Sunday, August 31, 2008

Roster Reflection/Who Are You Watching Now?

Greetings, G-Force.

This weekend marked the commencement of a couple of great truths:

1.) The finalization of the 53-man roster for the '08 Green Bay Packers.
2.) The beginning of "Who Are You Watching Now?" as the college football season kicked off. As a reminder, the "Who Are You Watching Now?" portion of the blog will be dedicated to Juniors/Seniors that you have watched this year that could be available in next year's draft. I was not overly impressed with the level of play this past weekend. With that being said, a small handful of players did catch my eye. I was in a pub all day, so my vision may have been blurred. Couple that with about 5-6 games going on and I'm certain I missed some playmakers. No real surprises & some are carry overs from last year's list...Briefly stated in random order:

QB: Tim Tebow, FL
Chase Daniel, MO
Patrick White, WVU (can he play WR at the next level?)
Matt Stafford, GA
Todd Reesing, Kansas
John Parker Wilson, AL
Cullen Harper, Clemson
Matt Grothe, South Florida
Todd Boeckman, OSU

RB: Charles Scott, LSU
P.J. Hill, WI
Brandon James, FL (a special kick returner)
CJ Spiller, Clemson
James Davis, Clemson

WR: Demetrius Byrd, LSU
Brandyn Harvey, Villanova - Big, fast WR. If you get a chance, take note.
Will Judson, IL (undersized, but showed he could get deep. Might be nothing to look for, but he caught my eye in Week 1).
Brian Robiskie, OSU
Aaron Kelly, Clemson
Mohammed Massaquoi, Georgia

TE: Chase Coffman, MO
Travis Beckum, WI (I know that he did not play, but it just felt good to write his name down.)
Anthony McCoy, USC

DE: Tyson Jackson, LSU (He'd look pretty in Green & Gold)
George Selvie, South Florida (A speed rusher who I have been following closely since he dominated WVU last year in front of my naked eye)

LB: James Laurinaitis, OSU
Darry Beckwith, LSU
Jonathan Casillas, WI
Mortty Ivy, WVU
Ray Maualuga, USC

DB: Michael Jenkins, OSU (He could end up as my favorite player in this draft - at this stage, it's a close battle with Beckum)
Mike Mickens, Cincy (For those of you who have followed the blog, you'll know that my Big East lovin' wife has turned me onto this guy last year. Do what you can to get up close & personal to the TV screen to check him out)
Victor "Macho" Harris, VA Tech (like Beckum, he was hurt, but it felt good to put his name on the screen)

It was interesting to see how the Packers formulated the '08 roster. 7 LB's. 2 FB. Only 9 DL. Keeping Peprah who did not play a game. Keeping Giacomini. Cutting both Herron & Morency. No long snapper. Clearly, Thompson is not done wheeling & dealing. Tracy White has to be a guy that they are shopping. Before the year, Pittsburgh offered him a nice contract. Rumor has it that they have excess OL & are looking to shop. Could this be a nice match?

Thompson has shown that he will keep his best 53 players. He did so last year when he was heavy on the DL. This year - his best assets were his LB's. We did the right thing by initially keeping 7 LB's. Bishop & Hodge were terrific in the preseason and forced the Packers hand.

After watching the replay of the Titans game last night, I am shocked that the Packers did not keep Joey Haynos on the active roster. He looks mobile. He looks physical. Never did the 1st guy bring him down. He showed great hands. He may also run the best down-and-out on the team at the TE position. I would have kept him over the oft-injured Tory Humphrey. Haynos can play in the NFL. In some ways, he reminded me of a young Chmura.

I'm really confused as to how we grossly estimated our capabilities at each position. Our only offseason addition came at LB, which happens to be our greatest position of strength. Our OL seems to be in a worse spot than we were last year. Same with our DL. We're far inferior to last year's team at QB. Our offseason judgment has me scratching my head.

But, I will commend Thompson for Lumpkin. We were the only team to offer him a contract & I'll be shocked if he does not impact on our team this year in some way, shape, or form. He brings an added dimension to our roster. A physical runner with soft hands, shifty hips, good vision, and football toughness. He seems to lack concentration at times, but this can be trained. He could end up as our 3rd down back.

Our roster is currently constructed to be strong on special teams. J-Bush, Kuhn, Hall, Poppinga, White, Bishop are all valuable special teams players. I imagine that Hodge will eventually fit into this mix as well.

Flynn has shown me enough that I am OK with him being our back-up QB this year. Hell, in '05, we had Rodgers as our back-up and he did not look any better than what Flynn offers today. Same with '06.

I'm curious to see what tricks Thompson has up his sleeve for the next 24 hours. We need a long snapper. Additional veteran help at OL would be valuable. We also need a pass rusher. Can Thompson find magic?


Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Take -> Preseason Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

This take is a celebration. I am excited about the Donkeys victory. Brennan, thanks for bringing the G-Force! We needed this game. We got it! I FINALLY got the replay last night thanks to my good mate, Vargas.

