Friday, September 28, 2007

My Take - Week 4

Greetings, Football Fans.
Brett Favre at 420. I plan on celebrating that vibe everyday this week. In life, I'm not much of a dessert guy. This week - that changes - I'm going to eat a Peanut Butter/Banana Smoothie or drink a glass of Alterra's Mint Chocolate Milk everyday this week. After all, Brett Favre at 420 has a sweet ring to it.

What did the Chargers expect? Coming into Lambeau on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Bright blue skies. The reigning MVP of the NFL coming into the home of the only 3-time MVP in the history of the NFL. Really, what did the Chargers expect? Favre is too proud. Did it truly shock you that Favre delivered a TD avalanche?

Also, mad props to Atari Bigby, Cullen Jenkins, KGB, Nick Barnett, the entire offensive line, Donald Lee, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and James Jones. You know that you've got a very good team when it's different players making big plays each week.

Before sitting down at the computer, I phoned my good friend Ben in Chicago. Ben's a die hard Bears fan. I wanted the Grossman news. Ben was driving on the North-side of Chicago exiting I-90 at Addison. He interrupts his statement with, "Oh shit, I just drove by a guy in a Packer shirt. This G-Force thing is everywhere." Yes, Ben, it is.

Just ask Mark Boesch who sent me this: "The G Force is brutally contagious, and even transcends continental divides. Fear not my friend, I am representing the GBP - as I still call them - all the way over here, in Seoul, Korea. Fortunately, I've managed to find a few other faithful scattered amongst the ex-pat scene here, and we do our best to stoke the G Force abroad. It's working. I saw an old Korean woman wearing an old school Packer sweatshirt this morning. They are feeling it too." Cheers, Mark. You are a good buzz.

In fact, the G-Force is so world-wide that you might be able to soon get My Take in blog form courtesy of PatRad. Patrick is to music and technology what Brett Favre is to TD passes - an industry champion.

3-0 and feeling good. Excited yet grounded. I would compare my feelings to a Saturday afternoon at the beach in which your puffing on a Cohiba cigar and taking your first sip of a Margarita. You're ecstatic for the occasion. You're off to a good start, but you don't slam that first drink as the night is long and you want to enjoy the buzz. At the same time, as Chris Berman says, "It's kind of fun watching Favre and the Packers win."

For three weeks, we've fought with our claws. Scratching. Jabbing people for three rounds before throwing the knockout punch late. This week, we are going to dominate the line of scrimmage like Jay Demerit did head balls for Watford against Leeds United. (Keep on representing Green Bay, Jay!) In each game, our defense had made a big play late to secure a victory. I feel the big play comes early against the Domers.

The Queens from Minnesota are coming off back-to-back losses in which they fought to the end. In each game, they had chances late. Both games, they've failed to execute offensively in the 4th Quarter.

This week - we dominate. In the words of the Rastaman Al Harris, "No surrender. No retreat." On play one, I want to see the Packers come out with three tight end...and a single back. Favre out of shotgun. Left to right on the television screen. I want Driver lined up against Winfield. On Sharper's side of the field. I want to see the pump-and-go. Fake the slant. Driver's 70 yards and enjoying 421. Driver has stated that he wants it. McCarthy has made Football in Green Bay fun again. He's created the Football environment in which we live. And I hope he rewards Driver with giving him this chance. 7-0 Green Bay. Early in the 1st Quarter.

I expect Favre to throw at least 40 more passes this week. With that comes the possibility of an interception. As fans, we have to recognize this. Especially in the Dome. We'll hear that idiotic Viking Horn. However, as long as nothing too drastic occurs, the Vikings will not score more than 17 points. I'd be surprised if they topped 13.

Adrian Peterson is a stud. The guy makes plays and is tough to stop. He leads the team in yards rushing and receiving and he's there only legitimate threat. As we've done with LT and Westbrooke, I expect the Packers to limit Peterson's productivity. He won't get loose. He may break one for 15-20 yards, but he'll be contained.

Kampman's 2007 arrival is this week. McKinnie & Hutchinson make up what could be considered the best left side of an offensive line in the league. Kampman will be battling Ryan Cook, a 2nd year guy out of New Mexico. Kampman will win this battle. I foresee him making a game changing play.

