Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Offseason Thoughts

Greetings, G-Force.

Dewar's. Ice. The Gladiators "Father & Sons" album in the speakers. Packers football. Who's with me?

There's a human element to Football. Often, we forget. We imagine the players as robots. They're expected to be perfect. When they do not perform with excellence, fans can often move into attack mode.

There's also a human side to playing GM. Sometimes you're the aggressor. Other times, you are reactionary. In his previous 9 years as GM, Ted Thompson showed very little emotion. Then, he met 2014.

To review the recent past, in 2010, the Packers hosted the Giants & the Bears in Weeks 16 & 17. Must win contests. We won. They went to Philly. Left victorious. We headed to Atlanta. We won convincingly. We went to Soldier and left with Trump Card Forever. After the game, Bears fans were burning Ray Nutler jerseys in the parking lot. We were World Champions after a hard found battle against Pittsburgh. 2011 was a high-flying year. 15-1. Division champs. An offensive explosion. But, due to injury, there were severe scars placed on the Packers defense. Nintendo Nick was gone forever. As was Desmond Bishop. Both were pillars during the title run. DJ Smith was a promising back-up. He, too, was lost to injury. The defense still hasn't recovered from these losses. In 2012, the Packers were, once again, Division Champs. Once again, winning a title in Chicago. The 2012 Packers were more gutty than pretty or forceful. 2013 was a struggle. It had tons of drama, but significant frustrations as well. Still, the Packers prevailed and won the Division title. Notably, the title was won in Chicago. Yes, that's three titles won at Soldier Field in 3 calendar years.

Over the last 4 seasons, the Packers have won a Super Bowl & three consecutive NFC North crowns. Yet, suddenly, on paper, the Division seems to have tightened. The Bears, Viqueens and Lions all were aggressive in Free Agency and added key elements. Packers fans bit nails. So, I assume, did Ted Thompson. After all, he's human.

In nearly merciful fashion, against his character, Thompson has reacted in grand fashion. JULIUS PEPPERS! Ryan Clark posted a telling tweet: BEWARE: NFC North QB's.

Here are a few other rumblings that have flowed thru my mind recently:

* The Letroy Guion signing hasn't made much noise. He'll make an impact this year. He'll be disruptive. He'll be complimentary to those around him.

* I never like to see a piece of the XLV leave via Free Agency. James Jones was a fun Packer. I loved the bright yellow wrist bands or yellow tape along with the yellow gloves. Due to cap restrictions, it was time for a change. Hard as it may be, at times.

* Initially, I thought Chris Harper would play a role similar to what the Packers tried to do with DJ Williams. Not really a blocking TE, but a player that roamed in a variety of spots on the field. Sometimes in the slot. Sometimes in motion. Sometimes in the backfield. But, he is not tall enough. Coming out of college, I saw Harper as a steady, consistent player. I was convinced that he'd come to have a solid 7-10 year career as a possession WR. With James Jones gone, I'd give Harper #89. They're similar players. Both professionals with natural leadership skills. Both are largely possession WRs with an ability to occasionally win a deep ball. Both will fight for jump balls. Both will show bicep-infused emotion. While I believe the Packers will draft a WR, Harper will be given an opportunity to win the job as the #4 WR. And, I'm really excited about it. It's also noteworthy that Harper went to Kansas State, which is Jordy Nelson's alma mater. Nelson is a proud alum. Harper was a vital payer during Kansas State's exciting 2012 season.

* Speaking of Nelson, can we please sign him to a lifetime contract? I want an autographed Nelson photo in my basement. I'm holding out until he signs.

* Chase Thomas is on the 2014 roster. I might be crazy, but I'm calling it. He knows the 3-4 OLB spot. He knows zone coverages. He can drop in coverage. He can compete at the point of contact. He is a try hard man. He is more athletic than Frank Zombo. He is a competitor. He's a natural leader who can also play the role of follower. He is respected by past teammates. He loaded box scores at Stanford. He's a classic Ted Thompson "football player."

* The Eddie Lacy & James Starks Love Fest on twitter was epic. So was Mike Daniels kindness towards Julius Peppers.

* Compensatory picks are a part of the TT puzzle. James Jones & EDS should net the Packers draft picks. Marshall Newhouse signs with Cincy! Let's hope that he's active for 16 games. Hopefully, he'll play on special teams. CJ Wilson's future could net the Packers compensation as well. Wilson can play the run. He might fit in nicely in Oakland. With that said, I'd love 11 picks heading into the 2015 Draft.

* Owen Daniels was crazy to sign anywhere other than Green Bay.

Dear Owen, you should have done as Martellus Bennett did. Sign a 1-year deal in a super friendly TE environment. Stay healthy. Play as you do. Get rich somewhere else. But, first, prove yourself again. Show you can stay healthy. While Baltimore is TE friendly, they also have good depth. If the Packers were not aggressive in their approach, please ignore this message. Cheers, the BuzzBoy.

On a side note, Daniels is a Midwest man. From the 'burbs of Chicago. Went to school in Madison. He should've come home. He was a perfect Red Zone target for Rodgers. He would have instantly improved our TD efficiency. But, who knows, maybe the Packers weren't interested after visiting with him.

* I really hope Jerel Worthy can find his form. He was so good at Michigan State.

* If, in the future, I'm partial to the PAC-12, I'm sorry. I'm not really sorry, but I thought I'd apologize anyways. As people, we are a product of our environment and my life is committed to PAC-12 land for the foreseeable future. They play fun football out here. I promise to still keep up with the SEC, ACC, and Big 10. I know my roots and I'm proud of them.

* One of my favorite tweets ever comes from Lil Wayne: @LilTunechi: Eddie Lacy rookie of the year! Well deserved The green & yellow bumble bee bekuz if he hit ya it's gon sting!Green Bay all ****ing day!

* There you have it. Eddie Lacy = The Green & Yellow Bumblebee!

* Welcome back, Matt Flynn.

* I'm beginning to wonder if Free Agency has eliminated the notion of drafting the Best Player Available. The window for winning a Super Bowl is smaller than ever. GM's are forced to plug holes on the roster early in the Draft rather than taking the highest player on their draft board.

Heavy draft vibes are coming soon. But, to close, here's where I'm at in my Mock Draft. Admittedly, I'm unlikely to get any picks right this year, but if I were in charge I'd go heavy on players who force turnovers early in the Draft. I'd target the Forced Fumbles category.

One noteworthy item: Last year, the Packers traded down twice as the 49ers wanted to move up. Once again, the 49ers are littered with picks. They have two picks in the 2nd & 3rd rounds and 3 picks in the 7th round. A trade I could see happening: The Packers trade a #1 and a #5 for a #1, a #2 and a #7. The deal works with the draft chart and the Packers would have 5 of the first 100 picks. Thompson would be stoked!

As always, I use the CBS DRAFT SCOUT as my guide for which round to pick a player unless I want to draft higher than he is rated. And I only comment if I have watched him play. Further, it is rare for me to draft an OL as I do not follow the position as heavily at the college level. My mock:

Round 1: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State.
Round 2: Troy Niklas, TE, ND.
Round 3: Chris Borland, ILB, WI.
Round 3b: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU.
Round 4: Christian Jones, ILB, FSU.
Round 5: Kenny Ladler, S, Vandy
Round 5: Deandre Coleman, DL, Cal
Round 6: Aaron Lynch, OLB, South Florida
Round 7: Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Multitude of Offseason Vibes!

Greetings, G-Force.

A joyful St. Patrick's Day to you. I'm drinking Guinness as I type. And, I'm full of glee.

Believe it or not, you aren't always blessed with a Hall of Fame QB. When you are, you have to appreciate it. This year - we witnessed the pain associated with uncertainty at the QB position. Still, we survived. And, the Packers won the Division. In dramatic fashion. I will remember the 2013 season fondly.

