Saturday, October 10, 2015

My Take -> Week 5

Greetings, G-Force.

4-0! A 2 game lead over the rest of the field in the NFC North! With the next 2 games at Lambeau! Carpe diem, Titletown, U.S.A.

As I write, I sip a Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale. What a perfectly concocted beer! Sweet like a piece of caramel candy. It's 9.5%, but the booze is well disguised. It's a mouthful. Almost to the point that it feels like you can chew it. If this beer can still be found on shelves in America's Dairyland, be sure to grab it! I give it a 10 out of 10.

Musically, Toots & The Maytals' "Never Grow Old" vinyl spins. Partially selected due to the brilliance of Sir Charles Woodson. It is his Birthday week. 62 interceptions. Again, he rips off Ray Nutler! It was magical. Nearly brought a tear to my eye. That man never gets old. And, for old times sake I remind you of his greatness: Heisman Trophy. National Champion. Defensive Rookie of the Year. Defensive Player of the Year. Super Bowl Champion. The ONE speech. The first player to notch 60 interceptions and 20 sacks in a career.

I can't help but - once again - post that words to that epic speech:

"Think about one thing. One. For two weeks, two weeks, think about one. One mind. Let's be one heartbeat. One purpose. One goal. One more game. One. Let's get it! And check this. President [Barack Obama] don't want to come watch us play in the Super Bowl? Guess what? Guess what? We'll go see him. White House on three. One, two, three. White House!"

May the Good Lord always shine his light on Sir Charles Woodson.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* I have to remind myself that an aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. Twice on the last drive of the 2nd Quarter, the Packers went for it on 4th & 1. Both times, I wished they hadn't. I guess that I was practicing amateurism. McCarthy had his finger on the pulse of the game better than I did. On the first 4th & 1, I'd have played field position. Clinging to a 7-3 lead, I feared that the 49ers would get the stop and have an opportunity to get the ball near midfield with a shot to take the lead before the half. And, on the second 4th & 1, I didn't think McCarthy should risk leaving points on the field. As it turned out, he settled for a FG any ways and Crosby missed it, so it didn't matter what McCarthy chose to do.

* Even when Aaron Rodgers isn't robotic, he's still Superhuman. Have to wonder how his game would've changed if Ty Montgomery had held onto the ball on the opening pass down the sidelines. Rodgers' play fake on the play was fantastic. Fooled everyone.

* Total treat to see McCarthy and Clements put Montgomery and Cobb in the backfield early in the game. The Packers wanted this game. Badly. They weren't going to leave anything off the table. It was important to show disguise early.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! Toughing it out. 90 bruising yards on 18 carries. 5 yards per attempt. All physical. A grind-it-out performance from EDDIE!

* Starks was steady. Thought he missed the hole on the 8 yard screen to the outside. Seemed as though Sitton held his block to the outside. It also appeared as though Jones had the DB pushed to allow an alley for Starks to run through. Might have been a missed opportunity for a big play.

* Was good to see KUUUUHHHNNNN involved in the passing game. I thought we might see more of that early on. With all of the options that the Packers possess, it's easy for a defense to overlook Kuhn. Don't be surprised if we start to see more underneath passes to Kuhn on the roll-out.

* The FB Dive was back. And, this time it netted 6 points!

* Knew the 49ers Defense would come out possessed. Didn't think they'd out physical the interior of the OL as much as they did. Sutton, Linsley and Lang were moved backwards more than they've been all year. Limited Rodgers' passing lanes. Forced him to escape earlier than he'd like to.

* Donny Barclay was solid for 3 Quarters. Then, he got absolutely worked in the 4th Quarter. Still, the Packers are 3-0 with Barclay as the starting RT. And, considering Barclay has received little-to-no help, he's played admirably. For the most part.

* Bakhtiari is rock solid.

* Richard Rodgers is quietly becoming one of the most consistent players on the team. Wish his routes were three yards deeper than they're currently being run, but he's the check-down receiver on most plays. And, clearly, the MVP has full-trust in him. But, as a blocker, he's consistently exposed.

* The Rodgers to Rodgers TD. OH MY! First of all, pure brilliance by the MVP to escape. And then to roll to his left to create time. Then, Richard Rodgers' presence of mind to find the hole in the defense. Great camaraderie. He's turning into a legitimate Red Zone target. As I've said all along, he's catching a minimum of 6 TD's this year and don't be surprised if he grabs 10 TD's.

* Do a little dance, James Jones. Marvelous footwork along the sidelines. The vet continues to shine. Even in the pink wrists. Personally, I prefer the yellow wrists.

* Randall Cobb leaving it all out on the field. Brute toughness. First-class hustle. Overly determined. Blessed to have him in Green & Gold.

* Ty Montgomery continues to warrant targets. When he touches the ball, good things happen.

* Good to see Kennard Backman scuffling it up.

* Banjo, Janis, Palmer and Ripkowski each made their presence felt on special teams. Janis, once again, was very impressive as a gunner.

* It was reported that Jayrone's Elliott's nickname is "Shakespeare" because all he does is make plays. Great sack by the rising youngster. Can't wait for him to be allowed to fully act on instinct, so that we can see him try to win with a speed rush around the edge. It seemed as though he was being used in contain mode yet his burst was enough to get him to the QB. His role has to continue to increase.

* Julius Peppers is a monstrous presence at DT in the middle of the field.

* BJ RAJI! Remains in XLV form. Loved his hustle. His pursuit was exceptional. He was a force in the middle of the defense.

* Letroy Guion going spiritual gangsta after the play. Bringing attitude.

* Datone Jones continues to eat up blockers and finish plays. He's undoubtedly playing the best football of his short career.

* Mike Neal with the CRUCIAL sack!

* Mike Daniels grinds. He's tireless. He's passionate. He won't be denied.

* The CLAYMAKER! What a fantastic performance! Consistently disruptive. Showing elite speed and power up the gut. He got in Kaepernick's head early. He stayed in Kaepernick's head often. Great game by Clay.

* Joe Thomas continues to impress. Knocked the ball loose inside the Red Zone. Would have been great to see the Packers recover it, but nonetheless, good to see the ball on the ground.

* Like Datone Jones, Nick Perry is playing the best football of his career. Two sacks. Consistent pressure. Working until the whistle. Finishing plays with intensity.

* Nate Palmer with his best game of the year. He was around the football. Even with his size he lacks strength, but his heart can't be questioned.

* SAMMY SWAGGA! FLASH THAT SMILE! BRING SWAGGA TO THAT SECONDARY! He gambled on his interception. He guess right. And, he showed the athleticism required to go up and get it! Big play from Sammy Swagga!

* Quinten Rollins is an aggressive tackler. He hits with conviction. Fearless.

* My guess is that SHOWCASE, Casey Hayward, has a big play coming. Likely in the next two weeks.

* Damarious Randall was tested. He was up for the challenge. Even when he was beat, he had good coverage. Loved his patience and composure on the pass defensed in the end zone. Didn't look like a veteran on the play. He'll continue to see increased opportunities to make big plays.

* Micah Hyde. Trustworthy. In the right place. Tremendous role player.

* HaHa with his best game of the year. Remarkable job of defending the read-option. He was all over Kaepernick on the outside. As Clay pursued Kaepernick up the middle, Kaepernick was flushed to the outside. HaHa was waiting. And, he was a sure tackler. Liked seeing HaHa on the outside run blitz as well.

* Dom Capers, yo! DOM CAPERS. Great design. Kept Kaepernick uneasy. Monstrous mental win for Dom and the Packers locker room.

* Sad to see that Sean Richardson's career might have come to a close with another neck injury. Seems like a great teammate. Wish him great health.

* This team is playing with great confidence. An aggressive gait permeates around this team. Exuding goodness. A healthy aura. If the team stays healthy, it feels like something special is brewing. But, health is key.

* Mike McCarthy teams always improve as the year goes along. We've yet to see this teams best football.

This week - it's the St Louis Rams. At Lambeau. The first noon kickoff of the year at Lambeau. The game will provide a major test for the Packers. And, frankly, I'm nervous. Just like in past years, the best way to defend the 2015 Green Bay Packers is to rush 4. Hope you get pressure. Jam the WR's at the line. Slow down the timing. Keep everything in front of you. And, then, offensively, keep Rodgers off of the field. Run the football. Don't turn the ball over. Play possession football. And, if you have to punt, do it. I could argue that no one applies this strategy better than the Jeff Fisher led St Louis Rams.

Offensively, the Rams will look to play possession football. They'll pound Todd Gurley. Early and often. They'll try to out-muscle the Packers DL. The Rams will also look to play action. Expect to see Nick Foles rolling to his right. Jared Cook is an under appreciated TE. He's a weapon. Lance Kendricks creates mismatches with his size/speed combination. Kendricks can stretch the field. Tavon Austin is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. He's elusive and he's only satisfied with game-altering plays. He's a dangerous kick returner. Stedman Bailey is steady. A sure route runner. Solid hands. A tough cover. Kenny Britt presents a physical presence who can get over the top. The St Louis OL will try to bully the Packers with attitude. They'll be physical, but can be beaten with speed around the edges.

Defensively, the Rams Front 4 is absolutely terrific. Chris Long, Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn. That's fearsome. 'Nuff said. James Laurinaitis is an intelligent, tough-minded ILB that perfectly fits the persona of the Rams defense. Akeem Ayers has been inconsistent as a pro, but I've always been a fan of his game. He's often around the football. They'll miss Alec Ogletree who went out with an injury. The secondary is underrated. Janoris Jenkins and Lamarcus Joyner are undersized, but they're physical. And, they're confident. Trumaine Johnson is rough at the line of scrimmage. He gets his hands on WR's and alters routes with physicality. TJ McDonald and Rodney McLeod aren't fleet of foot but their well positioned and will often play deep in order to prevent anything over the top.

It'll be interesting to see how rowdy the Lambeau Faithful elevates this Sunday. In the two previous games, the crowd has been fantastic. But, they were both prime time games. This game is a Sunday afternoon game. There's no national audience. It's not under the lights. It'll be up to the crowd to try and make things difficult for the St Louis offense. Get up, Lambeau. Be proud. Be loud!

