Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Take -> Week 13

Greetings, G-Force.

Life is better when the Green Bay Packers win. With the victory, positivity was restored amongst the Packers fan base. Grasping onto hope that Mike McCarthy's team can, once again, play it's best football in December. And, confident that if the Packers play with the form that they played with on Monday Night, we'll be back to .500 after a Sunday at Lambeau.

To celebrate the victory, I write with a Crooked Stave L'Brett d'Cherry from September 2015. Robustly sour. Heavy Cherry. A mouth full o' Brett yeast. Golden Sour. Golden Flavor. Aging perfectly. I'm listening to the Michael Franti & Spearhead show from Jazz Fest in 2008. Seriously, one of the best shows I've ever seen in my life. Total dance party. It was raining NOLA-style. Total swamp feel. He jammed throughout. I'm super stoked to see Franti two times next weekend.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. McCarthy had his foot on the gas pedal. He wasn't going to leave anything on the table. He was the dictator. He determined the tempo of the game. He attacked the Eagles defense with quick hits. When the Packers offense plays with that tempo, I'm not sure that there's a defense in the NFL that can defend us.

* Yo, HaHa! ROCK WITH ME! That pick was a game changer. And, the Packers defense was desperate for a turnover. Often, turnovers can come in abundance. I have a feeling that we have a couple of turnovers coming this week as well.

* After the HaHa pick, I was calling for a deep shot. McCarthy did so. I was hoping he'd look for Cook. Instead, he went to Adams. Adams found magic down the sidelines.

* Davante Adams! Playing with shake to the beat of "A Little Bit A Riddim make the world go round."

* Rodgers was in MVP form. Playing with magic. Focused. In rhythm. Cerebral. Smartest player on the field. Concentrating on moving the sticks. When that's Aaron Rodgers, we are tough to beat.

* Jordy showed flashes. He's still not himself on the deep ball, but the footwork was terrific down the sidelines.

* Randall Cobb running with conviction is a scintillating sight.

* I've been critical of Jason Spriggs previously. He held his own. Played well. Still needs to get stronger. But, he played well. Moved his feet well. Like his athleticism.

* Bulaga and Bakhtiari. Hats off. Total studs at Tackle. Glad they're locked up. Need them healthy.

* It was only 1 carry. It was only 4 yards. But, I was really encouraged by Christine Michael's movement. Could be a really nice dimension to this offense. If McCarthy allows it.

* Loved the way McCarthy called the clinching drive. He didn't let up. He played to win. He called safe plays. He trusted his players to make plays. Rodgers did. So, did Jordy. It was a thing of beauty.

* Offensively, we weren't perfect though. There's no reason for James Starks to carry the ball 17 times. Sure, Starks picked up a couple of nice first downs, but I view that as being a product of the system, not a product of Starks' play making abilities. I'm antsy to see more of Michael. And, man, I don't get why Montgomery isn't catching swing passes and curl routes across the field out of the backfield? That should be happening a minimum of 5 times per game. It should be noted that I'm not a Starks hater, but man, we need better than 2.4 yards per carry out of the running game. And, throw in this, Starks had three carries that added up to 22 yards. So, on his 14 other carries, he grabbed a total of 19 yards. That's 1.36 yards per carry. That's not going to scare anyone. With Michael and Montgomery getting those touches, I promise that those statistics will improve. And, in turn, the offense will be even more dynamic.

* Also, want to see comedy? Watch Richard Rodgers block on Starks' 8 yard carry on 3rd & 1 with less than a minute in the 1st Quarter. He doesn't touch a soul. Literally. I have no idea what he was thinking. Also, watch Richard Rodgers on Aaron Rodgers' first down scramble on the first 3rd & 1 of the game. If he had any foresight to throw a block, Aaron Rodgers would've picked up another 5-7 yards easily.

* Remember when Corey Linsley played like the strongest guy on the field? What happened to those days?

* Julius Peppers continues to make plays. Looks fresh. Playing with intensity!

* This defense is so much better with CM3 at ILB. He adds speed. He brings an inside blitz dimension. He makes more plays at ILB than he does at OLB. He shows his instincts. He gets to read and react. His talents are on display. He makes a huge impact as an ILB. I hope he stays there. In fact, a piece of me would like to see Burnett and CM3 as the ILB's with Brice and HaHa at Safety. It'd add more speed to the defense.

* Another nice game for Nick Perry. He's earning coin.

* Mike Daniels was a difference maker.

* Really liked Letroy Guion's play.

* Again, Kenny Clark showed push in the run game. He even powered through for a bit of a pass rush.

* Damarious Randall may have shown terrible tackling skills, but I loved the way that he attacked the slant. I see big plays in his future.

* Liked to see Q-Rollins get his hands on a football. Expecting a big play from him soon.

* Another up-and-down game for Gunter.

* Big play: 17-10. 3rd Quarter. Eagles driving. Clay showing blitz from the inside. Instead he drops and Capers sends Q-Rollins and Hyde. The Packers get pressure from the backside with Hyde and Perry. They hold to a FG. It was a crucial play in the game. Good call by Capers, but if Dom Capers thinks he can win this week with Jake Ryan and Joe Thomas starting at ILB, he's a fool. Keep Matthews at ILB.

* Jayrone Elliott was given an opportunity on defense. He didn't come through. I was excited to see if he could perform. Left disappointed. Was really hoping that he could add an outside rush with Clay playing ILB.

* Jeff Janis continues to disappoint on special teams.

* Marwin Evans continues to impress on special teams.

* RIP! RIP! RIP! Total fan.

* Why is Demetri Goodson still eating up a roster spot? Isn't he done for the year?

* Liked to see Josh Hawkins making a special teams play.

* Felt like Datone Jones added a physical push.

* Good punt, Jacob Schum.

* Someday - Mike McCarthy will learn that his defense can't get off the field at the end of the half and he won't use a timeout to help the opposition.

* The Packers played loose. They were having fun. There was continuity. It was a joy to watch. Now, think of this. Dallas travels to MN on Thursday night. Let's get a Dallas victory. Detroit travels to New Orleans on Sunday afternoon. Let's do this, Drew! With a Packers win, we're one game out.

This week - it's the Texans. In another must win. At Lambeau Field. Frankly, if the Packers can't win this game, we don't deserve to hold out hope. We need Lambeau rockin'. We need Lambeau ready to bring us a victory. Stand up, G-Force! Off yur' ass! On yur' feet! Let's make some noise!!!

The Texans have solid weapons on offense. DeAndre Hopkins is a weapon on the outside. He's as talented as it gets at WR. Will Fuller is rich with athletic gifts. Jaelen Strong is a physical mismatch at WR. Braxton Miller is an athletic gem as a slot WR. CJ Fiedorowicz is a big bodied TE who blocks well, sits in the zone and has great hands. Lamar Miller is a speed back who adds a little shake and a lot of power. But, the Texans have Brock Osweiler at QB. And, he's awful. He plays small. He holds on the ball too long. And, he doesn't see the field. Also, he's mistake prone. Additionally, the Texans OL can be abused. I fully expect the Packers front 4 to dominate the Texans OL.

The Texans are without JJ Watt. And, it shows. Jadeveon Clowney is a decent player, but he hasn't lived up to the billing. I believe that he'll be shut down. Whitney Mercilus is a good pass rusher, but when's he asked to cover, he struggles. Vince Wilfork is still a tough run stopper. Antonio Smith brings energy to the DL. Brian Cushing is tough as nails and even after the injuries, he can play. Benardrick McKinney is an over achiever. I believe the secondary for the Texans can be exposed. They lack depth. They don't tackle well. I'd like to see the Packers spread them out. I'd like to see some shots deep down the sidelines. The Texans don't match up well with the Packers on the outside.

I wanted the Packers to draft Tyler Ervin last year as a scat back and a returner. He's returning kicks for the Texans. He's dangerous.

