Friday, November 9, 2018

My Take -> Week 10

Greetings, G-Force.

3-4-1. 0-2 in the defining 5-game stretch of the season. Quite simply, thus far, the 2018 Green Bay Packers do not appear to know how to win. In back-to-back weeks, the Packers have fumbled away games at crucial 4th Quarter moments. Both times, the fumbles occurred at the exact moment in which it felt like the Packers were going to be victorious on the road. Still, all is not lost. This team is capable of getting hot, but in order to do so, the 2x MVP has to play like an MVP.

As I write with disappointment, I listen to “The Pizza Tapes” album by Jerry Garcia, David Grisman and Tony Rice. After all, as a Packers fan, over the last year, when talking football, it’s easy to feel like a “Man of Constant Sorrow.”

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

Congrats to Ted Thompson! I’m stoked that he’s being inducted into the Packers HOF! I’m surprised that it’s happening so soon. It makes me wonder about his health. It’s popular to frown on Thompson and his achievements. I’m not one of them. When it’s all said and done, I’m confident that people will remember TT fondly. Much like Wolf, Thompson inherited a poor roster. Both Wolf and TT quickly brought the Packers to prominence. Wolf put together 11 teams and won 1 Super Bowl. Thompson put together 13 teams and won 1 Super Bowl. Wolf made three NFCCG. Thompson made 4. Wolf gave us Favre. Thompson gave us Rodgers. Wolf brought in Reggie. Thompson brought in Sir Charles. Wolf drafted Freeman and Driver. Thompson drafted Jennings, Jordy and Jones. Wolf drafted KGB. Thompson drafted Clay. Wolf drafted Tauscher and Clifton. Thompson drafted Bulaga and Bakhtiari. For every Damarious Randall, there is an Antuan Edwards. For every Jason Spriggs, there is a John Michels. For every Jerron McMillan, there is a Bhawoh Jue. Thompson had the Brett Hundley fiasco to close his tenure. Wolf hired Ray Rhodes and took a team that went to back to back Super Bowls in 96 and 97 to 8-8 in 99. With Mike Sherman, Wolf's team went 9-7 in 2000. In both instances, the Packers missed the playoffs with Favre in the prime of his career coming off of 3 consecutive MVP seasons. With Rodgers, the only time Thompson missed the playoffs was in Rodgers’ first year as a starter and when Brett Hundley was his primary QB. It’s important to remember that in 2016, the Packers made it to the NFCCG and in 2017, when Rodgers got hurt, the Packers were 4-1. I don’t write this to point out Wolf’s faults. Ron Wolf is an icon, a historical phenomenon. He brought consistent legitimacy to football in GB for the first time since the 60’s. Without Wolf, there is no Thompson. But, it’s worthwhile to recall the striking similarities between the two. And, in the end, we should all remember TT fondly.

With that said about TT, there's no debate. The Packers present day roster is not good enough. In large part, it's not good enough because of TT's last 3 drafts. And, because of it, Mike McCarthy is enduring the worst stretch of his professional career. His team seems unprepared and dysfunctional. I hold onto hope that his team will find it’s stride down the stretch, just like it has for most of Mike McCarthy’s tenure.

Prior to the opening kickoff, Aaron Rodgers sat on the bench to tie his shoes. He parked himself right next to Aaron Jones. They meant business together.

I love Aaron Rodgers. I love Mike McCarthy. But, for some reason, they can no longer co-exist. They clearly have operational differences. The 2-minute drive at the end of the first half was unbelievably disgusting.

I watch a lot of football. The Packers are among the worst pre snap football teams in the game. Rodgers is often letting the clock run down to zero. And, because of it, we are burning timeouts and being penalized for delay of game penalties. It’s complete amateurism.

Keep pounding, Aaron Jones. I dig you!