I was impressed with the teams performance. For the most part, I thought the team played with confidence and a spirited style of football. Sure, we still saw Barnett & Chillar miss drive stopping tackles. On occasion, Colledge & Spitz were run over or around. The same happened to Tauscher. Yes, we must protect Rodgers to the max. Yes, we must improve our pass rush. And no, T-Mon should not get beat. And why is he single covering Brandon Marshall without deep help with under 2 minutes in the 1st half? Yes, James Jones should have caught the 3rd down pass. And B-Jack still lacks the vision and speed required to be a consistently productive player in the NFL. But, with that being said, the 3rd preseason game was the most complete
production of the '08 exhibition season.

Plainly stated, Rodgers was in sync. We saw chemistry between Rodgers, Lee, Driver, Jones and Jennings. Timing was precise. They were on cue. It was a thing of beauty.

At RB, B-Jack slipped a couple of tackles and picked up a nice 1st down. Herron was able to slide his way outside for nice yardage. Morency looked healthy and mobile as he searched for daylight. And Lumpkin remained possessed. His shifty 1-yard TD run brought me off of Vargas' couch in excitement. Karl Paymah will not be mistaken for Champ Bailey, but, nonetheless, he lost his jock on that sublime hip shake. I'm all about Lumpkin. He needs to be a Packer. It'd be a shame if he was not kept on the 53-man roster.

The O-Line has immense room for improvement.

We saw our first real glimpse of J-Mike as he ran through Dre Bly! And then fought to stretch towards the 1st down marker. Football awareness. Lee looked sharp running routes and on his only reception. Tory Humphrey showed the ability to run after the catch. Though, I would really like to see J-Mike run that route as Rodgers is rolling out.

On defense, we are jonesin' for a pass rush opposite AK-74. Without KGB, this pass rush is undersized, slow, and unable to get to the QB. Though Hunter made a couple of really nice plays, he does not have the ability to be a 3rd down player. The Montgomery experience has not showed promise as of yet. I'd still like to see us try Jeremy Thompson as an inside rusher eventhough Thompson has been a disappointment thus far.

We need Ryan Pickett.

While Barnett & Chillar were missing big tackles, Bishop is making plays, Hodge is pursuing and Lansanah is lowering the boom! This was also Poppinga's best game of the preseason.

It's great to see #31 & #21 on the outside of our defense. I believe in T-Mon. Willie B. was in solid position on a number of passes. While some of them resulted in receptions, Willie B. was where he needed to be. Rouse continues to impress. This was the best I've seen him against the run where I usually see shortcomings in Rouse's game. Twice J-Bush alertly made plays to save P-Lee from a catastrophic play. 1st on the punt coverage play in which P-Lee appeared to forget that he had to down the ball and the other time when P-Lee was beat deep and J-Bush laid the massive hit to break up a deep pass. In fact, Shanahan really went after P-Lee. He should have had an INT for a 96 yard TD and he should have also been beat for a TD. Then, the next drive he looked miserable on the TD play. Consistently, I thought that P-Lee was beaten. He must get additional experience in the 4th preseason game.

Willie B. dancing on special teams is a special thing.

Normally, the 4th preseason game is a battle of the 2nd and 3rd stringers. This is not a good sign for the '08 Packers.

I would play Ryan Grant and the 1st team offense for one series. I would hand the ball to Grant on the first two plays of the series. Let him get hit. Let him find rhythm.

Rodgers does not need to play more than the 1st series. I saw enough out of him last week to say that he is ready for the regular season. We need our #1 playmakers healthy. Rodgers, Driver, Jennings, Lee, Clifton, Tauscher, Grant, and Ruvell Martin should only see one series. Plus, the playing time will be beneficial for the likes of J-Mike, Jordy, Brohm & Flynn.

In fact, I'd play Lumpkin with our 2nd team. I want to see what he brings to the table against heightened competition. Jeff Fisher has stated that he may play his starters throughout the 1st half. Additionally, by now, we should know how we want to keep out of B-Jack, Morency, and Herron. I want to watch Lumpkin on a screen. I want to see him carry the ball 20 times. I want to learn whether Lumpkin can be a part of our RB rotation.

Does Joey Haynos' blocking skills mean enough to the Packers to keep him on the roster?

On defense, I'd only play AK-74, Jolly, Cole, Jenkins, Barnett, Chillar, Poppinga, Collins, Ras-A-tari, T-Mon, and Willie B. for one series. Chuckie and Al would not step on the field.

Willie B. and Ruvell Martin have been fragile. There's no need to expose them.

I want to battle test Muir, Montgomery, Hunter, Malone, Thompson, Lansanah, White, Hodge, Bishop, P-Lee, J-Bush, Joe Porter, and Culver. We must determine our top 53 tomorrow night and the best way to come to a solution is to see it on the playing field in front of the Lambeau Faithful.

After all, this is not a game that we are going to win & frankly, winning and losing does not matter. It's about staying healthy in the 4th week of the exhibition season.

While Lumpkin will be talented enough to move the football, I'm not sure if Brohm will be able to muster 1st downs via the pass. Again, Brohm struggles. And therefore, so does the 2nd team offense.

Again, Flynn comes in and moves the ball.

The LB's continue their spirited play. Again, we see Lansanah, Hodge, and Bishop on the field on the same time. This brings great excitement, enthusiasm and intensity to the Packers defense. But, our depth on the DL is not enough. With time, Kerry Collins successfully goes after our secondary.