Early on, St Louis slows the game down. Grabs yardage on the ground. Gurley pulls Palmer for extra yards. Jared Cook gets loose in secondary. But, the Packers hold to 3. The Packers respond. It's EDDIE and Richard Rodgers making up the majority of the yardage. And, then, it's the MVP to James Jones on a back-shoulder pass for a TD.

The Rams front 4 gives the Packers trouble. But, Eddie Lacy continues to grab yards. The Packers patience is tested on offense. The Rams move the football as Gurley eats yards. The Packers neutralize Austin, but Kendricks and Cook make plays. Randall quiets Britt. Hayward makes a play on Bailey.

Cobb catches 5 balls. Lacy runs for 85. Richard Rodgers catches 6 balls. James Jones catches 4 balls. The MVP adds two TD's.

The Packers win a frustrating, nail biter.

Odd gut feeling: The Packers bust up a fake punt attempt by the Rams.

Packers 20. Rams 19.

I didn't get as far as I'd to have gotten on my 2016 Packers Mock Draft, but here's where I'm at so far. And, as always, I only comment if I've given a thorough study of the player. There are a number of Juniors that I have my eye on that I'm less convinced will declare as anyone that I've listed below. In those cases, I've excluded them from my mock. I'm struggling to find CB's that I'm infatuated with. Like usual, I haven't given attention to OL draft picks. I've given the Packers an extra 4th and a 5th as compensatory picks.

Round 1: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State. I see him translating to an ILB role in a 3-4. Great speed. Pension for making the big play. Others: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (even with the injury); Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU (if he's on the board, he's the pick, but I believe he'll be off the board before the Packers select at #32.

Round 2: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama. Would be a great compliment to Eddie. Has the mudders stride. A gamer. Shows up when the lights are on. Others: Kendell Beckwith, ILB, LSU

Round 3: Deon Bush, S, []_[]. Tough minded athlete who plays the ball. Physical tackler.

Round 4: Wayne Lyons, CB, Michigan. Have the size that the Packers target at CB. Can turn and run. Not afraid to get his hands on the WR. Sure tackler. Physical player. Others: Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma; Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple

Round 4: Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado. Outside of Jordon Nelson, the Packers lack a deep threat. Spruce can stretch the field. Great hands. Extremely productive throughout his career. Would fit into the culture of the Green Bay locker room.

Round 5: Bronson Kaufusi, OLB/DE, BYU. Great athlete. Tireless in pursuit of QB. Needs work dropping in coverage, but carries his weight well and is nimble for his size.

Round 5: Jake McGee, TE, Florida. Willing in-line blocker. Excellent receiver. Finds the holes in the defense and sits down. Can line out on the outside and run effectively. Dangerous red zone target. Huge upside. Other: Jake Duzey, TE, Iowa.

Round 6: Antonio Longino, ILB, ASU. Love the way he blitzes from the inside. Shows leadership qualities. Energizes the defense. Plays with excitement. Plays fast. Other: Pete Robertson, LB, Texas Tech.

Round 7: KJ Dillon, S, West Virginia. Confidently steps into the slot and will run with any WR. Can play FS or SS. Not afraid to step into the box and get physical. Like Dillon's return ability as well. Taking Dillon over Geno Matias-Smith, S, Alabama. Matias-Smith can cover in the slot. Former CB. Willing pursuer in the run game. Finds the football. Other: Raphael Kirby, LB, []_[]; Deion Jones, LB, LSU

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

My Take -> Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

I believe in the rising sun. I believe in the energy of the moon. I believe that love is the diamond that sparkles in the sky. I believe that music is hydration when the mouth is dry. I believe that the heartbeat is the rhythm which lights the night. I believe that a smile offers the joy that brings life its light. I believe that while the Ocean has a pulse which rushes a rapid flow; a Mountain is the King of all we wished we'd know. I also believe that a healthy Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay Packers team can beat anyone, anywhere. Yes, Aaron Rodgers is the unquestioned MVP of the NFL. Fittingly, he's the LEADER OF THE PACK. Aaron Rodgers. MVP.

I've spent the last month of my life in the NICU. Writing a blog wasn't my top priority. There were many occasions in which I almost skipped the Week. I've been emotionally and mentally beat-up. Life was taxing. I'm not a journalist. I'm a blogger. And, I thank you - my reader - for liking and sharing this blog on Facebook. I thank you for commenting beneath my Facebook posts. I thank you for Retweeting or Favoriting my tweets. There was a 50% increase in readership from Week 3 of this year compared to Week 3 of last year. If you weren't reading, I wouldn't be writing. And, candidly, there are many weeks in which I wonder if I should continue writing. But, I love the Green Bay Packers. And, I enjoy talking Packers with each of you. Also, I'm happy to report that my Son is healthy and home with my Family. Life feels whole. Oh, and the Packers are 3-0. The Packers have already laid down TRUMP CARD at Soldier Field. They've already rid themselves of evil Seahawk demons. And, they've showed complete dominance over a very talented Kansas City Chiefs football team. Life is full of good things.

Beer tastes good. Especially when you pour an Oculus. If you're into the beer trading/beer cellaring thing; it is a must to sip on a Crooked Stave Oculus. Since I don't want to go too bold, I'll say that it's among the top 10 beers that I've ever sipped. It's likely top 5. I drank one this week. Fall is approaching in Denver. We're expecting the first Saturday of October to have highs in the low-70's with low's in the mid-50's. A 60 degree day in October requires two beers: The Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin followed by the Avery Kaiser, which is an Imperial Octoberfest. If you can get your hands on this back-to-back combination, do so. In my opinion, they're both best of class.

As I spent the last month in the NICU, I listened to a lot of Soundcloud. Well, one morning at 2:00, I was itching to listen to the Bunny Wailer Liberation album. I searched "Liberation Bunny" in my Soundcloud app. The DJ Ray Ranking's Cool Reggae Vibes Vol 2 pulled up. If you like Reggae music, this compilation is a must listen. A bunch of old compilations like Alton Ellis' "Loving You", "I'm Just a Guy" and "Son of Man", John Holt's "Ali Baba" and "For the Love of You", Marley's "There She Goes", Errol Dunkley's "Love Me Forever" and Barrington Levy's "Bad Boys" to name a few.

I write with joy.

Here are a my quick vibes over the last week:

* Mike McCarthy. Like the aggressive approach. Great strategy. Attack, attack, attack. But, man, up 14-0. There's no reason to go for it on 4th and 5. Punt the ball. Force the Chiefs to go 90+ yards. At that stage of the game, there was no chance of the Chiefs sustaining a drive. McCarthy went arrogant. There's a difference between arrogance and aggressive. McCarthy went arrogant. And, he gave Kansas City hope. They translated the momentum into a TD scoring drive, which gave them life at 14-7.

* The Kansas City Chiefs have a very talented defense. They gave up 304 yards, 20 1st downs and 24 points IN THE FIRST HALF! Yes, in the first half, the Packers absolutely destroyed the KC defense. The Packers treated the Chiefs defense like they were ribs at Joe's Kansas City BBQ; they smoked them!


* If you overlooked the Packers huddle with 8:09 left in the first quarter, you have to go back and watch the game on your DVR. Up 7-0. The first Packers TD was a pass from Rodgers to Ty Montgomery. The Packers take over at their own 11. Rodgers is caught on video giving Ty Montgomery the love. Rodgers is keeping the young rookie loose. He's building camaraderie. Developing the rookie. Teaching the rookie the ways of Titletown, U.S.A. He's nudging him as he speaks to him. The serious Montgomery face quickly turns into a playful one. This is the type of camaraderie that will take a team to new heights. It's also a great display of Rodgers' Leadership qualities.

* Eddie Lacy. Just gutting it out. Playing thru pain. Performing at a high level.

* The screen play is on full-display. Back in the arsenal of the Green Bay Packers. Love seeing Starks and Lacy attacking the secondary with a full head of steam.

* Randall Cobb. Pure brilliance. Exceptional at making defenders miss in the open field. In complete mental unison with the MVP. Unstoppable.

* My favorite play of the game: Just under 10 minutes to play in the 3rd Quarter. Packers leading 24-7. Ball at their own 5. Rodgers drops back to pass. Out of shotgun. In the no huddle. KC gets a solid rush. But, cool as a cucumber marinating in hot sauce, Rodgers slides to his left and rifles a dart to Cobb who makes his man miss. 29 yards later, it was 1st and 10 from the 34. Brilliant!

* James Jones. YELLOW WRISTS! Playing the best football of his career. With just shy of 20 yards per catch. Winning the ball in the air. Finding the end zone. He's a confident fashion statement right now. And, I'm really liking it.

* Love the way Richard Rodgers casts his web. He boxes out. He presents a target. He's a weapon as a receiver. Still waiting for him to take the next step as a blocker.

* James Starks is running hard. Regardless of what the stats say.

* Alonzo Harris! I really like this kid. Hope he can master the blitz pick-up. If so, he has a future. He is a solid one-cut runner. He sees the hole and he hits it.

* After a lackluster 1st drive, I liked the creativity on the reverse to Cobb.

* Bakhtiari, Sitton, Linsley, Lang and Barclay. All played well. Barclay is earning himself a starting paycheck somewhere next year.

* Really bummed about the injury to AQ81. He is by far our best in-line blocker as a TE. Not sure how that piece of the offense will be replaced. Richard Rodgers hasn't developed as a blocker. Backman wasn't a fierce blocker in the preseason. In short yardage situations, I expect Tretter to step into a TE role as an extra blocker, but we only saw moderate success in that formation last year. AQ81 is a trusted target for Rodgers. He'll be missed. The Packers needed to put him on the IR - Designated to Return list as they had to create room for Guion. But, I also wonder if they shouldn't promote Perillo from the Practice Squad. Perillo has been a steady blocker and he knows the offense. To create room, I wonder if they couldn't IR the oft-injured Demetri Goodson. The Packers have strength in numbers at CB right now. After all, Gunter and Rollins aren't even seeing the field on the defensive side of the ball. And, with Jeff Janis' improved special teams play, Goodson's value on special teams has diminished.