The first time that we see Josh Jones on the blitz to the outside, we get a sack by Mike Daniels as Brady is forced to step up in the pocket. Really liked seeing Clay and Jones lined up on the same side of the field showing rush. Great design. Want that in abundance!

Once again, Rodgers didn’t bring his best performance to start the game. If he had his A game, it would’ve been 14-7 after 1.

When Trey is singing, “three wrong turns can make a right.” When the Packers are playing, three wrong turns means a punt. Unfortunately, against NE, 30% of the Packers offensive possessions resulted in a 3 and out. One other netted 18 yards. Another was a turnover. That’s putrid.

Drives me crazy to hear Randall Cobb say that this year feels different. Be a part of the solution, Randall. Not the problem. For years, I've believed that one of McCarthy's greatest strengths was that he was a player's coach. He was the epitome of a player's coach. Today, I wonder if players like Randall Cobb are taking advantage of his approach. What might feel different, Randall, is that the Packers have a couple of rookie WR's that are pushing you. They're outperforming you. They're stepping up as you deal with injury. That hasn't happened much in the past.

Jermaine Whitehead has to keep his composure. In that instance, you flop to the ground like Vlade Divac and you draw the 15 yard penalty. Still, I’m shocked he lost his job. Pettine often talked about him being the smartest player on the defense.

Will Redmond replaces Whitehead on the roster. Here is what I wrote about Will Redmond before the 2016 NFL Draft: Will Redmond, Mississippi State. Round 5. If he puts on weight and can keep his ability to dance, he could have a good future. He turns, he runs and he sees the ball. He's agile. He's a natural on his toes. He can jump. But, he's a softy. And, he's recovering from an injury. He has all of the traits to be a perimeter CB if he can stay healthy.

When I think of the best Packers defenders in my life, I think of Reggie White, Sir Charles, LeRoy Butler and Clay Matthews. Sadly, Clay Matthews no longer has the bend required to turn the corner. He can no longer dip underneath the Tackle. It hurts to watch.

Two weeks in a row, on a crucial 3rd down in the 4th Quarter, Lane Taylor has been completely demolished.

Before the season, I thought that Gutekunst overpaid for Byron Bell. I liked the signing, but I felt the money was too hefty. Bell has played well. He hasn’t been dominant, but he hasn’t been a sieve either.

In the past, I’ve frequently written about the Championship Drive. This years version of the Packers has lacked all killer instinct.

MVS is displaying traits of a premier WR. He needs more targets. Other than Calvin Ridley, is there a better rookie WR in the NFL? It was telling when Billy B took Gilmore off of Davante Adams in the 4th Quarter and put him on MVS. Respect is earned and MVS has earned it from both his teammates and the opposition. Good lookin' Gutekunst might've hit a HR with MVS. His star is shining bright!

When ESB is on the field, Rodgers is looking for him. Rodgers seems to have great confidence in him.

Antonio Morrison has shown well this year on the delayed inside blitz. He runs through the QB.

I would be really excited about this defense if we had two bonafide pass rushers. Over the next 8 weeks, I want to see Breeland playing on the Perimeter. I want Jaire on the Perimeter. I want Josh Jackson in the slot. I want Josh Jones attacking the line of scrimmage from a box safety position. With that said, I'm not only playing for the future, but I'm playing for today. Not only do I want to see if they're good enough, but all 4 of them seem to have a desire to be good football players.

Kevin King seems really fragile. I am not sure how the Packers can count on King being in their future. When he plays, he's a very good perimeter CB. But, his availability is significantly less than what is desired.

Breeland showed rust. He was in position. He didn’t finish the plays. Still, if you consider that he hasn’t played football in roughly a year, you have to be encouraged that he was in the right position to make a play.

Another stellar game from Jostling Jaire.

Fun to see TMon flying through the air to make a goal line tackle. Made me reminisce about Nintendo Nick!

It’d be nice to see Josh Jones on the blitz 3-5 times per game. I want to see him lined up next to Clay.

