Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

Pardon me, while I feel as though I'm Irenaeus. Often times, a trip to Lambeau offers a righteous white horseman feel to mankind. This past Sunday was one of those days. Allow me to act as a cavalier.

Welcome to the playoffs, G-Force. Congrats on the berth. As Charles Woodson put it, Sunday was "fan appreciation day." Both Woodson and the fans showed their mutual affection. The fans giving a chorus of "MVP" chants to Woodson was brilliant. Woodson responding with a victory lap around Lambeau was reminiscent of the days in which Reggie White displayed his love for the greatest fans in sports. Woodson is a proud Green Bay Packer. It's a treat to witness.

Shout it with me: Aa-ron Rod-gers. Aa-ron Rod-gers. Aa-ron Rod-gers. He's cool as a cucumber in hot sauce. He's the key to our playoff run. He has the capacity to carry us through the playoffs. After the game, Rodgers was spotted in Curly's Pub inside the Lambeau Field Atrium. He was shaking hands and talking about how much he enjoyed being the QB of the Green Bay Packers. He also thanked the fans for their support.

Behind Charles Woodson, Aaron Rodgers is quickly becoming my favorite player in the NFL. He's become a stallion far sooner than anyone could have predicted. He's maturing gracefully. He reminds me of an athletic, mobile Troy Aikman. Poised in the pocket. Confident and able to make every throw. Consistently looking for the deep throw. Lethal on third down.

I enjoy noticing the little things that you get to see being at the game. It is apparent that Nick Barnett & Clay Matthews are the vocal leaders on defense. They conduct the defensive huddles. They've both been playing exceptionally and showing that actions are louder than words. Barnett has played with terrific physicality. Matthews - who Boots accurately calls "The Claymaker" - is a true presence on the field. His quickness constantly alters plays. Even if the box score does not show it. On multiple occasions, he forced Hasselbeck into mistakes. By the way, I hope Hasselbeck is our back-up QB next year.

The interactions between the likes of Clay & Chuckie shows a strong respect between veteran and rookie.

J-Mike, Double-D, and Greg Jennings are absolutely pleasant to watch on the pitch. They're enjoying themselves and the offensive camaraderie is impeccable.

Ryan Grant, B-Jack, and Ahman Green also have a mutual adoration. Regardless of who scored the TD, it was an absolute love fest between the three. Great to witness.

BJ Raji is forever named "Jazz Hands." His reaction after a big play is absolutely spectacular as he begs for heightened crowd recognition. Raji is a big bowl of jelly. Slippery to contain. Bubbly. Three times, he made drive altering plays. If he develops into a pass rusher, he could have Pro Bowl potential.

Johnny Jolly is a Winter Wonderland. He's arguably the most underrated DL in the league. He's an absolute winner. His 11 passes defensed are beyond amazing. He's a tremendous run stopper. We can win with him. Against anyone.

If Ras-A-tari performs as he did last weekend, we'll be tough to beat. Making plays on the ball. Lowering the boom on receivers. He'd be another weapon that teams would have to prepare for. His physical play will also strike fear in the minds of receivers much like he did late in the '07 season.

The fanfare for Crosby before his 52 yard FG is unmatched in all of sport. Sublime support.

Brad Jones continues to grow in his role. He's been more than satisfactory and he seems to improve each week.

In all, the Packers look to be having a lot of fun. I give Mike McCarthy a lot of credit.

This week -> it's the Cardinals. With very little on the line. But, the Packers must look sharp. Frankly, at the present moment, I'm not afraid of any NFL team. I'd play anyone, anywhere. My biggest concern is staying healthy. I would not be totally surprised if the Cardinals shared a similar thought especially if there is no possible way they can gain a 1st round bye out of a victory.

I'd like to see the starters play the 1st Half with great success. The Packers jump out to a 24-10 lead. Rodgers stays in rhythm, throwing his 30th TD. Driver goes over 1,000 yards for the season. Jennings eclipses 1,100. Grant goes over 1,250. Defensively, the Claymaker grabs his 11th sack. Chuckie grabs his 9th pick. Statistically, it is a terrific season for the Packers.

