Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Allow Me To Play GM...

Greetings, G-Force.

It's always good to end with a victory. Even if it is against the most putrid team in the history of the NFL. The Lambeau environment had a lot to do with the Packers playing energized football in Week 17.

I walked into TJ's Sports Garden in Wheeling, WV to watch the game. I showed up 30 minutes early to pick out a seat and negotiate a TV screen. Jimmy, the Bar Manager, says to me, "this game is so bad that you are going to be limited to watching the game on the ticker on the bottom of the TV screen. Normally, I give the Packers fans the big screen, but I'm sick of seeing you lose."

Ouch. The joke is on me.

Worse yet, five minutes later, he says to me, "I got a gift for you" and walks away. Moments later, he returns with two brwon paper bags. He says, "I'm going to give you one bag and I'm going to give the other to the Lions fan in the corner. I want both of you to watch this game with a bag over your head."

Of course, I declined, but the approach was hysterical.

The '08 season taught me that the Packers need a face-lift. The franchise altered its ego by moving forward without Brett Favre. Now, we need to massively shift our teams' focus towards the defensive side of the ball. UNO-DOS! showed me enough to believe in the future of the franchise. Couple UNO-DOS! with the core of Jennings, Driver, Lee, Grant, JJ, Jordy and J-Mike and I believe that we have demonstrated enough potential to construct a winning organization. One has to believe that, in time, UNO-DOS! will win those close games. He's too talented to continue to struggle in the closing minutes. He'll figure it out. Additionally, while our O-Line is not dominant, it is not the weakest link on our roster. Our defense is miserable.

I've seen enough of Bob Sanders. In fact, I hope that today is his last day as our Defensive Coordinator. I'd move to a 3-4. Winston Moss is a former LB. He's a logical choice to replace Sanders as the Defensive Coordinator. We need a tough minded individual. A physical presence. Moss fits that bill. So would Mike Nolan. Romeo Crennel has been successful as a Defensive Coordinator. All have had experience with the 3-4. If available, Jim Haslett is a fiery competitor and has worked with McCarthy in the past. But, Haslett plays with a 4-3.

If you look at the top 4 leaders in sacks in '08, you find DeMarcus Ware, Joey Porter, John Abraham, and James Harrison. Ware, Porter, and Harrison exclusively play in a 3-4 defense. On occasion, Abraham is in a 3-4 look as well. We need to find players who can get to the QB. The most immediate solution is to increase our defensive speed.

So, I'm going to outline a philosophy to position the Packers to make the playoffs in 2009 and to win the Super Bowl in 2010. UNO-DOS! has the ability to take us there. Over the next two years, our offense will be good enough to keep us in the game against anyone. We need to build a defense that can close a game. Harris and Woodson will have legs for at least two more years. We need to improve our front 7.

The front 7 of our defense must get a make-over. First and foremost, please STOP the negotiations with Michael Montgomery. A penny more than the minimum is a penny too much. Little-to-no money should be guaranteed. The same should be said for Jason Hunter. Don't be fooled by their late season stats over the last couple of games. We've made that mistake before with Cletidus Hunt. Don't do it again.

Pickett disappoints. Harrell is dead. Cole is limited. Jolly disappears. We need a DT.

AK-74 needs help. Jeremy Thompson looks like a flop. Yes, we'll get Jenkins back, but we need a DE.

We lack playmaking skills at LB. Barnett is an aggressive player, but he does not dominate. Hawk has not developed. Poppinga has extreme limitations. So does Chillar. Bishop did not get a chance. Lansanah is a work in progress. As a unit, we do not force fumbles, knock down passes, intercept passes, sack the QB or make tackles behind the line of scrimmage. In space, our LB's aren't even sure tacklers. And, upon contact, rarely are our LB's driving the ball carrier backwards. We need help at LB.

At CB, I love our combination of Harris, Woodson, T-Mon. Willie B. is an OK 4th corner. He's going to be a FA. He's a valuable kick returner and a personal favorite, but I'm not sure how much I'd pay him. J-Bush needs to go.

At S, we need help. Nickie is a Pro Bowler. But, injury concerns surround Ras-A-tari and Rouse. Bigby is a FA in the making. We need help at S.

Here's the solution: Extend Jennings, Nintendo Nick, AK-74. Sign Terrell Suggs. Suggs averages just under 9 sacks a year. Put him opposite AK-74 and let's find the QB.

Mock Draft 1.0:

1.) Michael Johnson, DE, Ge0rgia Tech. He's my favorite player in the draft. A prototypical 3-4 player. Can rush from the inside on pass downs as well. We need a guy who can get to the QB. From what I've seen, he does it best. He'll even drop in coverage and defend the pass. A future superstar. I'm going to look into Brian Orakpo in the Bowl game. Also, Taylor Mays would be the final piece to our secondary. But, I'm sticking with Johnson. He'd change the face of our defense.

As for trading down, as a rule of thumb, I always like 4 of the top 90 picks. We've already got that - no need to trade down. Draft Johnson.

2.) Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinatti. I've been watching him for 3 years. Consistently, he's made plays. He'll get in your face. He'll bump you. He'll run with you. He'll play zone. He's got NFL size. When he gets his hands on the ball, he's thinking 6 points. I want him.

3 a.) Zach Follett, LB, Cal. Another 3-4 player. He'll drop in coverage. He'll rush the passer. 10.5 sacks this year. Solid in space. He can do it all. Strips the ball. Cand defend the pass. Hard worker. He'd fit in with the blue collar Green Bay work ethic.

3 b.) David Bruton, S, ND. Great on special teams. Has a nose for the football. Always around the football. Plays the ball well in the air. I've viewed him as a solid tackler. Like his game.

4.) Myron Pryor, DT, Kentucky. Big boy. Holds the point of attack. Plays the run well. Would be a solid NT in a 3-4.

Ian Johnson would also be a guy to consider here. Solid football player. Has a nose for the end zone. Great receiver. Bright guy. Probably a little more than a special teams player who couples as a 3rd down back in the NFL.

Rounds 5-7) I believe the Packers have 4 picks (2 in the 6th thru a draft day trade last year). I'd draft OL with each of these picks. Hope to find gold with one of them.

**** As a side note to the Mock Draft, I am going to be curious to see where initial mock drafts have Patrick White going. In my mind, he was the most sensational athlete in college football. With the introduction of the Wildcat formation into the NFL, the value of White increases tremendously. He could also be a tremendous kick returner. Put the ball in his hands let him go.

More offseason vibes in the near future.

Sign Suggs. Move to the 3-4.

Make it happen,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

What a waste. An absolute waste. A season that showed so much promise. It displayed postseason hope. It showed opportunity for youthful development. Instead, we've fallen on our faces. 5 straight loses. 4 of the 5 games should have been Packer victories. Last year, someone new found a way to win the game for us. This year, someone new is finding a way to lose the game for us. It's absolutely disappointing. And each week - it feels like someone is stepping on my dogs neck while punching me right between the legs. It's painful.

So, no matter what happens tomorrow, the Packers will have a top-10 pick. We'll focus on the draft. We'll make the best of what's around. Regardless of how depressing it is to ponder. This team failed. This team is in need of playmakers at DL and LB. Each week - we get punished in crunch time. We get pushed around. This is priority #1. Priority #2 is finding another starter on the OL.

Now, the season ends with the winless Lions coming to Lambeau. You have to search for anything positive to take of this game. I'd throw the ball to J-Mike 10 times. Put the guy in position. See what he can do. What do we have in this guy? He looked good going up and making the deep grab against the Bears. Let's try him down the middle of the field out of a 2 TE formation.

We're working with an adjusted OL. I'm happy that Sitton is getting a start. I'll have my eyes on him.

This team needs a positive end to the season. We need to leave Lambeau on a happy buzz. With a smile. Like a 35 point victory.

As long as Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith don't tear us up - which could happen - the Packers will win handily.

On a side note, tomorrow marks the end of a legacy. The Brett Favre legacy ends. What a legend! But, what a disappointment over the last 4 weeks. The Football Jesus has looked old. He's looked gray. He's looked washed up. Sadly, it's time for him to retire. But, how can you bet against him tomorrow? If he performs and the Jets get help, the Packers will get an additional 2nd round pick. We need this desperately.

I hope your Holidays were happy and safe.

Sippin' on a Pint,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

The 2008 Season is a lost cause. It's disappointing.

At the game, a 13 year old kid turned to me and said, "Hey Cheesehead! This team must be made out of swiss cheese because your defense has holes all over it." Reality hurts.

The most desire our team showed was when Al Harris and Brady Poppinga engaged in a post play altercation. Poppinga was attempting to direct Harris to cover the outside receiver. Harris wanted to cover the slot. Clearly, the coaching staff has lost all control of this team.

And now, we're dead.

There are few things that I hold a strong dislike for in life. But, one of them is the Chicago Bears. And, frankly, it's hard to even get excited for this Monday Night's match-up.

Each week - it's the same thing. Our defense finds a way to lose a lead. Our offense is unable to put together the game winning drive. 7 times - we've choked in the 4th Quarter.

Against the Jags, in the 4th Quarter, we had them at 3rd & 18. We rushed 3! Yes, 3 men. The play before - we rushed 6 and Hawk came away with a sack. He was untouched in pursuit of Gerrard. After we rushed 3 on 3rd and 18, all I could do was hang my head. Bob Sanders must go.

If we finish 5-11, we get a top 10 pick. Even that is hard to get excited about. All around the league, rookies are making plays. It's not happening in Green Bay. Joey Haynos was a guy that was receiving rave reviews ALL preseason. He could not make the Packers roster. Yesterday, he caught a 19-yard TD in traffic for the Miami Dolphins.

Somewhere - there's a disconnect within our organization. Either we are drafting bums or they're not getting the strength, conditioning and teaching from the coaching staff. Look at the last two year's draft choices:

'07 Draft:

Justin Harrell - He can't stay healthy. When he is healthy, he's being pushed backwards.

Brandon Jackson - Sure, he's shown signs of good running ability this year, but in two years,
Brandon Jackson has just over 500 yards rushing.

James Jones - He's shown glimpses of being a nice possession receiver, but injuries have limited him to 8 games played and 16 receptions for the year.

Aaron Rouse - He takes terrible angles towards the ball. He's slow in coverage. Misses tackles. He's a decent special teams player and will never be 16 game starter for the Packers. Injuries have also hindered his development. He played in 11 games last year and he's missed two games due to injuries this year. His inability to develop has caused the Packers to move Charles Woodson to S. Woodson, now playing out of position, was our top performer at CB.

Allen Barbre - Two years in, he does not look like he'll have a life as a Green Bay Packer.

David Clowney - He never played a game in Green Bay.

Korey Hall - He was a LB in college. We've tried to develop him into a FB. He's done alright, but now he's our back-up FB, playing behind John Kuhn. He's got above average special teams ability. Very limited offensive skills.

Desmond Bishop - The jury is out. Amazingly, he barely played yesterday. A week after an 11 tackle performance in which he was our MVP, Bishop was almost never on the field. Instead, we saw Chillar get run over. We saw Poppinga look foolish. Yes, in short, we continue to tolerate the same inefficiencies.