I don't think we know how good we have it with Aaron Jones. I seriously think he has the talent to be a top-5 RB in the league. He's that lethal. FEED. HIM!

Where are Reggie Gilbert and Nick Perry?

Kyler Fackrell has had some moments in which he’s played decent football in the run game.

I’m hoping that Trevor Davis can add a spark to the Return game. He’s capable.

Yes, it feels bleak. But, we must keep the faith. I trust that this team has a run in them. They’ll get hot. McCarthy has consistently rallied his team when his back has been against the wall. He’s displayed mental mettle. This team is not on the brink of playoff elimination. There’s still room for error. Wins cure all. I firmly believe that the future of the 2018 season is bright for the Green Bay Packers.

Here’s my Fanspeak Packers mock draft for the week. I too a different approach as I tried to hold off on drafting EDGE in the 1st round. My strategy might have backfired.

Round 1a) Greg Little, OT, Mississippi.
Round 1b) DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia.
Round 2) Brian Burns, EDGE, FSU.
Round 3) Rashard Lawrence, DL, LSU.
Round 4a) Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford.
Round 4b) Demarcus Christmas, DL, FSU.
Round 5) Tanner Muse, S, Clemson.
Round 6a) Joey Alfieri, ILB, Stanford.
Round 6b) CeCe Jefferson, EDGE, Florida.
Round 7) Kavontae Turpin, KR/WR, TCU.

This week - it's the Dolphins. In Green Bay. On Sunday, temperatures in Green Bay will be in the low-30's. In Miami, they will be in the low-80's. If the Packers can't beat Brock Osweiler at Lambeau Field, then I give up on the season. But, of course, the Packers will be victorious. It's November and the Packers are about to get hot.

The Dolphins are banged up. Osweiler should not be capable of scoring 17 points this weekend. Especially with his current arsenal of weapons. Kenny Stills, Jakeem Grant and Danny Amendola are among the worst group of current starting WR's in football. If the Dolphins are going to have any chance, they'll have to play great defense -- which they will -- and they'll have to run the ball 30+ times. Expect Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake to both get at least 15 touches in the pass + run game. They'll interchange Gore and Drake. Gore will punch it at the gut of the Packers defense. Drake will try to get to the edge of the defense. Drake will also be used in the passing game as the Dolphins will try to get him isolated in space. The Dolphins will be without Ted Larsen at Guard. Laremy Tunsil is also questionable. If the Packers cannot dominate the left side of the Dolphins OL, it's our own fault. Pettine should target Osweiler's blind side with heavy pressure. Dolphins, RT, JaWuan James is also questionable. Both Tunsil and James will likely play -- even if they're hobbled. Nonetheless, the Packers have to win the line of scrimmage.

Defensively, the Fins play with an aggressive attitude. They're an underrated unit who flies to the football. They got Cameron Wake back from injury and he instantly made his impact felt with two sacks against the Jets. Davon Godchaux is a brute force in the middle of the defense and Robert Quinn can still pressure the QB. Kiko Alonso has been a leader at LB. Jerome Baker has been a really solid draft pick. In the secondary, the Fins make plays. Minkah Fitzpatrick has been really solid. Xavien Howard has been rock solid on the perimter. Bobby McCain plays with a smiling personality. He's a fun CB, but he can be picked on. At safety, Reshad Jones is a superstar. TJ McDonald is a long, lanky safety who has faired better in Miami than he did in LA.

If the Packers can protect Rodgers and slow down the Gore and Darby combination, this should be a blowout.

I expect Gore to pound it at Clark, Lowry and Daniels between the tackles. Right behind the guards. It'll be vital for Morrison, Martinez and Burks to plug holes.

Osweiler is bound to make a mistake. I expect Josh Jackson to grab his first career interception.

Offensively, the Packers pound Aaron Jones. Early and often. The Packers offense should be able to lean on the Miami DL. And, really, if the Packers don't try to wear down the Dolphins DL, they might not try to pound the ball at anyone from here on out. I can't see Miami slowing down the Packers run game.