No, I'm not hating.

Titans 30.
Packers 13.

The reality is that Ted Thompson is going to have to make changes between now and the next time I write. I will not be able to watch the last preseason game until 10pm Saturday night when the NFL Network televises the replay. But, this much is for certain, Ted Thompson and his scouting department are scouring teams depth charts for another DL and a back-up QB. I am hesitant to trade a pick at this point, but I'm sure the Packers are getting desperate for help. Regardless, this offseason the Packers hierarchy commited to a young QB scenario and I don't feel that the Packers should trade a pick for a veteran. While Tampa remains a logical trading partner, I'd wait for them to release a QB and then make the best offer. We've got the money.

I'd do the same with a young pass rushing DE. I'd consider doing the same with a young OL as well.

I'm also sure that our practice squad will contain players from other NFL rosters. Right now, on the Packers roster, I see Haynos, Carvalho, Giacomini, Lansanah, Taj Smith, Brett Swain, and Joe Porter as potential candidates.

1 more week until it all gets real.

Stay fit,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Take - >Preseason Week 3

Greetings, G-Force.

I figured that I would write the take for this weeks match-up in Denver as I'm currently taking refuge from Tropical Storm Fay. A bolt of lightning just struck the palm tree outside my house. Pretty crazy. Instant flames and three branches blew wildly in the 50 mph winds.

I'm off to NYC this weekend for a good mate's wedding. Brett Favre and the New York Jets happen to be playing host to the New York Giants. I'll be there with my soon-to-be brother-in-law & dear friend, Joe. Joe is a Giants fan. Therefore, he is gay. He has the '07 ring. I do not. I could not pass up the opportunity to watch the world's greatest entertainer in the world's greatest city against the Super Bowl champs. Do you think Favre will say hi to Corey Webster? 1st play - you know Brett wants the pump and go against Webster.

This take may come off as negative, but G-Force, don't jump off the bridge. Yes, it may appear that the Packers '08 draft was in preparation for '09 rather than playing for '08. And while the final score was intolerable, the performance was not as bad as the final result. In fact, I have light optimism post this completely horrible contest. While it's only the 2nd time we've seen this team play this year, we're getting closer to being able to establish expectations for the '08 season. We're yet to be able to draw conclusions, but slowly, strengths & weaknesses are being identified. Two things are for certain:

1.) Our starters are more than capable. We will compete in most, if not all, games. Our 1st team defense has looked spectacular and we've yet to see Pickett/KGB. Additionally, Hawk, Chuckie, Al, & Jolly have all missed time. If healthy, this should be a top-10 defense.

2.) Our depth at DL/QB/TE are potentially a severe problem.

For the second week in a row, a lack of concentration seemed to swing a game. Last week, it was Lumpkin's fumble which halted a potential game tying drive. This week - Driver & Lee dropped potential TD passes that were perfectly thrown. This team must find their focus.

For the most part, A-Rod played well. At times, he hung onto the football a little too long. Occasionally, he's slow in his decision making process. But, overall, he's displayed intelligence on the field & he's delivered the ball with accuracy. And if Lee & Driver hang onto the football, the skeptics would be sing a much different tune.

But, I warn that Rodgers will struggle at times this year. We've got to understand this & in many ways, we've got to accept it. We're going to go thru the trials & tribulations of a young QB. Road games such as Tampa, Seattle, J'ville & Tennessee will present significant defensive challenges. Couple that with the always difficult Chicago & Minnesota defenses and A-Rod will definitely witness a variety of defensive fronts/blitzes that he's never seen before. Vocally, to many, I've wondered if this could be a 6-10 or 7-9 season. Our schedule is difficult and we have a lot of growing up to do.

I was disappointed when we drafted Brohm. I did not want him. He is an extreme work in progress. He seems to lack down & distance knowledge. When in doubt, he forgets to rely on the TE. Flynn deserves to be the #2 QB in the 3rd preseason game. Brohm has showed a lack of confidence & leadership capabilities.

Our OL has a ton of work to do. Jason Spitz was awful. So was Colledge. Absolutely pathetic.

I did think that Barbre opened some nice holes for Lumpkin in the 4th Quarter and I thought that Clifton was rock solid.

If the Packers keep 5 RB's, does B-Jack make the team? Ron Wolf used to always say that a sign of a good GM was that, at times, you had to admit your mistakes. If a guy could not play on GameDay, Wolf believed that you could not stay married to your draft picks. You had to move on. Is it that time with B-Jack? It might be. If I had to make a roster today and I could only keep 5 backs, they would be: Grant, Morency, Herron, Lumpkin, Hall.

We need Grant healthy. It's obvious. Morency showed solid 3rd down back skills on the screen. Herron showed that he could be slippery at times. Lumpkin is punishing and has shown flashes of good play. Hall is not only the FB, but he's also a solid special teams player. B-Jack looks like a liability. I keep pulling for him, but he keeps letting me down.

Donald Lee will catch that TD pass 49 out of 50 times.

J-Mike is not progressing at the clip I had hoped for. He seems to lack route running skills & separation.

Jordy returning kicks was a thing of beauty. He sees the field and knows how to run with the football. He's not a burner, but he's a smart runner. He could be coupled with T-Mon on kickoffs.