Mason Crosby - A terrific K.

DeShawn Wynn - Consistently injured. Lacks toughness.

Clark Harris - Never made it as a Packer.

'08 Draft:

Jordy Nelson - I hold out hope that he can be a Joe Jurevicious type WR. Hard working. Tough. Good hands.

Brian Brohm - If he does not develop fast, he won't have a career in Green Bay.

Patrick Lee - Injured for most of his rookie year. His rookie year ends with 5 games played. 2 tackles. 1 Pass Defensed. Yikes.

Jermichael Finley - He looks like he has the tools. Lacks the brain. He can't get off the line of scrimmage. He gets pushed around. Runs poor routes. I want to like him because he's a young physical specimen, but, boy, is it painful to watch him right now.

Jeremy Thompson - See Jermichael Finley.

Josh Sitton - Showed great promise in the preseason, but injuries spoiled his year.

Breno Giacomini - Got blown up in the preseason. Got beat out by Tony Moll for the 4th tackle spot. Hard for me to imagine that this guy ever makes an impact.

Matt Flynn - Looked below average in the preseason. We gave him a pass because he was better than Brian Brohm yet his performance was less than stellar. He's a fighter. A gritty competitor.

Brett Swain - Looked bad in the preseason. He had trouble getting off the line of scrimmage. He had trouble holding onto the ball. At this stage, I'm not sure what we see in this guy. Yet, we kept him around on the practice squad.

Any way you look at it, over the last two years, we have had 20 picks. Thus far, the only player that has consistently shown me that he's a guy to build around has been Mason Crosby. And he's a K. If you swing and miss, it does not matter how many picks you have. This makes it difficult to get excited for next April as well.

We're in trouble. We're loaded with guys that you don't want on our team. You can't expect guys like Brady Poppinga, Michael Montgomery, Jason Hunter, Colin Cole, and Brandon Chillar to make game changing plays. Yet, consistently, they are on the field for our defense - especially on 3rd down. AJ Hawk leaves me scratching my head. Ryan Pickett has had a bad year. Willie B. is not a CB in the NFL.

Our team MVP, Charles Woodson, is even saying it to the media - "We're just not very good right now. I mean, you can point to a lot of different things, but bottom line, we're not a very good team."

At this point, that's an obvious statement. In 16 years with Brett Favre as our starting QB, we had one season with a losing record. In 1 year without him, we've already had a losing record. For 16 years, we were used to winning the close games late in dramatic fashion. In 1 year without him, we've seen how difficult it is to win close games late.

We need a leader. Someone we can turn to in times of need. I believe that Aaron Rodgers could be that guy. At times, he's shown greatness. With the exception of the last 5 minutes of the game, Rodgers has been extremely reliable. He controls the ball.

We can build around Rodgers, but right now, we are in a rebuilding stage. We need to look at OL. We must draft DL. We need help at LB. S is a concern. Before the year, we thought we had depth. But, this year, our depth has been exposed on special teams.

The hard part is that no one seems to want to take responsibility for our poor performance.

Happy Holidays,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

Our playoff hopes are hanging by a pubic hair. Their that thin. Their that frail. It could be argued that it would be best for the future of the Green Bay Packers to lose the next three games. Finish 5-11. Get a top 10 pick. Draft Michael Johnson. He is fierce. A man that can apply pressure on the QB. Admittedly, I've thought like this. I've blogged it. But, after much trepidation, I reckon it is best for the Packers to win out. Finish 8-8. Yeah, we'll get the 13th-18th pick, but we'll get much needed momentum for the future.

I urge everyone to remember 2006. We started 4-8. We won out. The season was highlighted by a Prime Time massacre of the Bears in Chicago. Next week we can do the same. But, first we must start building momentum for next year against the Jaguars in J'ville. I'm heading to J'ville with my good mate, Brennan, his girl, Romie, and my much lovelier half, A*. We're going to bring the G-Force. We're going to get the Packers back on track. We're going to catch a wicked buzz. We're going to have a good time.

With 4 games left in 2006, we looked like a lost Franchise. Searching for direction. We gave players a chance to play different positions. We gave Nintendo Nick more freedom. Freedom to make breaks on the ball near the line of scrimmage and in the middle of the field. Before that, we had him playing CF. Consistently, he got beat deep. He looked like a failure of a pick. We moved him around over the last 4 games. Put him in space. He thrived.

We moved Cullen Jenkins to DE. He was looking like an undersized DT. His days in Green Bay seemed limited. After moving him to DE on run downs, we became a dominant front 4.

This year - it's time to give J-Mike a massive look. I'd play him often. He'd be the guy I'd put in playmaking situations. I like with Troy Humphrey has brought. He's shown he can be an average 2nd TE. This is no knock on him. But, we invested in J-Mike. It's time to get him reps in abundance. Get him the ball in space. Get him accustomed to playing at this level. Put him in position to succeed.

Justin Harrell has been an absolute failure. Admittedly, I was happy when we drafted him. He's been unable to stay healthy and it sounds like he's got another injury. If he can play, I'd put him outside. Let's see if he can have the same impact that Cullen Jenkins had in '06. LT's run block differently than LG's. Maybe, just maybe, Harrell can hold the point of attack on run downs. We know he struggles at DT. But, we also know Michael Montgomery cannot stop the run. What we currently have is not good enough. It's time to experiment.

When you miss on 1st round picks, it's tough to build a franchise. We have to attempt to salvage something out of Harrell. Overall the last decade, in the 1st round, the Packers have drafted Antuan Edwards, Bubba Franks, Jamal Reynolds, Javon Walker, Nick Barnett, Ahmad Carroll, Aaron Rodgers, AJ Hawk, and Justin Harrell. It should be noted that last year we traded out of the 1st round. So, in the last 10 years, the Packers have had 4 absolute busts in Edwards, Reynolds, Carroll, and Harrell. Right now, Hawk is in jeopardy of his job for '09. He must perform at a higher level or he, too, might end up in the bust category. I'd argue that he's not in the top 50% of starting LB's in the NFL. Bubba made the Pro Bowl a couple of times, but he never became the TE that the Packers wanted him to become. Walker was on the brink of having a terrific career before injuries and attitude took over. Thus far, with regard to forcing turnovers and making tackles behind the line of scrimmage, Nick Barnett has been a disappointment. 4 years into his career, the jury is still out on Rodgers.

We saw Poppinga playing DE last week. Finally. He got limited pressure. He seemed to be attacking. Just unable. We should take a look at him at DT on passing downs. Speed rusher. With passion. Give him a look. We know Jason Hunter cannot get there.

It sounds like Jeremy Thompson is healthy and able to play. On passing downs, my front 4 would look like this: AK-74, Jeremy Thompson, Poppinga, Montgomery. I want to be fast. I want to have natural pursuers. Sadly, Montgomery is one of our best options right now. On run downs, my front 4 would be AK-74, Pickett, Jolly, Harrell. I want to be big. I want to be beefy.

At LB, I'd start with Bishop. He was a performer last week. 11 tackles. A sack. 2 Forced Fumbles (one rolled out of bounds, but at least he's slapping at the ball when making a tackle). 1 Tackle for Loss. Sure, he got burned on a number of passing plays, but there's no substitute for game experience and we've got to see what we got in Bishop. Instead of putting him in coverage, I'd blitz him on passing downs. Rush 5. Don't let them double AK-74. Put our men in position to succeed.

Bob Sanders should lose his job. How have we not yet identified that Willie B. is afraid to blitz the QB? Yet, last week, we our slim playoff hopes on the line...twice, we send Willie B. on blitzes. Ridiculous. Bob Sanders is a poser.

Aaron Rouse is not a starting S in the NFL. He's weak. He's slow. He takes awful angles. He can be the 3rd S on my team any day. But, starter? No way. We've got decisions to make at the S spot during the offseason. Has Bigby done enough to warrant a contract? Sure, but, at what price? For my taste, it's not all that much. Currently, Ras-A-tari is not the flavor of the day.

On our trip to J'ville, I promise one thing: we will bring the G-Force. We will bring momentum to the Packers. We will bring a victory. Call me Joe Namath, I'm guaranteeing it.

Presently, the Jags are among the worst teams in football. No Rashean Mathis. No Fred Taylor. No Matt Jones. Possibly, no Jerry Porter. If we cannot throw for over 300 yards this week, possess the football, and win handily this week, then we've got major issues. This Sunday, the future of the Green Bay Packers changes for the brighter. Or maybe, I'm just talkin s-mac. Either way, it feels right. And "if it feels good, I shake."

Packers 30
Jags 20

There is Hope for the Hopeless.

Never Say Die,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

G-Force, you did your job. Visually, Lambeau appeared magical. It sounded exceptional through the TV audio. It had all of the makings of a legendary UNO-DOS! victory. The game that would swing our season towards back-to-back NFC North Championships.

And then...

...we failed to get in from the 1 twice.

...we failed to make a tackle on special teams.

...we failed to knock down/intercept a deep ball.

...we were sieves in short yardage defense.

...we failed to get to the 20 yard line on the kickoff.

...we threw an interception to end the game.

If you ask me, the majority of these instances occurred because of coaching blunders. 2nd and goal from the 1. Our best short yardage runner, Ryan Grant, was on the bench. Sure, B-Jack was having an exceptional game. But, he's not a short yardage runner. McCarthy "went with the hot hand" on 2nd down. We were fortunate to get back to the line of scrimmage. I wanted 3 QB sneaks from the 1.

It baffles me that we would send J-Mike down field on kick-off coverage. To me, he does not seem like the guy that's going to be making tackles in the open field. I'm hopeful for J-Mike's future, but thus far he's been soft. I remember the days of Ron Cox, Lamont Hollandquist, Travis Jervey, Terry Mickens, and Bernardo Harris. We were lethal on special teams. We were physical. The mightier team wins on special teams. We're weak.

Sure, Chuckie should have made the play, but why is Steve Smith being covered by Brandon Chillar, a LB. Chillar said, "he lost the ball." Glad we had a LB guarding the best player on the field. What a coaching disaster.

Why is it that we cannot get in the end zone on 2 tries from the 1, but they can score 5 rushing TD's from the 1?

Originally, I thought we were built for special teams. Now, our special teams is a weak link. We've been devastated on special teams 2 weeks in a row. We tolerate poor play. When we need to make a tackle on a kickoff return, the opposition returns it past the 40. When we need a return, we get stopped dead in our tracks before we reach the 20. We lack depth. We lack desire.

The Green Bay Packers have lost 5 games in the closing minutes. We have not learned from our mistakes. With the exception of the Vikings game, which we sat on the ball and settled for a 53 yard FG, each time the Packers had a chance win it late and instead of managing the clock and the football situation, the Packers went for the Home Run. Each time, we failed. Have we taught UNO-DOS! that, in the two minute drill, it's all about 1st downs and getting out of bounds to stop the clock? We had 2 timeouts and 1 minute 20 seconds on the clock. We treated it as if we had 20 seconds and no timeouts. Embarrasing.

Yet, somewhere Jim Carrey just said, "So you're saying there's a chance!"