Here are some thoughts since I last wrote:

* I look forward to a future with Eddie Lacy. Defenders will have to make "business decisions" as Lacy roars forward for years to come. I couldn't be more excited for the future of our offense. Rodgers and Lacy. Riveting.

* Jordy Nelson. Get locked up. Forever.

* I'm stoked that Sammy Swagga is back. Didn't like what we had to pay, but it was mandatory to bring him back. And, ultimately, it showed that what we paid was market value.

* I'm happy to have a motivated BJ Raji back on a 1-year contract. Enough with body eating Raji. I want the play-making Raji. The XLV version. Sign a body eater next to him. Let him freelance.

* I'm hoping Letroy Guion is that body eater. I liked him in Minnesota. He was forceful in the middle. He had good quickness. He played the run well. He disrupted plays up the middle. He's a good addition.

* Julius Peppers, yo. Julius Freakin' Peppers! Yes, Julius Peppers! Oh. My. God. Julius Peppers is a Packer. Yes, he's past his prime. Sure, he's coming off of a down year. But, the contract that TT signed him to has little risk and it's going to add significant diversity to the defense. Further, he's going to be an excellent presence in the locker room. Imagine a 3rd down defense with Peppers, a Neal/Datone Jones/Daniels combo, and Perry manning the line of scrimmage. With the Claymaker lingering in the middle. Roaming for his gap to attack. This could be epic.

* Another Peppers thought: Why can't he play the same role in the 3-4 that Aldon Smith plays?

* Welcome back, James Starks. I liked the Lacy/Starks rotation. It'll be interesting to see how DuJuan Harris & Jonathan Franklin fit into the mix.

* I'm trying hard not to classify Micah Hyde in a category similar to the way I did J-Bush, Ruvell Martin and B-Jack after the 2007 and Jeremy Ross last year. Had Hyde caught the ball, the Packers would've headed to Carolina with loads of momentum.

* The difference between winning and losing is minuscule. One could argue that the Cowboys are three yards from the Lombardi Trophy being the Landry Trophy as Dallas would have won SB I & II. Meredith would be remembered. Not Starr. Had Desmond Bishop not tripped up DeSean Jackson, XLV might not have occurred. Had Micah Hyde caught the ball...ah, it's fun to speculate.

* By signing AQ81 & Neal, the Packers haven't gotten better, but continuity is important and both are hard workers who'll play hurt.

* Ever next to a lady pounding McDonald's burgers on a tight airplane? If not, the smell is painful. Trust me. It is kind of like watching MD Jennings play football. The Bears still suck!

* I loved the picture of Peppers at Lambeau Field in front of the Championship years. Add another, Mr. Peppers.

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good one. Down 20-17. 4th Quarter. Lacy and the Packers OL were bruising the 49ers defense. Pushing them backwards. 1st & goal from the 9. The Packers appeared destined to take the lead. Then, suddenly, Eddie Lacy was taken off the field. Instead, McCarthy handed it off to Randall Cobb. McCarthy got cute and played into the 49ers strengths. I'll never understand it.

* I am stoked with how the OL looks. Bakhtiari, Sitton, Lang and a presumably healthy Bulaga! Also, Tretter offers excitement. Barclay can play. Sherrod should be fully recovered. The prospects of a dominating OL are promising.

* The 28-yard TD pass to Vernon Davis that gave SF a 20-17 lead makes me sick to my stomach. How did Morgan Burnett whiff? As I've watched it again, I've begun to wonder whether Burnett has the speed, athleticism and recognition to play in this league. He appeared to have no vertical leap. I swear that ball went right thru Burnett's hands.

* While it is fun to be hopeful about Brandon Bostick's potential impact, I'm not confident that he will ever be able to stay healthy. Seems soft.

* I'm excited that Chase Thomas is in Titletown. He can drop in coverage. At he college level, he made plays in space. And, he pressured the QB. He could surprise. Prediction: he's on the 2014 roster. Will be interesting to follow.

* If Owen Daniels is healthy, he's a perfect fit. If I'm Owen Daniels, I sign a 1-year deal in Green Bay. I expect to have a big year. And, then I make a big splash next year in FA. It happened with Martellus Bennett. Daniels could experience the same. I'd be shocked if Daniels isn't a Packer.

* James Jones was a great Packer. A true professional. Forever to be remembered in a positive light. Good luck in Oakland, JJ!

* I'm sorry if I was tough on you, EDS. You surpassed my expectations. Happy trails. Play well. Start 16 games. Net us a 5th round compensatory pick, please.

* I'll be sad to see J-Mike go. So much potential. So much to offer. Too bad that none of it was realized in Green & Gold. It feels like we've seen his last down in Titletown.

* Packers fans needed to chill after the first couple of days of FA. There was a lot of offseason left. TT has a plan. I trust him. We are the NFC North Champs! Others have to catch us.

* Julius Peppers is a Packer.

The Packers need to improve and/or add competition at S, TE, ILB, WR, and C. In that order. I'm early in my draft preparations, but he's a start to a mock draft. More to come in the near future. As always, I use the CBS DRAFT SCOUT site as a barometer for a rough estimate as to others will be drafted. I will occasionally move players forward, but never back.

Round 1 - Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State. Others will consider this a stretch. They'll view him as a 2-3 round pick. I think he'd change the culture of the Defense in a similar fashion that Eddie Lacy altered the aura on the offensive side of the ball. The biggest pain on the roster is at Safety. Bucannon solves this pain. With intense fashion. More to come on him as Draft Day nears. Other: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville.

Round 2 - Jordan Matthews, WR, Vandy. Big play WR. Gets deep. Full-on gamer. Shows up when needed. Clutch. Great hands. Can play on the outside or in the slot. Others: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech. Has the size and athletic ability to replace J-Mike. Was often used as a split receiver. Played in the slot. Absolutely destroyed Dub-V in Morgantown. And, every time Tech needed a play, he came through in the clutch. Has a nose for the end zone. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington. Love his size. Great hands. But, to my eye, he's disappointing after the catch and he isn't an overpowering blocker. Slow with the ball, but man, he caught everything when I watched him and he sat down in the zone. Further, he caught the ball in stride and didn't break pace. Prior to the Peppers signing, my pick was Carl Bradford, OLB, ASU. Shows up down the stretch. Good hustle. Sometimes inconsistent, but his good buzz is awfully positive. Can stand up or plant his hand in the dirt. Have not seen him drop into coverage much. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington. Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State. This dude DOMINATES on the inside. If Lang were to move to guard, Jackson would make great sense. Marcus Martin, C, USC. For my eye, he was the best Center that I have seen in my minimal viewing of the position. He can play either Guard or Center. TT likes versatility. Martin offers it.

Round 3 - Chris Borland, ILB, WI. He'd instantly be a fan favorite. Reminds me of Zach Thomas. A bruiser. He may not measure up, but man, put him on the football field and he dominates. Slaps wrists. Jars the football loose. Legit 3-4 prospect. Other: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU. When I watch Landry, I see a young Greg Jennings. Can play in the slot or on the outside. Crisp route runner. Lethal after the catch. Charles Sims, RB, Dub-V; Terrence Brooks, S, FSU.

Round 4 (a) - Christian Jones, ILB, FSU. Gets sideline to sideline. Hits with a menacing mind. Can pressure up the gut. Would help change the mentality of the defense.

Round 4 (b) - Kenny Ladler, S, Vandy. Been watching Ladler for two years. He's always around the football. Fits the Capers scheme as he can play In the box or deep down the middle of the field. Other: CJ Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa. Great 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle at the Combine. Big body presence. Solid hands.