For the most part, I liked the play of our DL. AK-74, Jenkins, Jolly, and Cole were all solid. I liked Muir's effort. Montgomery, Hunter, and Thompson all showed passion, but they might lack the ability to make an impact in '08.

I have no concerns about Barnett. Hodge was active. Lansanah did not repeat his Week 1 performance. I was really impressed with Chillar's desire and attention. Chillar was all around the football.

At DB, man, was it beautiful to see #31 & #21 manning the corner spots. Chuckie looked like a Pro Bowler. So smooth. And boy, does he look determined. But, he, too, lost focus when he was returning the interception.

T-Mon is a solid #3 CB. Willie B. remains timid when coming on the blitz. It's not his role.

I've said it before, I'll say it again - I have seen enough of J-Bush. As a CB, he's garbage. I held out hope that he could have a strong August and then we might be able to trade him. That's no longer possible. To Bush's credit, he's a strong gunner on special teams, but I saw enough of P-Lee as a gunner at SF that I'm confident he can be in the same mold as Bush as a gunner. Additionally, in his limited reps, to my eye, Lee has outperformed Bush at CB as well. His hit in the flat was one of the highlights of the game.

The 3rd preseason game is a dress rehearsal for the regular season. The Packers need a win. It'd be great for morale. It's important for the mentality of the franchise & this locker room. To a degree, the team seems to lack confidence. A win changes this mindset.

Last year, Ryan Grant's coming out party came at Denver. Let's hope for the same this year.

Greg Jennings was a human highlight film at Denver. He turned Dre Bly into Drive By. This needs to occur again.

Matt Flynn could be a Craig Nall style back-up, this year. We've got to give him a chance to win this spot. He should play with the #2 offense.

Kregg Lumpkin should also play against the #2 defense to see how he performs against enhanced competition. He's earned this opportunity.

In Denver, A-Rod plays into the 3rd Quarter. The Packers hang onto the football. The first team leaves with the lead. Once again, James Jones turns Champ into Chump Bailey.

The second unit's DL continues to struggle. With KGB/Pickett either seeing limited reps or not playing at all, the likes of Conrad Bolston & Alfred Malone continue to see increased snaps. Jason Hunter, who is a fine special teams player, also sees heavy reps. The unit wears. The unit tears against the tough Donkey run game.

Look for enhanced P-Lee playing time as J-Bush finds the bench.

Flynn takes advantage of his playing time and leads us to points. He finds Chris Francies for 1st downs.

Lumpkin pounds away for a Packer TD.

It's not overly pretty. But, it's a well fought win. If it does not come this week, we'll probably end the preseason 0-4.

Green Bay 23. Donkeys 20.

Gotta win this one,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Take -> Preseason Week 2

Greetings, G-Force!

Week 2 of the preseason is a game that you want to win. Normally, the starters play well into the 2nd Quarter and then the second team plays into the 4th Quarter. It's usually a pretty good indication of the depth of the team & for the first time in the season, you may occasionally see a wrinkle or two.

The 49ers present an ideal challenge for the Packers. The team gets to visit one of America's best cities, which will provide a good getaway from the small town. Mike Martz's offensive thinking will offer a unique rival for the Packers defense. Frank Gore will test the Packers the Packers run defense and the speed of our LB's. Nate Clements & Walt Harris will attempt to jam our WR's and Patrick Willis will provide a good indication of where our run game is at today. And, all in all, the Packers should be at least two touchdowns better than the 49ers. The Packers need a win.

A-Rod in his going home party comes out gunning. A-Rod growing more and more comfortable in the pocket continues to establish his relationship with Donald Driver. You know that A-Rod wants to impress the Smilin' Vet.

You cannot downplay the relationship that A-Rod & James Jones established in the preseason last year. Last year's repetitions were priceless. A-Rod to Jones on crossing routes underneath the coverage.

A-Rod eluding the rush and escaping for a 1st down. This becomes a new addition to the '08 Green Bay Packers roster.

I'd continue to rest Greg Jennings. He's been injury prone and we need him at 100%. Plus, Jordy Nelson needs more opportunities against 1st team defenders. It's also important for A-Rod to further his relationship with Ruvell.

Whether it's via ground or by air, look for Morency to get an opportunity with the 1st team offense.

With Grant resting, B-Jack wiggles through the SF defense for a Packers TD.

Expect big things out of the 1st team Packers defense. Keying on the run and applying a big time pressurized mentality to the 49ers offensive line, Gore is limited & J.T. O'Sullivan is forced into a mistake.

It'll be good to see Johnny Jolly on the field.

Ras-Al rests. Chuckie plays limited snaps just to get a feel of stepping onto the field again. The back-up DB's get a chance to shine. T-Mon, Willie B., J-Bush, Patrick Lee, & Joe Porter - who will get their hands on the ball? Someone will. I'll be curious to watch how McCarthy & Bob Sanders determine playing time among this crowded group.

DeShaun Foster & Michael Robinson provide stiff competition for our 2nd & 3rd team DL/LB. I'm stoked to see the Chillar, Hodge, Lansanah combo prove that last week was no fluke. Additionally, the effort of Hunter, Montgomery, Thompson, & Muir is enhanced - results follow.