Yes, it could be idiotic to talk playoffs, but assuming we win out, we'll hold the tie breaker over both the Bears and Viqueens. Obviously, we play the Bears again. A win at Chicago and we focus on not only winning out, but also having the Queens losing twice. It should be noted that Minnesota travels to Arizona next week. That'll be a loss. Then they host Atlanta. If the Steroid-brothers are ruled out, Michael Turner will run all over them. Finally, they close with the G-Men. If the Giants play their troops, the Giants will win handily.

Regardless, first things first, we need to win this week. Frankly, if the Packers lose this week, I'd almost prefer that we finish 5-11 and get a top 10 pick come April. Even if that means a loss to the hated Bears. I don't want to establish a losing culture, but if you can't beat the Texans - a speed team - in the cold of Lambeau, in December, then we truly do have BIG issues.

The Texans are led by Mario Williams, Steve Slaton, and Andre Johnson. Williams might be the best pass rusher in the NFL. He has all of the moves. It'll be imperative to either double him or get rid of the ball quickly or else he'll make plays in our backfield.

Good ol' Steve Slaton. Man, did this blog beg for him. I was attached to this man all 3 years while he was at West Virginia. Instead, we drafted Brian Brohm. Confusing to me. Meanwhile, Slaton has over 900 yards rushing. He is averaging 5 yards per carry. He has 250 yards receiving and averages over 20 yards per catch. He has 9 TD's. He'll add another 100 yards this week. Guy is a stallion and he should be wearing Green & Gold. If he gets in the open field, you won't stop him.

Andre Johnson is among the elite WR's in football. He's a mismatch for all CB's. He's physical. He's fast. He's got solid hands. He's great after the catch. Often times, he's a man among boys.

Owen Daniels is a good possession TE who will cause problems for the Packers. Kevin Walter is an above average 2nd WR.

Matt Schaub has a lot of promise, but he cannot stay healthy and he's prone to making the big mistake. It'll happen this week.

On defense, besides Mario Williams, the Texans have good players in Dunta Robinson, Amobi Okoye, DeMeco Ryans and Marlon Greenwood. But, this defense can be beaten.

If the weather allows, expect Greg Jennings to blow up this week. Yards after the catch will be his forte. I look for Jennings to have 120 (+) yards.

UNO-DOS! builds off of his solid performance. It's do or die and UNO-DOS! peforms at an elite level.

Amazingly, the Packers get a pass rush this week and take advantage of a weak Texans O-Line. In turn, we cause turnovers. The Packers get TWO big turnovers to blow open a close game in the third quarter.

From there, we watch a dose of the Packers running the football until a late Texans score narrows the final margin of victory.

Packers 34
Texans 23

It's Lambeau in December. Keep The Faith.

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Take -> Week 13

Greetings, G-Force.

Ok, Ok, Ok. Fret not. Yes, Monday was a frustrating game. The Saints did everything they needed to do and exposed our greatest weakness - our inability to get the QB. In part, give Bob Sanders credit. He tried to blitz Charles Woodson. The Saints beat us for a 70 yard TD. Brees went directly to the spot that Woodson came from. One missed tackle and see ya later. We tried blitzing 2 LB's. We could not get to the QB and Brees threw the ball to the flat where Pierre Thomas was wide open. We tried to blitz the safety and Brees found the TE for short gains. We tried to rush 4. And Brees had ALL DAY to throw.

The Michael Montgomery experiment should be done. He cannot play in this league. Jason Hunter is not good enough either. Justin Harrell continues to get stood up at the line of scrimmage. Colin Cole is no threat on pass downs. Yet these are the men we put next to AK-74 on passing downs. New Orleans strength was much better than our weakness and in turn, the Packers were involved in an Arena Football Game.

No worries. We're in striking distance of 1st place and frankly, our schedule lightens. Now, we must RUN THE TABLE! No exceptions. A h0me game vs. Carolina is followed by another against the Texans. Lambeau -> bring us to 7-6 and I'll get us to 8-6 as the following week *, Brennan, Romie and I are headed to J'ville. Then comes the MNF Primetime match-up with the hated Bears. We close with a home game against the mighty Lions. 10-6 is mandatory. It's also very attainable.

It should be noted that all games are outdoors. All games are not about how fast and pretty you are rather it is about how much punch do you have in your fists. Yes, we've struggled in this facet on the DL. Carolina can run the ball. I have concerns about our ability to stop the run in this match-up. But, ulitmately, I don't feel Carolina can play with us for 60 minutes.

I expect the difference in this game to be Ryan Grant. In November, at Lambeau, affectionately, this could be known as "Grant Time." In 3 November games at Lambeau, all against defenses that are known for punishment (Carolina, Minnesota, and Chicago), Grant has averaged over 117 yards. He's also averaged over 5 yards per carry. This is the reason we gave Ryan Grant his $$$ in the offseason. We'll see more of it on Sunday as we host the Panthers.

The Panthers defense has talent. Julius Peppers might be the most feared Defensive player in the NFL. Jon Beason & Thomas Davis are hunters. Chris Gamble is rich after he signed his 6 year deal. He's also ball-hawking and has the long arms to jam receivers to alter routes. But, he's not fast enough to keep up with Jennings on the deep ball. Charles Godfrey, a guy I was pulling for the Packers to draft, starts at S. Chris Harris is one of the fastest rising S's in the NFL. A punishing, hard hitting S, Harris has a knack for making the big play. I've always thought Ken Lucas was overrated and that he could be taken advantage of. Damoine Lewis never matured into the player that the Rams/Panthers hoped he would and Maake Kemoeatu is a run stopper at DT with no ability to get to the QB. Na'il Diggs can no longer play in this league. Diggs should get exposed. So should Tyler Brayton who never developed into the 1st round talent he was projected as. I'd run right at the Brayton/Lewis combination. Between the Tackles, yards can be had.

The Packers should also have success with the TE. Lee, Humphrey, and J-Mike should all get their chances if the Packers game plan effectively. It'll be a game of ball protection and this is where the Packers have a HUGE advantage.

Jake Delhomme turns the ball over. He takes chances and the Packers secondary is opportunistic. Yes, Steve Smith is still a stallion. Mushin Muhammad is still a decent possession receiver, but I think we match up well with both of them. Dwayne Jarrett's size and athleticism presents mismatches, but he'll freeze in the cold and should be no threat. While Dante Rosario has had some productive games, I don't envision him making game changing plays this weekend. We'll slow their passing attack.

The overwhelming question is: Can we stop the Panthers run game? We won't shut it down, but I believe we will slow it down. Jolly & Pickett need this game. Cole has been average against the run. AJ needs this game. If Poppinga is not going to be used as a pass rusher and he cannot stop straight ahead runners like Williams and Stewart, than what is his purpose? Williams and Stewart will pound away. Hell, they could run it 40 times. And don't forget about the Packer-killer, Brad Hoover. This guy always makes plays against us. In 2008, Hoover has 57 yards. I fear that he may get that this week alone.

For the Packers in 2008, it's time to GROW. It's time to BE. And if the Packers cannot do either, the season is over. The time is NOW. No more excuses. For McCarthy & UNO-DOS!, the training wheels are off. Our difficult tasks are behind us. We don't have time for inefficiencies. We do not have time for youthful mistakes. Or else the 2008 season will have been a waste.

It's Grant right. It's Grant left. It's Grant behind center. It's Kuhn plunging for a first down. It's Lee on a 7 yard curl. Jennings on a slant. Driver on a crossing route. It's simple play calling. The run sets up the pass. It's Ryan Grant's game. And if we play this way - if we think this way, the Packers will not lose. In fact, we'll win by double digits. In November, the starting RB that played the Panthers has averaged 106 yards per game and over 4.5 yards per carry. Those back were Justin Fargas, Kevin Smith and Michael Turner.

It's November. Bring out the boxing gloves. It's a fist fight. Either we are men who expect to battle our way into the playoffs. Or we are bears and we're ready to hibernate. This is Ryan Grant's game and it's "Grant Time."

Packers 34
Panthers 20

High Life anyone? Yes, the Champagne of Beers. We're Green Bowl Packin'. And the Packers are in the end zone on the legs of Ryan Grant.

Run the Table,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Take -> Week 12

Greetings, G-Force.

The similarities to 1995 were strikingly similar. The Bears held a one game lead over the Packers. It was November. At Lambeau. And one of the QB's was hobbling with an injured ankle. Thankfully, Kyle Orton is not Brett Favre. Orton looked awfully rusty or should I say Rexy. With that, the acclaimed C-Force left Green Bay both unjustified and illegitimate. Meanwhile, the G-Force celebrated as we gained momentum against our hated rivals.

Instead of "Air-In" it out, the Packers relied on a PUNISHING ground game. Ryan Grant made Mike Brown look like Kenny Stills. Brian Urlacher is still trying to shed blockers. Tommie Harris was non-existent. This Bears defense looked old and washed up. Or maybe, they were simply beat up. Hard to imagine yet fully real.

While the 37-3 victory was sweet and should be savored, there is still plenty of room for improvement. UNO-DOS! had Double-D wide open yet underthrew him on what would have been an easy TD. Once again, Spitz & College were both called for false starts. Michael Montgomery forgot to come on the field and he cost the Packers a timeout near the end of the 1st half. We wasted nearly 20 seconds on our last drive of the 1st half and then spiked the ball to stopo the clock, which forced us to settle for a 52 yard FG.

Nonetheless, there's no need to focus on the negative. Nor even to discuss. Not when you massacre your arch nemesis in a crucial game with our life on the line. It was great to confirm that the Bears do indeed, truly, still suck. Yes, the Bears still suck!

In my mind, with the exception of the interception, UNO-DOS! played the best game of his young career. He took what the defense gave him. He did not panic. He was quick in his release. Nothing was forced. He got Donald Lee involved. It was a thing of beauty.

Time to give props to John Kuhn and Korey Hall. Blowing up defenders and opening nice size holes for Grant. Briggs and Urlacher were no match. Hall and Kuhn made the Pro Bowlers look like amateurs. Hall and Kuhn were at the forefront of this dominant display.

Also, thanks to B-Jack for his fine effort.

And when you've got a 27-3 lead, you may as well throw a slant to J-Mike!

But, this week, it's up to the Packers to keep pace. Hopefully, the Bears gave us the confidence we need to be able to muster up a similar running game against the Saints. The Bears have an easy game against the Rams this week. The Vikes travel to J'ville to face the defeated Jags. Both the Bears and Vikes should win. We must hold serve. We will.

Ah, N'Awlins! God bless this City. Just not this Monday Night. Packers fans will forever love the Super Dome for our terrific 1996 memories.

The Saints are a tricky opponent indoors in a controlled environment. They have a number of offensive weapons. And they might be getting healthier this week as Reggie Bush might be returning from a 3-game absence. Regardless, I feel as though the Saints inability to run the football plays into the hands of the Packers.

T-Mon, Nintendo Nick, and Chuckie have been interception machines. I like their match-ups this week as well. I'd stick Al on Colston. Let them bang away at each other. Chuckie can jam Devery Henderson at the line as Henderson tries to get deep on the him. T-Mon can run with Lance Moore as Moore tries to run his fly routes. All the while, a tipped pass might fall into the lap of Nintendo Nick.

