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.

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