The run opens up the play action. It's Rodgers to MVS for 6!

I expect a Lambeau party and a number of Truffle Shuffle dancing fans in the freezing temperatures.

Packers 27.
Dolphins 16.

Hey Lambeau! Get lit! Let's do this!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, November 2, 2018

My Take -> Week 9

3-3–1. 0-1 in the season defining 5-game stretch. Still, the Packers fully reside in the mix of the parity laden NFC North.

As I write, I listen to the Beatles “Rubber Soul” album. I think about Ty Montgomery and his “try and see it my way” approach to his interview. No, Ty. I’m sorry. We cannot “work it out.”

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

The Packers had to move on from Ty Montgomery. What he did on Sunday was a colossal disaster. It was pure insubordination. It was cause for an immediate termination of his status on the roster. It’s unacceptable to completely disobey your coach’s orders. And, then, to fumble on the play? Well, that’s absolutely intolerable. To show how little interest that was generated, the Packers couldn’t even get a 2019 7th rounder. And, really, they were fortunate to even get the 2020 7th rounder.

I’m sad to see HaHa go. But, it was a smart business move by Gutekunst. It was clear that HaHa was gone after the year. And, since the Packers will likely be aggressive in Free Agency, it’s highly unlikely that the Packers would’ve even received a compensatory pick for him. Gutekunst is wisely playing the compensatory pick game. I imagine teams will mimic his move in the future. For what it’s worth, Detroit also did the same thing with Golden Tate this year. Further, the trade should allow for Breeland to see playing time as Tramon will likely see snaps at Safety.

I liked hearing the reports that Gutekunst seemingly held out on a HaHa trade to the Cowboys and his patience won him a better deal. Josina Anderson reported: “I'm also told #Cowboys did their due diligence engaging in some talk on one of the players the #Packers traded too, since it was thought Dallas may be a good landing spot for that player. Ultimately another team showed more love, after asking for more time to watch tape.”

The one guy that I would’ve liked to have traded for was Landon Collins. But, Gutekunst clearly has a long term plan and draft capital is a crucial component to his puzzle. Gutekunst has positioned himself to be able to fully rebuild the defense next year and he’s being wise with how he stacks picks. And, maybe, just maybe, Collins will be a Target in Free Agency.

The Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy combination should be disappointed in themselves. Let’s be real. Aaron Rodgers is superhuman, at times. He makes plays that no other player on the planet can make and he’s willed us to two victories when the Packers had no business winning the game. But, as a whole, Rodgers hasn’t been as sharp as we’re accustomed to seeing him. He’s missing throws that he normally connects on. And, with the injury, he has not been as mobile as in past years. He hasn’t been able to extend plays and because of it, he’s been taking sacks and putting the Packers in difficult down and distance situations. Also, in past years, Rodgers was a master at drawing defenders off-sides. That hasn’t happened this year. In essence, the free play has been taken away from the Packers. And, with regards to McCarthy, his use of the running back position has been absolutely baffling. Every time Aaron Jones steps on the field, it seems like something really good is happening. Yet, he still isn’t consistently fed the ball. He needs to touch the ball 20 times per game. He needs to get into a rhythm. When that occurs, big plays will continue to follow.

I’m convinced that McCarthy wanted to pass to MVS on a slant out of the end zone. Rodgers checked to a run and got burned for a safety.

The Packers led 10-8 with 10:33 to play in the 3rd. I’m certain that McCarthy wanted to run the ball on 2nd and 2. Rodgers checked to a pass and threw incomplete. The same thing might have happened on 3rd down, but it was less clear. Nonetheless, Rodgers was sacked on the play for a 9-yard loss. There appears to be a continued power struggle between McCarthy and Rodgers.