I'm hoping that Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews are fit to go. Both in playmaking positions. In the spotlight. At the core of the team. Ready to dominate. Saviors to the 2016 season.

Rodgers finds his rhythm. He attacks the secondary with quick hits. He finds Cobb early and often. Cobb moves sticks. He looks to match Nelson on Jonathan Joseph. Nelson stiff arms Joseph to the turf.

I have an odd feeling that Geronimo Allison makes a big play this week. Don't ask me why. But, I feel it.

Osweiler struggles early. He commits two turnovers. Randall makes a pick and has a nice return.

But, with Osweiler, you have to play 60 minutes. He gets hot late in the 3rd and leads a Houston comeback. The crowd gets antsy. Rodgers leads a late scoring drive.

Party up, G-Force!

Packers 30
Texans 23

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Take -> Week 12

Greetings, G-Force.

4-6. The 2016 season slowly slipping from our grasps. Super Bowl or bust appears to be a wasted thought. Instead, it's broken further than it's been since 2005. Still, the smallest bit of hope remains. We cling to the thought of a potential pending Detroit late season collapse and we couple it with the mere hope that the possibility of this team getting hot does exist. Gripe as it may seem. We get 16 games a year to hold onto. Therefore, I'll cling to any bit of hope that might remain alive. But, sooner or later, this team has to get a win or else we will be forced to focus on the 2017 NFL Draft. I'm not mentally ready to shift my attention.

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for all who read this blog. As I write today, I sip a Galaxy Double Dry Hopped Hop Wizard from Odd 13. It's lighter than most beers I sip at 5.75% ABV. Heavy hop bomb that flows well. It's an easy drinking beer. I relax as I listen to Greg Brown's Dream Cafe album. Totally mellow, chill music.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* Welcome to the 2016 NFL Season, Jared Cook. Cool showed up in a monstrous way. He was a weapon on the perimeter and out of the slot. Great to see him stretching the defense. Equally as awesome to see him as a Red Zone threat.

* Mike McCarthy. Open your eyes. Your offense went three and out on their first 3 possessions. On the 4th drive, Ty Montgomery caught two passes. Both went for 1st downs. He's a difference maker. Use him. He's a match-up nightmare. Put him in position to be successful and you'll be successful. It's that simple. What point are you trying to prove by having James Starks touching the ball twice as much as Montgomery? On the season, Starks is averaging 2.5 yards per carry. Still, on 2 of our first 6 plays, the ball went into Starks' hands. It's really disturbing. And, really, Mike, when you open up the offense, you have weapons and you move the football. But, the rotations should mostly be between Jordy, Cobb, Ty, Adams, Cook, Allison, Rip and Michael.

* Give credit to Aaron Rodgers. He's doing everything in his power to will this team to victory. Have to applaud his decision to stand up in front of the media and to say that he feels like this team can run the table. He doesn't want 2016 to be a wasted year. He senses that it's slipping away.

* Not to beat up the point, but I don't understand why the Packers don't use a combination that includes Jordy, Cobb, Ty, Adams and Cook on more than 50% of the snaps. I feel that'd it be our best time of possession team as well as our best big play threat unit. And, when you're giving up 30+ points a game, you have to look for ways to eat up clock. Without a running game, the best way to chew clock is via a short passing game. When we go to the short passing game, we look like a solid football team. When we get away from it, we look like a clueless, desperate group.

* Dom Capers will go to his football grave running a zone defense with DBs that don't understand their responsibilities and ILBs that are matched up with much faster slot WRs. Those are losing recipes.

* Say what you want about Julius Peppers, but he's one of the few players on the defense that continues to make plays.

* Mike Daniels was pushed backwards in a big way.

* No place in football for Datone Jones' actions.

* Thought CM3 made an impact early. He provided a spark. I'm still pining for him to be moved to ILB. If Capers thinks he can win with Ryan, Thomas and Bradford at ILB, he's horribly mistaken.

* Speaking of Bradford, boy, did he look inflexible on his attempt to bend down and intercept the batted pass. Could've been a game changing play. Instead, he wasn't athletic enough to seal the deal. Consistently, on defense, we've failed to come up with the "oh, so close" big play.

* Felt like Kenny Clark showed a solid push early on, once again.

* Quinten Rollins is not playing like a 2nd round pick.

* Ty Montgomery needs to see the football. Early and often. Amazes me at how much he's underutilized week after week. Why not put him in space against a LB or a S? Baffling.

* Gunter makes some nice plays on defense. He shows glimpses. And then, he gets totally smoked for a big play.

* Is it just me or does Capers seem to call the same blitz packages every week?

* Anxious to see Christine Michael this week. Hope he takes snaps from Starks and not from Montgomery.

* Suddenly, Jeff Janis has become a below average special teams player. For a while, I thought he was flashing Pro Bowl special teams potential.

* Two penalties in the Red Zone. Both by a guard. One on Barclay. The other on Spriggs. Fully unacceptable. Both penalties set us back in big fashion. After them, the Packers combined to settle for 3 points on the 2 drives.

* It amazes me that the Packers never get in WR's faces. We never jam. We always give a cushion. We leave the underneath route open yet we still get beat over the top. What gives?

* The Packers special teams continue to fail each and every week.

* Nick Perry needs to get paid.

* Kentrell Brice often covered slot WR's in college. I'd like to see him give it a shot in the NFL. If he's not ready yet, I question why? And, it should be a priority for him to learn the role during the off season.

* Someday - the Packers defense will force multiple turnovers in a game. Really, it'll happen someday. Hopefully, it'll happen soon.

* Help me to understand: What does Winston Moss do? He's the "Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers coach." What does that mean? I don't get it. Consider this - the defense has given us 42, 47, 31, 33, 10 and 30 points over the last 6 games. If Capers' defense isn't working, shouldn't the "Assistant Head Coach" who is a defensive mind be vetoing Capers' calls? Or at least advising? Or maybe even taking control?

* Here are the hypotheticals as to why you should keep the faith: for the sake of argument, let's assume the Packers win the last three against the NFC NORTH. Let's also assume that the Packers beat HOU at Lambeau. That'd mean the Packers would have 8 wins. A win over Philly or Seattle would get the Packers to 9 wins. All far fetched - I know - but the possibility remains. Additionally, here are the Lions and the 'queens opponents: In addition to the Packers, the Lions still have games at NO, at NYG and at Dallas. They also host GB. Even though the Lions are 7-4 as I write, I can envision a scenario in which they only win 8-9 games - assuming GB beats them in Week 17. The 'queens are 6-5. In addition to GB, they still play Dallas, at Jacksonville, Indy, and Chicago. If MN loses to GB & Dallas, they finish 9-7. If GB, MN and Detroit all finish 9-7, the tiebreaker would go to the Packers based on their record inside of the Division. Presently, Detroit is 2-2 in the Division, MN is 1-3 in the Division and GB is 2-1 in the Division. Yes, this is a long shot, but there's a chance.

This week - it's the Eagles. On Monday Night Football. I really hope that the Packers don't get embarrassed on Prime Time TV for the 2nd week in a row.

The Eagles have athletes on offense. Athletes at the skill positions who will give the Packers trouble. Doral Green-Beckham is a talented, long WR who has inconsistent hands. I'd think that Gunter could match up well with Green-Beckham. I'd have Gunter line up and get in Green-Beckham's grill at the line of scrimmage. Have Gunter jam him off his route. Nelson Agholor can run. He is shifty after the catch. I'd have Rollins follow him around the field. Jordan Matthews is a lethal slot receiver. He runs a dynamite crossing route. He's a fantastic 3rd down WR. Zach Ertz continues to impress at TE. He'll be a full-on mismatch for the Packers. Ideally, Morgan Burnett would guard him. He won't be able to though. Trey Burton is the Eagles 3rd TE. He's be really good in Green & Gold. In fact, every time I watch him, I wonder how the Eagles can find him in UDFA out of Florida and yet, we're stick with Richard Rodgers in the 3rd round. Both came out of the 2014 Draft. Brent Celek is a veteran that still gets the job done. Darren Sporles remains one of the most dangerous players in the game. Wendell Smallwood finds yards. It appears as though Ryan Mathews won't play. I really like Carson Wentz's future. He moves well. He can make all of the throws. He can throw on the run. And, when he's on the move, he's looking down field to find the big play. The Eagles weakness is their OL. There's no reason for Dom Capers to blitz. If the Packers front 4 cannot beat the Eagles OL, the Packers don't deserve to win. The Packers have to win the Line of Scrimmage. They should be able to.