I'm even going to live on the wild side and predict that Brady Poppinga will be seen in the Queens backfield this weekend. We are going to attack with a vicious mentality. It'll be a defense that we have yet to see in 2007. Blitzing LB's. Playing with a mission. The Queens don't have the offensive firepower to create mismatches with 3-wide. Hence, we come with our base 4-3 defense. And we punch them right in the mouth. The knock-out punch comes early.

In the dome, the horn will be silenced early. We jump out to an early lead. The Queens show their fight. Their opportunistic defense gets a turnover. The domers start to believe in a comeback. But, the Packers defense is too strong. And once again, we'll witness a vintage Favre performance.

4-0 for #4. Crosby kicks 3 FG's. Favre throws 2 more. 23-13 Green Bay. The score seems close. The game is not competitive. Really, never a doubt. In the final 2 minutes, half of the stadium is Packer fans...and half of the stadium is empty. Shouting Go Pack Go! It feels good...and we're the dome...on turf.

Bring on the Bears.

Live for the moment. Enjoy right now. Act on spontaneity as if you're not quite sure how. For walking in existence, karma is the way. And if you don't practice it, get on your knees and pray.

We've got good things coming to us.

Smilin' on South Beach,
Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Take - Week 3


Welcome to the first time readers. I'm happy that the take is spreading and people enjoy it. If others want in, let me know. Also, I appreciated the responses. It keeps me motivated. Pat Rad - I'm glad that the G-Force is representing Chi-town, brother! Russ, glad you are feelin' it! And to the Bears fans that responded in classic Bear form - envy is the ugliest of things...I'd urge you to refrain from looking at yourself in the mirror.

We look good. We feel good. We're playing good. We're 2-0, baby!

Seeing "149" was an absolute treat. Giants Stadium was a blast. The G-Force brought its effect to the game. And yes, we made an impact both in the parking lot and inside the stadium. It was a great victory!

It was fun to see our O-Line rise to the occasion. College seemed to grow as the game went on. He started off well in the run game, but looked rough against the pass. In the 2nd half, I thought his protection was a vital component to the Favre's accuracy. And Wynn's big run was right behind College. In the past, we've liked to run right. So far, this year, our successes have come behind the left side.

Who would have thought that Tracy White would make game changing plays in each of the Packers first 2 games? Hell, I did not think he would make the team. But, two weeks in a row at the bottom of the scrum, Tracy White came up with the football. Once for 6 points against the Eagles. And then the fumble recovery last week led to the touchdown that essentially sealed the victory. Cheers to Tracy White.

I give massive credit to our coaching staff. Our bend but don't break defense has been exactly what we hoped for thus far. We've been able to get adequate pressure without the blitz and Bob Sanders, the Defensive Coordinator, has been patient. We've yet to push the panic button as the opposition was moving the ball.

Setting the stage - the Packers are 2-0. On the offensive side of the ball, Greg Jennings has yet to play. Vernand Morency has not seen a down. We expect Koren Robinson back sometime in October. That's firepower waiting in the wings.

On the defensive side of the ball, Cullen Jenkins does not have a sack. KGB has yet to record one either. Ryan Pickett has been pushed around. AJ Hawk has been average. Chuckie Woodson has yet to make a play. Al Harris has been only an image of himself. Defensively, big plays are soon to happen.

On special teams, Willie B. is almost recovered from his broken wrist and in the very near future, he'll be a valuable weapon returning punts. If he's returning punts for 12 games this year, I'd be surprised if he did not take one to the house. More momentum in the Packers favor.

For the most part, the right guys are on the field right now. And they have done enough to win 2 games against NFC opponents. We'll remember that 12 weeks from now when we are outlining our playoff outlook. I'm calling for Justin Harrell to be active this week. I've had enough with Colin Cole. I'd look to trade him for a 6th/7th round pick. We're constructing a team that is sustainable. Built to Last. Harrell is a big part of what we are building. Let's get him snaps and NFL experience.