In the 2nd half, I want to pay close attention to Flynn's development. I want to see the U-HAUL get real life experience on the big stage. Remember that this is the type of game in which T-Mon came of age in the '07 season finale. I want to see Cyril Obiozor get a chance to work on his first step off the ball. He's got the body to be an elite 3-4 OLB. I want to see if Wynn can make it in this league, he needs additional reps. I want to see more of Bishop at ILB. The 2nd half of this game will help provide an indication of offseason requirements. While one half of football does not provide concrete conclusions, it does allow for a reference point.

Enjoy this week. Wear Packer colors. Harness in the energy. Feel the buzz. Whether you are in Denver, New York, Green Bay, London, Milwaukee, Madison, Albuquerque, Miami, San Diego, Seattle, Minneapolis or Chicago -> it just does not matter, promote the Packers word. Feel it on the inside. Wear it on the outside, baby!

Think of the Cowboys post Aikman. The Dolphins post Marino. The Broncos post Elway. The Bills post Kelly. The 49ers post Young. Hell, look at the Browns post Kosar. It's a great relief to be back in the playoffs. And it's a credit to Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers.

Packers 27. Cardinals 23.

Go Pack Go!!!

Have a Happy & Safe New Year.


Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

It feels good to have a meaningful late December game once again. After being spoiled with games of significance from 1992-2004, we became void of importance with the exception of the "favre-ulous" 2007 campaign. Once again, the Pack is back. And, assuming Aaron Rodgers stays healthy, we should be meaningful for the next 7-10 years. Rodgers is a MAN. A fierce competitor. A victim of shoddy special teams play and a late-game defense that fails to act as infantry when attempting to seal a game. Rodgers has become an elite 3rd down passer and appears headed for an NFL MVP award at some point in his career.

Since Reggie White left the Packers in 1998, the Packers have struggled to find anyone that could seal a game. Sure, Ras-A-tari has done it a couple of times against the 'queens and Al Harris has also provided late-game heroics in his past. With that being said, no one has been a consistent late game playmaker. And thus, no team has suffered the game defeats that the Packers have encountered since Reggie's retirement. And, really, these tumultuous losses began with TO's catch in Reggie's last game as a Packer in the '98 Wild Card game.

Jarrett Bush. Leave my life. Soon.

Josh Bell? Really. Really? Really! How is that Touchdown even possible?

It baffled me that we only rushed three. One of them was Jairus Wynn. And Clay Matthews was dropped in coverage? What were we thinking? Matthews is quickly becoming an elite defensive player. He's a difference maker. Yet, on the play in which we could have all but clinched a playoff berth, Clay Matthews was nowhere near the QB. Frustrating.

For 55 minutes, Chuckie, T-Mon, Nintendo Nick and CM3 have become premier playmakers. Each has displayed the capability to change a game at any moment and in a variety of ways - whether it be sacking the QB or forcing a turnover.

Normally, I'm not one to discuss the officiating after the game. But, did anyone else feel as though the refs were favoring the Steelers? I felt the officiating was awfully fautly.

The Packers are in a neck-in-neck battle with the Cowboys & Giants for a Wild Card berth. While the current standings indicate the Packers control their destiny, we learned in Week 15 that the Giants & Cowboys are not going to lie down. In fact, they seemed to have played their best football of the '09 Season.

This week - the Packers must elevate against the lowly Seahawks. It should be festive. 2 days after Christmas. The G-Force will be present. WE NEED THIS WIN!!!

Since Mike Holmgren bolted Green Bay for Seattle, the Packers and Seahawks have forged a small rivalry. It's been a fun relationship that's included two terrifc playoff battles and a number of one-sided regular season games. Once again, this week, we should witness a one-sided regular season game.

The Seahawks do not have a pass rush. They do not have cover corners. They are not good against the run. Offensively, the Packers are on a mission. McCarthy tamed the Steelers early pass rush with an empty backfield that forced the Steelers to cover us. McCarthy won't have to worry about fierce LB blitzes against Seattle.

Defensively, the Packers should be able to pressure Hasselbeck. We'll get in his face and turnovers will follow. Nintendo Nick & T-Mon both intercept passes this week. Hopefully, they'll also be awarded with new contracts after the game as well.

Clifton & Tauscher continue to be anchors for the OL. They've been terrific over the last 5 weeks. Providing Rodgers will ample time, Rodgers throws for 320 & 3 TD's.

It was great to see the back-shoulder fade to J-Mike. We see it again this week.