The Eagles defensive front scares me. Brandon Graham is a terrific pass rusher. Fletcher Cox could abuse the interior of the Packers OL. Vinny Curry can do it all on the edge. Connor Barwin is a physical specimen that can drop in coverage, defend the run and rush the passer. He'll make his presence felt. With Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks; the Eagles LB's play with speed and a physical edge that punishes. The Eagles secondary is good, but it lacks depth and it struggles when they have to get out of their base defense. Nolan Carroll is a decent CB, but he can be picked on and will get multiple penalties for using his hands. Leeds McKelvin can play, but he too, uses his hands too much. When you watch Malcolm Jenkins at S, you'll be jealous that he isn't playing for the Packers. He's one of the best Safeties in football.

If special teams are a factor in this game, it's a big advantage for the Eagles. In all facets of the special teams game.

If the Packers are going to win they'll need to use the short passing game. I'd like to see Rodgers connect with 7 or 8 receivers. He needs to spread the wealth. That is usually a sign that Rodgers is seeing the field well. The Eagles defense has taken on the personality of their defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz. Schwartz will be in attack mode. He'll blitz Rodgers. Rodgers better see it coming or it could get ugly. Especially if the Packers offensive line continues to be banged up. Either way - Rodgers needs to get rid of the ball. Quickly.

It'll be important for McCarthy to stack formations to try and get his WR's a free release off of the line of scrimmage. If not, the Eagles defense might be too physical for the Packers WR's and it could be a long day.

Defensively, it comes down to the front 4. We have to get into Wentz's face. If so, he'll make mistakes. A lot of them. If he's given time, it could be a long day as he picks apart the Packers defense.

I really believe that the Packers will limit Sproles. He doesn't get loose for a back breaking play. Green-Beckham gets frustrated on the outside. The defense rebounds.

Rodgers stays poised. He stays calm. He wills the team to victory. In a big way.

Packers 30.
Eagles 20.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Take -> Week 11

Greetings, G-Force.

I went to Nashville in search of my favorite source of entertainment. Family, music and Green Bay Packers football. I saw my family. My parents, my siblings, 6 nephews and 4 nieces. I saw music at the Ryman Auditorium. If you've never been, put it on your bucket list. Then, I hit up the Country Music Hall of Fame. Followed by 3 breweries. It was a vintage BuzzBoy style weekend. We rented a party bus. It was fantastic. Then - we saw the Green Bay Packers play. What a buzzkill.

4-5. Still, a glimmer of hope remains! Only one game out in the Division race. The only team in the Division with only one loss inside the Division. Bleak as it may be, a thread of optimism exists. Ever so slightly.

I sip a 2015 Sierra Nevada Narwhal. I've had it open for an hour and 15 minutes. As it warms to room temperature and the beer breathes, it really flows smoothly. It's rich chocolate goodness. Sticky. Sweet. I listen to the Katastro Strange Nights album. When you live less than 5 miles from Red Rocks Amphitheater, you get introduced to fun live music. Especially if you aren't afraid of some mid-week live shows. Katastro won me over this summer. Katastro opened for the Dirty Heads this summer. They were a winner. An up-and-coming band. Fun musical buzz.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* I've been saying that it's Super Bowl or Bust. Clearly, Ted Thompson feels the same way. He doesn't sign Christine Michael any other year. But, this year is different. He knows that his team was built to win this year. Michael will certainly help after he learns the offense. Still, I'd like to see Ty Montgomery playing more than half of the snaps. Look around the NFL. The NFL has become a match-up league. More so than ever. Teams are using RB's as receivers more than ever, it seems. They're spreading RB's outside against LB's and running go-routes. They're hitting big plays. Why can't the Packers do that with Montgomery? It seems to make too much sense. Instead, the Packers are ignoring the mismatch.

* Mike McCarthy had no game plan entering the Titans game. Zero strategy. With the stadium seemingly 60% Packers fans - no joke - it appeared as though it'd be a game in which we'd be celebrating all afternoon. Instead, it was quite the contrary. The Titans were desperate. Hell, they tried a freakin' onside kick to start the game. AT HOME! They were absolutely intimidated by a 4-4 Packers team. How does McCarthy respond? Starks for 3 yards. Starks for 3 yards. Incomplete pass. Way to attack, Mike! Making matters worse, Starks hadn't played since Week 5. In the 4 games that he'd played prior to the Titans game, Starks had carried the ball 24 times for 42 yards. Starks had been averaging a WHOPPING 1.75 yards per carry on the year. He'd also dropped passes and fumbled the football the last time we saw him on the field. So, what's McCarthy's game plan? Let's hand it to Starks twice in a row. Brainless. Thoughtless. Utterly disappointing.

* The Titans couldn't cover the Packers. They didn't have the secondary to defend the Packers. The Packers should've come out with Montgomery in the backfield. Nelson and Cobb in the slot. Adams on the perimeter on one side and either Janis or Allison on the other perimeter. Should've spread the Titans out. Rodgers would've had a field day. Instead, McCarthy was beyond foolish and tried to establish some sort of non-existent run game. Baffling. Seriously, it dumbfounded me.

* Demetri Goodson should get cut. How do you not down the football at the one-yard line? Pathetic.

* God bless Aaron Rodgers. The TV does not do him justification. They show the negative. Rodgers was a fighter. A competitor. From the opening snap, he wanted the game. He was trying to will victory. Unfortunately, he can't play defense.

* When the Packers offense has looked championship-worthy, we've seen quick passes. With Ty or Adams in the backfield. Where'd that go? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND! Why not stick with what has worked?

* Here's the harshest stat I've seen in a long time: In what was considered by most as a must-win game, McCarthy rolled out Richard Rodgers for 83% of the snaps and James Starks for 71% of the snaps. Meanwhile, Randall Cobb only played 69% of the snaps and Montgomery played 28% of the snaps. What in the world are we thinking? I mean, Justin Perillo played 18% of the snaps. Why not play our weapons? It's painful.

* I really like watching Jordy Nelson operate out of the slot. It'll add longevity to his career. And, makes the Packers really dangerous when Jared Cook comes back. Cook can play on the outside. Line Jordy up to the inside next to him. Like the way Jordy works the middle of the field. Can't cover him with a LB.

* Speaking of Jared Cook. Please. PLEASE. PLEASE hurry back. I don't ever want to see Richard Rodgers on the field again. What does he bring?

* Mike Daniels needs to stop talking and start playing.

* Get well soon, TJ Lang. Worried about his injury.

* You, too, David Bakhtiari. We need you if we're going to salvage the season.

* Lane Taylor has been struggling mightily over the last couple of weeks.

* I keep envisioning a Packers team that gets a healthy EDDIE for the playoffs. Without the nicks, bumps and bruises. Ready to dominate. Then, I pinch myself and I wonder where the wins are going to come from on the schedule.

* For all of the Clay Matthews haters: have you seen this defense without him?

* Sorry to see Jake Ryan get hurt, but I wonder if it isn't a blessing in disguise. Might force Clay to play ILB when he returns. Said it before, I'll say it again, I seriously believe that his body cannot handle the physicality at the line of scrimmage.

* For the Damarious Randall haters: sure, he gets burnt, but the dude also makes plays. Right now, we're watching a defense that cannot force turnovers. We used to own the turnover battle. Not anymore.