This week - the Chargers come to town. The philosophy for this week is stolen from the Fab 5 - "Let your nuts hang!" I encourage the G-Force to bring the noise. It's a Milwaukee crowd - and frankly, that scares me. If you're going to the game, bring your voice. If you're sitting at home or at a sports bar, the Lambeau Gods can still hear you.

In order to win this week, the Packers are going to have to play with a carefree mentality. Leave everything on the field. Have some fun. Enjoy the moment. And think about dominating a team that believes they can walk all over you. This game requires high energy.

Traditionally, we've struggled against the 3-4. In fact, the last time I remember a solid offensive performance was against a 3-4 defense was in 2001against the Baltimore Ravens. This includes preseason games. Normally, we've struggled to run the ball. We've had a miserable time in pass protection. And it seemed like we've never gained control of the game.

Therefore, if I were coach, the first 15 plays would all be passes. To maximize protection, each play would be run out of shotgun. I want the San Diego defense on its heels. We minimize Jamal Williams, who will be playing with one arm. Shawne Merriman is the closest thing to Lawrence Taylor that the NFL has seen since the original LT left the game. I want Merriman playing in space and not rushing the QB. I'd attack his side of the field all day. While Shaun Phillips is a dangerous pass rusher, I'd prefer him coming after #4 instead of Merriman.

The Packers attack with short passes. Last week, I asked for 8 receivers to be in the mix. We connected with 8 receivers. This week, we might need 9. We'll use the entire arsenal...especially, Ryan Grant. I remember Ryan Grant as a guy who found the first down marker, made the first guy miss and was good enough to get the job done. Get him the ball in space.

It's Favre, the Football Jesus, driving the Packers for an early score. The G-Force rises to its feet. In unison. My Father, Mac, is bumping "Soulja Boy" over the loud speaker. Followed by "Thank God I'm a Country Boy." From ATL Crunk to Country Music - Only in Wisconsin! Gotta love it.

Defensively, we keep 8 in the box. Tomlinson will get his yards. He'll make plays. I'm fine with him occasionally getting his 10-15 yard plays. But, he never gets loose. LT never gets deep into the secondary. Atari continues to play big against the run...especially as the opposition plays in the Red Zone.

Gates is limited by AJ and Nintendo Nick. Vincent Jackson is quieted by Rasta Al and Chuckie. The Chargers become frustrated.

The Packers continue to nickel and dime the SD defense. Finally, the "pump and go," it's Favre to Driver who finds himself in the open field. The BIG PLAY occurs for the good guys.

Admittedly, for weeks, my head said 30-13 San Diego. We were going to be over matched. Over powered. Out classed.

Candidly speaking, as long as we are competitive, I would not be crushed with a loss. I want our nuts to hang low. I want to compete. I want to fight. I want the Packers to believe that they can win. I want this to be one of the games we have a chance to eke out in the 4th Quarter. The G-Force in me says:

Green Bay 27. San Diego 23.

I'd like to thank a Bear friend for this one, "May the G-Force be with you!" We're headed to Minnesota in 1st place. Who is traveling with the Pack?

Vibe In. Vibe On.

Good Buzzes To You All,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Take - Week 2

Greetings, Football Fans.

I am back. And so are the Green Bay Packers. Pardon me if I'm a bit giddy, it's been three years since I've felt the beauty of a winning record. 1-0. We're off on the right foot. I'm off to Manhattan this weekend to make certain we improve to 2-0.

Green Bay Packer football is an energy. It's a belief. It's an inner sensation. Some call it the 12th man. In Green Bay, it's called the "G-Force." Get accustomed to it. Familiarize yourself. Vibe into it. Live it. Say it with me, "G-Force." Live it with me, "G-Force."

Fans can win football games. We may not be able to dictate the outcome, but we can influence it. Whether you are A Star (my wife), Vargas (my buddy), and myself sitting in my living room watching the Packers on South Beach or my good buddy Chern hanging out in the Corn Fields of Omaha watching the Packers or my long time friend Brennan chilling in a Packer Bar in Fort Collins or my brother Chad watching the Pack in Albuquerque or my Father producing the games at Lambeau Field, you are the "G-Force." It's a concept - grab onto it. We need to continue this energy throughout the '07 season!