'Tis the Season to be Jolly. Therefore, Johnny grabs a sack.

This one is a party. It'll be a Holiday treat to be in attendance with my brothers.

Packers 38. Seahawks 13.

Be Loud,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Tribute to Charles Woodson

Greetings, G-Force.

It's rare that I write a double take for the week. But, I figure that instead of including Charles Woodson in the weekly take, I'd write a short blog entirely devoted to him.

Without question, Woodson is the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. He's the first player to ever win 2 NFC Defensive Player of the Month awards. Each week, he's been the player that seems to have the biggest impact on the game. I'd argue that he's having the best defensive year of any Packer in my lifetime. The only men that have come close was Reggie White in 1998 when he was the NFC's Defensive Player of the Year and LeRoy Butler in 1996.

For the year, in 13 games, Woodson has 60 tackles. 8 interceptions. 4 Forced Fumbles. 1 Fumble Recovery. 2 sacks. 2 TD's. 14 passes defensed. 1 Heisman Trophy pose.

The Packers record for interceptions in a year is 10. 10 times - a Packer has had 9 interceptions. If Woodson plays in 16 games this year, he's likely to grab at least one more interception and possibly two more to tie the record.

For comparison sake, in 1998, Reggie White had 16 sacks. He forced 3 fumbles and recovered 2. He had 46 tackles. While Reggie was spectacular, he faded down the stretch with only 1 sack over the last 5 games.

In 1996, LeRoy Butler was the anchor of our Super Bowl Champion defense. It should be mentioned that - as a whole - the '96 Packers defense is extremely underrated in the history rankings. Butler finished with 87 tackels, 6.5 sacks, 5 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 TD, 1 Lambeau Leap and 149 return yards. Sadly, today, LeRoy Butler lives in national anonymity when he should be in the NFL Hall of Fame.

Regardless of where Woodson's '09 season ranks, he's clearly having a remarkable year that will long live in the legends within the great history of the Green Bay Packers organization.

I'm hoping for another TD.


Talkin' S-Mac.

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

I wish everyone a Happy Holidays! Packer spirit alive. Packer energy is well. A successful Packers season enhances the Holiday vibe.

Last Sunday, we furthered the notion that the Bears still suck. And because of it, the Packers are on the brink of playoff qualification just two years into the post Brett Favre era. Truly a terrific achievement.

Riding the wave of terrific defense and a maturing QB, the Packers are enjoying a 5-game winning streak. Undoubtedly, the team is both improving and feeling more comfortable each week. Capers' creativity week-in and week-out has opposing QB's confused. The blitz call on 2nd down of the Bears final possession was executed to perfection. Rushing 6, Chillar comes from inside to out. The Bears keep a back in to protect. The back grabs Chillar who does not attempt to rush Cutler. Instead - his purpose is to take the back out of the play. Therefore, T-Mon has a clear path to Cutler. T-Mon tosses Cutler to the turf for an 8-yard loss. Beautiful.

Congrats to Chillar on his contract. It's time to give T-Mon & Nintendo Nick the same. Nintendo Nick is a top-5 safety in the NFL. T-Mon is a legitimate NFL CB. Both are vital components of our franchise.

The NFL's #1 defense held Forte to 51 yards - playing without lead run stuffer Ryan Pickett. CM3 gets another sack. Barnett playing at arguably the best level of his professional career. Hawk playing with both certainty and confidence. Another steady game for Brad Jones. Jolly & Jenkins dominate the line of scrimmage each week. Poppinga making 2 special teams tackles.

The Packers found the running game against the hated Bears - pounding out 146 yards. Ryan Grant might be the most under appreciated back in the league. He's on pace for over 1300 yards. He's averaging 4.3 yards per carry. No one pays any attention. Except for my wife, of course. During the game, in her Valley Girl way, A* says, "He's, like, got his legs back." Cheers, *!

J-Mike is becoming a man. His next step is to learn to step out of the tackle of a undersized CB. He seems to be hitting the ground before contact. I'd love to see him run right at a CB and fight for extra yards. Become mean, J-Mike. Unleash yourself.

Our Red Zone deficiencies could become a major issue at some point this year. The back-shoulder fade to J-Mike is the solution. Get him isolated. Call the play.