I'm sure the Saints will occasionally try to mix it up with Pierre Thomas and Deuce McAllister. I'd be surprised if they're successful. They may have some quality pass plays to Jeremy Shockey, but overall I expect his production to be limited by Chillar.

But, the Packers must recognize that Drew Brees is as accurate as any QB in the league. He's not mobile and therefore, we must trust our secondary and try to get pressure on him. If you give him all day to throw, he'll beat you. If you get a hand in his face, occasionally, he'll make a mistake.

Offensively, once again, we see the Ryan Grant show. The run opens up the pass. We tire the Saints defense. Keep Brees & the potent Saints offense on the bench. Then we go to work on the depleted Saints secondary. At one stage of his career, Aaron Glenn was beaten by Mark Ingram and Dan Marino. At this stage of his career, he'll experience the wrath of UNO-DOS! and Greg Jennings. At some point, the Packers will go empty and we will "Air-In" it out.

Driver will have 5 catches. Jones is slowly becoming more involved. Jordy Nelson is developing into an extremely reliable target. Donald Lee is a weapon.

The Packers get an early lead. The Saints try to make their comeback, but our secondary is too gifted.

Green Bay 37
New Orleans 27

Hey New Orleans, the 1st place Packers are marching in...we're cool. We're confident. We're ready to hit our stride and capture momentum at the right time. In the words of UNO-DOS!, "Let's play Packer football and let's have some fun." And after the victory, stop by Evelyn's Place on Chartres St. Hang out with Frank. Have a Hurricane. He'll make it stiff!

Harness in the energy,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Take -> Week 11

Greetings, G-Force.

Thus far, the 2008 Packers have lacked testosterone. We've lacked might. We've lacked heart. We've lacked physical prowess. We've lacked endurance. At times, we've played out of fear rather than confidence.

Clearly, this version of the Green Bay Packers does not know how to win. We're losing tight contest. Frankly, I can accept the fact that the Packers lose hard fought battles as one could foresee this with a young team, a young QB, and a young Coach. Success in the NFL is not supposed to come easy. What bothers me is the continual acceptance of the same inefficiencies. Penalties. No run defense. Poor pass protection. A QB that holds onto the ball too long. Every week, it's the same difficulties. We lack polish. I had looked at Mike McCarthy as though he was a master of the details. Today, he looks like a man that fails to pay attention to details. Due to this, the Packers 2008 season rests in the hands of a match-up at Lambeau Field against the hated Chicago Bears.

It's true that the officiating was awful against the 'Queens. It's true that we would have been in position to win if Crosby would have made the 52-yard FG. We should be reminded that Minnesota would have still had 30 seconds to get into FG range. Regardless, it should not have come to that. Our inability to understand down & distance continues to prevent the Packers from winning football games. If we would have gotten one first down, we would have had a chip shot FG with no time on the clock. For the 2nd week in a row, McCarthy's play calling at the end of the game failed to produce a winner. What happened to the shovel pass? Where did it go?

As the G-Force, we must move on. The season hangs in the balance. The Packers need an animated Lambeau Field on Sunday. We need unity. We need a competitive edge. The Faithful can end a devastating two-game losing streak.

The Bears still suck. The Bears still suck. They really, really, really, really, really, really suck. The Bears still suck.

Presently, the Bears are tied for first in the NFC North. However, the NFC North division is still ours to lose. Win this week and we are right back in position to make a run at the playoffs. It'd be terrific to get UNO-DOS! playoff experience at this stage in his career. I want UNO-DOS! to feel the enthusiasm. I want UNO-DOS! to feel the pressure. If we cannot win the Super Bowl, I want UNO-DOS! to feel the agony of walking off the field in defeat in a sudden death playoff format. It'd be good for his personal football development. It'd be good for the future of this storied franchise.

Bears-Packers. Lambeau Field. Does sports offer anything better? Not in my mind.

While the Packers fail at the line of scrimmage, the Bears pride themselves on their physical nature. The Bears play with a tough mentality. Ogunleye, Brown, Harris, and Dvoracek make up a formidable DL. I feel that Tommie Harris is the best DT in all of football. On offense, the Bears try to beat you by running the football and using the TE. While the Bears spread the ball around, their offense is based around Matt Forte. He leads the team in receptions and averages over 20 carries a game. So far, Forte has produced. He has over 700 yards rushing and he's totalled 7 TD's.

The Bears will pressure UNO-DOS! to the max. They may not need to bring a blitz as they'll be able to get pressure with just their front 4, but I'd assume that they'll show a variety of blitz packages to get in UNO-DOS! face. UNO-DOS! has shown that if you get to him early, he'll press and start to focus his eyes on the DL and not on the WR's downfield.

The Packers respond with a variety of draws and delayed runs. Pounding at the center of the Bears defense. Running right at Urlacher and not allowing him to use his speed. Between the tackles, the Packers pick up yardage and points.

Our ability to run slows down their pass rush. The Bears resort to rushing 4. They still experience success, but UNO-DOS! connects with Greg Jennings over the top.

It's unclear as to who will play QB for the Bears. Either way, the game plan will be similar. Forte to the right. Forte to the left. Forte up the middle. Forte through the air in the flat. He'll touch the ball 25 times this Sunday. He'll get his yardage. We'll keep him out of the end zone.

At some point, the Bears will have to go to the air and this is when the Packers display our strength. Nintendo Nick - just playin' baby. Just playin'. Heisman Chuckie - is there a better CB in the NFL? T-Mon getting his hands on the ball. Rasta Al playing physical and confident. Ras-A-tari getting back in the groove. Rashied Davis and Marty Booker do not scare me. I don't think Hester will make a difference on offense either.

Greg Olsen will get his catches, probably 4-5. He'll move the chains beating our underperforming LB's off the line of scrimmage. Desmond Clark will probably do the same with 3 catches. I simply do not foresee the Bears getting into the end zone more than once unless it's either set up by a turnover or a Devin Hester return.

I'm curious to see the Desmond Bishop impact. Yes, he was beaten badly by Chester Taylor. He was embarrassed. He knows it. He'll learn from his mistakes. I'm interested to see if he can play in this league. Barnett's injury opens the door for Bishop to prove himself. I want to see Bishop and Forte collide.

Grant goes for 100 yards. Jennings finds the end zone. Donald Lee gets involved. UNO-DOS! gets a big time win for his career against the hated rivals. Mike McCarthy finally gets another victory over Lovie Smith.

Keep Forte under 100. Keep Hester out of the end zone. No more than 1 turnover. The crowd will rage. The Pack will be victorious.

Packers 27
Bears 16

Bears still suck!

Yes We Can,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Take -> Week 10

Greetings, G-Force.

In the maturation of life, you have to deal with bone-crushing, heart-wrenching events. These moments define us and build our character. Such was the case last Sunday for Mike McCarthy and UNO-DOS! We had our chances to win a tremendously difficult road game and to take a giant leap with regards to the long term future of the franchise.

Winning is contagious. Success can be learned. It's unusual for a young QB/Coach to be able to immediately possess the unique trait of rejecting both personal and team failure - at any & all costs.

The Mike McCarthy & UNO-DOS! combo is capable of leading this franchise to SUPER things. Simply stated, we're not battle tested...yet. In time, we will be. But, first, we'll have to deal with the tough experiences that Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Tennessee have provided. In this era of parity, you've got to play through pain, you've got to be able to come from behind, and you've got to know down, distance, and clock management. More often than not, in today's NFL, games are decided in the last 8 minutes. We could be 7-1. We could also be 2-6. Instead, we're 4-4.

Against Tennessee, we Let Our Nuts Hang. We were aggressive. We played with passion. We were in position to win the game. We did not seal the deal. We failed to make the game-changing play late in the game. We had opportunities. We did execute. We missed out on the chance to remain at the top of the NFC North table. Additionally, for all practical purposes, we lost out on a bid for a Wild Card spot in the NFC.

In some ways, it continues to appear that the Packers are playing for next year. The release of KGB, the enhanced playing time for Jeremy Thompson, and the two passes to J-Mike on crucial downs are some some examples of this theory that just maybe we're building for the future and recognizing that our franchise is in the developmental stages. It could be argued that it's a post-be week kink in the offense. No one wants J-Mike to succeed more than I and I'm happy he was put in position to make plays, but it surprised me that he was our #1 choice on two major plays in a game that would have been a major stepping stone for our franchise.

Regardless, the next 2 weeks are beyond crucial. A loss this week does not end our season as we still play the Bears twice, but it sure complicates things. McCarthy is undefeated vs. the hated Domers. I like the possibility of this streak continuing if we can compete at the line of scrimmage. The OL & DL of the 'Queens are the strength of their organization. For us, it's our weakness. We're pretty. We're not tough. They'll beat you in a fist fight. We won't. Often times, they'll rush 4 and apply pressure. On the contrary, we'll rush 6 and fail to put any heat on the QB. With that being said, AK-74 has dominated Ryan Cook in recent memory. I expect this trend to continue this week. If AK-74 does not win this battle, someone else will have to elevate his game on passing downs. Frankly, if this is not Poppinga, I don't know who has the ability to get to the QB. It was great to see Montgomery get to the QB from the DT spot for the first time this year. It was fantastic to have our first Justin Harrell sighting of the year. I'm OK with the continued and enhanced Jeremy Thompson experiment, but I'm confused as to why Poppinga does not get a shot at rushing the QB on passing downs. We signed him to a big contract. Use him!

The Domers might run left 40 times on Sunday. Candidly speaking, if I were Brad Childress, I would. And yes, AP running left scares me. The Packers are going to have to use Bigby as a 4th LB and force Frerotte to beat us. At some point, AP will be deep in our secondary, but I'm confident Collins' speed will not allow him to take it to the house.

Frerotte will look for Berrian running deep routes. Berrian loves the fly route. Rice will also try to get behind our defense. Visanthe Shiancoe has developed a bond with Frerotte and I'm sure they'll connect on some chain moving passes. Don't be surprised if the 'Queens connect on some big plays.

Defensively, the Domers cannot cover us. But, can we protect ourselves? I'd make protection as much of a non-issue as possible. I'd keep an extra blocker in the backfield. If Jared Allen, the greedy Republican bastard, plays - I'd chip him on every pass play and chop/cut him on every run play.

Again, they cannot cover us. Winfield is a stud, but he can't run with us. Sharper can play CF, but you can hit it over his head.

We'll nickel and dime them with plays to Jordy, Driver, Jones, Lee & B-Jack. Then, we'll drop the Benjamin's on them with a deep ball to Jennings. Speaking of Benjamins, Greg, sign the deal, mate! Also, I was surprised that Jones was both healthy and inactive last week. This week - he'll be active and I would be slightly surprised if he does not make a play.

How is it that the Williams boys are not suspended? The steroid-using Williams boys present a problem with respect to the running game, however I still look for modest running yardage out of Grant. Harris, Greenway, and Leber are above average LB's, but I feel that Grant will occasionally get to the edge and move the sticks with double digit yardage gains.

If this game has a winner with 22 points or less, be scared. If the winner scores more than that, fret not. Green is classier than purple. Esepcially on Sunday. Plus, we're indoors. Uniforms remain in tact & clean. In all 3 facets of the game, we're more elegant than they are. Look good. Feel good. Play good.