It's nice to win a game due to three things: DEFENSE, SPECIAL TEAMS, AND THE FANS - BETTER KNOWN AS "G-FORCE!" The "G-Force" played an integral part after the Favre 4th Quarter fumble. If you were watching and kept the faith, give yourself partial credit for this victory. In year's past, at that moment, we would have been 0-1. Not this year.

I've got the best wife in the world. A conversation goes like this - "Hey Star, want to go to NYC? Stay with your sister in Greenwich Village. Romance in Central Park. Visit Mother Liberty, the almighty Statue. Date in Little Italy. And drink a plethora of beer. Oh, and did I mention that the Packers are playing the Giants that weekend?"

Her response, "Come on, Brett!"

Yes, I'm lucky.

Favre in NYC. He's played the Giants in NY three other times. He's 2-1. Big time players relish the opportunity to travel to the Big Apple. To play in THE CITY. In a hostile environment. The crazy tabloids. It's a tough place to find success. This week - Brett will be, well, Brett.

OK, I was wrong, I thought we would have more offensive firepower last week. I also anticipated Morency and Jennings suiting up. Jennings has game breaking potential. Morency also has a flair for the big play. They will add speed to our offense. They will add resources to our offense. They will add depth to our offense. They cannot return soon enough.

I expect to see the Packers open up the offense a little bit. In 2003, in a post, I wrote about Mathias "Kiwi" Kiwanuka. He was a sophomore at Boston College. An up and comer. He still is - except the Giants have him playing out of position. They are playing Kiwi at OLB rather than DE and he is an absolute liability in space. He could play LB in the 3-4, but not the 4-3. The Packers will force Kiwi to make plays in space. And the Packers will capitalize on his misfortune.

In Week 2, the Country Boy visits the City. We try to establish the run early. The O-Line gets minimal push. McCarthy sticks to the game plan of outlasting a depleted Giants defense who is playing without Osi and William Joseph - the guy who knocked Favre into a concussion in the Giants last visit to Lambeau. The Giants expect run and Favre goes after the beat-up Giant defense. Tuck and Strahan fail to get pressure. Favre on a roll-out to Franks for a first down. Favre on the play fake to Donald Lee over the middle. Favre to Jackson in the flat - this time he catches the ball - and makes the first guy miss...we're watching the West Coast offense.

Favre goes back to the shed. Sharpens his tools. Favre to Jennings. Favre to Jones on 3rd and 6. Favre to his main man, D-squared. Donald busts a tackle, gets into the open field and then shows "the Best Smile in the NFL." Favre to Morency on the screen. Ruvell Martin enters the mix. 8 different receivers.

Meanwhile, Eli is throwing off his back foot. Man, do I hope he plays! This is a no-excuse victory. The D-Line dominates. Where McNabb got away last week, this week, Eli goes down...then lofts one into the lap of Chuckie. Nintendo Nick grabs his first pick of the season. AJ leaves Shockey dizzy.

The Packers win...convincingly. 23-13.

Again, "The Weapon," Mason Crosby is a pure stallion. 3 FG's. Absolutely legitimate. For all you Thompson bashers...ripping on the Harrell pick...quiet down, mates. Why do you fail to bring up Crosby? And until someone can tell me who they wanted instead of Harrell, I'm not listening. Before mentioning Meachem or Bowe, remember that we've got James Jones in replace of them. I still believe in Harrell and like the pick. This game is about defense. And our defense is BUILT TO LAST!

I'm off to NYC. A boat ride on the Hudson. A walk in Central Park. A date in Little Italy. And a Packer victory. "G-Force," I'm bringing the buzz. I'll see you at 2-0.

Are you Feelin' It? I'm Feelin' It.

Talkin' S-Mac.

Monday, September 3, 2007

My Take - Week 1


6 days until the NFC feels it's first shift of "strength" from the East to the North. Yes, pun intended. For years, the East has been known as the Division that beats others up in the NFC. The East has been the Division with the powerful punch. D-Line dominance. Big play LB's. Aggressive DB's.