* Jeff Janis. Man. Seriously, dude. Janis. Come on, bro. Catch yourself. Thought he was loose on the deep ball. But, I felt as though he ran a poor route. Needed to take it up the field. Instead, he ran it towards the sideline and thus, he gave Rodgers no room to hit him. Also, the penalty was inexcusable.

* The MVP is an absolute scholar. A true football student. He has no tolerance for intellectual incompetency. We saw that first-hand with the frustration he showed with Janis. He doesn't trust Janis. I wonder if he trusts Backman? Does Backman have a football IQ? If so, we could see some double TE formations. With Richard Rodgers sitting down on a short route, while Backman stretches the middle of the field.

* Props to Janis though. Guy has balled out on special teams. Feels like he could block a punt sometime soon. And, as a gunner, he's been stellar. He's showing classic Ted Thompson "Football Player" characteristics.

* Get healthy, Davante Adams. It's not a sprint. It's a marathon. I'd rest him until after the bye. Appreciate his guts. But, now, it's time to be smart. Rest up.


* Mike Daniels! Working for a pay check. Balling in middle of the field.

* Mike Pennel locking down in the run game. Stout. Holding the point of attack.

* THE CLAYMAKER! WHAT A BALLER, DUDE! GREAT PERFORMANCE. Strong in the run game. Intense in the pass rush. Riveting energy throughout.

* Thought Chris Banjo had a pick 6. Broke on the ball. Didn't finish the job.

* Dance Micah, dance. He's breaking a punt return soon.

* The Packers had 7 sacks on the game. And 9 QB Hits. Peppers had 0. Good to see others applying pressure. I like how the Packers are using Peppers at DT on pass rushing downs. Stick with it. He has a big play coming soon.

* Datone Jones is getting a push nearly every play that he's on the field. He's playing his best football.

* Liked seeing Nate Palmer shed the block and take down Charles in the open field. Would have been a big play had he not finished it.

* JOE THOMAS! Not a perfect game. He missed some tackles. But, he gave great energy. And, he comes with force on the pass rush up the middle. Gets a much better push than Palmer who seems to get stood up.

* Jayrone Elliott! I want to see more. When he's on the field, go things seem to happen. Act on instincts, Jayrone. Don't think. Just go. You'll continue to get home.

* Sammy Swagga with the pick! Love his smile. He might have the best smile on the team.

* Casey Hayward with his best game of the year.

* Great drive blocking by Alonzo Harris and Joe Thomas on the opening kickoff. Added 5-7 yards to the return.

* Massive props to the Lambeau faithful. The crowd was rocking. Another great performance. It's great to see the crowd standing on a 2nd down in the 3rd Quarter. Leading 24-7. This was not happening in the recent past. It needs to continue. It's creating magic. It's truly giving a home field advantage. EXCITING!

* Mason Crosby. Beauty, dude.

* I'll be watching a fair amount of college football this weekend. I'll have a 2016 MOCK DRAFT next week.

3-0. A stronghold over the NFC North. With a chance to dethrone the final demon that exists inside the home team locker room at 1265 Lombardi Ave. His name is Colin Kaepernick. A victory would provide a huge mental boost.

This years version of the 49ers isn't the same team that we've seen from SF over the last 4 years. While they'll likely be a better home team than a road team, they've been pushed around over the last two weeks. We're used to the 49ers bullying opponents. That hasn't been the case since their MNF opener in Week 1. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith have had trouble separating. Vernon Davis has been banged up. He's unlikely to play this week and will be replaced by Vance McDonald. McDonald is a decent blocking TE with above-average hands, but he's nowhere near Vernon Davis. The 49ers will get Reggie Bush back this week after he's missed the last two games. Carlos Hyde will carry the bulk of the load. Jarryd Hayne is a cute story, but the Aussie doesn't scare me as a punt returner nor as a RB out of the backfield. The 49ers still have a top-flight left side of the OL with Joe Staley and Alex Boone. Marcus Martin is a legit C. But, with Jordan Devey and Erik Pears on the right side, they can be beaten.

The SF defense will hit you. Sure, they've lost the Smith boys up front. But, they still attack with a ferocious intent. Ahmad Brooks and Aaron Lynch can both win with either speed or strength. Glenn Dorsey is playing good football on the DL. Navarro Bowman is...Navarro Bowman. Michael Wilhoite is underrated. I wish Wilhoite was in Green Bay. He can play the run and the pass at high levels. Tramaine Brock, Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid all hit with a punch. They play fast and they look to deliver punishment. But, all three can be beaten over the top on the deep ball. Kenneth Acker is going to get torched if the Packers can provide the MVP with protection.

The Packers should come out in aggressive fashion. 3 WR. A TE. Single back. Hurry up. Rodgers from the shotgun. The 49ers won't be able to cover us. The MVP will have a field day. And, I expect the 49ers to utilize a variety of disguised blitzes in an attempt to confuse the MVP. But, Rodgers will look to short passes to Montgomery, Cobb, and Richard Rodgers. He'll look to get rid of the ball quickly. And, then, we'll see the screen to Lacy for big yardage. It'll slow down the pass rush and give Rodgers more time to look down field. I'm calling it: This week, we see Jeff Janis' first TD of his career. The Packers want this one. They'll look for a quick score. SF has no one in the secondary that can run with Janis. The Packers grab an early lead.

But, SF has Kaepernick. Kaepernick has dominated Green Bay with both his arm and his legs. And, Hyde will give us fits, at times. The strength of the Packers DL will be tested, once again. If Geep Chryst, the 49ers Offensive Coordinator, doesn't come out and attack via consistent read-option, he's gone crazy. The Packers have struggled to stop the read-option. And, no one runs it better than Kaepernick. He's an elite athlete. The Packers should turn Clay Matthews into a caged animal. Clay intimidated Kaepernick in the 2013 opener. I'd have Clay shadow Kapernick from his ILB position. Palmer and/or Thomas sticks with Hyde. Clay's role is to track down Kaepernick on the read-option. If not, don't be surprised if the SF QB gets loose. Kaepernick will get his, on occasion. But, it's up to the secondary to keep him in front of them.

After the Packers jump out to a 17-7 lead, Kaepernick becomes more determined to throw the football. Without Davis, he's looking for Boldin. But Casey Hayward steps in front. It's Rodgers to Rodgers. And, that my friends is a 3rd Quarter dagger.

The 49ers don't have the weapons to run with the Packers. And, they aren't able to bully the Packers as they have in years past. In fact, for the first time since the 2010 match-up, the Packers win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

The MVP throws 4 more TD's. One to Janis. One to Rodgers. One to Jones. And, one to Cobb. The OL gives Rodgers time. He picks the SF secondary apart and finally, Aaron Rodgers gets a homecoming victory.

Packers 34. 49ers 23

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Take -> Week 3

Greetings, G-Force.

That was dope. If you were in attendance on Sunday Night, I hope you are still applauding yourself. The Lambeau Faithful was in terrific form. To celebrate, I pour a Vielle Reserva Prunus Armeniaca. A Crooked Stave GABF treat. A Golden Sour Ale. Aged in Oak Barrels. With Apricots. Gourmet! I'm so stoked that I'm also going to pour the 2015 version of the Crooked Stave Mama Bear's Sour Cherry Pie. It's a burgundy sour ale. Aged in oak barrels. With Colorado Montmorency Cherries. It's sharply sour upfront with a potent cherry feel in the middle of the palate and a perfectly sour finish that resides for a moment before it gracefully settles in the back of the palate. A delicious saliva begs for an additional taste. GABF week is beer heaven. Musically, yes, it's more Jimmy Cliff. The Black Magic vinyl spins. I couldn't find this record in America, so I had it shipped from London. It sounds immaculate. Except the "I Want. I Do. I Get." has a pop feel more than the traditional pop-reggae buzz. Regardless, it's a fitting play. The Packers wanted the victory. They did what was needed to get the victory. They got the victory!

Down 17-16. Seattle ball. 3:12 left in the third. At Lambeau. Here's what ensued:

* Micah Hyde with a good tackle in the open field.

* Pennel and Daniels getting a push.

* LAMBEAU CREATES MAGIC! The ball pops free. But, Pennel has a mental error as he was lined up offside. Unacceptable! Cannot trump the ghosts of Lambeau with stupid play. Combined with a 15-yard penalty by Mike Daniels. The G-Force had energetically created the turnover. The Packers lack of focus nullified it.

* The G-Force, once again, rises to the occasion. They force a timeout. Yes, there was a mystique to the Lambeau air that felt like it was 1996. It was boisterous thru the TV. LAMBEAU WAS ALIVE!

* DATONE JONES WITH THE PRESSURE! Forcing what should have been an intentional grounding call. On back-to-back plays, Jones had a great push.

* Hyde in man-to-man coverage against Baldwin in the slot. Stride for stride, Hyde glides. A monstrous defensive stop! The crowd did it's part!

* Then, it was 80 yards of pure brilliance! The stuff that defines a Champion. 2nd & 15 to start the 4th. 4-WR set. The MVP hits Cobb for 18.

* A bright strategic move: Starks exits, Montgomery enters. Cobb moves to the backfield. Davante Adams earns massive street cred. On a bum ankle, he mans up. He beats Sherman down the sideline. The MVP is looking for him, but Sherman grabs him. There's no call by the official, which is totally ridiculous. Still, it was the type of play that builds a Winning Locker Room. Adams was gutting it out.

* It's Rodgers to Cobb on a wheel route. On the play, Montgomery earns hustle points. Coming across the field, he adds 10 yards to the 19 yard reception. Montgomery got a chip on Wagner and then he drove Sherman backwards out of bounds. Montgomery showed no fear. He attacked the All Pro.

* It was Rodgers to Rodgers for 9 yards. Again, it was Montgomery laying the blocks to add yardage to what would've otherwise been a short gain.

* Rodgers to Cobb for a first down on 2nd and 1.

