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.