* If Sammy Swagga retires and the Packers cut both Morgan Burnett and James Starks after year, the Packers will save roughly $22 million against the cap. As of now, I believe that they're roughly $36 million under the cap for next year, if they're to carry over the $10 million that they have left to spend in 2016.

* Prior to the 2013 NFL Draft I wrote this about Christine Michael: Christine Michael (3) - If I had the time and the access, I'd watch every carry of his college career. He has a nose for the end zone. Good vision. He will put the ball on the ground in careless fashion, but he'll also burst through defenders and pick up additional yardage. He has a stellar attitude. A consummate pro. Would be great in Green & Gold.

* Joe Thomas is not an every down ILB. I had high hopes for him. He is a 3rd down ILB. That's it. He lacks recognition in the run game. If it's not Clay playing ILB, I'd rather see Morgan Burnett at ILB, so Brice could play more safety. Brice was the only defender to make a play in TN.

This week - it's the Redskins. In Washington. On Sunday Night. In Prime Time. Oh boy. I'm scared. But, Mike McCarthy teams have played well with their backs against the wall in the past.

The Redskins are also in a must-win situation. Kirk Cousins has - at times - looked like a QB who could carry the Redskins back to the NFL Promised Land. He sees the field well. He finds the mismatch. He doesn't go away from it. He's deceptively quick. He uses his feet well. I'm a Kirk Cousins fan. Rob Kelley doesn't scare me out of the backfield. Chris Thompson is a solid pass-catching RB. He's shifty and has good vision. DeSean Jackson is questionable, but Pierre Garcon has been playing really well lately. Jamison Crowder has quietly become one of the best slot WR's in the NFL. Crowder is a first-down machine. He's also a lethal Punt Returner. Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis could have field days. Reed destroyed the Packers in the playoffs last year. Davis has found youthful energy in Washington. The Redskins weakness is their OL. The Packers front 4 has to dominate the line of scrimmage. Especially on the edges. Ty Nsekhe and Morgan Moses can be beaten at the Tackle position.

Washington has a try hard defense. Chris Baker is a solid interior pass rusher who will give the Packers Guards all kinds of problems. Ryan Kerrigan is a beast on the edge. Preston Smith also is trouble off the edge. Smith and Kerrigan can dominate games. Mason Foster is an off-and-on ILB. When he's on, look out. But, when he's off, he's really bad. Will Compton will give effort, but he's limited athletically. With Josh Norman on one side, look for Aaron Rodgers to attack Bashed Breeland. If Breeland is left alone, he can be beaten off the line of scrimmage for big plays. The Redskins safety play is not up to snuff.

There's no reason for the Packers to blitz this weekend. All too often Dom Capers has come with predictable blitz packages. QB's are recognizing them and tearing the depleted Packers secondary apart. Let's limit Clay's snaps. Let's limit Peppers' snaps. But, on passing downs, let's have Clay and Peppers attacking. To me, that seems like the best strategic approach towards getting the defense off the field.

I fully expect to see Mike McCarthy's Packers in attack mode. Playing with Cook, Nelson, Cobb and Adams as the most often used receiving options. Allison sees snaps as well. Montgomery used as a RB. Montgomery seeing pass catching opportunities. The Packers playing a fast paced brand of offensive football.

And, FINALLY, the Packers get a game changing turnover that gives momentum in the third Quarter on a HaHa interception.

Rodgers has a brilliant game attacking the middle of the field and targeting Breeland. Rodgers throws for 300 yards and 3 TD's.

If Clay, Rollins, Bakhtiari and Cook play, there are no excuses. This one is mandatory. I'm not surrendering. I'm doing all that I can to remain a believer. I hope the locker room at 1265 Lombardi Ave feels the same.

Packers 30.
Redskins 27.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My Take -> Week 10

Greetings, G-Force.

4-4. It’s ugly. But, we can’t panic. We have to keep the faith. There are 16 teams in the NFC. 11 have either 3, 4, or 5 wins. There’s no time for hating. Instead, this team needs support right now. It needs positive kinetic energy. With Minnesota traveling to Washington this week, there’s a strong possibility that the Packers will be in a 3-way tie for first place in the NFC North with 7 games to play. More often than not, McCarthy and Rodgers teams have improved as the season has gone along. And, with the team getting healthier over the next couple of weeks, there’s a possibility that this team can put it together. Further, there’s a chance that after this weekend, the Packers will be right in the mix to achieve a 1st round bye. Sounds crazy, but while the outlook is bleak right now, most teams in the NFC likely feel just like Packers fans felt on Sunday afternoon. It’s not the time to give up. And, if the Packers fail to find victories over the last 8 weeks and they miss out on the playoffs, then it might be time for the Packers to evaluate whether they’ve met the end of the Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson road. But, for now and for the rest of the year, I’m going to focus on the 2016 regular season.

The Avery Kaiser welcomes me with a smile. Rich in ABV. Smells like fall. A toffee, caramel feel. It’s sweet. Big bodied and ready to tackle your buzz. Sly & The Family Stone’s Greatest Hits keeps my happy and rhythmically bouncing. After all, we have to “Stand!” for what we believe in. I believe in Dancing to the Music of the Green Bay Packers. I also listen to the Avett Brothers because "There's a darkness upon me that's flooded in light. In the fine print they tell me what's wrong and what's right. And it comes in black and it comes in white. And I'm frightened by those that don't see it. When nothing is owed or deserved or expected. And your life doesn't change by the man that's elected. If you're loved by someone, you're never rejected. Decide what to be and go be it."

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* Mike McCarthy went bland for three quarters. And, while we had opportunities for big play, we were extremely predictable. Sure, the offense moved the ball and was often in Indianapolis territory, but the Packers couldn’t finish the drive, with the exception of a free play that resulted in the Rodgers to Nelson TD. Also, McCarthy’s use of Cobb and Montgomery was baffling. It didn’t seem like he kept his players in the loop. Poor leadership move by McCarthy.

* Aaron Rodgers wanted that game. He was wearing his emotions on his sleeve. Trying to will the team to victory. He wasn’t always on target and he wasn’t seeing the field at an elite level, but he played with the type of command that will bring the Packers victories in the near future.

* Jeff Janis had me punching the floor with vulgarities like a 2-year old throwing a terrible tantrum. I can’t do that in front of the kids again.

* Huge props to Corey Linsley. He saw the DL jump. He snapped the ball. He created the free play that led to the Nelson TD pass.

* Ty Montgomery needs to touch the ball a minimum of 15 times every game.

* Don Jackson, once again, showed burst. He has quickness. Now, he needs patience.

* Good game, Davante Adams. Liked the way he used his body on the TD catch.

* This team needs Clay Matthews healthy. Like immediately. Even if it’s as a situational pass rusher. I seriously wonder if Clay's size is his hindrance. I wonder if the 50 pound weight difference against OT's put pressure on his back and if it then has an effect on his hamstrings. I really hope he gets put back to ILB. I know I write it weekly. But, I think it could be a solution.

* Back-to-back weeks, the defense had a chance to put us in position to win the game by getting a stop on the last drive. Two weeks ago, the ball bounced off of HaHa’s hands. Last week, HaHa missed the sack. Not on knock on HaHa, I’d just like to see him seal the deal. With that said, without HaHa’s performance, the Packers might’ve been blown out early in the game.

* Love the way Kentrell Brice wraps up. Feel like he has a forced fumble on the horizon.

* The Packers need Micah Hyde to be healthy.

* Julius Peppers spent a lot of time on the ground. He was pushed around. But, he's playing too much. With Clay hurt, Fackrell not ready for full-time duty, Elliott not taking the next step and with the diminished production from Datone Jones; Peppers is forced to take on more snaps than what was planned. In return, we've seen decreased production. Still, Peppers remains one of the few Defenders that we have who you'd expect to make a game changing play. That can't be discounted. When Clay comes back, I'd expect Peppers' play to improve as well.