Round 5 - DeAndre Coleman, DL, Cal. An absolute body eater. Inconsistent, but when he balls, he plays at a HIGH level. Would be an ideal fit for the 3-4 and fits nicely next to Raji, if motivated. Great length who uses leverage to establish a push. Disruptive when it's important to him. Other: Max Bullough, ILB, MI State. Tough minded. Displayed leadership skills prior to the mysterious disappearance before the Rose Bowl. A gutty, winner who gathers the troops. Blitzes well. Has the heart and mind to make an immediate impact.

Round 6 (a) - Aaron Lynch, DE/OLB, South Florida. Sometimes you have to draft on potential. Especially late in the draft. He has all of the tools to develop into an elite player. But, for whatever reason, he never hit his ceiling at the college game. Ideal size/speed for the 3-4. Lynch is worth a look. Other: Howard Jones, DE/OLB, Shepherd. Has the speed off the line of scrimmage that entices. Gets a good jump off the ball. Attacks the QB. Dominated lower level competition. Kasim Edebali, OLB, BC has limitations, but he is a try-hard developmental 3-4 prospect. I was disappointed in his ability to bring ball carriers to the turf in open space, but he does a good job showing recognition.

Round 6 (b) - Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose St. Not an elite tackler, but he wants it. Plays the ball exceptionally well when it's in the air. Solid playmaking skills with the ball in his hands as well. Could develop into a REALLY good player. Other: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State. Fun to look at RB's who were stallions at a big school and then got into off-field trouble. If there's a fire burning, a steal can be had. James Wilder, RB, FSU. Going to be a better pro than he was college player. All the tools. Tough runner.

Round 7 - Jordan Najvar, TE, Baylor. Love Najvar as a blocker. Good hands. Tough to overlook. Has the size that translates to being an elite threat at the next level. Underused at Baylor. Other: Alex Neutz, WR, Buffalo. Neutz can play at the next level. He'll likely be an undrafted FA. If so, I want him. Dionate Spencer, WR, McNeese State. I wish I knew more about Spencer. From my limited sample size, he looked like he was a threat after the catch. A possibility as a return man/slot receiver. An undrafted player.

Football's new year is upon. And the Packers have added a gem. I'm looking forward to seeing what else is in store.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Take -> Wild Card Round

Greetings, G-Force.

I'm a happy man. I like to surround myself with happy people.

It is likely an appropriate time to remind everyone that I'm not a journalist. I don't write for the public. I write a blog. It's intended for the fan. Notably, fans of the Green Bay Packers.

I promised myself to write in sobriety for the rest of the season. It's not happening. After all, since Sunday, if I haven't been working, I've been celebrating the glory that is the Green Bay Packers. I've had two pints of Lagunita's Hairy Eye Ball, a 1/2 pint of Cuvee des Jacobins and I'm now sipping a Stillwater Cellar Door that has been aging since 04/23/13. Forgive me.

Once upon a time, two hated rivals met. In a city located on a lake. One had good karma. The other, not so much. There was a joyful team located in the heart of America's Dairyland. They were called the Green Bay Packers. The Packers were playing the Monsters of the Midway. Those Monsters were city boys. They went head-to-head in a heated battle. Until...


On January 2, 2014, I received this text from a Viqueens fan: "Remember last year when Rodgers thew a 48-yard touchdown pass to Cobb on 4th and 8 with :38 seconds to go in the game, to beat the Bears, in Chicago, for the NFC North Championship and a ticket to the playoffs?"


Yes. Yes, I do.

Packers v Bears. In Chicago. For all of the marbles. Win or go home. Bears fans say, "Nutler outplayed Rodgers." Statistically, maybe that's true. And, then, Rodgers had his moment.

4th & 8. Less than a minute to go. Rodgers, who'd missed nearly all of 8 straight games, is lined up out of shotgun. Trailing by a point. The season on the line. Facing an all-out blitz.

Julius Peppers has a shot, but Kuhn makes a sublime block. Peppers swings his leg in an attempt to trip the alluding Rodgers. Rodgers gets to the outside. Cobb, who'd missed the past 10 weeks is supposed to run a curl to the yard-mark, but he notices a lapse in the defense and sees a flat-footed Chris Conte. Mid-play, Cobb audibles to a fly route. Arm-raised, he streaks past Conte. In mental unison, Rodgers sees the same as Cobb. In elegant fashion, Rodgers tosses a rainbow into the arms of Cobb for a touchdown.

Fittingly, Ray Nutler finished the game with an interception into the hands of Sammy Swagga. You know, Sammy Swagga. He's the same guy who ended the TRUMP CARD FOREVER game with an interception.

Are you kidding me? Hollywood couldn't have wrote it better.

So, for the third time in three calendar years, the Packers have beaten the Bears at Soldier Field to clinch a title. In 2011, they won the NFC Championship Game. In 2012, they won the NFC North title. In 2013, they once again won the NFC North title.

THE BEARS STILL SUCK. FOREVER. YES, FOREVER! And for Bears fans, I'm sorry, but envy is the ugliest word in the dictionary. Thus, I'd be afraid to look at myself in the mirror.

This Division title feels sweet. It was absolutely improbable. Consider the football miracles that allowed this happen. The Packers trailed Minnesota 23-7 in the 4th Quarter. They rallied to tie the game. The Packers trailed Atlanta 21-10 at the Half. They rallied to win. The Packers trailed Dallas 26-3 at the Half. Once again, they rallied to win. Then, a 61-yard FG diced Detroit and allowed us to control our own destiny. That 61-yard FG was the longest game winning FG in the history of the NFL. The Packers appeared playoff bound until an NFL-admitted officiating mistake prematurely cost the Packers a hard-fought game against Pittsburgh. However, once again, Detroit choked. This time to the lowly Giants. Regardless, the hated Bears had a chance to clinch the Division. On national TV. Against the Eagles. Until, Philly dropped 54 points on them. Yes, FIFTY-FOUR. A game in which Ray Nutler threw as many TD's to the Eagles as he did to the Bears. All of this set-up:

4th & 8. Less than a minute left. On the road. Rodgers to Cobb. Dagger. Heart. Inserted. Twisted. NFC NORTH CROWN. Therefore, the Trump Card is furthered to even greater depths.

I don't believe in schadenfreude. Unless it's dealing with the Bears, their fans and their organization.


Here are some takeaways from the NFC North clinching victory over the Bears:

* As I've said for years, an aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good thing. A conservative Mike McCarthy is never a good thing. On the final drive, McCarthy was aggressive. He went for the gusto. Because of it, THE BEARS STILL SUCK.

* 4th & 8. Forever.

* 00:38. Yes, thirty-eight seconds. That's 38. It's all that remained. It signaled victory. Remembered forever.

* Aaron Rodgers' run on 3rd & 3 from the 30 was absolutely amazing. He fooled Briggs out of his cleats. Dove for the necessary yardage. All guts. A Championship play.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! I hope to hear the chants in abundance this weekend.

* Welcome back, Randall Cobb. 2 catches. 55 yards. 2 TD's. Including the game winner, which was an NFC NORTH winner.

* Jordy Nelson. Man, I'm not sure that there are 5 WR's I'd take over him. Jordy, dude, sign with Green Bay. Forever.

* Well done, JJ!

* Fun buzz, Jarrett Boykin.

* James Starks is healthy. He's running with a vengeance. We haven't seen this type of purpose out of Starks since the XLV run. Brings back kind memories.

* John Kuhn powers forward for an all-important yard. He then follows it up with a killer block on Peppers.

* 4th & 8. Beat it, Chicago.

* Good concentration, AQ81.

* Be ours, Jordy. Until death do us part. And then some.

* Once again, I'd like to congratulate Eddie Lacy on setting the record for the greatest rookie year for a RB in the HISTORY of the Green Bay Packers organization.

* Aaron Rodgers is the best player in the NFL. Rusty or not, I want #12 on my team.

* Once again, Sammy Swagga sealed victory. Glorious!

* I enjoy the way T-Mon is playing. He's tackling well. He's reading plays. He has another big play in him this year.