McCarthy tries to settle Brohm down & in order to ease in his evening, he calls a screen. It's Brohm to Herron. Herron makes one miss and picks up a much needed Packer 1st down.

In the 2nd half, Brohm finds more confidence. He does not want a veteran to arrive in camp. He finds Jordy down the seam for a big gain. Chris Francies also gets involved. This time he hangs onto the football and shows those glimpses that we want to hang onto.

Tory Humphrey's injury gives J-Mike added reps. Brohm finds comfort in his TE outlet. J-Mike adds a couple of catches.

Matt Flynn continues his push towards Brohm. Playing with less talent, he partners with Lumpkin for some nice gains. The two of them - playing with heart - lead the offense on two 2nd half scoring drives. Flynn finds Smith for a couple of nice pass plays as well.

The Packers leave San Francisco as victors. This time, the victory is not only emotional, but it's also on the scoreboard. We're far superior.

Green Bay 30. San Francisco 13.

Play with dominance,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Monday Night Recap

Greetings, G-Force!

The A-Rod era began & the Packers keep on Truckin'. What a joy as the Faithful were impressive. It was great to watch. Rising in unison. Together as one. Football season is once again in full bloom. While the scoreboard may not have indicated a win for the Packers, I guarantee that the locker room was in victory spirits.

I liked the way McCarthy called the game. It was safe and he put players in position to succeed. He tried to make both A-Rod & Brohm comfortable. McCarthy mixed up the formations well and gave a number of different looks. I wished that he would have tried to install toughness on this team by running the ball on 3rd & 2 rather than throwing a deep pass down the sideline, but other than that I really enjoyed the way he attacked the Bengals defense.

Can you say enough about A-Rod? Looked poised. Confident. Comfortable. If he does not overthrow Jones by a foot, his day is extraordinary. By the way, how slow is James Jones? Man, he's not known to be fleet of foot, but come on, James...where's your legs?

Brian Brohm is nowhere near being ready to play in the NFL. Things need to click real soon. In fact, Matt Flynn outperformed Brohm. Flynn looked like he'd be a Craig Nall style back-up. Naturally, Flynn comes across as a leader. A winner. I felt like he was going to bring us into FG position. He has that look. He needs to get stronger and he has a ton of room for improvement, but the initial prognosis was positive. At this stage, I would not bring in a veteran, but it clearly remains a possibility.

We need a healthy Ryan Grant. Noah Herron was more impressive than B-Jack. Jackson runs like Edgar Bennett. Problem is - he does not block like Bennett. He does not think like Bennett. And he does not catch the ball like Edgar. Herron looks more fluid and intelligent than Jackson. At this stage, I don't trust B-Jack.

Wynn does not have a spot on the roster.

Lumpkin was playing with conviction until his fumble. It appeared as though it was a lack of concentration on Lumpkin's part. A total shame as he was running with confidence.

Korey Hall seems to still be adjusting to the offensive side of the ball. Hall lacks field awareness. He's an aggressive guy. Well intentioned. But, he remains a work in progress.

Good to see J-Mike catch a couple of balls. J-Mike seems to lack some football instincts. Looks like he is still learning the game. When they ran him in motion and kept him in the backfield to help block, he never turned to look for the ball when Brohm was flushed out of the pocket. I thought that he could have allowed Brohm to escape trouble a couple of times by turning around and showing his face as a target.

It was good to see A-Rod & Donald Lee connect.

I wonder why McCarthy exploded on Humphrey on Brohm's interception?

Jones' TD was epic! An absolute display of heart & desire. Driver will remain our 3rd down weapon and our go-to guy. Such a leader. At times, A-Rod was fixated on him. I've been extremely hard on Ruvell Martin, but he was terrific and ensured himself of a roster spot. Jordy showed flashes of brilliance. He can play at this level. Chris Francies was an absolute disappointment. I had hoped Francies would play himself into trade bait. Instead, Francies has played himself off the team. Swain is not able to get in & out of his breaks. He's not able to get separation. He's practice squad at best. While Taj Smith made a couple of nice catches, it was evident that he was lacking stamina. If my NFL career was on the line, I'd find a way to catch a 2nd wind. After one preseason game, I'd be shocked if the Packers kept more than 5 WR's. Driver, Jennings, Jones, Nelson, and Martin are our WR's and they're among the best WR groups in the league.

The 1st team OL was solid, but not dominant. We struggled against the blitz and did not overpower the Bengals DL. Admittedly, I expected more out of Barbre, but my expectations were high. He did not dominate and at times, on run plays, I thought he was being pushed backwards.

If I were Mike McCarthy, Ryan Considine would not have made it to practice today. I would have made an example out of him. He had the ball in his hands on the Lumpkin fumble and he let a Bengals LB rip it right out of his arms. If I were McCarthy, I'd install this physical football mindset by cutting Considine and addressing the team that we will not accept sub-par performance.

Giacomini does not look athletic. He looks clumsy. At this stage in his career, he's a liability.

Moll will be cut. It's sad that he did not develop.

On defense, it was interesting to see the Packers play the NE/Pittsburgh style of football on a down or two. I was surprised when they had only 2 down lineman and 4 LB's on a 3rd Down. Again, this is another sign that McCarthy gets it. He's always trying to creatively improve his team. And sometimes, it's best to steal others ideas.