* I remain optimistic that the Packers could put together a late season run. The NFC looks bad. Outside of Dallas, who feels good about themselves? And, we have to remember that the Packers seem to be getting healthier. Soon, we'll see Jared Cook. We'll have Clay back. While I don't like Starks as a starting RB, at least he knows the position and the offense. Damarious Randall will be back soon. And, it's quite possible that EDDIE will be back with fresh legs for the playoff run. It's possible that the Packers will be healthy at the right time and if so, it's possible that we'll be ready to peak at the right time.

I’m not going to dwell on the negative. I’m moving onward. So, my attention will be directed toward the Titans. After all, I'm headed to Nashville. For a family reunion and a family date at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. And, I'm making sure that I'm leaving with victory in hand. We are bringing the G-Force. We are bringing excitement. We are bringing positivity. We are bringing the FUN back to the Packers. If you're going to Nashville this weekend, be ready to get a hearty high five, to be greeted with a grand smile and a full-on GO PACK GO. The 2nd half of the season is our time to shine.

The Titans have played decent football lately. They're going to be a physical test for the Packers. And, when they don't turn the football over, the Titans win games. But, Marcus Mariota has been mistake prone. The Packers are going to need to jump routes as Mariota lives for the underneath route. He can't throw the deep ball. If we're aggressive in the secondary, big plays will happen. Rishard Matthews and Kendall Wright are dangerous after the catch. Harry Douglas can play the slot WR role. Tajae Sharpe doesn't scare me. The Titans will have Delanie Walker in action. Walker is a really talented TE threat. He'll be a mismatch for the Packers. DeMarco Murray is a bruising back. But, he puts the ball on the turf, so it'll be important for the Packers to be slapping wrists as they look to make tackles. It doesn't appear that Derrick Henry will play. The Titans have a physical OL. They're gritty. They're under appreciated.

Defensively, the Titans are aggressive. They attack. They'll come with a wide variety of blitz packages. From all angles. DaQuan Jones is a force in the run game. Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are tireless around the edge. Both offer a talented speed/power pass rush. Orakpo scares me. Avery Williamson and Wesley Woodyard are talented ILB in a 3-4 defense. The secondary takes chances, but can be beaten. Perrish Cox has been a physical addition on the perimeter at CB. Jason McCourty is a battle tested perimeter CB. Antwon Blake can't cover anyone on the Packers. He'll get torched. The Titans lack secondary depth. Rashad Johnson and Da'Norris Searcy are confident, hard hitting safeties, but both can be had.

I expect a Music City Packers celebration. I look for Rodgers to be in command. To be in complete control of the game. From start to finish. The Packers are on a mission.

Tennessee will annoyingly move the ball. They'll bring the read-option. They'll hit underneath routes. They'll be methodical. But, they'll struggle to finish drives.

The Packers finally connect on multiple big plays down the field. Jordy has a monster day.

Packer fans will show up in Tennessee in abundance. It'll be a fun buzz.

Packers 31.
Titans 16

Go Pack Go!

You gotta believe!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, November 4, 2016

My Take -> Week 9

Greetings, G-Force.

4-3. I'm not one for finding enjoyment in losses because we look good. I'd rather have an ugly win. Nonetheless, it's hard to not be encouraged by the play of the Packers offense. McCarthy is showing imagination. Rodgers is showing precision. And, because of both, the Packers offense has had a passing rhythm over the last two weeks. More points are on the horizon. Wins should follow.

Just like the Packers offense, I've gone back to the roots. I sip the beer that really motivated to dig deeper into the sour beer craze. A Crooked Stave Surette. A classic in its genre. Perfectly tart. Super smooth. Balanced in glorious fashion. Musically, I am groovin' to Bob Marley & The Wailers. The African Herbsman album. After all, the Packers have to keep on "Riding High" on offense. And, this week, if you're at Lambeau Field, it's time to "Lively Up Yourself" and make some noise.

Here are my quick vibes on offense:

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. He was in attack mode. He was fearless in his playcalling. He went after the Atlanta secondary with a confident approach. McCarthy did a great job alternating personnel throughout the game. He showed a wide variety of looks even though the offense was decimated with injury. When McCarthy mixes up his packages, he showcases his offensive wizardry and he becomes an elite NFL coach. When he's conservative, he's a below average coach. I like the groove that McCarthy is in. Feels like it's his offense, once again.

* Kudos to Aaron Rodgers. He trusted his teammates. He put them in position to succeed. And, thus, once again, he looked like an MVP. He was hitting receivers in the buckle. He was confident. He was in command. He looked like a leader. He played with passion. He had a coolness to him that felt like California Swagger. He'd been missing that bounce to his step. But, his body language carried confidence. And, success followed suit. Really enjoyed watching him applaud the defense after Atlanta's opening drive when GB held ATL to 3 points. That's the Aaron Rodgers that I know and love. Confident leadership. Keep with it, MVP.

* Massive shout out to Davante Adams. I have been critical. Overly so. I've even wondered whether he should be on the team prior to the year. But, Adams is playing like a budding star right now. He's focused. He's reading the game well. He's playing with a sense of relief. He looks healthy. He looks quicker. He wants the ball in his hands. He has to hang onto the football.

* RIPKOWSKI! I dig him. Old school football player. Tough minded. Most physical blood on the field. Unintimidated. He wants contact.

* The Knile Davis experiment was a bust. Nicely tried, TT. Davis doesn't have it. I'm surprised. He looked slow. Never found his tempo.

* Don Jackson, on the other hand, looks like he can play in the league. He's still learning, but I'm really anxious to see him on a screen. Like his burst. Want to see his vision in the open field. Also, I'm interested to see if he has a little wiggle in him with room to run.

* 4 catches. 94 yards. 1 TD. That's the Jordy Nelson that I remember. Hope there's more of that to come.

* Thought a big play in the game came on the opening drive of the 3rd Quarter. While I was happy that the Packers were moving the ball so well offensively, I didn't feel as though we could win a game in the 30's. So, when the score was 24-19 at the half, I really believed that the Packers needed a TD to start the 2nd half. After back-to-back first downs, the Packers were at their own 49. Rodgers flushes left. He hits Geronimo Allison in the hands with a quick flip of the wrist. Allison drops it. He would've picked up a minimum of 12 yards. The Packers would've been on the brink of FG range. After the play, the momentum almost instantly changed. The Packers ended up punting. They did so again on the next possession. Allison had a chance to make a big play. He failed to do so. With that said, it's tough to be critical of Allison. He had a good game for only being on the active roster for a couple of days. I was happy to see him score a TD. And, I really enjoyed his footwork along the sideline on his 17-yard grab on the crucial 4th Quarter TD drive that gave the Packers a 32-26 lead.

* Congrats to Jeff Janis on his first Regular Season TD. Good to see him in mental unison with Rodgers after Rodgers rolled from the pocket. Also, nice to see him massage the hit and hang onto the football.

* Trevor Davis with a riveting punt return and beautiful footwork along the sideline for a TD. Well done, rook!

* Why is Richard Rodgers on the team? He offers absolutely nothing. The Packers are a better team without him on the field. With that said, he'll likely catch 2 Red Zone TD's this weekend.

* I felt bad for Dom Capers. He played the game exactly the way I'd have designed it. He limited Julio Jones' touches. Granted, Jones was banged up, but still, Jones was well covered for most of the day. But, when you're forced to play with Demetri Goodson on the outside, you're going to give up big plays. The 47 yard TD that Goodson gave up in the 1st Quarter showed an absolute lack of awareness. Additionally, I thought that Capers had a couple of well-timed run blitz calls. Martinez just missed the tackle. I must admit - I've been really surprised at how well Martinez has played this year, but he was disappointing against Atlanta.

* Mike Daniels. All Pro.