* If the 2015 Season turns into one to remember, I will point to a 1st and 10 play that started to make me a believer. Yes, for my eye, it was that defining. We'd yet see Montgomery catch a pass. Ball at the 34. 1st and 10. Trailing 17-16 to our greatest present day nemesis. Trips right. Montgomery is tightest to the formation. Adams is lined up close to Montgomery's right. Jones split wide right. Richard Rodgers is lined up to the left side of the formation. Cobb motions from the backfield to the wide left of the formation. The play was designed for Montgomery on a short out. Linsley snaps with 1 on the play clock. Montgomery catches the ball at the 32. Montgomery runs right at Sherman who gets off of the Jones block. Montgomery and Sherman lower their shoulders into each other. Montgomery bounces off of Sherman. 360 spin move. Montgomery absorbs contact from Bobby Wagner. Montgomery keeps his balance. He rumbles for 17 yards, 12 of which came after contact.

* Rodgers goes back to Montgomery for 2 yards.

* 2nd & 8. Rodgers goes to JJ. Rockin' the yellow wrists, JJ draws an illegal contact on a terrific out-and up route.

* 1st and goal. Montgomery in the backfield. Rodgers goes back to Montgomery for 5 yards.

* It's innovation. Busted play. The MVP on the move to his left. He hits Richard Rodgers for a TD.

* The Packers go for 2. With Bobby Wagner draped all over him, Richard Rodgers makes a spectacular grab.

* That was a first class drive. 10 plays. 80 yards. 6:16 off the clock.

* Jayrone Elliott! With the monstrous pick!

* I heart TJ Lang.

* Richard Rodgers isn't a great blocker. But, it was really nice to see him play with great fight. Played with passion. With high emotion.

* The Packers locker room has great camaraderie!


* James Starks. Game ball. Ran hard. XLV-style.

* 3rd & 6. No Jordy. Ball at the 21. Clock ticking beneath 4:20. Seattle with only 1 timeout. I turn to my wife and say: "Star, you have to look to Montgomery here." Three wide with Montgomery in the slot. Richard Rodgers lined up next to the MVP, who is in shotgun. Cobb directly behind the MVP. Cobb goes in motion. The Packers play aggressively. On a crossing route, it's Montgomery locks down 13 yards.

* Jayrone Elliott goes tomahawk chop to force the fumble and seal the victory!

* The demons are behind us. Walk with confidence. We control our destiny. Let's own it. Anything less than 8-0 at Lambeau is unacceptable. We need that same type of crowd fire EVERY game this year. Multiple forced timeouts. Be proud, G-Force.

Here are some other quick vibes from the last week:

* Mike McCarthy might not be calling the plays anymore, but the crucial drive to start the 4th Quarter was vintage McCarthy. It had his stamp all over it.

* It's great to see the MVP with full mobility.

* Get healthy, EDDIE! Even if you need to rest for a week.

* Donny Barclay. Thrown into the fire, he performed admirably.

* TJ & Sitton. The best Guard combo in the league.

* The MVP used all of his tools. Got Richard Rodgers and Ty Montgomery involved when it mattered most. It was a beautiful thing.

* Randall Cobb. Arguably the best slot WR in the NFL.

* The 35-yard run by Starks was a big momentum shifting play. AQ81 had the big block on the play.

* Bakhtiari is such a gritty battler.

* Aaron Rodgers. In belt formation. MVP. MVP. MVP. Yes, for some teams, it's victory formation at the end of the game. For the Packers, it's belt formation.

* JJ! Yellow wrist it! Sorry I ever doubted you.

* Richard Rodgers in the end zone. Get used to it.

* At the end of the first half, how was that not pass interference on the JJ-butt play? And, again on the Richard Rodgers pass?!?! Brutal.

* Mason Crosby. Straight $$$!

* YELLOW JAKE! Epic special teams tackle.

* Throw the stats out the window, Clay was a force. A dictator.

* Like seeing Peppers at DT on 3rd down, even if he was largely ineffective.

* Nick Perry with solid effort. And, for the most part, good containment.

* Jeff Janis was a force on special teams. Fighting for playing time. Loved his fight.

* BJ RAJI! Dude is ballin'. My good buddy, Vargas, appropriately quoted Phish: "WON'T YOU STEP INTO THE FREEZER!" Need Raji to continue to win the line of scrimmage. Thought he made a statement early.

* Mike Daniels seems to be pressing a bit. Good energy. But, over pursuing.

* Great game, Datone Jones.

* Nate Palmer was a good student. In the right place. He just wasn't good enough. Also didn't like when had didn't help HaHa off the turf after HaHa dropped the diving interception. That's not the type of teamship that exudes throughout the Packers sideline.

* That's the Sammy Swagga I know and love.

* Need better, Casey Hayward. SHOWCASE those skills.

* Micah Hyde is playing really good football. Excited to see him get a chance to return a punt this year. Opposing punters have done a good job so far.

* Damarious Randall is earning playing time. Looking the part on the perimeter.

* Nice to see you, Morgan Burnett. Worried about your calf.

* No one on the team looks the part more than HaHa. Need him to take the next step. Desperately. He's in position, he just needs to finish.

* Jayrone Elliott. Two immense plays. But, want to see more effort as a pass rusher.

* Andy Mulumba. Know your role. Keep to your assignment. Do not lose containment.

* Mike Neal started well. But, what was that offsides penalty? Cost the Packers 4 points.

* The Packers no huddle offense is so special.

* I understand why the Packers wanted the ball to start the game. They wanted the fast start. But, it was so predictable that Seattle was going to start off fast in the 3rd Quarter. In the future, I'd trust the crowd to help get the Packers defense off of the field to start the game, so that the MVP gets the ball to start the 3rd Quarter.

* Dom Capers drew up a great game plan.

* Hated the QB draw play call on 3rd down near the goal line. Let's keep the MVP clean.

* At some point, when the Packers go Trips right, I'd like to see Cobb tight to the formation with Janis to his right and Jones split wide. Janis will get a free release. The defense will expect the ball to be thrown underneath with Janis being used as a blocker. Janis would be wide open on a fly route. At some point, they'll need him over the top. I'm probably just impatient right now.

* Really excited that Joe Thomas is back. He has natural instincts at ILB. Brought some force. Logical replacement for Barrington. Should aid the run defense.

* Josh Boyd wasn't playing well. Still, ugly to see that injury.

This week - it's the Chiefs. At Lambeau. On Monday Night Football. In a total trap game. The Packers and the fans better match last weeks intensity or the Packers will be 2-1.

Kansas City has strengths that play to the Packers' weaknesses. Expect some read option. Alex Smith doesn't offer what Russell Wilson does, but he will be plenty dangerous with his mobility. And, Jamaal Charles might be the best back in the NFL. Travis Kelce is a dangerous TE target who will give the Packers fits. James O'Shaughnessy will present a mismatch as well. Where Seatlle didn't use the TE, KC most certainly will. They could see as many as 10-12 targets this week.

The Chiefs have a finesse OL. They do well against speed rushers, but can be moved with power. I'm hoping Peppers, Neal and Perry can all provide a pass rushing lift. Thus far, our pass rush has been nonexistent. I'd also like to think that the Packers will be able to generate pressure via blitz disguise. The Packers defense has to be in attack mode.

The Packers should be able to neutralize Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson and Jason Avant.

Defensively, KC will give the Packers headaches. Especially without EDDIE at 100%. Justin Houston, Allen Bailey and Tamba Hali will pin their ears back. They can win with speed and power. Derrick Johnson still plugs up the middle of the field with excellence. The Chiefs have a great young secondary. Two years ago, I wanted Philip Gaines in GB. Last year, I was hoping the Packers would draft Marcus Peters. I thought he was the best CB in the draft. KC drafted him before he got to GB. Eric Berry, Husain Abdullah and Ron Parker will each make their presence felt. Weekly.

It'll be another test for Donny Barclay and David Bakhtiari. If they can win their battles, the Packers will be in good shape. If not, it'll be a dogfight.

I want to become a full-blown believer in the 2015 Green Bay Packers. Every year, Mike McCarthy teams improve. Except for 2011. But, I question whether we have the defensive personnel to get to the QB on a big 3rd down. Do we have the defensive intensity to stop the run? Is our secondary able to slow down a top shelf receiving core? If a solid TE is targeted, can we defend him? These are all valid concerns. Many of them will be tested. So, too, will be the ability of the Lambeau faithful to match last weeks intensity.

Andy Reid will devise a strategy to take care of the football. He'll try to win the middle of the field. Charles will pound away at the middle of the defense. Kelce and O'Shaughnessy will see multiple passes between the hash marks. Reid will slow down the game. He will try to win by controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. He design a bunch of short routes that gets the fall quickly out of Alex Smith's hands. And, he will count on De'Anthony Thomas to make a big play. With Sean Richardson and Ripkowski questionable for the game, special teams could play a big role.

The MVP strikes first. He hits Cobb on a short down and out for a 3 yard TD. The Packers grab a 10-point lead, but the Jamaal Charles slashes away. Knifing through the defense, he quiets the crowd and cuts into the lead. But, the MVP isn't to be denied. Richard Rodgers grabs another TD. Nick Perry notches a sack. Cobb tops 100 yards. It's Rodgers to JJ on a double move.

Packers 27
Chiefs 20

Take PTO on Tuesday morning, Lambeau. Elevate to peak levels on Monday Night Football. Let's make a statement!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, September 18, 2015

My Take -> Week 2

Greetings, G-Force.

THE BEARS STILL SUCK! 1-0. Perched atop the NFC North. In lonely fashion. Just the way it’s supposed to be. After 4 consecutive NFC North titles, we expect it this way. Anything else is considered failing. To celebrate, I pop a 2013 version of the Cascade Figaro. 10.7% ABV. Blissfully aged in chardonnay barrels. A white wine, lemon zest feel that is perfectly tart. Figs and raisins speak loudly from the glass. It joyfully opens as the beer breathes after being poured from the glass. Musically, I play the Cool Runnings Soundtrack. I’ve adopted Jimmy Cliff’s “I Can See Clearly Now” as Simon’s (my newborn) anthem.