Most will have an issue with McCarthy’s decision to attack when he was up 2 with the ball and less than 7 minutes to play. Me? I liked it. An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. He went aggressive. Lane Taylor failed him.

A fantastic defensive performance had the Packers on the brink of victory. The defense was well prepared. They played with confidence. They were inspired. And, the enhanced motivation led to a handful of tremendous individual performances. The players who are supposed to make plays — made plays on Sunday. Kenny Clark is an All Pro quality player. He played like it on Sunday. Blake Martinez has top-tier ILB potential. He played like it on Sunday. Jaire Alexander showed why Gutekunst was so aggressive in trading up to get him. Kevin King made plays on the outside in both run support and in the pass game. Both Mike Daniels and Clay Matthews played their best game of the year. If Nick Perry were to decide to show up to the party, I think that this defense could continue with that type of performance during this crucial 5-game stretch.

I’m excited to see what TMon brings to the Safety position. One thing is for sure: TMon will be physical and he will play with reckless abandon. TMon will fly to the ball. He will toss his body around. And, while he can’t run like he used to, TMon is still really quick in short spaces.

Jostling Jaire! Say it is so! Throwing two-handed punches to jam at the line of scrimmage. Flashing his quickness. Showing good ball awareness. In my lifetime, the only CBs that I’ve seen play with that type of physical and mental intensity are: Sir Charles, Mike McKenzie and Craig Newsome. What a performance!

Kenny Clark looked like an All Pro! He could not be blocked. He was a dynamo along the line of scrimmage.

Blake Martinez on the inside blitz was a thing of beauty. He wasn’t thinking, he was reacting. He was using his instincts. I’d like to see Oren Burks or Josh Jones teaming with Martinez on inside blitzes.

At one stage in his career, Clay Matthews was terrific in space. Today, he can’t function. Pettine should no longer drop him in coverage. He’s lost.

The Packers play a ton of dime defense. With the HaHa trade, it’ll create opportunities for Josh Jackson, Breeland, and Josh Jones. I’d like to see Alexander and King on the outside with Breeland, Jackson and Jones alternating in the slot, depending on the call. It’s clear that Tramon’s role is changing and we will see Williams and Whitehead also rotating between safety and the slot role. It’s unlikely that we’ll see Tramon on the perimeter anymore, but I think the current roster make-up will allow for Pettine to become really creative with his secondary packages.

I was surprised that they didn’t try to match up Burks with Gurley. Use Burks’ speed and cover skills to man-up against Gurley as he punished the Packers for nearly 200 yards.

As for how they use him moving forward, I’d like to see Burks and Josh Jones – for that matter – on the blitz. In the preseason, Burks looked like he had the ability to rush the passer on inside blitzes and early last year, we saw Jones flashing skills on the outside as a blitzing LB. Both might be able to improve our highly inconsistent pass rush.

It was definitely a frustrating day at the office for the offense. In general, I’d like to think that Marcedes Lewis and Jimmy Graham are the solution to the Packers Red Zone struggles. Both have size that presents significant match-up problems. However, in the open field, both seem to have lost a step and might not be separating as much as we expected they would before the season. When the playing surface changes with the weather and the field slows down, maybe Graham and Lewis will be able to gain more separation as the turf equals out the speed portion of the game. But, as the season progresses, I’m not positive that we’ll see consistent production from either player. Especially with the recent plays that MVS and ESB have made. MVS and ESB will continue to steal their snaps. Regardless, Graham and Lewis need to be targeted more frequently inside the 20.

Aaron Jones. FEED. HIM! The Ty Montgomery trade might be a major blessing for Jones, too. He will see more playing time because of it.

It felt like the Packers got decent snaps from Tyler Lancaster and Montravious Adams along the DL.

I like that Robert Tonyan is seeing the field. I believe in his future. I watch George Kittle for the 49ers and I wonder why Tonyan can’t do the things he does.

Davante Adams continues to show himself as an elite WR in the league.