We need to add another DL. Granted, we were playing without KGB, Pickett, and Jolly, but our 2nd unit was awful. AK-74, Cole, and Jenkins were solid. Montgomery made a couple of nice plays including one when he was playing DT on 3rd down in which he stopped the draw that was run in his gap.

Is Justin Harrell ever going to be healthy? Unreal.

Jeremy Thompson is a work-a-holic. I enjoy his heart and commitment to each play, but he's not getting off the ball quick enough. He gets his arms in the air and uses his hands well, but he must work on his first step.

Hunter cares a lot, but he's undersized and unable to hold the point of attack. He gets tossed around, but it's not due to a lack of heart. He'll have to make the team as a special teams performer. And our depth at LB may make this a difficult thing to offer Hunter.

Daniel Muir was another absolute disappointment. From 1st glance, it did not look that he developed over the offseason. He was pushed around. I thought he had a great preseason last year and had expectations for Muir. He was consistently pushed backwards yesterday.

Conrad Bolston & Alfred Malone do not have a life in the NFL.

Our LB's were dominant! Flying around the field with excitement and anticipation. Barnett & Hawk were flawless until their miscommunication on the TD pass to Ben Utecht. Both made plays against the pass and were attacking ball carriers with a vengeance.

I did not think that Poppinga pursued the run with his normal velocity and I expect that to change over the coming weeks. He, too, seems to be thinking rather than acting and/or reacting.

Chillar did not do much to stand out. He looks active on the field and my initial view is that he has better reflexes and football knowledge than Poppinga.

Tracy White made a nice special teams play.

Abdul Hodge! Please tell me that you are healthy and that what we saw yesterday is the real you! He was the MVP yesterday. He was hungry to find the football and he hit with aggression. We've seen this out of Hodge before, but now we need to see this consistently.

Every year - early in camp - one guy catches my eye. He steals my attention and I cannot get enough of him. This year, it is Danny Lansanah. He's athletic. Plays with desire. A fighter. He knows the game of football. A sure tackler. He impressed on the run & the pass. He pursued on special teams. He's intuitive as a football player and understood football positioning. Danny Lansanah showed good football recognition.

Desmond Bishop better get healthy.

Maybe Hodge or Bishop will be trade bait for a DL (ie. Matt Roth).

T-Mon steps up to the challenge! Chad Johnson talking junk at the line of scrimmage. T-Mon standing him up and jamming him. Loved it.

Willie B. dancing is an exciting thing to my eye. But, man, is he timid when coming off the blitz. This role is not suited for Willie B. He anticipates the contact before it comes rather than trying to run through/around any potential blocker. When he delayed himself in mid-blitz, he took himself out of the play and this occurred on more than one occasion.

J-Bush was intense and showed will. He missed the tackle on Chris Perry's TD, but he did an admirable job in pass coverage. Could he be trade bait to a team in desperate need of DB help?

Patrick Lee & Joe Porter were barely tested.

Jon Ryan better wake up.

Most importantly, today, the ESPN camera crews left Green Bay. For the 1st time this year, the Packers were not THE topic of ESPN & the national media. No more drama. Just Football. Again, Green Bay is the home of a small community owned NFL Franchise. It's 100,000 deep in population. Not 100,000 deep in camera lenses. It's a return to normalcy. I hope that this aids in the development of guys like Brohm & Flynn as well. Today, the Packers returned to their family roots. Yesterday, the Packers were reminded that when it's GameDay, nothing will divide the G-Force.

Support In Full,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, August 8, 2008

My Take - > Preseason Week 1

Greetings, G-Force.

I'm excited to be writing the words "My Take" once again. For approximately 5 weeks, the G-Force has been living in a world of confusion, division, animosity. On Monday, our spirit enters Lambeau Field with certainty. Uniform, we will enter the mecca of stadiums to celebrate the kickoff of competition. We will do so as a unified G-Force. Get on board and support what we've put together or stay away.

Favre is a Jet. Accept it. Patch your wounds. The beauty is that we can still cheer for him. The better he plays - the better our pick. If Brett has gas in his Football tank, we'll once again have 3 of the top 60 picks in the draft. I'll wholeheartedly root for #4. In fact, I may devote a paragraph in which I give my prediction of the Jets game each week. I'm going to embrace the opportunity to watch the Football Jesus perform in the World's Greatest City.

Since 1998, I've worn my #4 kit while the Packers played. It did not matter if I was celebrating NYE in Savannah, GA or if I was celebrating Thanksgiving at the in-laws house or if I was at the stadium or if I was at home - I was wearing the #4 jersey and Favre's name was on my back. This year marks a new beginning. Since March, I've wondered what to wear on Game Day. I've decided on two different t-shirts that symbolize team & heritage. I've got a simple white t-shirt with the Packer "G" covering my heart & I've got a yellow Lambeau Field shirt. No man will carry us to victory this year. Wins will come in the form of team play. I'm going to support this chemistry and promote the generation of unifying energy.

Lambeau Field. Lights on. ESPN. Monday Night. Once again. Ah, it's Football Season.

Has the 1st preseason game ever garnered as much attention as this Monday Night? Has a starting QB ever felt this much pressure before the 1st preseason game of the year? I cannot remember such a time.