* Julius Peppers showed flashes. Really wanted him to get home on the last drive. The defense really needed someone to step up and make a play. I kept waiting for Peppers to burst through. He never did.

* On the final drive, both Gunter and HaHa had chances to make a game winning play. Neither seized the moment. Crushing.

* Jake Ryan in pass coverage. Intolerable.

* Prior to the year, I'd have bet a lot of money that the Packers secondary would intercept more than 20 passes this year. Through 7 games, they've intercepted 2. In fact, the Packers LB's have more interceptions than their secondary. I'd like to think that will change. Gunter has big plays in his future.

* Micah Hyde is quietly having a dynamite year. Feels like he'd be tough to replace if he's not back next year.

* Two really horrible calls on the Packers offered heavy momentum to Atlanta in the first half. The pass interference call on Gunter was absolutely criminal. What a terrible call. It should've been offensive pass interference on Jones. Instead, it put the Falcons in Packers territory on a 24 yard penalty. And, the roughing the passer penalty on Datone Jones was beyond questionable. It, too, offered Atlanta 15 vital yards. Both drives ended up netting points for Atlanta.

* JC Tretter with his worst game of the year. And, then, he gets injured to boot. Unlucky. Packers are fortunate that Corey Linsley is healthy enough to return this week. Don Barclay continues to be a liability.

* TJ Lang. Dude is a baller.

* I said it last week, I'll say it again. I want to see Clay at ILB. And, at OLB on passing downs. Total shame that he wasn't available on the final drive last week. Packers lost a nail biter. A game that we had. Would've loved to have seen Clay pursuing Ryan with the game on the line. I don't think Clay's body can hold up at OLB.

* What pains me most about this loss is that Mike McCarthy teams always seem to lose a game that you absolutely expect them to win. Therefore, it wouldn't shock me if the Packers lost to Indy, Tenn, Houston or Chicago. With that said, it's noteworthy that Chicago already has home wins over both Detroit and Minnesota. In a tight division race, it's important to note the teams records inside the Division and inside the Conference.

This week - the Packers play an absolutely desperate Indianapolis Colts team. There's no reason the Packers don't bury the Colts. It's a must win for Green Bay. In fact, the next two weeks are mandatory victories or the Packers backs will be against the wall. The Colts are terrible. The Packers are at home. This has to be a win. In convincing fashion.

The Colts have struggled offensively. Andrew Luck is capable of a 400 yard game every week. He's also going to give you two chances to pick off a pass every game. What scares me most about Luck is that he's fearless. He's going to take chances. He's going to test the Packers depleted secondary deep down the field. And, he throws a gorgeous deep pass. He'll look to attack the Packers secondary early and often. If the Packers DL doesn't win in the trenches, Luck could have a monster game. If there's heavy pressure, I anticipate that Luck will throw 2 interceptions.

Luck will likely have TY Hilton and Dwayne Allen available this week. Both have been nicked up. Both will cause big time problems for the Packers. Allen is a speed-power mismatch for the Packers. Hilton gets in and out of his breaks as well as anyone in the game. Donte Moncrief is an under appreciated WR. Demetri Goodson can't cover Moncrief. Phillip Dorsett is a speedster who is still developing at WR. Frank Gore keeps on truckin'. He motors through the line of scrimmage. He isn't as quick as he once was, but he still gets the job done and causes damage upon contact. Robert Turbin is an OK change of pace back. Jack Doyle is a sure handed TE who sits down well in the zone of the defense. The Packers should overload the right side of the Colts line of scrimmage. Denzelle Good and Joe Haeg can't play.

Defensively, the Colts do not scare me. Kendall Langford and Arthur Jones are high work rate DL. They shouldn't be able to move the Packers OL. Erik Walden is Erik Walden. Walden offers high effort, however he has limited skills to offer. But, I'll forever be grateful for Walden's Week 17 performance against the Bears at Lambeau in the XLV run. 10 tackles. 2 sacks. D'Qwell Jackson is a tackling machine. He's mostly making plays 3-5 yards down the field. He is, however, a great pass defending ILB. Robert Mathis can still speed his way around the edge. You can attack the Colts secondary. Patrick Robinson can't cover the back shoulder. Vontae Davis will make plays, but he'll get burnt equally. Darius Butler never became the guy that people thought he'd be coming out of college. Mike Adams and Clayton Geathers can be beaten over the top.

Not surprisingly, the Packers will get totally outclassed in the kicking game. Pat McAfee is a great punter. Adam Vinatieri is one of the best kickers to ever play the game.

I really expect Aaron Rodgers to have a monster game. It might not show up statistically, but Rodgers will be in command of the attack. He will be the best player on the field. The Packers will control the clock. They'll look to keep Luck off of the field. Rodgers hits 8 different receivers. He uses his weapons. Spreading the wealth, he keeps the sticks moving. He annoys the Colts defense who can't get off the field.

Meanwhile, Luck takes shots deep. He has some success, but he also throws a big interception into Gunter's hands. Hyde also snatches one.

The Packers defensive line grabs 4 sacks.

It's a classic fall day at Lambeau. Sunny skies to start. Finishing with sparkling G's under the lights. Loved these games growing up. Crisp air. At kickoff, it'll likely be around 65. By the end of the game, it'll be a perfect Midwest day. Roughly 50 degrees. And, a Packers victory. This one isn't as close as the score indicates.

Packers 31.
Colts 23.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

My Take -> Week 8

Greetings, G-Force.


4-2. In creative fashion. It was one of those games that could've been painful - at times - if you allowed it, but in the end, the Packers stuck to the game plan and they had too much firepower for the pathetic Bears. Meanwhile, with Minnesota's loss, the Packers are, once again, right in the thick of the NFC North race.

I'm mellowing out to the Ethan Tucker "Acoustic in LA" album. Low key acoustic music. Fun lyrics with a hoppy beat. I'm sipping a Trinity 7-Day Sour that I've been bunkering since May of 2014. It's a tart sour. Not overwhelming sour - instead it has more of a wheat feel to it. Still highly carbonated. Both Lacto and Brett yeast leave a distinct rub to the back of the palate.

My quick vibes from the last week:

* Great to see the Packers rolling onto Lambeau in "stormtrooper" uniforms. Capped with the classic Packers yellow helmet. Gorgeous uniforms. Even more gorgeous to see a victory over the Bears.

* Kudos to Mike McCarthy. He was in a tough spot. Coming off of an ugly performance. Playing the most hated rival. With multiple significant injuries. He devised a game plan that put the ball into the hands of his 2-time MVP QB. He mostly looked at routes that were 7 yards or less. As a play caller, he was disciplined. He was patient. Frankly, I wasn't sure that the McCarthy/Rodgers combination had that type of patience in them any more. It was good to see. Even when the Packers trailed 10-6 in the 3rd Quarter, McCarthy stuck with the game plan. He didn't waver. His decision paid off.

* It would've been easy to be a yawner of a fan with the Packers only putting up 6 points in the 1st Half, but man, the Packers were unlucky. Twice, Cobb nearly had TD's. Additionally, the 90-yard drive that netted nothing was unfortunate as well. They had opportunities, but they didn't finish the deal. Regardless, we were handicapped and we moved the ball with elegance.

* Heavy credit to Aaron Rodgers. Surrounded with adversity, Rodgers played well. He wasn't laser sharp from an accuracy perspective, but mentally, he saw the field well. He was quick to get rid of the ball. He made really good decisions throughout. He carried the team to victory.

* Ty Montgomery. What a performance. I love his crossing routes out of the backfield. He's a constant mismatch. I don't see any reason why he can't continue to catch 7+ balls a week. For years, I've wanted a scat back in Green Bay. Finally, we have one.

* Jeff Janis is clueless. RUN THRU THE DEFENDER! Draw the flag. When's he going to learn?

* Bummed to see Abby's career in GB come to an end.

* GERONIMO. Hope to see him in action this week.

* Trevor Davis concerns me as a PR. Wish we were healthier in the Secondary, so we could play Hyde at PR.