I'd cut Mason Crosby. He's unreliable.

This week - it's the Super Bowl Champs, in Pittsburgh. In December. With the possibility of potentially clinching a playoff berth. While we've won 5 games in a row, Pittsburgh has lost 5 in a row. Don't be fooled. The Steelers have great tradition and a champions heart. And even today, they're only one game out of the playoff race. We could end their season with a victory this week.

The Steelers will be without Polamalu & star guard, Chris Kemoeatu. However, Roethlisberger, Ward, Holmes, Farrior, Taylor, Harrison, and Woodley will be on the field. They're well fit to punch anyone in the mouth and provide a stiff test.

They'll test us deep with Mike Wallace. We'll see deep crossing routes to Holmes. Short out passes to Ward. Check downs to Heath Miller. A heavy dose of Mendenhall. Defensively, they'll mix a variety of blitzes to confuse our young QB.

Early in the game Rodgers attacks the center of the Steelers defense. They get behind Ryan Clark & Tyrone Carter in the Steelers secondary. Jennings - matched up with Ike Taylor - gets into the end zone on a double move fly route. 7-0 Good Guys.

Pitt responds. Big Ben to Holmes. Big Ben to Miller for a 1st down. Mendenhall punches it at us. The Terrible Towels are waving. Ben finds Wallace who is lined up against J-Bush for a 35 yard TD.

It's a back and forth contest. It's late. Trailing by 3, Rodgers gets the ball. 3 minutes left. A playoff berth on the line. Battling the Champs. The Steelers '09 life is on the line. Rodgers goes to work.

To Driver. To Jones on an underneath crossing route. To Jennings on a puma route. To J-Mike. The dump to B-Jack for 7. We're in the Red Zone. It's back-shoulder to J-Mike. I want it. I'm calling it. WE'RE IN, BABY! WE'RE IN THE PLAYOFFS, BABY!! WE'RE IN, BABY!!! It's celebration time!

Grant tops 60 yards and 1100 for the season. Rodgers throws 2 TD's. CM3 gets another sack.

It's a stealth-like Packers performance, on the road. We qualify for the playoffs in grand fashion.

Green Bay 24. Pittsburgh 20.

And so this is Christmas. It's Joy to the World. Hark! The Herald. Do you hear what I hear? It's the Packers in the playoffs. It's the Wonderful Time of the Year.

Happy Holidays,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

I write with joy.

Three of our last four head coaches were named Mike. Mike Holmgren was a master at getting his team to peak come December. As much as we all despised Mike Sherman's January decision making & in-game coaching skills, he had his team to play Packer football each year in December. Mike McCarthy is following suit. In 2006, he won his last four games. In 2007, he won 3 of his last four. 2008 was a circus rather than a football season.

Presently, we're playing our best football of the 2009 season. Sure, we are penalized an excessive amount. Sure, Mason Crosby continues to be putrid. And our special teams unit fail to ever make a big play. Regardless, the Packers are a possessed football team. Playing with aggression. It's a treat to watch.

McCarthy has been creative with his play calling. He's become less predictable. And I loved when he inserted a fresh Ahman Green in the 4th Quarter to punish a winded Ravens defense. Green's presence also inspired Ryan Grant to run harder.

I was thankful that we FINALLY went to the fade pass to J-Mike in the corner of the end zone. It was interesting how they originally lined him up in the backfield in an effort to find a mismatch. I wish it would have been a back shoulder throw. Next time -> it should be. It's a safer pass.

Clay Matthews III continues to be a stallion. In fact, for the first time in his NFL career, he commanded a double team. Consistently. The Ravens had to keep a RB in the backfield to chip him in order to slow him down. It was a treat to watch. Never say die, Clay.

Brad Jones had his most impressive performance of the year. He appeared quicker. Still not fast on the field. But, he plays with great awareness. I wish he would have made the open field tackle on Ray Rice for a loss, but nonetheless, he played well. Congrats on your 1st sack, Brad.

BJ Raji. 3 weeks in a row with a play in the backfield.

Pickett, Jenkins & Jolly playing mean. True difference makers.

Hawk with the dagger! The clincher.

Barnett continuing to improve in the 3-4 defense each week.

T-Mon & Nintendo Nick making big plays to change momentum.