We're too fast for them. We're too good for them.

Packers 34
Vikings 31

Two big weeks ahead of us. Fire It Up! Ready To Go!

Purple Is Ugly. Be Green.

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, October 31, 2008

My Take -> Week 9

Greetings, G-Force.

A week that includes Tuesday & Wednesday night Widespread Panic shows followed by a Thursday visit from my parents makes a man feel high on life. It also sends Jason Klimek across the country for a mid-week tour stop. "Sooner or later, it all gets real. Walk On." "Aint Life Grand?"

The injury to Tony Romo makes the Packers-Titans match-up the game of the week. The undefeated Tennessee Titans hosting the NFC North leading Green Bay Packers. In the beginning of the year, I had circled this date as one of those dates in which a young QB gets exposed. I did the same with the Tampa and J'ville games. Smart defensive coordinators with aggressive defenses usually makes for a disastrous recipe for a young offensive leader.

The Titans live off of a strong, punishing running game, the use of the TE and a physical, pursuing defense. Chris Johnson and LenDale White make a great running combo. Bo Scaife & Alge Crumpler are productive, chain moving TE's. Kerry Collins is a game managing QB with zip on his fastball. And the Front 4 of the Titans is the best in the league.

My recipe for this Sunday is simple: Let Your Nuts Hang. Every year, you have one of these games. If we play them straight up, Tennessee will beat us by 2 scores. They're too good and Jeff Fisher is too smart. But, if we play with freedom...if we play for the LOVE of the GAME, we can win.

Spread them out. Make them cover us. Out of shotgun. Puma routes. Slants. Hike & throw. Essentially, we're running the ball. When, in actuality, we're throwing it.

While Finnegan and Harper are good corners, they can't run with us and I question the Titans depth at DB. I want to see Reynaldo Hill and Eric King on the field. Also, Tulloch struggles in coverage down the middle of the field.

Early in this game, we must force Bullock and Tulloch to back off the line of scrimmage. This will open up run plays as the game wears on.

On offense, let your nuts hang. 5 wide. It's true that you need to run the football in order to win late in the year, but this week, let's spread 'em out and show how pretty we are.

Kyle Vanden Bosch seems to be playing for the Titans. He presents a mismatch. We must get rid of the ball quickly. He and Kearse are terrific book-ends. Haynesworth is the best DL in the league. Tony Brown is an underappreciated DT who can both stop the run and rush the passer.

Driver, Jennings, Martin, Nelson, Jones. Line 'em up. Let's give UNO-DOS! options. Let's see if the Titans can cover us! This Sunday, I want the Packers to look fancy. Look flashy. Dust ourselves off after picking up 1st downs. I want an offensive swagger.

Defensively, we let our nuts hang as well. Al Harris & Ras-A-tari return. 8 in the box. Stop the run. Make Kerry Collins beat you. Yes, he played well vs Indy. However, I feel an emotional letdown is a possibility. Force Collins to beat us. Pressure the QB.

At some point, Chris Johnson will squirm away from a Nick Barnett tackle and he'll be in our secondary. It's going to happen. But, for the most part, we should be able to bottle him up.

We signed Chillar for games like this. He'll be able to match-up with Scaife and Crumpler. Expect Chillar to make a play this week!

Throughout the game, the Packers show a variety of BLITZ packages. In fact, at times, we will confuse Collins.

We share the wealth on offense. We put points on the board.

Special teams lead to more points.

We hold the Titans to FG's until White pounds one in from the 2. But, the Packers have the lead late & it's Nintendo Nick stepping in front of a crossing route intended for Justin Gage.

Packers 23
Titans 19

Somewhere, the '72 Dolphins pop the champagne as the last of the unbeatens goes down.

Congrats to UNO-DOS! for his contract extension. Look for Driver over the middle. Learn the checkdowns. Get rid of the ball quickly. Stay healthy. Coach him up, Mike McCarthy!

Let your nuts hang,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bye Week Celebration!

Greetings, G-Force.

Hopefully, Sunday marked a New Beginning. 4 & 3 - Full of Glee.

I knew things were going to work in our favor when Luke, Boots & Chico (and friends) met me in the parking lot. I was buzzin' with A*, my brothers, Chad & Bob, my brother-in-law, John, Chad's girlfriend, Ashley, and Ashley's parents. The vibe in the lot was real. I connected with my cousins Ryan, Mark, Jacob, Michael, and Emily. My uncle Jeff shared a smile and a positive aura.

A* & I walked into Lambeau. Took a deep breath. In awe, we stared at the most beautiful of NFL stadiums. Pure appreciation. Each step was enjoyed. Glowing with enjoyment. As we're about to sit, I hear "McKenna." No shit! 2-rows behind me is Brennan. GAME ON!

Off yur ass. On yur feet. We were!

The G-Force was heard loud & clear. Peyton Manning acknowledged during the game as he was continuously seen scrambling to call plays at the line. He never could get on the same page as Wayne & Harrison. The post game box score read:

Peyton Manning - 21-42. 50% completion percentage. 229 yards. 5.5 yards per attempt. 0 TD. 2 INT. Both INT's returned for TD's. Welcome to the Tundra, Peyton!
Marvin Harrison - 2 catches. 11 yards.
Reggie Wayne - 2 catches. 24 yards.

After the game, Charles Woodson called it the "Lambeau Advantage." The "Lambeau Advantage" is now being referred to as the G-Force.

Aa-ron Rod-gers! Aa-ron Rod-gers! Aa-ron Rod-gers! Uno-Dos! Uno-Dos! Uno-Dos!

Yes, Uno-Dos! was absolutely spectacular. In fact, I was watching with disbelief. While he's still slow in getting the ball to Driver & Lee on crossing routes, Uno-Dos! played his best game of the year.

8 receivers. 75% completion percentage. Crucial third down after crucial third down. Managed to perfection. Therefore, the Packers enter the bye week tied for first with the hated Bears.

B-Jack also played his best game as a Packer. He led the team with 6 catches. He was solid on blitz pick-up. He was a fighter after the catch and grabbed big third down yardage. He still struggles to run after the catch on the screen when he's in the open field. Regardless, twice he fought for first down yardage when initially, it appeared as though he would be stopped short.

I thought both John Kuhn & Korey Hall provided effort and punishment while blocking. Hall's recovery of Grant's fumble showed heavy duty determination.

Colledge & Spitz, on the other hand, continue to swing and miss.

Chillar was active against the run & the pass. In extensive playing time, he led the Packers with 9 tackles. 7 of them were solo.

Colin Cole also played his best game of the year. 4 tackles. 2 of them solo. Moderate pressure on pass plays. Massive junk talking into Manning's ear.

Pickett & Jolly were terrific. When our defensive line gets their hands in the air, we are a different team. Clearly, this frustrated Manning.

T-Mon & Willie B. grew up as CB's. They stood up to the challenge. They were physical. They enjoyed themselves.

Aaron Rouse jumping routes!

After 7 weeks, Nintendo Nick is a Pro Bowler. Collins is playin', baby!

And now, it's the bye week. It's time to heal the shoulder of Uno-Dos!. It's time to hear the tricep of Pickett. The spleen of Harris. The groin of Hawk. The knee of James Jones. The hamstrings of Bigby & Hunter. The ankle of Montgomery.

We come back healthy. We come back ready to compete for the NFC North crown. Coming out of the bye, we NEED 1 of the first 2. At Tennessee and at Minnesota will be difficult tasks. A victory at Minnesota would be a devastating blow to the 'Queens season. This would set us up for an for an epic 11/16 match-up at Lambeau vs. the Bears.

Rest up. I, too, need the bye week. I'm still hoarse.

Chillin' to the max,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Take -> Week 7

Greetings, G-Force.

Sometimes life grabs a hold of me. The cheetah-like pace of existence prevents me from tackling the human details that often times define us. Instead of naturally reacting, I move with ample trepidation and decision. SO much to do. And, unfortunately, time is not on my side. This week - was one of those weeks. One of my dearest mates, PatRad, was in town. A*, Lisette, Vargas and I were blessed by his presence. In addition, to normal day-to-day career duties, I had to prepare for an interview with the local newspaper to discuss South Florida's economy. I also had my quarterly review. Plus, the Presidential debate & the USA vs Trinidad World Cup qualifying match fought for my attention. This week - A* also won tickets for Phish's comeback weekend. Yes, all 3 nights! You get the point.

Wednesday marked my Dad's 60th B-Day. This morning is my Mom's 60th. Talk about G-Force! If the game's producers 60th B-Day cannot bring fortune, what can? Plus, my siblings & I have flown up for a weekend in Titletown. My parents had NO IDEA we were going to be here. So to help prevent them from finding out - I had to delay the take.

The last time I visited Lambeau, Eli was in town. This time, Peyton is coming. Man, do I despise the Mannings! I want Manning blood!

The Packers come into this weekend tied for first. 3-3 and yet to find our stride. We still struggle to run the football. We have difficulty in pass protection. We are unable to stop the run and our pass rush is non-existent. Yet, we are 3-3. Thankfully, we have faced Tavaris Jackson, John Kitna and Charlie Frye.

Frankly, at times during the Seahawks game, I'd lost hope on this being a successful season. We've looked sloppy. We've looked unprepared. We looked beat-up. In short, we've looked elementary.

But, to a degree, our defense has been opportunistic. After 6 weeks, Charles Woodson is the Defensive MVP in the NFL. T-Mon has shown a knack for finding the football. He's a quick study. While he still makes mistakes, he seems to learn and grow from week-to-week. Nintendo Nick continues to play at Pro Bowl level. When will Ras-a-tari finally return? We need his presence in the run game.

In the Seattle game, we did see some encouraging signs from Jordy Nelson and Jeremy Thompson. Nelson showed football maturity and down and distance awareness. He also used his body to shield defenders like a seasoned veteran. Jeremy Thompson appeared capable of playing in this league. He fought hard. Got low. For the most part, I thought he was steady. I still want to see him rush the passer from the DT spot on 3rd down.

For now, I'm referring to Aaron Rodgers as 12. 12 has formed an elite 1-2 combo with Greg Jennings. 12 has been a gritty gamer. Mentally tough. A competitor. I sympathize with him. He could not have imagined that Clifton & Tauscher's play would have declined as much as they have from one year to the next. On occasion, he's still slow to get rid of the ball, but he was more decisive last week.

This week the Packers catch a break. Joseph Addai & Bob Sanders will not be playing. We need all of the help we can get. The Colts have a high powered offense with an innate ability to rise to the occasion late in the game.

Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison make a scary combo. It'll take everything we have to stop these dynamic weapons and the unbelievable chemistry that they have with Manning. Dominic Rhodes is a competent back-up who knows the Indy system. Indy will score points.

Freeney and Mathis are two of the best pass rushers in the NFL. Their speed rushers who will sell their souls to get to the QB. But, I believe you can run against this defense. You can push thier aggressive DE's up the field & run thru the gaps. Can you say Denver last year?