The Packers traveled to Soldier to kick-off the 2015 NFL Season. We knew how that one was going to end. Sometimes it ends with a Halas Trophy in the Visitors Locker Room. Sometimes it ends with Bears fans burning jerseys in the Solider Field parking lot. Sometimes it ends on a 4th & 8 pass with 00:38 left in the game to seal the NFC North Crown. Sometimes it ends in a mid-December victory to clinch the NFC North. Sometimes it ends in blow-out fashion as the MVP tells the G-Force to R-E-L-A-X. And, I guess, sometimes it ends in a Packers victory to kick-off the season in a game that was played in ugly fashion.

Here are some quick vibes from the last week:

* McCarthy looked frustrated. Couldn’t believe the Packers were so undisciplined. The Sammy Swagger off-sides penalty was absolutely unacceptable. Terrible play by Sammy. McCarthy was furious. In all, 10 penalties by the Packers. Under McCarthy, the Packers have been a slow starting team outside of the 2007 and 2011 seasons. McCarthy expected this year to be different. If the run defense and the penalties are a sign of the future, 2015 might also end up being a slow-starting season.

* The MVP in MVP form! Calm, casual and under control. Playing with confidence. He wasn’t going to be denied.

* Sporting yellow on the wrists, it was great to see JJ back in action! Far exceeding my expectations. Playing as well as ever.

* Life without Bryan Bulaga. That sucks. He’s a crucial component to the Packers success. Hoping for a speedy recovery.

* The Claymaker! Sure, the interception was heroic! But, how about Clay chasing down Forte when it looked like he’d walk into the end zone? That was phenomenal effort.

* Love that the MVP’s hard count was in mid-season form.

* Lacy played with good patience. Showed vision. Found the hole. Hit the hole. To the tune of 4.5 yards per carry.

* Randall Cobb with the spectacular TD catch!

* Richard Rodgers is in line for a big year. He looks like a different man.

* Eddie Lacy with the one-handed grab!

* Was surprised that AQ81 wasn’t involved in the design of the offense.

* 8 targets for Davante Adams. On a day when the coverage seemed to be focusing on Adams. He has an opportunity to have a big year. He showed great footwork and body control on the catch along the sideline. Hope there’s more of that in the future.

* James Starks running aggressively for first down yardage on 4th down!

* The OL was absolutely dynamite. True domination. They took command of the line of scrimmage. Fantastic performance by the entire unit. Thought that the holding penalty on Bakhtiari that denied JJ of an epic TD was unfair. Bad officiating.

* The Bears still suck.

* Sammy Swagga. Awful, dude. Pathetic performance.

* Ha Ha. Come on, man. We need better. You’re too talented. Pick up your head. Lift your shoulder into the defender. Really disappointing game by the former first-round pick.

* Good to see Raji playing with high activity.

* Nate Palmer isn’t good enough. Need YELLOW JAKE playing instead of him. The Barrington injury hurts. Especially on run downs.

* Josh Boyd was pushed backwards. All game. When Guion returns, Boyd might need to go.

* Julius Peppers! Really strong game from the vet. 1.5 sacks. 5 tackles, 4 of them were solo. 1 tackle for loss. 2 QB hits. Looked youthful!

* Sean Richardson is a total buzzkill. Bad angles. Out of position. Playing with stupidity.

* Jayrone Elliott showed glimpses. Looking for more burst out of him. Looked like he might be banged up. Hope he’s OK.

* Mike Neal got pushed around.

* Impressive debut from Damarious Randall.

* Nick Perry was non-existent.

* Ty Montgomery received great blocking. He displayed good vision. OK burst. Ran with confidence. We should see more big returns in his future.

* Mason Crosby was money!

* Good punting, Tim Masthay. Let’s make that your trend.

* The MVP with the flick of the wrist! Gorgeous!

This week – it’s the long anticipated battle between the Seahawks and the Packers. Finally, at Lambeau. We’ve waited for this game since 2012. The head says that it’d be easy to view the Seahawks as being in a position to win by 2 scores. Recent history suggests that fortune is on the Seahawks side when the two teams meet. First, there was the FAIL MARY. Then, there was the preseason game in which Jake Stoneburner fumbled as it looked like he was going to walk his way towards the end zone. We know what happened last year. Additionally, the Packers will be without Bryan Bulaga. Simply put, when Bulaga didn’t play last year, the Packers lost. But, I believe in the power and the soul of Lambeau. I loved how McCarthy rocked the “GET LOUD LAMBEAU” t-shirt. The Packers will be ready. Lambeau will be electric. It’ll have a playoff atmosphere. And, it’s only Week 2.

The Seahawks will be ready. They’ll be physical. Offensively, they’ll attack with an abundance of read-option. They’ll also extensively utilize Jimmy Graham, who presents a horrible mismatch for the Packers. And, expect a bunch of WR bubble screens to Baldwin, Lockett, and Kearse. They’ll force Sammy Swagga to tackle. They run those short routes right in front of the most experienced CB on the roster. They’ll run Lynch to Sammy’s side of the field. Sammy better be wearing a thick coat of armor because the Seahawks are coming after him. Expect Lynch to touch the ball 20-25 times.

Seattle’s weakness on offense is their OL. Okung, Britt and Sweezy have been tested and all have played well. But, Drew Nowak and Carry Gilliam need to be attacked. Nowak has Green Bay roots. He’ll be stoked to be playing at Lambeau. I’m hoping the Packers overload and come on inside blitzes. I’m hoping Jayrone Elliott gets an opportunity to test his speed rush against Gilliam. St Louis’ DL abused the Rams OL in Week 1. The Packers will need a big game from Mike Daniels on the interior if they plan on having any chance to slow down Seattle.

Defensively, Seattle will be without Kam Chancellor. But, they’re still littered with sublime talent. Michael Bennett is fierce. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, KJ Wright, Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner, Cliff Avril and Brandon Mebane will all be suited up and ready to lower the boom. Avril vs Donny Barclay is one of the biggest match-ups of the game. There’s no question that Avril will be coming on a speed rush. Barclay struggled in the preseason. He’ll be tested early. He’ll be tested often. Seattle does have some holes on defense this year. Cary Williams is a veteran, but he can be beaten. Tye Smith and Tharold Simon are unproven. Dion Bailey is inexperienced and has flaws. He doesn’t have the speed that we’re accustomed to out of the Seattle defense. Last week – the Seahawks used Sherman in the slot, on occasion. I don’t anticipate that they’ll do the same this week. They’ll use Sherman to take away one side of the field. He’ll likely be against Adams for most of the game. Seattle had success swinging coverage against Cobb with a LB. They got their hands on him and took him off his route. They’ll likely try a similar approach on Sunday night.

Special teams will play a big role. Tyler Lockett returned two kicks for TD’s in the preseason. He returned one vs St. Louis as well. I’m scared of him. He’s elusive. I don’t trust our ability to tackle on special teams.

Against the Bears, Jeff Janis and Ty Montgomery weren’t involved. In fact, the Packers were fairly basic on both sides of the ball. I anticipate that the Packers will play with more play calling aggression on both sides against Seattle. Look for creative design with packages that include Montgomery in the backfield. It’d be nice to see Montgomery on a swing pass. Look for a deep ball to Janis. Ideally, I’d like to see Janis run down the sidelines vs Cary Williams. Williams can’t keep up. A big play could be waiting in the wings.

Defensively, look for a variety of stunts that bring Matthews and/or YELLOW JAKE on the blitz. Especially on passing downs. On run downs, Wilson will have to be shadowed as I expect a bunch of read-option. Early and often. The Packers haven’t been able to defend it previously. Seattle will think that they can find quick results utilizing it again this week.

Early on, the Packers bang away with Lacy. Right between the tackles. Linsley, Sitton and Lang lean with success. Barclay gets a push. Bakhtiari neutralizes. The Lambeau Faithful rises with conviction. Rowdy, in nature. The Packers strike first as Aaron Rodgers connects with Richard Rodgers for a TD. The defense benefits from crazy volume from the stands. They get off the field. The Packers take a two-score lead.

Lynch punches the Green Bay defense in the mouth.

Down late, Rodgers gets the ball. He lays the BELT on the table. He picks it up. He wraps it around his waist. It’s Rodgers to Jones against Cary Williams.

Packers 27
Seahawks 23

Keep the faith. Bleed passion. Turn up the volume.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Friday, September 11, 2015

My Take -> Week 1

The intensity is at peak levels. Thus, I have to pour something dank. Rich in hoppy love. I select the River North Hoppenberg Uncertainty Principle. This is the 2nd time I’ve poured a bottle of this bomber in the last week. My wife just gave birth to our second Son, Simon Michael. Post delivery, this was her request. It has a fruit aroma, but I don’t pick up a ton of fruit on the flavor. It’s a thoroughly balanced beer with a light bitter finish. It comes across with a funky font. It’s heavy in IBU’s. Yet, it’s a really smooth drink. At 9%, you’re smiling at it’s finish. Musically, I select Derrick Harriott. His “Let Me Down Easy” track combines a mellow Roots beat with lyrics of loving heart break. Still, as background music, it rings smoothly and offers a calmness to tame immense excitement for this Sunday’s opener.

Here are some takeaways from the last week:

* Welcome back, James Jones. Hoping to see the yellow gloves along with the yellow tape and/or yellow wrist bands. I’m also hoping that you’re in-sync with the MVP on the back-shoulder throw. It’s been the ultimate bail-out for the Packers offense. It’s takes true unison between the WR and QB. We’ve seen issues with this in the past. When Jones was at his best, he and Rodgers had great synergy. We know Rodgers really likes Jones. I question whether Jones can truly separate from a DB anymore, but his knowledge of the offense and his ability to play on the outside are necessities right now.

* Bruce Gaston earned a spot on this team. Wondering if it’s possible for him to see some playing time on passing downs early in the year. He consistently showed a push from the interior.

* Prior to the drops at Pittsburgh, I really felt that Alonzo Harris had better upside and was well-ahead of Rajion Neal on the depth chart. Harris’ two drops were painful. Neal took advantage. Still, Neal has limited upside. What you see is what you get. Good player, but never going to be great. Frankly, I thought Neal would’ve been a better pro than he showed during the preseason. Harris could develop into a legitimate #2 back. I liked what I saw. Was happy he was kept.