Aaron Rodgers is an MVP candidate. He won't win it. That's for Brees or Manning. But, Rodgers deserves votes. He's becoming a man in front of our eyes. He's seeing the field better. Utilizing the check-down. Relying on the TE. Just as his predecessor did.

In fact, I ran an office poll today in which I asked 10 die-hard football fans to name their top 7 candidates for the NFL's MVP. The final tally included Charles Woodson and Aaron Rodgers in the top-6. It went Manning, Brees, Favre, Rodgers, Rivers, Woodson.

J-Mike has Pro-Bowl potential.

Donald Driver is making a case to be a Hall of Famer. He might need to have four more seasons in which he averages 60 catches and 750 yards. If so, he'd finish his career with over 900 catches and 12,000 yards. Those are Hall of Fame numbers.

How can a Sunday in December be any better than what is on tap this weekend? At 1 EST, it's the Packers traveling to Soldier Field to take on the hated Bears. At 4 EST, it's San Diego visiting Dallas in a crucial battle as both teams jostle for playoff positioning. And the nightcapper is a terrific NFC battle between the Giants & the Eagles. When we go to bed on Sunday night, we'll have a clearer picture of the clustered NFC playoff race.

The Packers cannot overlook this game. We must be ready. We must come out early and make a statement. If so, the Bears could hibernate. Both teams are banged up with crucial players nursing injuries. This will be a survival of the fittest. When these two teams play in December, you can throw the records in the garbage.

Both teams OL's have struggled this year. While the Packers OL has improved, the Bears OL has become worse. The Bears will have to keep a back in to help Orlando Pace or else the only thing that will stop CM3 on the pass rush would be himself loosing his footing.

I foresee the Bears trying to establish the run early. I believe the Bears will try to use a mixture of Kahlil Bell and Forte to slow down the pace of the game. They'll utilize Olsen in a variety of places on the field. They'll hide him as an H-Back. They'll line him outside. They'll place him on both sides of the line of scrimmages. Trying to create a mismatch. And then expect the Bears to try and find one-on-one coverage on the outside. The Bears will think they can expose our CB's with their speedy WR's, Devin Hester & Johnny Knox. They also will try to exploit the pass interference calls that have become commonplace in the Packers defensive backfield.

Defensively, the Bears will play us straight up. They'll try to beat us with their front 4. Using their DE's to speed rush against our aging OT's. LB's Hunter Hillenmeyer & Lance Briggs are banged up. They're expected to play, but they won't be 100% (much like Raji, Jenkins & Pickett for us).

In 12 games, Jay Cutler has thrown 20 interceptions. In 12 games, the Packers defense has picked off 21 passes. I like our chances. Unless, of course, the Bears play the way they did last week in which Cutler only threw the ball 17 times. He only completed 8 passes and he looked like he lacked confidence. Regardless, Cutler is a gunslinger with a terrific arm and the ability to make any throw. Therefore, he's dangerous on every play.

The Bears take the opening kickoff into Packers territory. The Bears have a great special teams return unit. We have an awful coverage team. This match-up scares me. The Bears take the short field. The Packers are on their heels. Forte for 7 yards. Cutler to Olsen. Forte punches it at us. Knox on a slant. Forte runs in for a short TD.

The Bears defense forces the punt. Again, the Bears have a good special teams play to bring the ball near mid-field. It has the makings of a frustrating game. Those stupid Bear claws/Bear Hats - that are a copy of the Cheesehead - romp with excitement.

Again, the Bears move the football. Cutler to Bennett. More Forte. The Bears are winning the line of scrimmage. T-Mon breaks up a third down pass. Robbie Gould - the most underrated kicker in football - drills one from 45 yards. 10-0 Bears.

The Packers come out flat. But, the weather calls for mid 30's and light snow flurries. Little wind. This is Packer football. McCarthy gathers the troops. And the next step in the evolution of the McCarthy/Rodgers combo arrives against our hated Rival. We show that we have the grit to make a HUGE comeback on the road in a Division game, in December.

Rodgers to Grant on a screen. Rodgers to Driver. Rodgers to Jennings (who continues to struggle in cold weather games). Rodgers to Jones over the middle for a 1st down. Rodgers to Driver for 6 points.

Clay flies around Orlando Pace. The future HOF'er is stuck in his tracks. Jay Cutler meets CM3. The Packers are off the field.