MVS!! Winning the arm battle to get a release? If that starts happening, look out.

ESB. 6 snaps. 2 targets. 2 catches. 31 yards.

Kyler Fackrell, once again, gave us some good snaps.

Gutekunst will likely have 6 of the top 130 picks and 10 overall picks heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.

There’s an added pick in this weeks Fanspeak Packers Mock Draft. My aim is to grab a Tackle and to build a defense:

Round 1a) Greedy Williams, CB, LSU.
Round 1b) Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky.
Round 2) Brian Burns, EDGE, FSU.
Round 3) Yodny Cajuste, OT, Dub-V.
Round 4a) Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford.
Round 4b) J.R. Reed, S, Georgia.
Round 5) Delvon Randall, S, Temple.
Round 6a) Carl Granderson, EDGE, Wyoming Round 6b) Tanner Muse, S, Clemson.
Round 7) Oshane Ximines, EDGE, ODU.

This week - the Packers travel to New England to play the Patriots. Normally, this section is reserved to show how the Packers can win the game. This week - I genuinely believe that the Green Bay Packers will go into New England. On Sunday Night. And leave with victory.

Tom Brady has weapons on offense. Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman are reliable targets. Both are gritty and play with tremendous football smarts. Josh Gordon is a weapon on the outside. I'm really excited to see Kevin King guarding Gordon. Rob Gronkowski, when healthy, remains the best TE in football. Cordarrelle Patterson is an elite Kick Returner. He's also a lethal gadget play weapon. The Patriots OL is beat up and could be a major weakness. The Packers DL must beat them up. Additionally, Clay Matthews should only rush Brady on speed rushes to the outside. Brady needs to be forced to step up into the pocket. If so, Clark and Daniels might be able to do damage on the interior. Brady will undoubtedly try to get James White involved in the passing game. The Packers would be wise to use Oren Burks as a match-up to White. I'd expect Belichick to try and pound Sony Michel - if he's healthy - at the heart of the Packers defense early in the game.

From a talent perspective, this is the worst defense that the Patriots have put on the field in many years. Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn are talented DE's, but they aren't anywhere near Pro Bowl level. Lawrence Guy, the ex-Packer, is a hard working interior defender. Don’t'a Hightower is a hard working, highly intelligent ILB. Kyle Van Noy is a product of the system. The Patriots have talented players in the secondary, but they can all be beaten over the top. Gilmore is a high profile CB who is solid in man coverage. Jonathan Jones is an all or nothing CB on the outside. JC Jackson needs to be targeted. I'd expect Rodgers to throw the ball at Jackson at least 15 times. Devin and Jason McCourty are mentally tough, sound football players. Patrick Chung has been a great Patriot, but his game is not what it was 5 years ago. This version of the Patriots is solely scheme based. They don’t have playmakers on defense. The Packers OL should offer time for Rodgers to pass and room for Jones to run. The Patriots don't match up well on the outside. I believe that MVS should hit over 100 yards as the Patriots try to take away Adams. Belichick won’t let Adams beat him. MVS will see single coverage. He will do damage. If Rodgers targets him. I’d like to see MVS as the #1 option on 3 deep balls this week.

Brady is still Brady. He’s going to work the middle of the field. He’s going to attack the slot. He’s going to make plays.

The Packers secondary is too talented for them to not intercept a pass per game. Someone will grab one this weekend. I’m guessing it’s Jaire.

Rodgers plays error free football and wins the perimeter of the field.

The Packers also concert in the Red Zone.

Packers 38.
Patriots 27.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac

Saturday, October 27, 2018

My Take -> Week 8

reetings, G-Force.