Since 1997, the Eagles have dominated the Packers. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. In 97, Longwell misses a chip shot FG in the closing seconds. We won a nail biter in '98 when Koy Detmer was dancing around Lambeau like he owned the joint. In '00, we won 6-3 in one of the most frustrating victories that I ever attended. Offensively, we were destroyed at the line of scrimmage. In '03, we lived through McNabb running the 2-minute drill at Lambeau on MNF. Followed by 4th and 26 that same year. In '04, the Eagles snapped Favre's consecutive game streak with a TD at 36 games. 11 short of Johnny Unitas' record. In '05, a Mike McMahon led Eagles team beat the Packers in Philly. In '06, we got smothered in all facets of the game.

Sunday - everything changes.

I fully expect our D-Line to win the line of scrimmage this weekend. The Packers will be able to pressure McNabb. They will test the durability of McNabb's knee. Last year, the Packers finished fourth in the NFL in sacks with 46. We will see more of the same this year.

Yes, McNabb will get his. So will Westbrook. They are great players. But, we must minimize the big plays. I want to see the Packers to play a lot of nickel defense. Nick Collins shadows Westbrook. Barnett keeps a watchful eye on McNabb. Neither gets loose.

LJ Smith can move the chains, but he's not getting down field on AJ. Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown are both underrated receivers. While Chuckie and Al can neutralize both man-to-man on the short stuff, Bigby must provide over the top help. Jason Avant is a young possession receiver. And Greg Lewis beat Ahmad Carroll deep for two TD's last year. However, J-Bush, Willie B., and Frank Walker should all be able to handle Avant and Lewis in man coverage.

Defense wins NFL games. And I like the way we match-up.

I have the same concerns as most with respect to our Offense. Do we have a running game? Can our O-Line protect the Football Jesus? These are legitimate concerns. I believe that the Packers should use the pass to set up the run. Spread the defense out. 3-wide. Single back. B-Jack, 5-yards deep. One TE.

I want to see the screen early. I want to see it often. A RB needs confidence. Right now - it seems as though B-Jack is lacking it. He has had little to no running room. He seems to hesitate before making his move. He does not seem to trust his instincts at this stage. However, I believe it is a coach's duty to put a player in position to succeed. In B-Jack's case, the train needs to find it's track. Let's get Jackson in the open field. I want to see Jackson perform when he is in the flat with only a LB standing between him and 15 yards. It's McCarthy's job to make this happen.

The Driver injury could be a blessing in disguise. Favre has had two weeks to develop chemistry with Jones and Jennings. Every time Jennings catches the football - he has the potential to take it to the house. Favre must trust Jennings. Jones and Favre must define rhythm.

I see the Packers short changing the Philly defense. Quick hitters to Driver, Jennings, Jones softens the Philly pressure and forces the blitz and brings Brian Dawkins to the line of scrimmage. Most years, this would not be a good thing...this year - the Packers attack the center of the Philly defense. Mike Patterson is gifted, yet undersized at DT. Sean Considine is average at S. Omar Gaither is a potential liability at middle-LB. We need to test them down the middle of the field. With the draw. With the TE. And with James Jones on the crossing route. We will move the football.

This could be a game that we are talking about in Week 15 as we begin to figure out tie-breakers for the playoffs. We've got a tough schedule. 4-12 is a possibility. So is 12-4. It's a world of parity in which the great teams eke out 4th quarter victories. They score TD's in the red zone. They play defense. We need to own Lambeau. And it begins Sunday. If you are going to this game, promise yourself to leave hoarse. Bring everything that you've got. Do it for yourself. Do it for myself. Do it for Lambeau. Let's make Lambeau, once again, the most difficult place in the world for a visitor to play. For the first time since '02, the Packers win their home opener. For the first time since '04, the Packers start 1-0.

I like the way we match-up. In a reversal of years past, Philly moves the football but can't find the end zone. 4 times they get into scoring position, but settle for FG's. Meanwhile, #4 pulls out the old school lasso and throws 3 TD's. Jennings takes a short pass to pay dirt. Crosby buries two FG's. This time it's the Packers flexing their defensive muscles as Philly tries to muster a late comeback. 27-19, the Packers reign supreme.

No worries. I'm off to Greenwich Village for Week 2.

Be healthy. Be happy. Be terrific.


Talkin' S-Mac.