* At one point, I wondered whether the Packers were going to keep 8 DL on the roster after the suspensions. But, Lane Taylor was an absolute MAN this preseason. He earned a spot. The Packers were wise to keep an extra OL.

* Was surprised that Nate Palmer won a job. Thought that Joe Thomas showed more awareness and punch. Had more potential. The Packers must’ve felt that Palmer was the better special teams player.

* Not sure how much it’s worth, but I believe this to be the best Packers practice squad. Rotheram has a future in this league. Ed Williams has the physique. Robertson Daniel is an intriguing addition at CB. Would be nice to see Abby healthy for a stretch. Another year at ILB might do Carl Bradford well. Would be excited to see what James Vaughters could do with a year at ILB under his belt. Justin Perillo showed well prior to the concussion. Christian Ringo flashed in limited reps. He looked like he’s a developmental prospect who could provide a push.

* Jeff Janis. I really hope the Packers give him a shot this year. He’s a tough cover. He has speed. He has improved route running. He’s a tough cover. And, if he gets a step, you’re not going to catch him. He deserves 3-5 targets a game.

* Jayrone Elliott. I fully expect him to be involved in pass rushing situations. Kid can get to the QB. He turns the corner. He has natural pass rushing ability. From a strictly pass rushing perspective, I view him as the 2nd best player on our team – behind the Claymaker.

* I can’t get over how intimidating HaHa looks in his uniform. Really hopes he takes the next step. No more missed tackles and this guy will be a star for us. In order for the Packers to be an even remotely average run stopping team, HaHa will have to make his presence felt.

* It’s a little uncomfortable to say this, but Aaron Ripkowski, Chris Banjo, Sean Richardson, and Jayrone Elliott are 4 crucial players on this years team. All special teams. We’re counting on them to make plays in our most vulnerable unit. But, someone needs to make the tackle. Oddly, Mason Crosby seems to be one of the few kickers that doesn’t kick the ball out of the end zone on Kickoffs. Therefore, the Packers are forced to make a tackle. Ripkowski, Banjo, Richardson and Elliott will be counted on to make plays.

* Tim Masthay. Time to wake up, man.

* I cannot believe Matt Blanchard isn’t on the Practice Squad.

It’s real. Like FOR REAL. The race for the Legendary and highly coveted Super Bowl 50. 11 am on Sunday morning. It doesn’t get any better than the oldest rivalry in the NFL. Packers at Bears. Week 1. At Soldier Field. Once again, we’re reminded of a brilliant memory in the not too distant past:

Halas Trophy. Soldier Field. Visitors Locker Room. TRUMP CARD FOREVER! Yes, the XLV run remains clearly in the front of my mind.

Dude, that’s bliss. In its purest form.

If this game were in Week 4, I’d be predicting a 45-13 shellacking. But, the Bears have an uncertainty to them. They have a new Head Coach who has a history of successfully managing a game. A new Offensive Coordinator who led one of the more fertile offenses in the NFL over the last couple of years. A new Defensive Coordinator who has had good success against the Packers. Thankfully, Ray Nutler is still the QB.

John Fox is going to micromanage this game. He’s going to run the football. He’s going to utilize the play-action pass into the flat. Look for Martellus Bennett to catch a minimum of 5 balls. Most of them will have him on the run and in space. He’ll be a dangerous cover. Defensively, look for the Bears to use a variety of blitz packages. Additionally, they’ll look to take the deep ball away. They’ll want to keep everything in front of them. They’ll play a bend, but don’t break and they’ll anticipate that – on occasion – they’ll get to the MVP on third down.

The Bears will run the football between the tackles. They’ll run to the Right side extensively. Utilizing Kyle Long who has reportedly moved to RT. Long has dominated the Packers DL in the past. But, outside of Long, the Bears OL is highly questionable. Matt Slauson has had an OK career, but he can be moved off of his spot. I’d be uncomfortable if Will Montgomery was the Packers starting Center. Vladimir Ducasse and Patrick Omameh a journeymen type players. Jermon Bushrod was a talented Tackle before injuries have deteriorated his skills. He’s still a quality player, but he’s no longer in the upper echelon of Tackles. He can be beaten with speed. I hope to see Jayrone Elliott looking to get the corner against him.

The Bears playmakers are beat up. Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson are questionable, but both are expected to play. Still, they won’t be at full strength. Alshon Jeffery is a top-shelf WR, but he has missed all of training camp. He is a dangerous target, but I’m sure he’ll be limited by his calf injury. Martellus Bennett scares me.

The Bears have solid depth at RB. Matt Forte continues to be a dynamic RB. Look for him to get 20 carries. Jacquizz Rodgers is an undersized RB who is a threat as a 3rd down back and is dangerous in the screen game. Jeremy Langford is a solid young talent. He’s a mudder. A pound-it-out type back who has a knack for finding the first-down marker. Ka’Deem Carey is a speedy back with a shifty style. We don’t want to see him in the open field.

Defensively, the Bears are transitioning from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Without the personnel to successfully make the switch. Jared Allen still has pass rushing skills, but he can’t drop into coverage much like Aaron Kampman couldn’t drop into coverage in 2009. Pernell McPhee was a solid situational pass rusher for the Ravens. He’s a pass rushing threat, but he hasn’t been an every down player previously. Ego Ferguson, Eddie Goldman, and Will Sutton were all talented college players. Jarvis Jenkins can be disruptive along the defensive line. All are unproven at the NFL level. I like the way the Packers OL matches up against them. Christian Jones is a developing ILB, but he’s not ready to be a star. Shea McClellin has yet to make his mark in the NFL. He’ll be playing ILB for the first time in his career. The Bears secondary is complete patch-work. Expect a big day from the NFL’s MVP. Kyle Fuller had a solid rookie year, but last year, he struggled against the team that has won 4 consecutive NFC North titles. Tracy Porter isn’t the player he once was. Brock Vereen was torched on a number of occasions last year. Vereen was easily looked off. Sherrick McManis cannot cover Adams, Cobb, Jones or Janis. As the Packers spread the Bears out, the Bears have no ability to cover the Packers.

Look for John Fox to conduct an ultra-conservative game plan. He’ll try to keep the MVP off the field. Early in the game, the Bears cause trouble by running the football. They taste success. Punching the Packers in the nose. Running the clock. But, they settle for FG’s. Rodgers finds the uber slender, Davante Adams on the 12 yard slant. He hits James Jones on the back shoulder. It’s play action and Rodgers is rolling right. He hits Cobb for a 20 yard gain. The Bears see a heavy dose of Eddie Lacy. Lacy pounds at the heart of the Bears defense. It’s Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers for a Packers touchdown.

The Bears keep it close for a half. But, early in the 3rd Quarter, the game changes significantly. HaHa continues to creep towards the line. He makes plays in the run game to force a third and long. And, then, it’s the vintage Nutler interception. Casey Hayward makes the game altering play.

A screen to Lacy reaps big rewards. Starks hits the hole for 7 yards. It’s Rodgers to Janis on a 25 yard TD. “GO PACK GO” chants echo throughout Soldier Field. Once again, it’s mid-way through the 4th Quarter and “Half of the Stadium is Packers fans and half of the Stadium is empty.”

The Packers special teams units do not have any monstrous blunders. Rodgers throws two TD’s. AQ81! has three catches. Adams tops 100 yards. Lacy runs for 85 yards and a TD.

THE BEARS STILL SUCK! Always have. Always will.

Packers 30. Bears 16.

Keep the vibes positive. Energy doesn’t lie. The run for a 5th consecutive Divisional title starts now!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Take -> Preseason Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

If you don't go big, you shouldn't go at all. Sure, it was an exhibition game. I get it. But, I'm not sure why the defensive and special teams units even showed up. It was a total embarrassment. So, in some ways, I feel it's up to me to alter the mojo of the current Green Bay Packers vibe. Therefore, I sit with a pairing that I've waited a year to view side-by-side. The Almanac Dogpatch Sour Batch #3 v the Almanac Dogpatch Sour Batch #4. The Batch #3 was bought a year ago. The #4 is fresh. This is the way that I enjoy drinking beer the most. If you're into barrel aged beers - be it wine, whiskey, bourbon, tequila, etc. - give this a shot. For wine beers, I find that most are best 2-3 years after purchase. For whiskey or bourbon barreled beers, a 5-year aged Stout is a glorious sensation. Sip that beer right next to a fresh one. You'll be amazed as to how the beer changes over time. The Almanac Dogpatch Sour is a cherry sour that is aged in wine barrels. It's not overpoweringly sour. The cherry is tart. After a year, the cherry has rested a bit and the carbonation is down significantly. The beer is wild and clearly, the yeast continues to work it's magic.

I listen the Rockers soundtrack. Arguably - the greatest reggae compilation ever assembled. The Maytones' "Money Worries" is a mint, often-unknown tune that echoes into the ears with glory.

Here are some quick hit vibes that caught my eye during the exhibition debacle against the Eagles:

* Brett Hundley. Dude has a future. A bright one. The Packers got exactly what they wanted out of him. They have assurance that he could easily be the #2 next year. And, therefore, look for Tolzien to get the vast majority of snaps against the Saints. It'll be the Packers mission to put Tolzien on display for opposing teams who will be in the market for a QB. Tolzien will be on the roster in 2015, but you can bet that TT has his eye on a compensatory pick for Tolzien after this season when he's an unrestricted free agent.

* Matt Blanchard. He was great fun with the flick of the wrist! I fully anticipate that he'll be on the Practice Squad this year with a shot to earn the #3 role next year.

* Good to see Starks running straight ahead. Little wasted movement. Ran with purpose on the screen.

* Speaking of the screen, glad to see that the screen is back in the Packers offensive arsenal.

* After the 1st exhibition game, I had Alonzo Harris ahead of Rajion Neal. Well, Harris dropped two balls against Pittsburgh and then he got hurt. Like a professional, Neal has taken advantage of his opportunities. He doesn't possess elite speed, but he runs with decent pace. He's patient, determined and he's been productive. It'll be tough to keep Neal off the roster.