3-2-1. For a moment, the season had fallen into the darkness. It was an empty feeling abyss. Until a slew of consecutive plays monumentally propelled the Packers —in rocket-like fashion— from a horrendous vibe entering the bye week. The high spirited close to the 4th Quarter temporarily masks the heavy flaws that surround this historically great Franchise. Nonetheless, for now, let’s celebrate victories and soak in the moment as the Packers are squarely in the hunt for a NFC North Division title. I don’t know what the next 5 games will bring, but I have today and with it, I’m going to hope there’s a way for the Packers to carve out 3 victories in the next 5 games.

I sit with Phish’s October 23rd show from Nashville blazing in my ears. I was fortunate to be in attendance. It was “Party Time.”

My quick vibes over the last two weeks:

Mike McCarthy came out with a solid game plan in place. There was disguise, there was motion and there was great variety in both formation and play design. The Packers raced out to a 17-7 lead and all felt right. But, as adjustments occurred the Packers took their foot off of the accelerator. SF took advantage and McCarthy never recovered.

Aaron Rodgers. We can only hope that the last five minutes of the 4th Quarter propels Rodgers into the zone. When Rodgers is in rhythm, he’s the best player in the NFL.

Davante Adams. Smooth. Clutch. Dynamite.

MVS. Kid looks like a player! He needs to get stronger, but he has natural traits that can’t be taught.

ESB. A thrilling grab to get us into FG range. A potentially defining play of the season.

Good to see Jimmy Graham making big plays. We still need to figure out how to get him the ball in the Red Zone.

Aaron Jones showed burst. He looked lethal. And, then, he disappeared.

Jamaal Williams runs hard. He takes second effort to the extreme.

I liked seeing Ty Montgomery getting into the slot and digging his way across the middle of the field. I wish Rodgers would look to him as his primary read in that case.

Kenny Clark continues to play at a Pro Bowl level. He was the lone player in the front 7 to play a full 60 minutes. Dude is a yoked up bright shining diamond!

When will Mike Daniels dominate a game in 2018?

Blake Martinez has been really up and down this year. Makes me wonder if he’s still learning the system and because of it, he’s over thinking. He had a number of bounce back plays in the second half. Hoping he can return to being the definition of consistency.

The defense has missed Jostling Jaire. They feed off of his energy. Have lost a spark of confidence without him.

Brice is an absolute liability in coverage.

Loved seeing Kevin King make the monster play late!! In a game that felt like it was a mandatory win with the pending 5-game stretch on the horizon, it was King who came to save the day.

MASON CROSBY! Way to rebound!

Great play call on the TD to Adams to tie it. MVS wins his 1 on 1 battle and forced the safety to the inside. That left Adams in single coverage on the outside. I dig.

Raven Greene lowering the boom and making his presence felt on special teams!

Thus far, HaHa has been the only player on the defense to consistently force turnovers this year. He has forced 4 in 6 games.

Kyler Fackrell showed up in stealthily positive fashion in the 4th Quarter.

Clay Matthews getting a 4th Quarter third down sack made me smile.

Nick Perry getting his hands up and swatting down balls!

At some point, I want to see Josh Jones coming on the blitz. This team needs a pash rush and Jones seems like he would bring a burst to the QB that we aren’t getting right now.

Aaron Rodgers. Appreciate the brilliance. Gamer when it mattered most.

Where’s the Reggie Gilbert that we saw in the preseason?

Kudos to the fans. It was cold. With the Brewers playing at the same time, there was distraction. But, when the team needed to be uplifted the most, the fans rose to the occasion and made things tough on the young 49ers offense.

In my weekly Fanspeak Packers Mock Draft, I look to solve the Packers pass rushing woes with heavy quantity and a wide variety of pass rushing styles. The Packers need to find a way to get to the QB. This draft would instantly change their fortunes.

Round 1a: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky.
Round 1b: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State.
Round 2. Joe Jackson, EDGE, []_[].
Round 3. Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson.
Round 4. Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford.
Round 5. Marvell Tell III, S, USC.
Round 6a. Carl Granderson, EDGE, Wyoming.
Round 6b. DeMarcus Christmas, DL, FSU.
Round 7. DeShaun Davis, ILB, Auburn.