Whether it's T-Mon returning a kickoff or Willie B. running back a punt, the Packers special teams puts A-Rod in good starting field position. Eases his pain as he runs onto the field and receives an ovation.

McCarthy calls a simple 1st play. Play action roll-out. He wants Rodgers to lose some nervous energy and get him out of harms way. Fake the sweep to Grant and A-Rod's rolling out. On the edge, he completes a 10 yard curl to Jennings.

Over the loud speaker we hear Bill Jartz belt out, "1st down Packers."

Grant pounds at the center of the Bengals defense. Holes in abundance. Welcome back, Ryan.

On a third down, A-Rod shows poise. Steps up in the pocket and hits Driver for a 1st down. Shortly after, Grant off the left edge between Clifton and Colledge, it's a Packer touchdown.

It's a standing ovation. It's the G-Force in effect. It's a centralized Force.

A-Rod's night is short. It's successful. He plays through the 1st Quarter.

On defense, Chuckie & Rasta Al take the night off. Not only to rest, but to showcase. T-Mon, Willie B., Patrick Lee, J-Bush, and Joe Porter provide excitement while smothering Bengal WR's.

The Packers are the youngest team in the NFL. They're respected and known to be a team with youthful depth. Scouts will be scouring the Packers depth chart for talent. The NFL world will be watching this game. Everyone is curious to see how the Packers & the G-Force will react to the drama of an NFL game. The Packers use this prime time opportunity to their advantage.

Consider this - Miami has an interesting dilemma. The Dolphins are in need of CB, S, and WR help. Ruvell Martin, Chris Francies, Joe Porter, Charlie Peprah, and J-Bush are all guys that could lead to an upgrade at another position. On the other hand, the Packers might have a need for DL help. The Dolphins have gone from a 4-3 to a 3-4. And, all of a sudden, Matt Roth does not have a spot on the team. In 2005, Matt Roth was a 2nd round pick. A tough, hard working guy from Iowa, Roth is not a DE in a 3-4. He's being tried as a LB. Thus far, he's failing miserably. He's in danger of being a casualty. I feel that Roth would find a home in Green Bay. He'd return to his Midwestern roots. He'd be a buddy of Kampman's. He'd play a role in the run stopping rotation. He'd provide depth.

On Monday, once again, Mike McCarthy will surprise us as the Packers unleash their first attempt at the latest strategic innovation to enter the NFL. The NY Giants won the Super Bowl due to their terrific ability to rush the QB. On passing downs, the Giants would move Justin Tuck from his normal DE position to a DT position. Tuck looked like a leaner version of Santana Dotson rushing the QB. In his first two years at DE, Tuck had 1 sack. Last year, he had 10 sacks.

McCarthy & Bob Sanders will attempt to steal this idea with Michael Montgomery & Jason Hunter as they will move to DT on 3rd downs. Like the idea. Not positive that they're the player for it. Although both might need to be successful in this role in order to make the roster.

I'm hoping that Jeremy Thompson gets a look in this role. Thompson was a star on Family Night. He was a difference maker. My hope is that they do not want to force feed him information and that by the third preseason game, they'll be trying him out. Thus far, I feel that we'd be most dangerous with AK-74, Thompson, Cullen Jenkins, and KGB on the field on 3rd Down. Thompson needs a look.

Brohm comes in and shows his nerves. Brohm - playing with happy feet - struggles at first. But, eventually he settles down after a successful screen play to Morency. He finds Tory Humphrey on the short down-and-in routes. Jordy's also on display. Flashing sure hands. Brohm plays late into the 3rd Quarter. He leads the Packers to a couple of FG's.

Flynn steals the show late. Flynn gets J-Mike involved. The rookie combination connects on a couple of 1st downs. J-Mike shows his athleticism. Brett Swain makes a catch in traffic. Finally, Flynn finds Francies on the post corner for 6!

So, Monday, we start anew. A-Rod leads us out of the tunnel. The Green Bay Packers historic tradition begins another chapter. The result is the same. The Lambeau Faithful rejoice - together.

Green Bay 23 Cincinnati 19.

If you cannot bring your G-Force to the Lambeau vibe this Monday, I, ironically, have 4 words for you: You are a poser!

All aboard,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sad Times In Titletown

Greetings, G-Force.

It is a sad day for the proudest franchise in professional sports. For 16 years, we were able to watch the greatest regular season player in the history of the National Football League. Today, it all came to an end in an ugly fashion. Brett Favre's streak of consecutive games played will end due to a bruised ego. Brett Favre is my hero, but in the words of Tom Petty, "It's time to move on. It's time to get going. What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing."

I've received a number of e-mails, text messages, and voice mails that echoed sentiments such as "Fuck Ted Thompson" & "Screw Mike McCarthy." I love Brett Favre as much as anyone. I wanted Favre to return as much as anyone. But, this is not on McCarthy & Thompson. Brett Favre does not want to play for the Green Bay Packers. It's that simple. I strongly believe that McCarthy went into last nights meeting with full intention of having Brett Favre as his starting QB in '08. McCarthy wanted to let the past be water under the bridge - if Favre were willing to do the same. McCarthy approached the situation like a man. Favre held his grudge.