* I liked Don Jackson's quickness. And, his confidence.

* It's so fun having Ripkowski on the team. The Packers are a better team when he's on the field. He moves people. I wouldn't play a TE without Jared Cook. Two backs. Three WR's. Have Ripkowski on the field. He opens holes. He's a punisher of a blocker.

* There was a Davante Adams sighting. In a grand way. He was dominant. He had wiggle. He had swagger. I really hope he can build on that performance.

* Had Cobb made the two plays in the end zone, he'd have had his best game in a year and a half. Still, he was a mismatch. He was getting in and out of his breaks. Really great to see Cobb finding his 2014 form.

* I expect Jordy Nelson to bounce back from his mini slump with a really big game.

* The Packers need Jared Cook to get healthy.

* Don Barclay should never step on the field again for the Green Bay Packers. He's a horrible liability. When Lindsley is ready to return, I have to imagine that it'll be Barclay who goes.

* TJ Lang. Pay the man. Make a Packer for life. Love him as a figure on this line. His toughness was a huge component to the Packers pulling this one out. When Lang went out in the 2nd half, I wondered if he was done for the game. I worried that he was not going to be able to come back. But, once again, Lang displayed his toughness. His grit was clearly appreciated by Rodgers who walked over to Lang after his TD pass to Cobb to thank him for his efforts and to offer him a complimentary tap on the shoulder pad. TJ Lang is a Green Bay Packer.

* Bakhtiari and Bulaga continue to show well.

* Tretter is a stud at Center.

* Props to Lane Taylor. He's played much better than I expected that he would.

* What's happened to the special teams units? We seem to be faltering in every phase. Needs immediate improvement.

* Kenny Clark!!!! What a monster game. He was tossing OL to the side. He was quick. High effort. Making plays. He's coming into his own.

* Mike Daniels continues to dominate the line of scrimmage.

* Two weeks in a row, Guion has been inconsistent.

* Need Pennel to find his form. I'm expecting him to have a great second half of the year.

* Blake Marinez with the pick! Loved his excitement. Kid wants it.

* Nick Perry. He has to be considered a Defensive MVP candidate, doesn't he? 5.5 sacks on the year. An interception. A fierce run stopper. Guy stuffs the box score. Against Chicago, he had 4 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, an interception, a pass defensed, and a QB hit. Another fantastic game for Perry. Really, he has been absolute magnificent in all games this year - with the exception of the Cowboys game. He's going to get paid.

* JP was motivated to play his old team. We need more of that zest from Peppers.

* Clay was physical when he was on the field. Wonder if his body can hold up as an OLB? Doesn't seem like it. Wish we'd see him more at ILB. Next to Martinez. We'd have great speed in the middle of the field. I'm worried that we're eventually going to be exposed in the passing game on plays to the RB. Might happen this week.

* Kyler Fackrell continues to work hard and to make a meaningful impact when he's on the field.

* Marwin Evans!!!! Great talent. Love that he's on the roster. I get excited to see what he's going to do on special teams.

* Solid game from Ladarius Gunter. Way to bounce back, young man.

* Morgan Burnett has been around the football two weeks in a row. He's been active. Can it continue?

* Micah Hyde is invaluable to this team. Need him on the field. So dependable. Offers so much versatility. I'd like to see him come on a blitz out of the slot. Feel like he could make a game changing play as a blind side rusher.

* TJ Lang. Needs to be re-emphasized. Football player. Turn back the clock player. Thank you, TJ.

This week - it's the Falcons. In Atlanta. It's a make a believer out of me week. In a Super Bowl or Bust year, the Packers need a statement win. A victory in Atlanta would be just that. It'd also allow the Packers to potentially go on a little run. After this week, the Packers play Indy and TN. You'd like to think that the Packers would win both of those games. It'd be fun to see the Packers at 7-2. It's a week-to-week league and a lot changes - quickly. But, a win in Atlanta and suddenly, the Packers are in position to put themselves in a healthy spot.

Whenever I think about the Falcons v Packers, I think of the 2nd Quarter of the Packers January of 2011 NFC Divisional win over Atlanta. To date, in my opinion, it was the best Quarter played by the Packers in my lifetime. 28 points. The 5th play of the Quarter capped off a 13 play, 81 yard TD drive that ate up 7:56. BJ RAJI as the FREEZER capped off a 10 play, 92 yard TD drive that chewed up 5:44. After a Sir Charles sack & a T-Mon pick, it was Rodgers to James Jones for a TD that completed a 7 play, 80 yard drive as the Packers were in a 2-minute offense. Then, we saw Clay with a big sack to knock the Falcons to the brink of FG range and on the last play of the Quarter is was T-Mon with the pick and a 70 yard return for a TD. GREATEST QUARTER EVER!

The Falcons can score points. In abundance. Matt Ryan is playing as well as he's played since 2010. Julio Jones is arguably the best WR in the NFL. Devonta Freeman is a do-it-all RB. He's physical, he's fast, and he has great vision. He'll challenge the Packers LB's. Mohammed Sanu is an extremely talented #2 WR. Jacob Tamme is a solid blocking TE and a sure-handed, savvy TE. Justin Hardy is a developing #3 WR who has all of the talents that you look for in a young WR. The Falcons OL is improved. Jake Matthews and Alex Mack are core players. Andy Levitre, Chris Chester and Ryan Schraeder are all over-achievers. The Packers are lucky that Tevin Coleman won't play this weekend.

Defensively, the Falcons are getting after the QB. Brooks Reed and Vic Beasley offer a good speed/power combination from the ends. Both are high effort QB rushers. Beasley brings the type of turf speed that has offered Bulaga troubles previously. Jonathan Babineaux and Grady Jarrett are run stuffers up the middle. Deion Jones offers great speed at ILB, but he's undersized and can be moved in the game. De'Vondre Campbell is a talented LB, but he often plays too high and can be moved in the run game. As pass defenders, both Jones and Campbell are gifted. Keanu Neal is a beast of a safety. He pursues with vicious intent. He's not fast-footed, but he punishes. Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant have played well on the perimeter. They'll challenge Davante Adams. I loved Jalen Collins coming out of college, but he has yet to show his worth in the NFL. I'm not sure how the Falcons plan to cover Randall Cobb in the slot. Their secondary is shy on depth.

The Falcons special teams scares me. Eric Weems is a threat to take it to the house, every time that he touches the ball. Matt Bosher is a better punter than Jacob Schum and will swing the field, if needed. Matt Bryant is automatic in the dome.

The Packers can't expect to win a shoot-out. If this thing gets into the 30's, I don't feel good about the game. The Packers are going to need to utilize ball possession. Long sustained drives on offense. Once again, the Packers aren't going to be fortunate enough to have a full-time RB who understands the offense. So, I expect Rodgers to throw 40+ times. The only reason it won't be more than that is because the Falcons will have more success moving the football than the Bears. Nonetheless, expect Rodgers to play with ball control. Underneath routes to Cobb. Stacking WR's to the right side of the line of scrimmage to allow Cobb to get a free release. We'll see Montgomery on a wide variety of routes out of the backfield. There isn't an ILB in football that can cover Montgomery as a receiver out of the backfield.

If we see Knile Davis, I certainly hope it's with Ripkowski in front of him. Out of the I-formation. Ripkowski can help pave the way. Also, Ripkowski will blow up Campbell and Jones 10 out of 10 times. He'll add multiple yards to each carry. I like the way the interior of the Packers OL matches up with the interior of the Falcons DL.

Chewing up the clock keeps Julio Jones off of the field. It's hard to cover Julio Jones with an All-Pro secondary. It's even tougher to cover Julio Jones when you're down your top 3 CB's. Ladarius Gunter has the length and the physicality to match-up with Julio. He doesn't have the speed. Don't forget, on the other side, Demetri Goodson can't cover Sanu. Still, I'd try to take Julio away. I'd put HaHa over the top of Gunter. I'd double Julio all day. I wouldn't let Julio beat me on a deep ball. If Sanu is going to grab 8 balls for 120 yards and 2 TD's, so be it. But, I'm going to trust that the defensive front can slow Freeman in the run game. And, I'm going to slide HaHa to help limit Julio's touches.