* Andy Mulumba. Man, you have to appreciate his grit. He's still raw. But, he a fighter who plays the run well. Fun to see him notch a sack.

* Good effort, Mike Neal.

* ¿Donde esta, BJ Raji? Honestly, until I saw him celebrate after the 4th & 8 play, I wondered how much he cared.

* Jamari Lattimore and AJ Hawk left a lot to be desired.

* Micah Hyde is an Artisan. The more he plays, the better he's getting.

* Morgan Burnett and MD Jennings make me yawn.

* Sean Richardson. Dude, you have to make that tackle. If you can't, you don't belong.


* Mason Crosby has been gold this year.

* Rodgers to Cobb. With 38 seconds left. On 4th & 8. For the win!

* The game ended on a Ray Nutler interception. That was a mint moment.

* ¡Ay dios mio, Nick Perry!

* On the Bears second to last possession, the 2nd & 12 play was huge. Mulumba held the edge to perfection after Mike Daniels won the point of attack and busted up the play. Forte tried to make the best of what was around, but Mulumba was a student. Word up, Daniels and Mulumba!

* I feel good about the Packers OL. Bakhtiari balls. Sitton and Lang are studs. EDS and Barclay play with guts.

* I haven't gone crazy. Since Thanksgiving, the Packers defense has been Championship quality with the exception of the 1st half of the Cowboys game. Once again, turnovers and poor special teams play put the Packers defense in a bad position. When the defense has needed stops, they've gotten them. They've also forced turnovers.

* Eddie Lacy is a Green Bay Packer. Yes, the Green Bay Packers have a running game. Man, that feels good.

* As my cousin Danny said, this is the 2nd greatest Packers v Bears game. Only behind TRUMP CARD FOREVER.

* The Halas Trophy rests in the Visitors Locker Room. So, does the NFC NORTH Crown. TRUMP CARD is healthy. It lasts forever.

* Someday, you'll be sitting on your porch. Your Grandson will turn to you and say, "Grandpa, tell me a story about the Packers and the Bears." You'll pick up your glass of Dewar's on the rocks. Sip it slowly. You'll set the glass back on the table and you'll say, "It was 4th & 8..."


This week - it's the 49ers. In the Wild Card game. Yes, the same 49ers who have owned the Packers the last three times we've met.

I'm on record. If the Packers played the 49ers 10 times, I believe SF would win 8 of them. Regardless of whether the game was played in Green Bay, in San Francisco or on Mars. SF matches up well with Green Bay. San Francisco isn't necessarily a better team than the Packers, but they match-up well with us. Just like I believe Green Bay matches up well with Seattle.

First of all, if you've followed along, I'm a Mike McCarthy fan. I don't know a bigger fan. The issue is that I view Jim Harbaugh as a top-3 coach in the league. Harbaugh is a master of creating mismatches. He's the best in the league at it.

San Francisco has a beefy, athletic, intimidating offensive line. Arguably the best in the NFL. The Packers DL hasn't been elite. Colin Kaepernick's speed presents problems especially without the Claymaker. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter are punishing backs who will - more often than not - push through AJ Hawk, Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore for yards. Vernon Davis is a match-up nightmare for the Packers defense. Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin are far more physical than T-Mon and Sammy Swagga.

Defensively, the 49ers front 7 is as good as it gets. Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman can run with WR's out of the slot. Ray McDonald and Justin Smith are superstars. Aldon Smith is among the best pass rushers in the NFL. Until this year, Ahmad Brooks has been vastly underrated.

Thankfully, in the secondary, the 49ers are banged up as Carlos Rogers and Eric Wright might not play. Donte Whitmer and Eric Reid are legit at Safety. Tarell Brown can play. Tramaine Brock is physical. Don't underestimate the injuries to Wright and Rogers. If they're unable to play, that's a huge advantage for the Packers.

So, how do the Packers win? Spread them out! Then, pound away with Lacy and Starks. Get Jarrett Boykin on the field. Play JJ, Nelson, Cobb and Boykin. With Lacy or Starks as a single back. While I like AQ81, the mismatch is in the slot with Cobb and Nelson vs LB's or a depleted SF secondary.

Defensively, aim to contain. Single deep safety. 8 in the box. Limit the big gains on the ground. While over the past 8 weeks the Packers have played with 2 down lineman in abundance, I expect to see a lot of 3 down lineman this weekend. Stack the box with brute strength. Play with robust intensity. Trust Shields and T-Mon. Force Kaepernick to throw into the elements. Know that opportunities are coming. When the opportunities present themselves, carpe diem.

Also, feel fortunate for the cold weather. It'll slow down Kaepernick and make the read-option less lethal. It evens the playing field from a speed perspective. Advantage: Packers.

I fully anticipate the G-Force to be animated. Loud and proud. In full-effect. Making it difficult after the Packers grab an early lead.

It's a grind-it-out kind of game. Both teams looking to pound it at each other. With SF leading 23-17 late, Rodgers gets the ball. Destiny on his side. It's Rodgers to Nelson to move sticks. It's Lacy pounding away. With the crowd elevated, it's Rodgers to Nelson for a game-winning TD.

It's a nail biter. It ends in the Packers favor. Destiny is on our side.

Packers 24.
49ers 23.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

7-7-1. Yet, almost amazingly, we control our destiny. They say that cats have 9 lives. Clearly, so do the 2013 Green Bay Packers.

You'll have to pardon my excitement in this blog. While I'm 100% sober in the mind during this writing, I'm absolutely drunk with Green & Gold flavor. I just spent 6 days in Titletown, U.S.A. A trip that included a marvelous Christmas with the family, the baptism of my niece, lunch at Kroll's, a Lambeau Field tour with my Dad as the guide, hundreds of dollars spent at the Pro Shop, a lunch at Kavarna's, a dinner at Zesty's, beers at Titletown Brewery, my Mom's cinnamon rolls, and multiple New Glarus beers. Oh, and it also included a snowfest at Lambeau Field. Ah, it also included one more newsworthy piece: breaking news that Aaron Rodgers will lead the Packers into Soldier Field with the NFC North title on the line. It's worth mentioning that he'll arrive with TRUMP CARD FOREVER in his pocket.

Sure, the Packers lost to the Steelers. But, man, what a game! It was beautiful outside. The energy in the stadium in the second half had a bit of magic to it. The fans were into it. The defense came alive when we needed them. Down 10 points, the defense forced a turnover and came away with two more consecutive stops. Meanwhile, Matt Flynn was engineering drives. Down 7, Micah Hyde raged a kick return 70 yards to put the Packers within striking distance. Yes, team fell short. However, it didn't come without a fight and it didn't come without excitement. No, I'm not finding consolation in a loss. What I'm saying is that I left Lambeau Field feeling proud to be a Packers fan. The 2013 Green Bay Packers team carries a NEVER SAY DIE mentality to the bone. Injuries have undoubtedly taken a huge toll on this roster. Still, with one game left, if the Packers win, we're in.

Before I get into takeaways from the loss to the Steelers, I want to write one playoff thought: Assuming Rodgers and Cobb are healthy, the only team in the NFC that I'd favor over the Packers would be the 49ers. San Francisco has the Packers number right now. Do I want to see the Packers play at New Orleans? Not necessarily. I'd pick the Packers over the Seahawks in Seattle. Yes, I'm drinking the Green & Gold Kool-Aid, but I've said that since early in the season.

Here are some vibes from the game:

* Mike McCarthy's team fought to the finish. In the end, they didn't get the job done. But, they never quit. McCarthy called a really good game. He was aggressive. In attack mode. If he stays that way for the rest of the year, the Packers might have 5 more games on their schedule.

* The "EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!" chants are alive and well. After the blocked FG/illegal bat play, you had to love the EDDIE chants. Most of the Packers huddle was trying to quiet the crowd down. Not Lacy. He was asking for more volume. On the next play, Lacy pounded it in for 2 yards. That was an epic moment at Lambeau Field.