This was arguably the most harmful separation of team & player in the history of sport. Unfortunately, to say the least, Favre, Thompson, McCarthy, & Murphy all handled this situation poorly. No one leaves this situation a winner. And as a fan of the Green Bay Packers, I feel like a part of my soul left me today.

The Green Bay Packers have a foundation based on community. Today, we are surrounded with a nasty divorce. I hope the locker room can stay united and focused on the season or else a 6-10 will stare us in the face.

I leave you with a couple of thoughts. Mike McCarthy is 21- 11 after two years as a Head Coach in the NFL. I believe that all but 3 players (Favre, Tauscher, & Clifton) on last year's 13-3 team had signed a contract with Ted Thompson. While they may have handled this situation in a disgusting manner, I still believe that the future of our franchise - beyond this year - is in good hands.

As for Brett, once again, Brett, thanks for the memories, mate. I'll remember you for your play on the field. I'll remember the 442 TD's, the 3 MVP's, the Super Bowl XXXI win, and the 160 regular season wins. I'll remember you as the man who lit up the Bears for 5 TD's on one leg. I'll remember you as the man with the childlike smile after he tossed a TD pass. I'll remember you as a football player - the greatest regular season football player to ever play the game. Brett, you are my idol. I encourage all Brett Favre fans to watch the following video:

Now, it's up to Thompson to trade Favre. Get what you can - even if it's a 3rd rounder. Free the man. I'd enjoy watching him for another year...or 2! Even if it were in another uniform...with one condition, as long as he were not a Bear or a Viking.

My take for the 1st preseason game comes Thursday.

Give me a tissue,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Change In Vibes!

Greetings, G-Force.

The vibe must change & it must change now. Unfortunately, the small community of Green Bay does not fare well with distractions. It's too tight of a community. Therefore, the TIME IS NOW to eliminate division. While I've been outspoken in my desire for the Legend, the reality is that he will not perform in Green & Gold in '08. So, I move to what I'm hearing/reading/seeing about the '08 training camp thus far.

I'm curious to see the diversified looks that are presented this year compared to last. I'm interested to see the youthful legs of Aaron Rodgers escaping the rush. A-Rod out of the pocket and throwing on the run. Improvising. Turning busted plays into opportunities. Driver, Lee & Jones coming back to the ball. J-Mike & Jennings running deep in hopes of the big play. I can see it already. I'm curious to see how Jordy reacts to busted plays as well.

I'm hear & read that Jordy Nelson is performing and is considered a rookie sleeper for the '08 season. I have to believe that his size will provide mismatches against the oppositions 3rd & 4th CB.

I really expect James Jones to have a big year. I imagine that he'll be a beneficiary of the come back routes that have been implemented in our system. He's our best short yardage route runner. Plus, he's already got chemistry with Rodgers. Their time together in last year's training camp & preseason games is priceless. For what it's worth, after 3 games in the preseason last year, James Jones led the exhibition season in receptions. For the majority of those catches, Aaron Rodgers was his QB.

While I want Ryan Grant in camp today, I don't want him for $40 million. In fact, I don't think I'd want to sign him to a 6 year deal rather I'd prefer that the Packers looked at a 4 year option. When Favre retires and comes off the cap, give him excess money for the '08 season and tell him that he'll be shortchanged for the next three years, but he's getting his money up front. Guarantee his '08 money. Beyond that - it's about performance.

I'm afraid of our RB situation. I'm happy to hear that B-Jack continues to grow. However, I'm not positive he can handle the load & I have concerns about his ability to escape traffic. I also wonder about his ability to elude a defender. He does not have breakaway speed. He seems like a guy who can see a hole and hit it. It's up to us know his strengths & to stick to them.

I'm anxious to see Kregg Lumpkin play. With our current stable of backs, Lumpkin must be a difference maker - a consistent performer. From what I remember about his college days, Lumpkin has a quick first step and can run through tackles. He's an aggressive runner. But, he, too, if I recall correctly, lacks the burst to take one to the house.

We've learned that DeShawn Wynn, Noah Herron, & Vernand Morency cannot be trusted for an entire season. They all have limitations and are injury prone.

The OG battle will be extremely interesting. Could Josh Sitton and Allen Barbre be our starting G's in Week 1? It seems as though there's an open competition and it'll be a fun battle to watch throughout the exhibition games.

It sounds like Tony Moll is on his way out.

Another battle that will draw attention is the LB position. Hawk, Barnett, Chillar & Poppinga are locks. All have received contracts from the Packers that show loyalty. But, it's important to note that both Desmond Bishop & Abdul Hodge have been playing on the 1st Special Teams unit in practice. I have to believe that Tracy White is also a lock as he received a big off-season contract. If this is the case, how many LB's will we keep or are Bishop or Hodge going to be trade bait at the end of training camp?

It's disappointing to hear that Patrick Lee is struggling. I can only hope that it's simply because he's adjusting to the pace of the NFL game. But, we need to get Lee up to speed. I trust that this will occur.

I'm stoked for Monday. 8:00 EST. NFL Network. It's the Family Night Replay. And it's my 1st glimpse of the '08 Packers.

Vibe In G-Force!

Talkin' S-Mac