* Brett Hundley was so impressive. Can't get over it. Used his feet with confidence. Stood in the pocket like a seasoned vet. Knew the progressions. Utilized the check-down. Couldn't be more excited for him.

* Jeff Janis. Wish Rodgers had more confidence in him. He's a tough cover off of the line of scrimmage. Loved seeing him catch the TD out of the slot. Plus, the TD happened as the Packers entered the Red Zone. If allowed, Janis will be a weapon. He caught three balls. One was for 16 yards. One was for 29 yards. One was for 27 yards. That's firepower. Imagine a scenario in which the Packers have 4 Receivers and Lacy in the backfield. Rodgers out of shotgun. Montgomery split wide left. Janis in the slot to the left. Cobb in the slot to the right. Adams split wide right. The defense slides to the right side of the offense. Leaving Janis against a dime CB. Name a dime DB that can run with Janis. I can't. I see big plays in Janis' future. If the Packers allow him to be a baller.

* Myles White had the game that he needed to have. For a moment, he put Packers fans pain to rest. White fought for the ball. He played with pride. Given the circumstances, he earned himself a roster spot.

* Ed Williams is a physical specimen. Wanted to see him fully step out of the tackle. Didn't get to see much of him in the preseason, but wonder if he's been hidden as a practice squad target.

* Ty Montgomery. Was great to see him gallop his way out of a tackle to find the open field. Couldn't tell if he hurt himself on the play, but he sure seemed to lose a step as he was running. He had green pastures in front of him. I expected him to take it to the house. But, he looked like his hamstring tightened on him as he was trying to find another gear. I noticed that he was held out of practice today. Might have happened on that play.

* Another Janis thought. I've liked how they've used that underneath crossing route with him. He has speed. You can't teach speed and he's a threat to take it for big yardage every time he touches the ball.

* Richard Rodgers. I'm a broken record on this one, but he'll catch a minimum of 6-8 TD's this year and possibly even more. Additionally, he might catch 50 balls.


* Donny Barclay had his best game of the preseason. Seemed to be playing with more comfort.

* Matt Rotheram is making a push to make this roster. In a year, I see him as a guy that might even be able to slide to RT. Worst case scenario he's a practice squad player, but I'm not sure that he'd last as I'd fancy that someone would sign him to their roster. At this stage, I have him above Lane Taylor.

* Josh Walker. Have to believe that he's on the 53 man roster over Rotheram as he's been utilized at Tackle in back-to-back preseason games. He's displaying the versatility that the Packers like in back-up OL. And, while he didn't have a great game against Pittsburgh, I thought he played well vs Philly.

* I said it often last year: Sam Barrington is vulnerable in coverage. He's confident in the run game. He looks comfortable with the defense. He tackles with desire. But, in the passing game, he's not good enough. He isn't fast enough. And, he gets exposed.

* Mike Pennel has had a great preseason. Possibly our best defender. Yes, I just wrote that.

* Need more out of BJ Raji, Mike Neal, and Nick Perry.

* Hope that Jayrone Elliott is utilized in the regular rotation on passing downs.

* Wishing the best for Adrian Hubbard. Was sad that he never turned the corner. Really liked how he was given a shot to play DT on 3rd downs. Gives me even more conviction that Peppers will be utilized in that role during the Regular Season. I've been begging for it on a consistent basis since last October. It wouldn't shock me if 20-25% of Peppers' snaps this year are at DT on passing downs.

* YELLOW JAKE. Where'd he go? He was so impressive in NE. And, all of a sudden, he's disappeared the last two games. Lights are on, Jake. Ball up!

* Joe Thomas. I had him as the #4 ILB right now. While he hasn't been overwhelmingly impressive, he looks more natural at the position than Bradford and Palmer. But, Bradford has been around the ball more than Thomas in the preseason, so as of now, if it were up to me, Bradford would prevail.

* Thought James Vaughters had his best game. I keep waiting for their to be a player or two to get a mystery injury that'll keep him on the IR for the year. Wouldn't shock me if that happens with Vaughters. TT often likes to store players that way. Vaughters is a candidate.

* HaHa is such an intimidating presence. Liked to see his activity along the line of scrimmage. If he buttons up his tackling, he'll have a monster year. He's in position to make so many plays. But, he's tackling continues to be inconsistent.

* Thought Morgan Burnett played well around the line of scrimmage as well.

* Loved the special teams tackle by Randall!

* In an effort to not get negative and to keep things in perspective, I'll finish my thoughts on the Eagles game right there.

* It won't happen, but I would like it if TT kicked the tires on Phil Taylor who was just cut by the Browns.

By the time I write again, the Packers roster will be down to 53 players. While the Packers are narrowing the roster down to 53 players, consider this: TT plays with the future in mind. He builds through the Draft. While he's constructing his roster, compensatory picks are a piece of the strategy. If TT invests three years in a player on his roster, he's likely going to get a 4th year, so that he can get something in return for him. Heading into next year, the Packers have Mike Daniels, Casey Hayward, Letroy Guion, BJ Raji, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Scott Tolzien, James Starks, Sean Richardson, Don Barclay, and AQ81! all as free agents. The only one that I believe is a lock to come back is Daniels. And, given Daniels' current contract demands, Thompson is going to have to over pay Daniels in order to keep him. Thompson needs to create cap room. Additionally, the following year, he'll have to lock up Lacy, Bakhtiari, Lang and Sitton. Thompson will need the extra draft picks to reload the roster. Hence, I'm betting that he keeps all of the names that I listed above in an effort to maximize his opportunity to receive additional draft choices. As poorly as Barclay has played, he does have starters experience, which is a valuable commodity in the NFL. He's been a trusted bruiser for the Packers when he's been healthy. He'll receive interest in FA next year. He'll be on the roster before Rotheram and Taylor. Regardless of who outperformed who. I'm guessing that TT is banking on receiving 4 compensatory picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Even if those compensatory picks are between rounds 5-7. Those picks will have relatively low salaries and they will allow the Packers to lock up their stars for years to come.

Here are my top 53:

QB: Rodgers, Tolzien, Hundley.

RB: Lacy, Starks, Kuhn, Ripkowski, Neal.

WR: Cobb, Adams, Janis, White, Montgomery.

TE: Rodgers, AQ81!, Backman.

OL: Bakhtiari, Lang, Sitton, Linsley, Bulaga, Tretter, Barclay, Walker.

DL: Raji, Guion, Pennel, Ringo, Daniels, Jones, Boyd.

LB: CM3, Peppers, Barrington, Ryan, Elliott, Neal, Perry, Mulumba, Bradford.

DB: Sammy Swagga, Hayward, HaHa, Burnett, Richardson, Hyde, Gunter, Randall, Rollins, Goodson.

SPECIALISTS: Crosby, Masthay, Goode.

Practice Squad: Blanchard, Crockett, Mitchell Henry, Matt Rotheram, Larry Pinkard, Ed Williams, Gaston, Rasco, Vaughters, Thomas. Admittedly, I'm not sure if Justin Perrilo still qualifies for the Practice Squad, but if so, I'd select him over Henry. Also, I wish the Packers would take a look at Danny Mason who was just cut from the Broncos. Dude is a relentless pass rusher.

IR: Alonzo Harris.

This week - it's the Saints. STAY HEALTHY! REST THE STARTERS! Give the ball to Tolzien. Let him earn a big contract next year. Hand it to Neal. Let's see what he can do with 20 carries. Tolzien tosses to Backman down the seam. He hits Janis on a deep ball. He uses the screen to Neal. Defensively, Elliott has a monster game. Mulumba gets to the QB. The Packers win handily.

Packers 27. Saints 13.

Bare with me. The college season starts this weekend. So, I've put together my notes on players from last year. I've taken a look at some videos on draft breakdown's epic website. And, I've compiled my initial 2016 NFL Mock Draft. Before you laugh too hard, please note that last year when I did this I had Jake Ryan, Ty Montgomery and Bernard Blake listed. Blake - you may recall - was signed as an UDFA. Any ways, here is my first crack at the 2016 Packers NFL Mock Draft.

Round 1.) Darron Lee, ILB, Ohio State. He's a redshirt sophomore. If he comes out, he'll be a great target for someone as he has elite NFL speed. He'd make for a dynamic duo teamed with CM3 at ILB. While his speed is his greatest asset, his recognition and instincts are innate. He's absolutely fierce when attacking the ball. Others: Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State and Kenny Clark, DL, UCLA.

Round 2.) Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama. James Starks will be a FA next year. I don't believe that he'll be brought back. Derrick Henry is a bruiser with deceptive speed. He runs with a purpose and, in some ways, he reminds me of Eddie Lacy. Henry would be the classic TT - I'm just stockpiling the depth on offense - addition. Others: D'haquille Williams, WR, Auburn and Andrew Billings, DL, Baylor.

Round 3.) Deon Bush, S, []_[]. Yes, I know that every year I draft a Cane. Can you blame me? I will forever root for Da []_[] and I cherish my time in the 305. Bush plays with speed. He's a contact seeking hunter. He attack the ball with a mission to jar the ball loose. He has limitations in coverage, but he has the athleticism and agility to improve with added experience. Other: Jalen Mills, S, LSU.

Round 4.) Taveze Calhoun, CB, Mississippi State. He has ideal length to play on the perimeter. Fearless in run support. Plays with great quickness. Has excellent short-line speed. He brings true swagger. A confident player who plays with impressive passion. Though he's light, he offers sincere heart on every down.

Round 4.) Eddie Vanderdoes, DL, UCLA. Exceptional athlete. Quick on the inside. Muscular. Slips off blocks and finds his way into he backfield. Has the potential to be great in the run game. Has nose for finding the football. Consistent week-in and week-out performer.

Round 5.) Jake Duzey, TE, Iowa. Great route running TE who finds open field underneath the coverage. Ideal NFL size. Can improve as a blocker, but he's more than willing. Catches with his hands. Did have some issues with drops, but overall, he's a more than capable receiver who is a tough cover as he gets in and out of his breaks with precision. Not overly fast, but finds ways to get open. Gave WI all kinds of trouble last year. Vintage Midwestern TE.