* Some will criticize Dom Capers for the defense giving up 38 points. Not me. Flynn gifted Pittsburgh a TD. On the Flynn fumble, the defense held only to have special teams choke it away with a penalty. On the opening drive of the 2nd half, the defense held, but a fake punt extended the drive and gave the Steelers the ball at the 26. By the way, I was sitting next to my brother, Chad, and called that fake. It was so predictable. Terrible awareness by our special teams unit. Special teams also cost us field position before the half and thus, the Steelers were able to get 3 points. In all, I thought the defense played fairly well.

* For the third consecutive game, the defense forced two turnovers in the 2nd half.


* The Packers defense is better with Jamari Lattimore on the field than they are with Brad Jones on the field.

* The Packers defense is better with Sean Richardson on the field than they are with MD Jennings on the field.

* AJ Hawk with a fun interception!

* The Packers best run defender last weekend? Andy Mulumba. Gulp.

* Actually, Mulumba holds his ground well against the run. He has no pass rush moves.

* Dear BJ Raji & Ryan Pickett, what happened? At one point, I thought you were a robust duo. Now? A lot to be desired. Raji seriously walked away from $8 million? That's crazy talk.

* Sammy Swagga is a stallion.

* I dig T-Mon.

* Victor Aiyewa is an above average special teams player.

* It hurts to lose Clay and Jolly for the year. A lot.

* Micah Hyde. An artisan. He's vastly improved out of the slot over the last two weeks.

* Matt Flynn is what he is. He's a back-up QB who knows the Packers offense well. The team has confidence in him. McCarthy is comfortable with him as they've worked together long enough. Because the Packers have multiple weapons, Flynn can succeed on this team. Hell, without him, the season would be over. He's been good enough to keep the Packers alive. He's a top-10 back-up QB in the league. But, he's a back-up who has plenty of deficiencies. Namely, he struggles to see the field. On multiple occasions, Jordy Nelson had big gains coming out of the slot. Flynn rarely looked his way. With 10:07 seconds left in the 2nd Quarter and the game tied at 7, the Packers took over the ball at their own 7 yard line. On the first two downs of the drive, Jordy Nelson was WIDE OPEN. On the first one, he'd likely have scored a 93-yard TD. No one was near him. On both occasions, Flynn never looked his way.

* Congrats to Eddie Lacy for breaking the Packers rookie rushing record.

* I'll eat crow for my earlier EDS comments. He's a fighter. He'll never be a Pro Bowler, but he plays with guts.

* David Bakhtiari is a very good player.

* TJ Lang and Josh Sitton have become an elite Guard tandem.


* Jarrett Boykin is a baller. So is Jordy Nelson. So is JJ.

* Here's how the Packers could win the next 5 games and leave the 2013 season as Super Bowl Champions: James Jones spread wide to the left. Jordy in the slot to the left. Cobb in the slot to the right. Boykin split wide right. Rodgers in shotgun. Lacy lined up next to him. Jordy & Cobb are both lined up a 1/2 step off the line of scrimmage to avoid the jam. Rodgers is given two plays before each down. He's in control of the game at the line of scrimmage. How could you defend that? You'd need 6 DB's on the field or else you're covering Jordy or Cobb with a LB. Would the DB's be willing - much less able - to tackle Eddie? This offense could put up 38 points per game. Lethal. One game at a time. With five games in sight.

* Last weekend - I bought my wife an Eddie Lacy jersey and multiple Eddie Lacy rookie cards. EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!

This week - it's the hated Chicago Bears. At Soldier Field. For all of the NFC North marbles. Clearly, the Packers have had the edge at Soldier Field in recent history. In the 2010 season, the Packers gained TRUMP CARD FOREVER as they took home the Halas Trophy at Soldier Field. Yes, that's right. Halas Trophy. Soldier Field. Visitors Locker Room. TRUMP CARD FOREVER. Then, in 2012, the Packers captured the 2012 NFC North crown at Soldier Field. This year, they're gunning to do the same.

Thankfully, Ray Nutler will be the starting QB for the Bears. Throughout his career, the Packers have owned Nutler. In his career against the Green Bay Packers, Ray Nutler has combined stats that read: 9 games. His team carries a 1-8 record. 9 TD's. 17 Interceptions. He also limped out of the NFC Championship Game with an injury that the media questioned and Bears fans burned his jersey in the parking lot following the game. He was labeled a quitter. Yes, the Packers have dominated Nutler in his career. Let's hope it continues for another week.

This version of the Bears is different. They're loaded with weapons. Jeffery and Marshall are superstars. Martellus Bennett is a mismatch. Earl Bennett is a solid 3rd WR. Matt Forte is elite. The Bears OL is vastly improved. Marc Trestman keeps Defensive Coordinators guessing with a large playbook. The Bears have a first-class offense.

Oddly, while the offense is in the upper echelon, the defense is among the worst in the league. They don't tackle well. They apply limited pressure on the QB. They can't stop the run. They're safety play is as bad as the Packers' safety play.

Expect a high scoring game. Thus, the edge goes to the Packers. Rodgers > Nutler.

Give credit where credit is due. Had the Bears not knocked Rodgers out, the Packers would have won this Division already. The Bears did what they had to do. Therefore, with one week left, they have home-field advantage in the winner-take-all contest.

Trestman loves to send Jeffery on the end around. He doesn't always give it to him on the reverse, but it's good trickery. Often, he'll send Forte into the short side of the field on those plays. The Bears run the reverse often enough that you have to take Jeffery seriously as he's running across the backfield.

The Bears will also run the pitch to Forte a couple of times. They'll have Martellus Bennett lined up tight against the tackle. Brandon Marshall will be lined up wide. He'll come in motion. Slowly. Towards Bennett. The design will appear for the play to go the opposite direction. Instead it'll be a wide pitch, which makes it easy for Forte to get to the outside. Jon Gruden used to run this play often with Charlie Garner. It's consistently effective.

Trestman is a river boat gambler. He's aggressive in a video-game style. It doesn't always seem sensible, but on occasion, he's scored big with his tactics. He'll attack the Packers secondary early in the game. He'll send Marshall in motion and hide him in the slot. Then, Marshall will sit down beyond the first down marker.

Even with winds exceeding 20 mph, expect a shoot-out. Like most Packers v Bears contests, it'll be a back-and-forth game. It's Nutler who makes the big mistake. And, therefore, it's the Packers who walk away with the NFC North title.

Lacy runs for 120 and 2 TD's. Rodgers throws for 300 yards and three TD's.

Packers 38. Bears 34.


Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

7-6-1. With ecstasy! In control of our own destiny. This calls for a taste of the Hair of the Dog Adam. 10% ABV. Smokey buzz with a sensational full bodied chocolate note.

The win at Dallas called for an "OUR HOUSE" chant. In legendary form, the comeback was historic. Tied for the greatest in franchise history. And, in the 2nd half, everyone did their part. Throw in Justin Tucker's 61-yard FG to beat Detroit on Monday Night Football and the Packers control their own destiny.

Here are some takeaways from the epic win over Dallas:

* Kudos to Mike McCarthy. It would have been easy to give up. But, not for a Mike McCarthy coached team. Since his arrival, he's portrayed a NEVER SAY DIE mentality. So has his team. Throughout, I found him to be animated. His appearance was though he always believed in his team. Well done, Irishman.

* It's been easy to point fingers at our defense over the course of the last 7 games. But, in the 2nd half, over the last two weeks, the defense has given up only 10 combined points. Over the same period, they've forced 4 turnovers; including 2 that have sealed victories. Noteworthy!