This week – it’s the Rams. In LA. The Rams enter as a heavily favored undefeated team that walks like they’re Champions. They’re well coached and have dynamic playmakers all over the field. They expect to win. However, the Packers are coming off a bye. A bye that has led the Packers to finally be healthy. It also allowed for Mike McCarthy to do some soul searching. McCarthy went as far as self scouting to see how he could improve his ball club. Historically, McCarthy's teams have risen to the occasion when it's mattered most. This game will have a playoff atmosphere to it. I expect the Packers to be prepared. After all, over the next 5 games, it's mandatory for the Packers to win at least 2 of them, but in reality, the Packers need to win 3 as I'm not absolutely positive that this team is capable of running the table against the Cardinals, Falcons, Bears, Jets and Lions. 10-5-1 would get the Packers to the playoffs. There's even a possibility that 9-6-1 gets the Packers to the playoffs this year. But, the magic number is 10 wins. And, the race to 10 has a steep task in front of it -- over the next 5 weeks -- kicking it off with a date against the Rams.

Jared Goff is playing with immense confidence. With Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, he has two WR’s that can beat you deep. The Rams will look to get both of them streaking down the field to expose Brice’s deep ball limitations. The Packers catch a break with Cooper Kupp likely missing the game. The Rams OL isn’t littered with big names, but they win the line of scrimmage. They often create massive holes that Todd Gurley can walk behind. Many times, Gurley has a head of steam and he’s 3-5 yards down field before he’s touched. Gurley’s power and physicality leads him to rarely get brought down by the first defender and thus, Gurley often gives the Rams 2nd and short. Sean McVay, the Rams coach, also does a fantastic job of getting Gurley involved in the passing game. McVay keeps the opposition guessing. McVay is a mastermind of creativity. In my opinion, McVay and Shanahan are the most creative offensive minds in the game. We saw what Shanahan did to the Packers defense with limited offensive weapons. Just wait to see how much misdirection and how many jet sweeps McVay throws at the Packers with high-level talent. He’ll look to get Gurley at least 5 receptions this weekend and he’ll force the Packers to tackle in the open field. Malcolm Brown is a talented back-up at RB.

Defensively, the Rams are as brute up front as anyone in the league. Aaron Donald is the premier defender in the game. Suh can still play. He dominates when he is motivated. Michael Brockers is a physical specimen who can win with both speed and power. Mark Barron is a speed demon at ILB. He can cover and he’s often given space to roam behind that massive LA front. The Rams secondary is banged up. Marcus Peters will be playing and so will John Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner and Sammy Swagga. I’m stoked that Sammy is back in the league. He was always a favorite of mine. Peters is a superstar on the other side. But, their depth is limited. So, the Packers would be wise to spread the Rams out and to attack.

The Packers can control the clock and the game by utilizing a combination of quick passes and the run game. The combination would also keep the defense honest when it came time to call play-action.

The Rams shouldn’t have an answer for Jimmy Graham. I fully expect Graham to have a big game.

As a huge underdog, look for Rodgers to find his rhythm early. Playing with a carefree spirit and a playoff intensity, Rodgers finds an open Davante Adams streaking down the sideline. The Packers find the end zone early.

The Rams are able to move the ball, but they have to settle for three. On two occasions.

Without forcing turnovers, it’ll be tough for the Packers to win. Good thing that I’m in the minority here, but for me, the jury is still out on Jared Goff. I think that he can be forced into turnovers. I believe that the Packers pick Goff off on two occasions this weekend.

The Packers quick passing game – much like the 2nd half of the Bears game – limits the Rams pass rush. Aaron Jones gets loose. There’s a bolt of confidence inside the Packers huddle.

Brace yourself. This one will be fast and furious. It’s Crosby with the game winner and once, again, there’s belief inside the fandom of the Green Bay Packers!

Packers 38.
Rams 37.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.