Round 5.) Kris Frost, ILB, Auburn. He's a passionate player who has a nose for the football. An intimidator in the run game in the middle of the field. Plays with heart. Wears his emotions on his sleeve. Not overly fleet of foot, but he makes game changing plays.

Round 6.) Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan. He gets deep. Great NFL size. And he has the frame to add more muscle. Catches with his hands. Gets in and out of his breaks. Can be dangerous after the catch.

Round 7.) Christian French, OLB, Oregon. French has the length required to play OLB in the 3-4. He has experience dropping into coverage and plays well in space. He slides along the line of scrimmage to string out plays and when he uses his arm length, he's able to avoid getting overpowered in the run game.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Take -> Preseason Week 3

Greetings, G-Force.

The heart needs to relax. I sip a New Glarus Apple Ale that has been resting for roughly 10 months. It still has a tremendous fruit buzz, but some of the carbonation has settled down. This beer does not need to age. It's great at the time of purchasing, but sometimes it's fun to watch the way a beer evolves over time. I'm surprised that the fruitiness didn't diminish much. I love the New Glarus Brewery.

The heart also needs a fiery spirit. I listen to Michael Franti's "YELL FIRE" album. Franti is my musical guru. He guides me with passion. Over the last 15 years, our lives have seemed to have followed similar paths. I deeply connect with his music.

I went to Pittsburgh to see the Packers Week 2 preseason game. Here are some of my quick vibes:

* Had to love the way that the offense came shooting out of the gates. Quick precision. Rodgers using his tools. Starks and Lacy hitting holes on a mission. In true attack mode. Rodgers surveying the field with a run or pass option. And the MVP was seeing the field as though he was in mid-season form.

* John Kuhn is a lock to make this team. His blocking was exceptional. With the Nelson injury, we'll see more of Kuhn than we thought we'd see out of him in 2015. I expect to see a bunch of two-back sets. Might even see Kuhn catching the ball 15-20 times this year. By comparison, he caught 4 balls last year.

* I LOVE JORDY NELSON. After the Lacy TD, Nelson was the first player on the field to congratulate Lacy. I was certain that there was nothing wrong with him. What a crushing blow. But, more on this later.

* Richard Rodgers! Wrote last week that I thought he'd score 6-8 TD's this year. It might be 8-10. Love the way he sat down and used his wingspan. His diving 6-yard catch to start the final drive of the 2nd half was a thing of beauty. Great hands. Used his body well. Presented a wide target for Tolzien. We haven't seen that type of play out of a TE since Chmura's injury. True safety valve play by Rodgers. And, then, it was really nice to see him get loose for the 21 yard TD at the end of the half. I expect Rodgers to have a big year catching the football. The jury is still out on him as a blocker, but he's developing into a legitimate receiving threat.


* The Kuhn block on the EDDIE TD was absolutely exceptional!

* Aaron Ripkowski can play special teams. Period.

* I like when Starks hits the hole with conviction!

* Alonzo Harris did himself no favors. Two horrible drops. The first one would have been a 41-yard TD. There was no one in front of him. Great play call. Great play design. Couldn't believe Harris dropped that pass.

* Rajion Neal showing decent burst. After the two Harris drops, I moved Neal above Harris on my depth chart.

* Crockett isn't making the 53-man team.

* Scott Tolzien. Solidifying himself - once again - as a legitimate #2 QB. Shows good command of the offense. Throws a decent ball. Stands with confidence.

* Brett Hundley will have days like that during his development. Especially if his OL fails him.

* Donny Barclay. Oh boy. Not his best performance. He's off to a terrible start to the preseason.

* Matt Rotheram showed good strength. Holds his point at the line really well. Needs to improve his footwork and can't transition to a RT at this stage, but it's possible that someday he'll be able to make that move.

* At this stage, Josh Walker is solely a Guard.

* Oh Heavenly Father, please ensure that our OL stays healthy this year. Get well, Sitton, Lang and Bakhtiari.

* Lane Taylor showed the same kind of fight that landed him on the roster the last two years.

* Great to see Randall Cobb operating out of the slot in wizardly fashion.

* Davante Adams looks fit. Slender. Strong. Athletic. Confident.

* Jeff Janis. It's time to RISE UP, young man. Janis looks like Nelson in his uniform. He runs in a similar fashion as well. He's our best option as a deep route runner. But, does the MVP trust him? They clearly aren't in lock-step like Nelson and Rodgers are. And, that won't be developed overnight. But, the Packers need to trust Janis early on. He's has all of the physical ability. It's in the Packers best interest to see what they have in him early and often.

* Rodgers seems to believe in Myles White. White has not done himself many favors over the first 2 preseason game. It'll be interesting to see if Rodgers' confidence in White earns him a roster spot.

* Wanted to see more out of Ty Montgomery. He wasn't open much. Runs decent routes. Gets low in his cuts. Didn't show much separation. Hence, I believe Janis is the best option as the #3 WR on the outside.

* Can Jared Abbrederis get healthy? If so, he's got a great opportunity in front of him.

* I'm impressed with Larry Pinkard. He'll be on someone's practice squad this year. And, it wouldn't shock me if he makes a 53-man roster somewhere. Runs solid routes. Catches with his hands. Has the physique.

* Kennard Backman. At this stage, I have him as the 3rd TE. Moves well. Clearly, he's the most athletic of the TE's competing for the #3 spot. And, he might be the most athletic TE on the roster. Without question, he's a developmental prospect. But, he has the most upside out of anyone that he's competing with for the #3 spot.

* The most concerning thing of the game was how slow the Packers looked off the snap. Outside of Gaston and Pennel, the Packers DL looked really slow off the snap. Seemed tired. Caught in the heat. Sure, it was a preseason game, but still cause for concern when considering that the Packers open at noon in Chicago. A game in which you can bet that the Bears will be looking to pound the ball at the heart of the Packers defense.

* Mike Pennel. Yes, Mike Pennel was the most impressive DL for the Packers. He really held the point of attack. Showed great push in the run game early on. Also, he collapsed the pocket on the Randall interception.

* As I write, Bruce Gaston is on my 53-man roster. He's been persistent. He's been aggressive. He's been a bruiser. 2 QB Hits. 1 Sack. 1 Tackle for Loss. He's been a great competitor.

* Datone Jones looked really good in limited reps. Looks like he's bigger than last year. Carrying more weight. And, he looks determined. Let's hope he's turned a corner.

* Christian Ringo is making the 53-man roster. Shows good effort. Has a decent push. Gets underneath his blocker. Moves his legs with persistency. Collapses the line.

* Jayrone Elliott didn't have the burst off the line of scrimmage that I wanted to see, but he gives effort. He's determined. And, he can turn the corner.

* Liked to see Adrian Hubbard fight for the loose ball on the fumble recovery. But, is he tough enough? I can't figure him out.

* Nate Palmer can't be an every down linebacker. Thought he showed OK at times, but then he was absolutely exposed.

* Carl Bradford. I'm really surprised that he didn't turn into a solid NFL player. It's year 2 and I've already given up. Man, I was high on him before he was drafted.

* Mike Neal. Moved backwards. Lost his fight. He'll show better as he gets into game shape.

* Tavarus Dantzler. Really liked watching him run down the field on special teams. Sought contact. Delivered punishment.

* Mentioned previously that James Vaughters was better suited for ILB in a 3-4 or OLB in a 4-3. Was happy to see that he was moved inside during practice this week.

* Jermauria Rasco. He's shown me enough to warrant a spot on the Practice Squad. Really good length. Shows flashes that make you yearn for more consistency.

* I get the feeling that the Packers organization is really pulling for Joe Thomas to do something special. He brings a physical mentality that this team needs.

* Sam Barrington looks so much more confident. He also looks comfortable. Loving the way he's wrapping up.

* LaDarius Gunter! []_[]! He looked like a total MAN out there. Covering the crossing routes. Jamming WR's at the line. Covering the deep route and getting his head turned to see the ball. He's a lock to make this roster.

* Quinten Rollins. Stay confident, young man. You'll have better days.

* Damarious Randall. Really, really impressive performance from the 1st round pick. Sure, the pick was phenomenal, but I was more excited about the open field tackle on Bell. Looked like a natural.

* HaHa Clinton Dix. Two games in a row that he's had himself in position. He's attacked like he was Brian Dawkins. And then he's whiffed. On multiple occasions.

* Sean Richardson will make the team because he signed a rich contract, but the Packers need more out of him if he's expected to see the field during the Regular Season. He looks slow and unaware.

* Tim Masthay. Disgusting. Mason Crosby. Brilliant!

* Man, Jordy Nelson. Ouch. The injury cannot be overstated. Not only is he the master of the "shot-play", but he's so in sync with the MVP. The back-shoulder play. He's a gamer. He's a big play constant. He's bailed Rodgers out on many 3rd downs. He's a top-5 WR in the NFL. Get healthy, Jordy. We'll miss you. Greatly.

* Look for McCarthy to design more formations to utilize 2 TE's. Look for more 2-back sets. I expect to see Janis get the first crack on the outside. Look for more formations in which Montgomery and/or Cobb are used in the backfield to confuse defensive coordinators. Look for Lacy to have an absolutely monster year.

It's the Week 3 preseason game. Against the Eagles. With all of the injuries on the OL, I wouldn't play Rodgers. I'd sit him. With Tolzien injured, I'd give the game to Hundley. Let him operate. Give him the reps. Let him play the first 3 Quarters. Hand the ball to Blanchard in the 4th Quarter. I'd also rest Bulaga and Linsley. I'd do the same with Cobb, Adams and Lacy. I'd consider doing the same with Starks. Let's keep our OL, Lacy, Cobb, Adams and the MVP at 100% entering into the Regular Season.

Be festive, Lambeau. Treat it as though it's a regular season game. Let's make it a special season. It starts on Saturday night. Kick it off with volume. Look for Hundley to settle in nicely and move the football. He hits Janis on a deep ball. He hits Pinkley on a deep out. He finds the dump down to Backman.

Elliott grabs a sack. YELLOW JAKE shows up like he did in the first preseason game. Rollins gets back on track and grabs a pick. The swagger is abundant at Lambeau!

Packers 20. Eagles 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.