* It's time to remind the G-Force of who we are as a team. We aren't a dominant defense. We don't have elite special teams return units. But, we don't have a super running back, lethal WR's, an above average OL and an extremely capable TE. When we play with ball controlled offense and run the clock, we're tough to beat. But, as fans and as a franchise, we have to remember our identity. And, we have to play within ourselves. And, when we eat up clock, our defense is well rested and, thus we're more physical and an all-around better team. With Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb, this team feels like it could make a run.


* Big ups to Matt Flynn. Flynn responded in grand fashion. After a miserable 1st half, Flynn was brilliant in the 2nd half. In the 1st half, I thought Flynn made three miserable decisions. On the 1st drive, he had Jordy in the slot. He saw the blitz. He didn't get rid of the ball. Crosby bailed him out and saved three points by drilling a 57-yard FG. On the interception he threw, he tried to force the ball to Jordy. However, in plain view, AQ81 was running wide open down the seam. On the 3rd & 1 pass to Lacy on the last offensive drive of the 1st half, he had AQ81 all alone. It was a 2-man route. There was no excuse for not seeing him. Had he seen AQ81, Quarless would have had an easy 60-yard TD. In the 2nd half, Flynn found his TE 5 times for 62 yards and a TD. A TE and a RB are a QB's safety valve. They also breed confidence in a QB. When Flynn throws the underneath routes on early downs, he moves the offense efficiently. In the end, Flynn finished with 299 yards and 4 TD's. He connected with 7 WR's. Rightfully, he was given the game ball. And, he saved our season. Terrific work, Matt Flynn!

* Jordy Nelson is unbelievable. He never ceases to amaze me. He's a natural at making catches in traffic.

* Way to elevate, AQ81! Huge ups!

* Josh Sitton, EDS and TJ Lang played supremely.

* David Bakhtiari is going to have a long career in Green Bay.

* JJ with the TD!

* Had to enjoy the middle screen to Starks. What a great play call by The Irishman!

* Consider this: the Packers got the ball 5 teams in the 2nd half. The drives went for 80 yards, 80 yards, 22 yards, 80 yards and 50 yards. All were TD's. Magnificent offensive display.

* T-Mon has caught a lot of flack over the last 2.5 years, but man, that dude is a gamer. He's a big play waiting to happen.

* Mike Daniels. Man, it's so fun to have him on the team. Dude has 6.5 sacks. He's constantly fighting. I loved seeing him congratulate Lacy after his game winning TD. Lined up next to the Freezer, Daniels appeared to be stoked to aid as a blocker.

* Sammy Swagga looks to be the most crucial FA that the Packers have to re-sign this offseason.

* Congrats to Eddie Lacy! Topping 1,000 yards as a rookie. 77 yards from tying John Brockington's franchise rookie record.

* Nice effort Mike Neal.

* Nick Perry gets a push on pass downs.

* It's clear to me that Clay Matthews should spend more time as an inside rusher. He's been swallowed recently in 1 on 1 situations when rushing from the outside. But, his 1/2 sack was huge. Got Dallas off the field. Datone Jones did a great job in preventing Romo from getting outside the pocket. Loved seeing Daniels' celebration after the play.

* I'm going to combine all of the excessive negatives into one asterisk. MD Jennings should never see the field again. If he were cut, I doubt anyone would pick him up. Brad Jones consistently tackles too high. His year started off with a lot of life. Now, he's a liability. Morgan Burnett? Dude, really? Really? He's been poor.

* Keep fighting, Josh Boyd. Like the effort. He's either beefy at the line of scrimmage or he's driven 5 yards back. There's no middle ground. Strive for consistency, young man.

* Sean Richardson is a presence. Can't say he's a star in coverage, but by appearance, he's far superior to MD Jennings.

* Mason Crosby has been gold.

* Jarrett Boykin can dance. I'd like to see him in Green Bay for the next 10 years. Great length. Terrific hands. Smooth after the catch.

* Eddie Lacy's smile is magical.


* It's worth mentioning: in 2010, DeSean Jackson did the unthinkable in Week 15 to allow us to control our own destiny. In 2013, in Week 15, Justin Tucker made a ridiculously long kick to allow us to control our own destiny. Both amazing special teams plays that offered us hope. There are plenty of other parallels. But, that one has me scratching my head.

* It's also worth mentioning two players stats: Greg Jennings is up to 59 catches for 733 yards and 4 TD's. Was hoping he'd get 70 catches, 1,000 yards and 6 TD's and hope that we could get a 4th Round compensatory pick for him. That's unlikely. Erik Walden notched his 3rd sack last week. I'd predict that the Packers will get a 6th Round pick for him.

This week - I'm headed to Titletown, U.S.A. My favorite game of the year is the Christmas Game. I'm stoked for a 3:25 kickoff. I'm hoping for light snowflakes. I'm looking forward to my Dad belting out John Lennon's "So, this is Christmas" over the loud speaker. Always a treat. It'll be joyful to witness this one with my Family. Can't be more excited.

The last time we saw the Steelers, it was the XLV Super Bowl. #1, baby. #1. XLV Forever. Gon' Pop Tarts on 'dem Steelers. Guarantee that my car will be bouncing Lil' Wayne's "Green & Yellow" this weekend. That'll be savory.

As I turn down memory lane, how can I not bring up the Yancy Thigpen game. That, too, was a Christmas game. That game brought us an NFC Central title.

I realize that I'm writing this blog early, but the reality is that I'm driving back to Titletown, U.S.A. It was my only chance to get something posted. While it doesn't feel as though Rodgers is playing, I have to set a stage: Could this be one of the most unique moments in the history of the Green Bay Packers? Think of the frustrations we've felt this year. A once promising season suddenly turned evil when the hated Bears slammed our MVP to the turf and knocked him out. He misses the majority of 7 games. In those games, we go 2-4-1. It appeared the season was over, but suddenly, after two great comeback victories, the Packers control their destiny. And, then, out of the tunnel, we hear Bill Jartz belt out..."And, at Quarterback, from Cal, #12, Aaron Rodgers! Lambeau will be electric! This has to happen. Destiny is on our side. It feels that way. We're influenced by positive imaginations.

The Steelers and the Packers. At Lambeau. In December. That's football. In vintage form. Two of the greatest franchises in the NFL squaring off. All beautiful.

The Steelers have weapons on the outside. Antonio Brown is one of the most underrated WR's in the league. He's an elite weapon. A great kick return. Dangerous. The Steelers love to throw the screen to Brown. He's a big play threat. Every time he touches the ball, he's thinking about 6 points. Emmanuel Sanders is a talented, but inconsistent player. The Steelers love the WR screen to Sanders as well. He's shifty and is capable of taking it to the house. Jerricho Cotchery is a wily veteran. He finds holes in the defense. A great 3rd down WR. Heath Miller isn't the guy he used to be, but he's a MAN. A crafty player who understands the game and is in lock-step with Big Ben. Le'Veon Bell is a 3-down back who is a receiving threat. Jonathan Dwyer is tough to bring down.

Big Ben is playing well. Over his last 5 games, he has 12 TD's and only 1 interception. He's in a groove.

The Steelers OL is a work-in-progress. They've been banged up. The Packers DL should win the line of scrimmage.

The Steelers defense isn't what is once was, but they're savvy veterans. Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark may have lost some speed, but they still have power and strike fear into opposing WR's. Ike Taylor has lost a step. The Steelers DL isn't what is once was, but they appear to be healthy for this week with Brett Keisel and Steve McLendon returning to the line-up. I really like their LB's: Lawrence Timmons is a rising superstar; Vince Williams hits everything that walks; Jarvis Jones hasn't been what I had expected he'd be, but he's a strong pass rusher; and Jason Worilds/Chris Carter are young, developing players.

The Packers are the better team. With or without Aaron Rodgers. With Rodgers, the Packers might win by 17 points. Without him, it'll be a nail biter. But, this version of the Steelers doesn't dominate the line of scrimmage. I really think the Packers will beat Pittsburgh up in the trenches. We'll be the more physical team. Being from Pittsburgh, you know this one is important to Mike McCarthy. The boys will be ready.