On Sunday, expect Grant to get another 25 carries. The Packers control the clock. manning is sitting on the sidelines. Brisk temperatures. Waiting his chance. Meanwhile, the Packers eat up clock. I picture 12 finding his check downs. Managing the game. Converting critical 3rd downs. Keeping possession.

The Indy domers are uncomfortably playing outside. The Lambeau faithful is rowdy. Full of believe. The Packers grab a 2 score lead. Then Manning goes to the air. Taking shots deep at T-Mon and Willie B. All day to throw, Manning moves the ball much to the frustration of the G-Force. Manning leads the colts back. Down 3, the Colts look to take the lead, but a blitzing Poppinga makes a play and thwarts the drive. The Packers must search for a pass rushing solution. I believe that Poppinga will be used as an option this week.

12 gets the ball. 2 minutes. A chance to win. It's 12 to Driver. It's 12 to Jordy. It's 12 to Jennings on a curl. It's Mason Crosby supplying the game winning dagger!

Green Bay 26
Indy 23

If I were a gambling man, I'd be enticed by seeing Indy as only a 1 point favorite. After all, our defense has been prone to give up the big play & Indy is as good as anyone other than the Cowboys at producing a big play. Luckily, unless I'm in Vegas, I'm not a gambler. Instead, I envision a BIG win for 12's career. It's Fall. It's Lambeau. The AFC comes to town. I'm in attendance bringing the vibe. As the season's change, so does the Packers run game.

I'll take a block WI cheese. A Riverwest Stein. A Packers win. My Parents surprise 60th B-Day party. Call it vacation.

Let's elevate!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Take -> Week 6

Greetings, G-Force.

Can you say must win? The goal for this year is to win the NFC North Division. Accomplish this goal and it's a great season. Win more than you lose and it's a good season. Anything less & I'm rooting for a top-10 pick. It's that simple.

Injuries continue to mount. Add Chad Clifton to the list. Pickett is also missing practice time. Our current injury list names 13 players that I expected to play a major role for the Packers this year. Yet, in my eyes, solid depth is one trademark of an elite team in the NFL. The Packers are showing a lack of depth at OL, DL, RB, TE, and QB. We also need an upgrade at CB & S.

Our '08 draft has failed us for this year. Prior to the draft, we mentioned names like DeSean Jackson, Steve Slaton, Martellus Bennett and Chevis Jackson. Today - they're all making plays. Meanwhile, we struggle to get any production out of any of our picks.

When you've seen someone's best and their best is simply not good enough, I vote that we move on and bid adieu with him. Tracy White was a solid special teams player, but we'd seen his best football. He had defensive limitations. Thanks for your time, Tracy. Hello Danny Lansanah! I really liked Lansanah's game in the preseason. Along with Lumpkin, he was the surprise of camp. I'm happy he's going to get a shot.

Sticking with this philosophy, I've seen enough of Michael Montgomery. While he's not solely responsible for last week's lost, he was a major underperformer. In fact, I'd go as far as calling him a complete failure. If I were GM, he'd be cut and I'd be scanning others practice squads for a potential pass rusher or a run stopping DE. Hell, I yearn for Don Davey!

I'm calling for an all-out on-the-job training for Jeremy Thompson. I want to see everything this guy has got because if he does not have the tools, we need to look to upgrade at DE early in the '09 draft. He looked unprepared and unaware vs. the Falcons. I'll excuse him as he probably did not expect that much playing time. Montgomery's injury forced him into action. I want to see what #99 brings to the table this week.

In Nick Barnett stuck in mire? What am I missing? Paging Nick Barnett. Nick? Nick, where are you? Please join our defense. We could use our middle linebacker.

I'm absolutely disappointed in our special teams performance. Willie B. has no room to run. Furthermore, we fail to make crucial tackles. Our kickoff & punt coverage is pitiful at big moments. And Frost has been awful. Wasn't he supposed to be an upgrade at downing the ball inside the 20?

I give Aaron Rodgers a lot of credit for last week. He played through pain. He was aggressive. He spread the ball to 8 different receivers. While it's noteworthy that Ryan Grant was not one of them, Rodgers did a much better job getting rid of the ball and using the center of the field. He showed poise, confidence and toughness. He earned both respect and street cred.

Nintendo Nick & Chuckie are playing at Pro Bowl level.

So, we head to Seattle for a bout with HomeGrown. Thanks for the memories, Mike. I'm happy that we get to see you one more time on your Farewell Tour. I wish the game was in Lambeau so we could give you a thanks for the '96 title.

The Seahawks are far better at home than on the road. Even though they, too, are banged up, the 'Hawks will be a stiff test. Seattle's crowd is rowdy. Their defense always seems faster at home. They also seem to get ALL of the breaks at home.

Expect Seattle to run the ball to the left side behind Mike Wahle and Walter Jones. They'll do this early. They'll do this often. We won't be able to stop it. No Cullen Jenkins. KGB at half-mass. Montgomery is bad when healthy - imagine him with an injury. And I doubt Jeremy Thompson is capable. They could rush for more than 150 yards.

The Packers will have an offensive response. It was good to see Ryan Grant running with power and desire last week. I would be surprised if we don't see him carry the ball 20 times this week. We'll also see Rodgers attack the vulnerable Seattle secondary. Spread 'em out and you'll be able to beat the Seattle defense both through the air and on the ground.

This week it's Rodgers finding 9 different receivers. Finding the open man. Using the reignited shovel pass! Where has it been? Third and short - this could be one solution.

I'm looking for the Packers to send an ALL OUT BLITZ! I'm calling for 6 men and sometimes 7. I want our defense at the line of scrimmage in people's face. Let our LB's play. Our DL is banged up. So is our secondary. With the exception of Hawk (whom I expect to play), we are healthy at LB. Let the LB core be active. I want to see them pressuring the QB. If Nick Barnett cannot get there, replace him. Let's see if Bishop can get there. We need to make plays at the LB position. Hawk's inability to cover Justin Peelle on 4th and 1 was telling. Who in the hell is Justin Peelle?

Regardless, Hasselbach is banged up and we need to get in his face and knock him around. Throw him to the ground. We won't have this option often though. Atlanta ran the ball 36 times last week and threw it 26 times. I would think Seattle might do the same.

This one will be a shootout. Again it comes down to the last 10 minutes. A nail biter.

Packers 34. Seattle 30.

OK, so maybe I'm a homer. Sometimes, I've been accused of being too fluffy. Too optimistic. Probably the case. But, that's been the case the last couple of weeks. It'll probably be the case next week as well. HomeGrown, again, thanks for the memories & the Bowl. But, this week, we get you for selling us out.

Stay away from bridges. If you encounter one, don't jump! Everythings going to be alright.

Grab a Pint,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Who Are You Watching Now?

Greetings, G-Force.

Where is Jeremy Thompson? The first guy that Ted Thompson ever traded up for cannot get himself on the field. By now, I expected Thompson to seeing playing time on 3rd downs from the DT position. Instead, I'm not sure whether the Packers have even attempted the experiment. Hunter & Montgomery have stalled in their attempts to rush the QB. A quick check of Corey Williams 2008 stats shows: 4 games. 14 tackles. 0.5 sacks. Can you say Cletidus Hunt?

Right now, my focus for the '09 Draft is on the defensive line. I have severe questions about the status Harrell & KGB's health.

So far, I'm most impressed with Michael Johnson & Tim Jamison at DE. Johnson is a speed end. Long arms which he uses to play the run well. A bit light, but he'll add strength/weight. Small resemblance to Jason Taylor. In fact, he'd be my 1st round pick.

OK, I'm way ahead of myself with this, but my initial '09 Mock Draft shows:

1.) Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
2.) Brandon James, RB/KR, Florida - Only a Junior, but he might come out.
3.)Brandon Hughes, CB, Oregon State - He was a top performer in the Oregon State win over USC. Great at coverage on crossing routes. Can play the slot. Gets in your face. Can also play zone. Tough. Sure tackler.
4 a)OL
4 b)OL
5) Patrick White, QB, WVU - he'll play WR at the next level
6a) DeMonte Bolden, DT, Tennessee - Myron Pryor, DT, Kentucky is also an option

We add a DE that can make an addition in '09, two playmakers on offense, another young CB (see ya, J-Bush!), OL & DL depth.

Enjoy your weekend,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Take -> Week 5

Greetings, G-Force.

We matched every "Go Back Home!" barks from Buc fans with a hearty "Go Pack Go!" It seemed right. When Woodson picked off Griese, it seemed destined! We were going to be 3-1. From that point on, our season might have ended.

Cullen Jenkins goes down an a shoulder injury. Two days later, he is declared out for the year. AJ goes down with an injury - the extent is unknown. KGB showed that he is not back from injury. Rouse goes down. Collins reinjures his back. Woodson does the same with his toe. Did I mention that Ras-A-tari & Ras-Al are out? Snake bit.

Offensively, Rodgers goes down. A team that prides itself on going to 5 wide and spreading you out is largely playing without it's 3rd & 4th WR's. Though we are presently getting healthier, our OL has been decimated with injury. Grant has been bothered by his hamstring injury. Sometimes it's just not your year. This appears to be the case for us in '08.

Vargas & PatRad have claimed "Worst. Madden. Jinx. Ever." They may be right.

As for the Buc game, we saw a young QB on the road against a great defensive coordinator. Monte Kiffin has confused young QB's before. He'll do so again. The same will probably happen to Rodgers when we visit Tennessee and J'ville later this year. But, what concerns me is that Rodgers did not seem to see the field very well. For 2.5 quarters, I was saying THROW THE BALL DEEP DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD! Finally, they tried it ONCE, and it was a TD to Greg Jennings. Donald Driver was WIDE open all day down the middle of the field. And his body actions showed frustration. On at least 2 occasions, I saw him streaking 5 yards beyond the defense with his arm in the air. When he did not get the football, he dropped his shoulders & his head back in disbelief.

While Greg Jennings is quickly becoming an elite WR in the NFL, Rodgers stays focused on him for too long. Often, this is the case with a young QB. But, Driver is not the only guy that I'm seeing who is open. Nelson was also open on a number of plays. Rodgers looked rattled. Nervous. Confused. Uncertain. His check down is to the RB. It was not to Driver, Nelson or the TE.

When you watch the replay of his final interception. Watch the TE's. We were in a double TE set. Both TE's run sit down routes. One at 5 yards. The other at 10. He misses the read on the play. And throws into the defensive strong side of the field.

Rodgers is struggling to know down & distance. Instead of just looking for 1st downs, he's looking for home runs on third down. Twice on 3rd & 5 or less, Nelson was open for 1st downs. Rodgers never saw him as his eyes seemed to be focused too far downfield.

Naturally, Rodgers rolls to his left, which punishes his playmaking ability as it's taking away his arm strength. He's a right handed QB. He should look to roll to his right. Additionally, while often times we are lined up with 3 WR's to the left hand side, the Packers are running crossing routes. This leaves Rodgers with 1 option as he rolls left. Coach him up, McCarthy. This is a bad habit.

Speaking of McCarthy. Can we please see some creativity? 3rd & 1. Why not try a pass into the flat to the FB? What about a quick rollout that leads to a 3 yard down & out to the WR or the TE. There's no innovation. It's predictable. It's bland. It's boring. It's frustrating. My wife thinks I'm a genius because I can predict 75-80% of the plays when we are under center.