I'm scared of seeing Freeman in the screen game and on wheel routes against Jake Ryan in coverage. Big plays could be awaiting the Falcons offense. So, it'll be important for the Packers to keep the Falcons offense off of the field.

Dom Capers has had a great year. I'm curious to watch how the Packers approach the Falcons weapons. I have confidence that he'll have a couple of tricks up his sleeve.

I'm expecting to see Rodgers to Nelson on the back shoulder. At least 3 times. The Falcons CB's, Trufant and Alford, are both aggressive. They'll both look to jump routes. At some point, a stop and go will work. For a big play. Likely to Nelson. Maybe to Janis.

Historically speaking, neither Rodgers nor Ryan have been overly prone to turnovers. If there's a turnover this week, it could be the crucial play in the game. I'm expecting to see JP making another play this week. A strip sack that changes the outcome.

Packers 24. Falcons 23.

I'm a believer.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Take -> Week 7

Greetings, G-Force.

I'm no journalist. I'm a fan. A die-hard Green Bay Packers fan. A loyalist, to the bone. The intent of this blog is to take an optimistic yet realistic point of view on the state of the Green Bay Packers. Today, the outlook is tough. As my brother Chad says, "it's tough to be positive and genuine." Normally, I look for a spin. As I write, the future looks bleak. If this isn't rock bottom for the Green Bay Packers, what does that look like? In fact, I haven't feel this uncomfortable about the future of the Green Bay Packers since 2005. This year is Super Bowl or Bust for me. Presently, the Packers are leaving me with an aching heart.

I write with a Funkwerks Tropic King. An Imperial Saison Ale that "pairs well with hula hooping." Think bananas and hops. And perfect carbonation. So smooth. 7.5%. This past weekend, I took my son, Dylan, to the record store. I asked what he wanted me to buy. He said, "Bob Dylan." So, I bought the Essential Bob Dylan vinyl. A number of the songs seem to mimic the state of 1265 Lombardi Ave. "Blowin' in the Wind" seems to be where the Packers are grasping for answers on offense. Yet, they answer is always, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" as they go back to what has been broken for the last year. As they go to bed, the staff has to fear that "The Times They Are A-Changin'" as the offense continues to falter downhill "Like A Rolling Stone." All in all, it leaves me with "Subterranean Homesick Blues."

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* What was Mike McCarthy thinking on 3rd and 1 on the opening series of the game? Trailing 7-0. The OL was in control. With relative ease, the offense moves into the Red Zone. The offense was far from predictable. Then McCarthy goes heavy on a formation that was clearly going to Ripkowski as the ball carrier with Barclay and Spriggs added to the offense. What a joke. If you want to give the ball to Ripkowski in that scenario, have him lined up as a FB. Or spread the Cowboys out with 3 WR or 4 WR on the field. The OL was winning the 1 on 1 battles. And, then trailing 20-6 in the 3rd Quarter, the Packers offense establishes themselves as they move the ball to the 1 yard line. 74 yards on 11 plays. Ball on the 1. McCarthy goes empty backfield. And a QB draw from shotgun? BAFFLING! FREAKIN' PATHETIC! I get the QB sneak call, but a draw? From SHOTGUN? Who are we fooling? That was a joke! Both plays were catastrophic to the Packers. Both plays defined the state of the Packers performance in a crucial home contest at Lambeau Field. And, with the loss, any shot at home field advantage throughout the playoffs went directly out the window.

* As a fan, it genuinely makes me sad to see this version of Aaron Rodgers. For so long, he was so graceful. He was authentic. He was carefree yet fully passionate. He was loose. He was easily loved. It brought joy to watch him perform. He bled excellence. Everything about him. Today, I don't recognize him.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! He brought conviction to the offense. And, now, there's rumors that the IR is in his future? If so, this season could run away from us.

* Starks is out for multiple weeks? Why not cut him?

* As I write, Don Jackson is not active. So, as of now, the Packers are going into the game against the hated Bears with Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery and Knile Davis as their RB's? How is that even possible? Don't get me wrong, I like Davis. In fact, when he was entering the Draft, I wrote: "Knile Davis - Terrific size and speed combo. Always hurt. Occasionally, a fumbler. But, dude is a freakish athlete. The type of back that the Packers might take a shot on. The sky is the limit for Davis although I wonder if he'll ever be healthy enough to maximize his potential." He's wearing Ahman Green's #30. He has many of the same traits of a young Ahman. Ahman came for Fred Vinson. Davis comes for a conditional 7th rounder. I'm not saying. Not by any stretch. But, I'm cautiously optimistic about what Davis could bring.

* Jared Cook, hurry back.

* The last 2:00 of the first half were enough to make a man vomit. Trailing 10-6. Feeling momentum. The Packers offense melts down. The Packers punt. The ball is downed at the 2. McCarthy goes aggressive and calls timeouts - which I agreed with. But, on third and 1, Julius Peppers lined up on the outside. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Julius Peppers can longer play on the outside. And, when he is playing on the outside, the offense should always run the ball to his side of the field. He can no longer contain the run. 26 yards later, the Cowboys were in business. Then, Gunter gets burnt on two plays and the end result was 98 yards in 33 seconds.

* Aaron Rodgers' interception on the opening drive of the third quarter. In 9 years, I bet you can count on one hand the number of times we've seen him get picked off in a situation like that. He didn't see Barry Church. It was gross. He led the WR right into Church.

* Crucial point of the game: 2:19 left in the 2nd Quarter. 4th & 5. Trailing 10-6. Rodgers has Cobb open. Could've been a TD. Rodgers misses him. Tough pass, but we've come to expect Rodgers to make that throw.

* When the Packers play without Shields, Rollins and Randall; it'll be tough for the Packers to beat anyone in the NFL.

* Good to see Morgan Burnett make a play.

* I felt as though JP had a strip sack coming. Was good to see it happen. Also, nice to see Joe Thomas around the football again.

* Amazing that Edgar Bennett protected the football so well. He almost never fumbled. But, his team can't hang onto the football with him as the Offensive Coordinator.

* Jordy. Man. Two weeks in a row in which Jordy has not been the guy that we know and love.

* I want to see Don Jackson.

This week - it's the hated Bears. At 1-5, the Bears record is abysmal. Don't let the record fool you. They could easily be 3-3 if not for losing to late games. They'll give the Packers all we can handle this weekend. The Bears will play two deep safeties. They'll test McCarthy and Rodgers' patience. They'll let Montgomery catch 10 balls. All underneath. They won't give up the big play. They'll get in our outside WR's face. They'll get physical with Cobb. They'll plug the middle of the field. Drop 7 on nearly every play. Rodgers will have time. He won't have many open receivers. And, since the Packers don't have a RB, we won't be in a position to pound the football at the heart of the Bears defense.

Offensively, the Bears will be conservative. They won't turn the football over. They'll run it with Howard on 1st and 2nd down. They'll try to get it to 3rd and manageable. And, then, they'll try to hit Jeffery or Meredith on 3rd down. Both will be tough for the injury riddled Packers secondary to cover. Brian Hoyer isn't going to amaze with his arm, but he's going to take care of the football. Sure, he's had poor performances in his career, but for the most part, Hoyer has been a steady NFL QB. He's won games. His teams have mostly been competitive. He's a savvy player who knows how to move the sticks. The Packers front 7 should dominate the Bears OL. That'll be key in order for the Packers to win.

I expect an extremely frustrating night of football at Lambeau Field. Ultimately, the Packers prevail in a nail biter.


Packers 17.
Bears 16.

Talkin' S-Mac.