Assuming Rodgers sits, it'll be closer than it should be. However, Flynn finds Boykin. And Nelson. And Jones. And AQ81. And Lacy on the dump-off. Then, it's Lacy pounding it up the gut. The Packers take a 10-point lead early.

Big Ben leads them back. Big Ben does a masterful job of annoying the opposition by extending plays. Look for him to make a couple of big plays to Antonio Brown on busted plays. He'll also extend plays and connect with Miller and Cotchery. Keeping the Steelers alive in frustrating fashion.

It's nerve-wracking. In a tight game, Lil' Wayne nails it: "Touchdown on Ike Taylor."

Packers 30. Steelers 27.

With the Bowl games on the horizon, I thought I'd provide a quick 7 Round Mock Draft for the Packers along with some others that have caught my eye. This mock will obviously change extensively between now and the Draft. Not all will be playing in Bowl games, but they're included nonetheless:

Round 1.) Eric Ebron, TE, UNC. With AQ81 as a Free Agent and J-Mike's future uncertain, Ebron looks to fit in perfectly as a receiving option. Others: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vandy; Louis Nix, DL, ND; Haha Clinton-Dix, S, AL; Kyle Van Roy, OLB, BYU.

Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State. I want Bucannon. Be sure to watch him in his Bowl Game. He's a missile. A sure tackler. Slaps wrists. Picks off passes. A turnover machine. I'd take him in Round 1. Others: It's hard to not select Jarvis Landry or Odell Beckham. The LSU WR's fit our scheme perfectly. CJ Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa; Kony Ealy, OLB/DL, Mizzou; Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB, Texas; Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford; DaQuan Jones, DL, Penn State.

Round 3.) Kenny Ladler, S, Vandy. Ladler isn't a fierce tackler, but he brings ball carriers to the ground. He's also great at making plays on the ball, while it's in the air. He's instinctive. He & Bucannon would compliment each other well. Others: Terrence Brooks, S, FSU; Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn; Michael Sam, OLB, Mizzou; Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech; Chris Borland, ILB, WI; Charles Sims, RB, WVU; Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State.

Round 4.) James Gayle, OLB, Virginia Tech. Gayle has ideal 3-4 OLB size. He doesn't possess the ultimate burst off of the line, but he's a productive player who pursues with desire. Further, Gayle has been a consistent player throughout his time at Va Tech. Others: L'Damian Washington, WR, Mizzou; Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State; Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois; Yawin Smallwood, ILB, UCONN; Tre Boston, S, UNC.

Round 5.) Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State. He's a leader. A sure tackler. Smart. Directs traffic. A strong inside blitzer. Gets sideline to sideline.

Round 5.) (For Greg Jennings) Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU. Hoffman has good size/speed combination. He has a nose for the end zone and catches the ball in traffic. I envision him as an ideal back-shoulder receiver in the Packers offense. Others: James Wilder, RB, FSU; Deandre Coleman, DL, Cal.

Round 6.) Shamar Stephen, DL, UCONN. He has the length that the Packers are looking for. He's not an overwhelming playmaker, but he's active and holds the point with passion. Others: Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville.

Round 6.) (For Erik Walden) Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky. He was all over the field for bad Kentucky defense. Still he stood out. Consistently among the best players on the field in an SEC game.

Round 7.) Alex Neutz, WR, Buffalo. Every time I watch Neutz, he's making big plays. Oh, and he's finding the end zone. Reminds me of a poor man's Jordy Nelson. Others: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

6-6-1. Back to even! Please allow me to pause and set the stage. I'm sipping a Stillwater Stateside Saison. This Farmhouse Ale feels like you're drinking flowers. It's the proper way to reminisce on last Sundays win as the feeling of that victory was beautiful. I'm listening to the Black Uhuru Bubbin' It Live album. I'm feelin' it.

Most years, there are a couple of Sundays where things seem to fall into place. Couple the Packers victory with the Lions loss and there was reason to celebrate. In heavy fashion. My gut says that if we can pull off three more wins, we'll be playoff bound. But, it starts with one win at a time. Here are some takeaways from the victory over the Falcons:

* At halftime, I turned to my wife and I said that it was mandatory to enjoy each play of the second half. The season was on the brink of elimination. The crowd was rightfully annoyed. McCarthy looked frustrated. The ball wasn't bouncing our way. All signs were pointing to a cursed season. And then, in epic fashion, the Packers rallied. In unison. With a NEVER SAY DIE mentality.

* Props to Mike McCarthy. I've long felt that he's a players coach. Right as it felt as though the season was nearing closure, McCarthy's team bought in. In full effect. With heightened energy. And, thus, we have hope.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! There are times that I watch him and I think that if both he and Rodgers stay healthy, Lacy may end up in the Hall of Fame. I seriously don't think that's a stretch. He reminds me of Jerome Bettis. He's powerful. He's deceptively fast with soft hands. Good vision. He pounds his way forward. Defenders seem hesitant to want to take him head-on. I agree with Alex Van Pelt who said that DB's "have to make a business decision whether you're going to take the big fella on."

* J-Bush! What up, Jarrett? Go get that Hall of Fame TE. Tony Gonzalez is the greatest TE to ever play. But, last Sunday, with the game on the line, Jarrett Bush beat him in a 1 on 1 battle. Well done, Jarrett. Oh, it was fine form to clinch the win with an interception.

* Johnny Jolly, yo! What a huge game! A run stuffer. The batted pass. And, the huge fumble recovery. WHAT IS LIFE!

* If Nick Perry ever stays healthy, he's going to consistently get 8-10 sacks.

* Big play, Mike Neal! That strip sack was enormous!

* Thought Pickett played well early in the game.

* Matt Flynn doesn't see the field very well. On multiple occasions, he missed open players over the middle of the field. There were numerous open plays down the field. With that said, I give him credit for finding the safety valves. 13 of his 24 completions were to the TE and to the RB. He relied on the underneath routes.

* Big ups to you, AQ81. The best game of your career.


* There was a Ryan Taylor sighting. And, I kinda liked it.

* Jarrett Boykin can play on my team any day.

* Good run after the catch Brandon Bostick.

* Keep pumping the legs, James Starks. But, remember to run North/South. Starks' lateral running don't produce good results. Ever.

* I like when Micah Hyde blitzes from the slot.

* Good game, T-Mon.

* Sean Richardson is an upgrade. He brings a physical presence. I didn't like when he was dragged two yards after contact for a first down. Nonetheless, I like the way he looks in uniform. Barring injury, MD Jennings shouldn't see the field again in 2013.

* Here's a great Eddie Lacy fact: Lacy is just 113 yards from becoming the second rookie back in franchise history to reach 1,000 rushing yards. In 1971, John Brockington rushed for 1,105 yards. Lacy is definitely within striking distance.

* Josh Boyd played. But, he got pushed around.

* Need more out of AJ Hawk and Brad Jones.

* Morgan Burnett disappoints. Immensely.

* Good hustle, Datone Jones.

* Victor Aiyewa looks to be a decent special teams player.

This week - it's the Cowboys. At the sight of one of the best memories of my life. Picture this: An XLV Championship. Standing 20 rows from the turf. With your Mom, Dad and older brother. Arms around one another. Confetti falling from the sky. Raised right index finger. #1, baby. #1. XLV Champs. Forever.

And, now, we return. With a similar mindset as the last time we went to Dallas. As it's transcribed on the XLV ring: "One mind. One goal. One purpose. One heart." One. One win. One game at a time. We need this one. Desperately.

Sadly, we arrive without Aaron Rodgers as the starting QB. For a moment, it felt like he'd be arriving as though it was Easter Sunday. And, thus, ultimately, the Packers would be elevating in grand form. But, instead, it's Matt Flynn leading the way. With the season lingering in the balance.