Our OL is pathetic. We don't provide enough time for Rodgers & we are not opening holes for Grant. Tauscher & Clifton have aged mightily over the offseason. And the Colledge experiment seems to be a failure. We consistently try to run behind him and we consistently fail. To a degree, the same could be said for Spitz.

Grant is missing the cut-back! He made his living with a 1-cut running style last year. This year, he's simply pounding into the line. Look for the cut-back. It's available. Coach him up, Mike!

At the beginning of the year, it seemed we were built for special teams. Two weeks in a row, we've been demoralized on special teams. Frost was signed for his angled punting and good hang time. Instead, they're down the center of the field, short, and low. A recipe for disaster. He was supposed to be good at downing the ball inside the 20. Instead, they're bouncing into the end zone.

I have not lost hope. If we win more than we lose this year, we've had a good year. If we grow as a unit, this remains possible. Most games are going to come down to the last 10 minutes. Don't get stressed. Remain positive. Watch our team either show progress or digress into a top 10 pick team.

This week - it's the Falcons. A game that, if healthy, we should win by 20. We aren't & I have no idea who is even going to play this week. Frankly, it makes a "take" impossible to write. If Flynn is our starting QB, the Packers lose. If Rodgers plays and is capable of throwing, I imagine the Packers can outgun the Falcons.

The Falcons are going to pound away at us. I imagine that Norwood & Turner will combine for 150 yards or more. They'll punish our decimated defense. But, ultimately, the awe of Lambeau will get to Matt Ryan. I'm still not convinced that he can play in this league. Our injuries force Bob Sanders to bring the blitz. We're in the young Ryan's face & turnovers fall into our lap.

Rodgers plays. Packers win.

Green Bay 27. Atlanta 23.

Talkin' S-Mac.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Take - > Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

It's a return to normalcy. A reality check. Frankly, the media tried to make the Packers out to be better than we are at this stage. The hype was fun. We wanted to belong among the top 3 teams in the NFL. We wanted to be on level ground with the Cowboys & if that were the case, we felt that the Lambeau advantage might provide the difference. Instead, we discovered that we were outgunned by the Cowboys. They were too strong. They were too fast. They seemed to have a defined game plan. We appeared confused and incapable to adjust. Really, they played the way we should have played. They ran the ball right at us. They blitzed the QB. We did neither.

We failed to finish drives as B-Jack continues to struggle to pick up the blitz & James Jones routinely drops the ball. Jordy Nelson stopped his route short and went up for the football with one hand. In the red zone, J-Mike was unable to get off the line of scrimmage when it appeared as though he may have been the first option. Rodgers was left with little time & few options. Call it youth, I guess.

No worries. Before the season, a realistic goal was to win the NFC North Division. After 3 weeks, we have the lead. Before the season, I had no idea what to expect out of this season. While 10-6 was a possibility, so was 6-10.

I have a fascinating weekend ahead of me. On Saturday, I'm headed to Busch Gardens with A*, Vargas, and Lisette. Then, we're staying at the Sheraton Riverside in Downtown Tampa. Probably heading to the Tampa Brewing Company at some point. And Sunday - we'll be in attendance. We NEED this game. The schedule thickens & the Packers need to stay ahead of the competition. Plus, I believe that Minnesota will lose at Tennessee this week. I also believe that the Bears lose against Philly this weekend. A 2-game lead after 4 weeks would be delicious.

Tampa is a coming off of a thrilling victory at Chicago in which Brian Griese played arguably the best game of his career. He threw for 407 yards & 2 TD's. While he did throw 3 interceptions, he was stellar down the stretch.

Griese - almost exclusively - uses a variety of crossing routes and slants. Occasionally, he'll make in a fly pattern, but he relies on the playmaking skills of Michael Clayton, Antonio Bryant, and Ike Hilliard. Jeremy Stevans has been a reliable target so far this year as well. Griese wisely uses BJ Askew as a safety valve. Thus far, it sounds as though Joey Galloway will not be playing this week.

Earnest Graham & Warrick Dunn have combined for over 350 yards & 2 TD's this year. It's even more impressive when you consider that they are averaging over 5.5 yards per carry.

As is the custom, Tampa's defensive front strikes fear in offensive lines. Frankly, this match-up scares me. Kevin Carter is playing like he did in 2004. Using an aged mix of speed & power, he's applying pressure. Gaines Adams is a talented end and Greg White is an underrated pass rusher. Additionally, our offensive line has struggled mightily this year. In my mind, Tauscher & Clifton have had the worst years of their careers. Tony Moll does not belong in this league & thankfully, he will be back on the bench with the return of Wells. But, this will be Scott Wells' first action of the year and I hope the line gels like a veteran unit.

The interior of Tampa's D-Line can be exposed. You can run at the heart of the defense. You can run at Chris Hovan. Jovan Haye is an above average pass rushing DT, but he, too, can be moved on run downs.

Tampa's LB's are fast & athletic. You cannot beat them running side-to-side. You've got to run right at them. Normally, the combination of Rudd, Brooks, and June are sure handed. And they're certainly some of the best pass covering LB's in the league.

Ronde Barber can still play, but he can be attacked. He cannot get up and play the ball in the air like he used to. On the opposite side, Philip Buchanon is a solid corner, but he struggles to tackle and can be beaten. At safety, I attack Sabby Piscitelli. I would try to put him in space and isolate him in coverage. He can be used & abused.

This is an important game for Aaron Rodgers. On the road. Hostile environment. Warm climate. There will be defensive pressure in his face. His patience will be tested. So will his decision making. At some point in the 2nd half this Sunday, Rodgers will be faced with a situation in which he will be dealing with a crazed environment and the Packers will need to move the football. At this very moment, we will learn a lot about where Aaron Rodgers is in his development.

It concerns me when Rodgers dances in the pocket. He's too valuable to our team to risk injury. If it's not there, either find the TE or get rid of the ball. Regardless, don't let those big Defensive Lineman clip at your ankles when you're trying to escape pressure. I've seen it too many times.

Offensively, McCarthy must stick to his game plan. Too often, we're out of shotgun. Grant ran for over 4 yards per carry. B-Jack ran for over 6 yards per carry. Yet, for some strange reason, we did not stick to the run. We were far too predictable. What happened to play action roll-out passes to the TE? Why are these plays no longer in our offense? It baffles me. I'm guessing that McCarthy learned his lesson.

The Packers come out and establish a run game. Taking it right at the teeth of the Bucs defense. Grant pounds away. Physical in nature. Consistently, he's missing the cutback. This week, after enhanced film study, he finds it and gets himself into the Bucs defensive backfield. We stick to the run and control the clock. Grant carries the ball 20 times this week. He also finds the end zone for the first time.

The Packers grab an early lead.

But, the Buccaneers fight back. Scratching and clawing with Graham & Dunn at the middle of our defense. Nitpicking yards. Griese goes to the basics and goes after T-Mon & Willie B. as they try to fill in for the Pro Bowler, Al Harris. He finds all three of his WR targets (Clayton, Bryant and Hilliard) for 1st downs. He frustrates the Packers defense as we continue to sit back and only rush 4.

Tampa grabs the lead in the 2nd half. And Rodgers goes to work.

He hoists one towards Jennings who goes up & over Barber to make the play. The Packers are moving. It's Rodgers to Lee on playaction. It's Rodgers to Driver for a TD.

Griese goes back to work looking for a response. FINALLY! The Packers come with an inside blitz. During the offseason, we heard so much about the Packers LB blitzes and defensive disguises. FINALLY! We see it. Hawk & Barnett applying pressure. YES! We actually come with 6 defenders. With a hand in his face, Griese throws one in the lap of Chuckie!

The ball goes back to Grant. And then to Lee as a safety valve. It's Greg Jennings & a two touchdown Packers lead.

Green Bay 27. Tampa Bay 16.

I'm bringing the G-Force and the lively rays to the Sunshine State. I'm bringing quick decisions to Aaron Rodgers. I'm going to find KGB. And with or without Al Harris and Ras-A-tari Bigby, I'm bringing Rastaman Vibrations, POSITIVITY!

Could You Be Loved? At 3-1, you can!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who Are You Watching Now?

Greetings, G-Force.

Stack is Back! A seismic event.

It's another Saturday morning in which I deal with a combination of Insomnia and coffee beans. Are the two intertwined? I doubt it. Normally, I don't allow myself to drink caffeine past 1:00 in the afternoon - unless, of course, Jack Daniels is included.

I'm starting to get a grip on players to keep your eye on throughout this College Football Season. A quick rundown shows me that I'm not overly impressed with any of the Senior at QB this year. Chase Daniel has shown me the most. But, is he a product of the system and the NFL talent around him? I'm curious to see him against Texas later this year. I will make an exception for Curtis Painter as I have not watched him play yet this year. But, I have seen the other top Senior QB's look absolutely average. These names include: Cullen Harper, Hunter Cantwell, Tom Brandstater, Brian Hoyer, Todd Boeckman, and John Parker Wilson. In my eyes, Drew Weatherford, Casey Dick, Mike Teel, and Sean Glennon do not have an NFL life. I'm going to keep my eyes on Rudy Carpenter from Arizona State and Stephen McGee from Texas A & M today. Oh, and Patrick White is not an NFL QB. He could be a WR, but he's definitely not a QB.

Junior QB's Matthew Stafford and Todd Reesing are guys that excite me. I'm not sure that Reesing is big enough for the NFL, but he's got a lion's heart and a competitive nature that is unteachable. I wonder how Tim Tebow's skills translate in the NFL. I'm not convinced that he will be a legitimate player at the next level. He can prove it this year. Matt Grothe is a fiery competitor. But, he appears to be too much of a "me-first" guy for my liking. His decision making is also questionable at times.

I'm highly interested in the RB position this year as it could be a need spot for the Packers in the '09 draft. Thus far, my top RB's in order would be:

1.) Knowshown Moreno, Georgia
2.) Arian Foster, Tennessee
3.) James Davis, Clemson
4.) Chris Wells, OSU
5.) Javon Ringer, Michigan St
6.) CJ Spiller, Clemson
7.) LeSean McCoy, Pitt

Top WR's - I'm going to go into great detail with regard to the WR position in the coming weeks as I think this is a position of strength. Along with QB, at this point, it's also a position in which I'm most knowledgeable about with regards to this years college cast. I'm not yet ready to rank Louis Murphy, FL and Derrick Williams, Penn State. Murphy has to show me more and I want to see Williams compete in Big 10 play. I also think that guys like Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood, Rutgers, had dramatically overrated. Mohammed Massoquai has all the potential in the world, but has underachieved. It's funny that most "experts" consider Carlton Mitchell USF's best WR when everytime I watch them Taurus Johnson is far more productive and attractive as a playmaker. At North Carolina, "experts" talk about Brooks Foster because of his size & speed, but when I have watched UNC football, I consistently see Brandon Tate & Hakeem Nicks as the primary producers. I'm also going to hold off on ranking Demetrius Byrd & Brandon LeFell, from LSU. If Kenny McKinley, South Carolina, is healthy, he is an elusive guy after the catch and your typical Steve Spurrier style WR. I'm not certain that he translates into an NFL prospect.:

1.) Jeremy Maclin, Missouri - best player in college football.
2.) Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
3.) Percy Harvin, FL - a total game changer. Put the ball in his hands and he's thinking 6 points.
4.) Brian Robiskie, OSU
5.) Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland - Great size & speed. Drops the ball too much, but tons of upside.
6.) Aaron Kelly, Clemson - His physique always piques my interest as production does not always meet expectations.
7.) Juaquin Iglesias, Oklahoma
8.) Patrick White, WVU - He has a big time shot to be a weapon at the next level.

TE's are also a position of strength in this year's draft. At this stage, I rank them:

1.) Travis Beckum, WI
2.) Brandon Pettigrew, OK St.
3.) Chase Coffman, Missouri - you know it's in his blood! He's Paul Coffman's son. You know that he'd be comfortable in Green & Gold.
4.) Bear Pascoe, Fresno St. When I watch him, I think he's a perfect fit for our offense. Reminds me of Chmura. Big blocker. Great hands. Run after the catch.
5.) Cornelius Ingram, Florida
6.) Garret Graham, WI - Doubt he'll come out, but I'm a homer and had to list him...

I'll get more involved with the defensive side of the ball, but a few quick hits of things that have caught my eye from people that you may not be currently paying attention to:

- Brandon Spikes, ILB, FL has superstar written all over him.
- Jasper Brinkley, ILB, South Carolina has the type of attitude that you want on your team. A battler who pursues with passion.
- If you have yet to see Brian Cushing, USC, OLB play - you are missing out.
- Zach Follett, OLB, Cal, is the one guy that I'd never heard of before this year who has grabbed my attention. He reminds me of a Midwestern LB who is stuck out west. He takes on blockers. He can cover the TE. He slaps wrists. He can rush the passer. He's versatile. He does not always make the play but he always seems to be in position. He's thinking turnover when he makes the tackle.
- While Follett impressed, Anthony Felder, OLB, Cal, was getting pushed around and making tackles 5-10 yards downfield. He makes a lot of tackles, but they just aren't in the backfield.
- Marcus Freeman, OLB, OSU, could not keep up with the speed of USC.
- Matt Shaughnessy, WI, DE, has an NFL lifeline. Active hands. Good pass rusher. Solid against the run. He might be the best WI defender since Troy Vincent.
- Mortty Ivy, WVU, OLB, is a talent and is worthy of a draft choice, I just hope it is not for the Packers.
- Malcolm Jenkins, OSU, CB, can play on my team any day of the week.
- Kevin Barnes, Maryland, CB, is a solid zone CB. Great hands. Poor tackler. Avoids contact. But, he's a risk taker that will draw heavy interest and will make plays.
- Morgan Trent, Michigan, CB, is an absolute disappointment. Yes, he had a pick last week, but he struggles in man coverage.
- David Bruton, ND, S, is a football player. Throw him on the field and let him live on instincts.
- Derek Pegues, Mississippi St, S, is another Willie B. Soft on defense. Electric as a return man. Plays the crowd.
- Fili Moala, USC, DT, is quick as a cat. Reminds me of Shaun Cody, which scares me.
- Mississippi St. DT's Cortez McCraney & Jessie Bowman are not discussed by the "experts" but I'll bet we hear their names on draft day. McCraney gets a push from the inside on pass downs and Bowman is a load on run downs. Meanwhile, Mississippi St. S/CB, Keith Fitzhugh did not show me the playmaking skills required to compete. But, he likes contact.
- Colorado has 4 defenders that warrant NFL attention. In order, I'd rank them DT George Hypolite, DT Brandon Nicolas, DE Maurice Lucas, and LB Brad Jones.

For today, keep your eye on Tennessee's D-Line. Deep with prospects. Let's see who stands out.


Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Take -> Week 3

Greetings, G-Force.

2-0 & feeling fine. Walking with a cautious optimism.

Once again, it's Lambeau Field under the lights! Sunday Night Football. The Cowboys are coming to town. Does it get any better?

It's the "*" on the helmet against the "G". Great tradition. Stories franchises. Intense conference rivals. It's the small town, family owned franchise against the wealthy pig, Jerry Jones. Both 2-0 and in the mix for NFC supremacy. Both led by young QB's who play with a similar laid back, elusive style.

The 1st half of the Cowboys-Eagles game on MNF and last years NFC Divisional playoff game between the Giants-Cowboys are blueprints of how to beat Dallas. The Cowboys quick strike capability is unmatched. As a general rule, if the Cowboys score 30 points, they are going to win. They will outgun you.

While playing the Cowboys, offensively, you have to take what they offer you underneath. Find the quick hits and don't let the pressure get to you. If you hold onto the football, Greg Ellis & DeMarcus Ware will get to you and you will not escape. Additionally, I don't view the Cowboys as one of the better tackling secondaries in the league - especially without Roy Williams. Also, we must utilize the TE.

On defense, you have to pressure Romo. You have to force him to be patient. He will panic. He will make mistakes. You've got to get in his face even if it means bringing extra defenders. If you sit back and try to defend the Cowboys, they'll beat you. Their offensive line is too big. Witten and TO are too good. Crayton is able. And Marion Barber III is a talent out of the backfield. Bottom line - if you sit back and try to rush with 4, the Cowboys are too skilled and they will beat you. You cannot fear Dallas. You must come after them.

The Lions game portrayed many positive aspects of our football team.

- Props to Ted Thompson & Mike McCarthy. Aaron Rodgers is ready to lead this football team. He was sublime in a tough divisional game on the road. In fact, his playing style reminded me of Tony Romo. Escaping pressure. Tight roping the sideline. Throwing the deep ball. Escaping pressure and throwing on the run. Youthful. Carefree.

- We are loaded at WR. Jennings is fast becoming one of the elite WR's in the NFL. Driver is Mr. Reliable. Jordy getting deep!

- Cullen Jenkins is off to his best start. So is AJ Hawk.

- Nintendo Nick! Making plays. Providing visions of what we've all believed he could become. Play with confidence Mr. Collins!

- Chuckie! The only defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy meant business. No smile. Just shaking hands after his 2nd interception was returned for a TD. Focused on the task at hand. Charles Woodson offered the Week 2 result "change we can believe in." And he did so with a serious nature.

- AK-74 & KGB are attacking the QB with the intention of inflicting pain.

- Michael Montgomery has impressed on special teams coverage.

While the majority of the Lions game was an impressive performance, it did present some obstacles that we must overcome:

- Al Harris is vulnerable on deep balls. Twice he was beaten deep. Both times - the Lions failed to connect. It is guaranteed that the Cowboys attack Harris with TO. TO abused the Packers last year. They'll try and expose Harris' speed again this year.

- Aaron Rouse is not ready to be an every down player in the NFL. Post Ras-A-tari's injury, Rouse was a liability playing safety. He's not fast enough in space. He also seems to lack athleticism and the understanding of football angles. If Ras-A-tari is unable to play this weekend, it would be a potentially devastating injury.

- The interior of our offensive line continues to struggle with run blocking. B-Jack is trying to make a fool out of me. Still - he's had two decent NFL performances and both have come against the Lions. Lumpkin is far more impressive. If Grant has limitations, it must be Lumpkin carrying the ball in a game in which ball control is imperative.

- While Rodgers has been spectacular thus far, he's got to look for Donald Lee more often. The TE is the ultimately escape for a pressured QB. Lee has been open and is often overlooked. In his defense, Rodgers has essentially utilized Driver's as possession receiver as a replacement for the TE outlet.

- James Jones continues to have problems catching the ball. He dropped passes in the preseason and I thought he dropped three passes that he should have caught last week.

- The inactives for the Lions game included Brian Brohm (2nd round pick), Patrick Lee (2nd round pick), J-Mike (3rd round pick), Sittion (4th round pick), and Jeremy Thompson (4th round pick). Meanwhile, on Monday Night, we saw the Cowboys flash their rookies. Felix Jones returned a kickoff for a TD and looked dangerous almost every time that he touched the ball. Mike Jenkins broke up a deep ball. Marcellus Bennett was catching a screen a nearly taking it to the house. This begs me to once again ask the question - did we draft for next year? And if we did not draft for next year, when does Jeremy Thompson get his swing as a pass rushing DT on 3rd down. Both Hunter & Montgomery have failed to produce thus far operating out of the same position.

The Packers open the game in the I-formation. Grant behind Kuhn. Two TE. It's Grant on a cutback for 4 yards. Zach Thomas on the tackle. A similar set produces 3 more yards. It's Rodgers to Jones for a first down.

The Packers continue to move the football as they are seemingly beating up the Cowboys defense and winning the line of scrimmage. Lee scores his 1st TD of the season.

Will the Milwaukee crowd BRING IT to Lambeau Field? I imagine so. You've gotta be fired up for this one. Off yur Ass! On yur Feet, Milwaukee crowd! No telling the G-Force to sit down. This is Lambeau!!!

As soon as the Cowboys cross midfield, they are thinking TD. Normally, it's with TO. And they'll certainly test Harris with TO. Early and often.

But, they'll also try the deep ball down the seam with Witten, which forces me to ask the question - is this why we signed Chillar? Sure, AJ is off to his best start as he's been a beast against the run and he was credited with 2 sacks including his Superman-style sack of Kitna last week. But, last year he struggled while covering the TE. Witten murdered us last year. Poppinga continues to look lost in coverage. Do we see Chillar in an expanded role this week? I have to believe that this is a reason that he was brought in. Pass coverage. We'll see.

The Cowboys respond by moving the ball. Crayton on a curl. Witten over the middle.

But, the drive stalls as the Packers do not allow Barber to run North and South. Pickett & Jolly get a push and Hawk doesn't allow him to turn his shoulders. Barber becomes an East-West runner. On third and long, the Packers come with a blitz and force an incompletion.

Throughout the game, the Packers defense gets off the field with a myriad of blitzes. Romo feels pressure and tries to make things happen. It's Chuckie blindsiding him with a blitz!

In time, a busted coverage leads to a long TO touchdown.

The Packers continue to fight. Grant, B-Jack & Lumpkin taking turns pounding it at the heart of the Cowboys interior. Jennings - that greedy run after the catch bastard - produces big yardage on a crossing pattern. The Packers roll Rodgers away from Ware and find Lee for a 14 yard pick-up. It's play action to Driver for a TD.

Let's face it - the Cowboys will score. They could possibly score as much as six times. If we hold to FG's, we win. If they score TD's, we won't.

It's a thriller.

Green Bay 27. Dallas 26.

The Faithful elevates in ecstasy. We're 3-0 and I'm headed to Tampa with *, Vargas, and Lisette. It'll take belief. It'll take conviction. It'll take the protection and preservation of the Lambeau mystique.


Talkin' S-Mac.

***On Monday Night Football. It's Brett. Once again. How beautiful! Unfortunately, Brett's on a leash. And so are the Jets. Therefore, NY is struck with a lightning bolt from San Diego. The Jets fall to 1-2. Does Brett start to regret coming back or does he remember 2003 & 2004? Soon - we'll find out. Enjoy.