Dallas has weapons. Tons of them. DeMarco Murray is lethal. Dez Bryant is gifted. Jason Witten is abusively possessive. Miles Austin has game. Tony Romo is a natural. Terrance Williams might blossom into an elite WR in the league. Tyron Smith is a terrific left tackle. Travis Frederick is a solid Center. Bottom line - Dallas will score points. Likely, in abundance.

If the Packers don't score 30 points, I don't envision a victory. Thankfully, the Dallas defense is beatable. In fact, they're amongst the worst in the league. Throughout his career, Monte Kiffin has performed well against the Packers. His Cover-2 defense has caused both confusion and turnovers. Let's hope that it's different on Sunday.

Though DeMarcus Ware hasn't had his best season, he's still a threat on every down that he's playing. Jason Hatcher is among the best DT in the game. He scares me. George Selvie has the speed to present issues to the Packers offensive tackles. We know Jarius Wynn well. He can't play. With that said, we're all forever thankful for his sack on Favre, when good ol' Brett was wearing Purple at Lambeau. It sounds as though Sean Lee won't play. That's a HUGE boost. Bruce Carter might also miss the game. Therefore, the front 7 of the Dallas defense will be heavily decimated. Eddie Lacy should run for more than 100 yards.

The Cowboys secondary confuses me. They have players. I'd take Brandon Carr, JJ Wilcox, Morris Claiborne, and Orlando Scandrick on my team. All have futures in the league. All, at times, have been abused in 2013. Spread 'em out, McCarthy. Let's attack.

It's a shootout. Without a doubt. Let's hope that Flynn sees the field. If so, the Packers will out-gun the Cowboys. If Flynn holds onto the ball too long, the Cowboys will get pressure and they'll force turnovers. The Dallas defense has lived off of turnovers. Without them, they're pathetic.

Dallas cannot cover us. No one on the field can cover Jordy Nelson. No one. No one on the field can man up against Eddie Lacy. No one.

Be creative, McCarthy. Be aggressive, McCarthy. If so, we'll have enough offense to win.

One final thought: Dwayne Harris is arguably the most dangerous return man in football. We can't let him beat us. Someone has to make the tackle.

Packers 34. Cowboys 30.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 6, 2013

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

5-6-1. It looks bleak. Yet, the philosophy remains to NEVER SAY DIE. At times, it feels like the team has quit. Like they've lost hope. But, it's not over yet. Detroit has a tough schedule ahead of them. The Packers have 4 winnable games on the schedule. Win out and the playoffs are a possibility.

As Packers fans, we aren't accustomed to meaningless December games. We've been spoiled over the last 20 years. And, now, we are faced with elimination. Painfully. But, as fans, we must stay unified. The aim is to repair this season; one win at a time.

Here's some takeaways from the Turkey Day disaster:

* A conservative Mike McCarthy is never a good thing. He's become way too predictable. On 2nd & 10. He's running Eddie Lacy. Note to McCarthy: the objective is to put your back-up QB in 3rd and short scenarios. McCarthy did Flynn no favors.

* Early in the game, Flynn did not go thru his progressions. If he'd have seen AQ81, it'd have been a big play. Instead, he was locked in on Jordy Nelson, who was well covered. A big missed opportunity early in the game.

* I am struggling with my take on Dom Capers. On the one hand, why isn't Clay exclusively on the left and Perry on the right? Didn't Clay have 39 sacks in 3 years from the left side? Hasn't Perry been dominant on the right side? To me, that's on Capers. On the other hand, it's tough to win with MD Jennings, Brad Jones and AJ Hawk in the middle of the defense. Jennings is awful. Jones shows glimpses of goodness, but he tackles too high. He reaches way too much. And, since coming back from his injury, he's been pushed around. This should be AJ Hawk's last year in Green Bay.

* More Capers: is it just me or has the DL quit? Other than Mike Daniels and Datone Jones. Maybe Pickett & Jolly are injured, but what are we doing with BJ Raji? In the XLV run, he was blossoming into an elite player. Today, I'm not sure how he's being utilized. Seems like more coaching flaws. His team appears to have given up on him.

* One final Capers thought: How long are we going to tolerate miscommunication in the secondary? I've been an avid Capers supporter. Last Thursday was the final straw. He has to go.

* Nick Perry played a tremendous first half.

* Clay was also active in the first half.

* T-Mon played well in the first half.

* JJ played until the final whistle.

* McCarthy looked to be going to the screen to slow down the pass rush. We had good success. Then we never saw it again.

* Marshall Newhouse cannot play in this league.

* Admire TJ Lang for stepping in at Center.

* Sean Richardson can tackle. He might lack speed and thus, he'll need to adjust his angles in pursuit, but nonetheless if he doesn't start and see significant snaps this week, then I am overly confused. How can MD Jennings be tolerated?

* In an effort to prevent a completely negative post, I'm going to move onto the Falcons game.

This week - it's Atlanta. At the once feared Lambeau Field where the Packers are 0-2-1 in their last 3 games. Good thing that the Falcons don't appear all that interested in the 2013 NFL Season.

When I think about a Falcons v Packers game, the first thing that comes to mind is the greatest quarter in my Packers lifetime: the 2nd Quarter of the 2010 NFC Divisional playoffs was awesome sauce. Rodgers was spectacular. Driver, Jennings, Jordy, and JJ all made plays. Clay & Sir Charles grabbed sacks. BJ was a lead blocker and doing THE RAJI, prior to proclaiming himself the Freezer. T-Mon had two picks, one in which Nintendo Nick escorted him to the end zone. Brilliant! My lil' brother and I were in attendance. A gold moment. Forever cherished. I left hoarse. Remained that way for weeks.

For both teams, 2013 is far different than 2010. The Falcons still have Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. They have some weapons. Plus, Harry Douglas is an average WR. Thank the Lord that the Falcons outbid the Packers for Steven Jackson. Jacquizz Rodgers is a shifty, low-to-the-ground runner with decent hands. When he's given opportunities, Jason Snelling performs. In the past, the Packers DL has been outwardly opinionated with respect to their dislike for the ATL OL. Especially Raji, who has claimed that they're cheap. Could this be the spark that ignites effort on the defensive side of the ball?

Let's hope that David Bakhtiari returns to health and that EDS is fit to play or else the Packers revamped OL will have issues with the ATL front 4. Though Atlanta's defense is among the worst tackling units in the league, we've seen Marshall Newhouse try to block Osi Umenyiora before. It doesn't end well. Jonathan Babineaux, Jonathan Massaquoi and Corey Peters shouldn't present much of a pass rushing threat. Sean Weatherspoon can play. The ATL secondary can ball, but they haven't played with much motivation. Regardless, I like Moore, DeCoud, Trufant and Samuel. They can all make plays on the ball in the air. With that said, their secondary depth is limited.

The Packers need this one. Desperately. The locker room needs it. The state of Wisconsin needs it. McCarthy has nothing to lose. He comes out aggressively. In attack-mode. He goes to the screen to get Lacy on track and into space. Lacy pounds away at the edges of the ATL defense.

Then it's Flynn to Boykin for a TD! Mark my words, Boykin has a big game. His size, hands and body control present match-up problems for Atlanta.

I'm afraid that Gonzalez, Harry Douglas and Roddy White will each grab 5 balls. Chase Coffman could also make a play or two. Then, it's Rodgers juking Hawk to pick up extra yards.

It's back and forth. But, the Packers are desperate. And, therefore, they're victorious as in the end, they want the game more.

Yes, I'm holding onto every last piece of hope. Hard as it might be. But, it's as simple as this: from '99-'02, you could argue that we wasted some of Favre's prime. I fear the same could happen to Rodgers. Every year counts. Therefore, I hold on. I hold onto this twisted season in hopes of turning it around.


Packers 24.
Falcons 23.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.