Rodgers goes back to work. Using all of his tools in his shed. Sharp precision. It's Donald Lee. It's J-Mike between the safeties for 22 yards. Grant on a delayed draw punches through the middle for a nice gain. It's Rodgers to Havner for a 14-10 Packers lead.

Cutler finds Ras-A-tari. He's due to make a play. It'll happen this week.

Rodgers dumps to B-Jack on a check down. B-Jack has played really well this year; not worth a 2nd round pick, but playing well. He's been reliable.

Rodgers to Jordy. Rodgers finds Jennings deep for 6 points.

But, the Bears don't quit. Another good kickoff return gives the Bears field position. Cutler finds Knox on a deep one.

Late in the game, the Packers lead by 7. The Bears get the ball. Under 2 minutes. Clay Matthews III makes his presence felt. Outracing Pace to the corner. He collects his 9th sack of the year. A desperation 4th down pass by Cutler lands in the lap of Nintendo Nick.

Rodgers name enters all national circles of MVP talk. He's not the winner, but he's a candidate and deserves some nomination.

Packers 31. Bears 24.

May the good Lord shine a light on you. Make every song you sing, your favorite tune. Let it start with GO PACK GO!

Say it with me: THE BEARS STILL SUCK.

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Take -> Week 13

Greetings, G-Force.

Charles Woodson ensured that everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving. Chuckie, we're thankful to have you.

Three impressive wins against NFC opponents have the Packers holding prime NFC real estate. We're well positioned for one of the NFC Wild Card spots. As the Giants, Falcons & Eagles have struggled for consistency, the Packers seem to be peaking as we enter the December stretch.

I've often talked about the 8 game swing stretch. I've thought that we must finish no worse than 6-2 over that 8 game stretch in order to make it to the playoffs. I stand by my statements. In my mind, this is a must win. While it'll still be conceivable for the Packers to make the playoffs even if they lose, we'll learn more about the Packers this week than we have in any previous week. We'll find out how physically and mentally tough the Packers have become. We've feasted on less than stellar teams. We showed that our stars were flashier than Dallas' star. We jumped out on the 49ers early. We beat an already beaten up Detroit team. Yes, they're all wins. Good wins. Great wins, in fact. But, this week we'll find out just how far the Green Bay Packers have come along.

It's Monday Night Football. At Lambeau Field. This is a game that the Packers must win. No excuses.

The Ravens will provide a stiff test. They are built for December football. They play defense. They force turnovers. They run the ball with a fierce mentality. They're tough to bring down. They'll try to beat you up. No matter the score, they'll continue to fight. I could argue that Baltimore has an unmatched physical determination in the NFL. Additionally, their playoff life is on the line.

While the Packers lead the NFL in rush defense, for a variety of reasons, with the exception of our battles against A.P., we haven't really been tested since the Bengals & Rams stuffed it down our throats in Weeks 2 & 3. Dallas gave up on the run after a successful first drive. So did the 49ers. The Ravens will try to beat us up for 60 minutes - regardless of the score.

We're significantly better than Baltimore on the perimeter. The Ravens have the edge between the Tackles. In order to win in December, you have to win the running game. Especially at Lambeau Field. Thus, I feel this week will be a significant indicator as we attempt to gauge whether the Packers are contenders or pretenders.

The Ravens three headed running monster of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee & Le'Ron McClain will require a persistent fight from our Front 7. Back-to-back weeks Raji has made a play behind the line of scrimmage. Jolly & Jenkins continue to get a quick jump off the ball. Hawk and Barnett have been above average as ILB's. CM3 is quickly growing into a man who makes a play a week. Brad Jones just has to be assignment-sure, mistake-free.

If we can consistently force 3rd & 7 or more, we'll win. Probably by 2 scores. Many think highly of Joe Flacco. I'm not one of them. Frankly, I think he's mightily overrated. He has some decent targets in Derrick Mason and Todd Heap. Mark Clayton is a decent deep threat who has underachieved - nonetheless he has to be accounted for. Kelly Washington has become a solid 3rd down WR who has become proficient at moving the chains in the middle of the field running crossing routes.

If we can force 3rd and long situations, we can get pressure on Flacco. Like many young QB's, he's often guilty of holding onto the football too long. He'll take a hit even though he stands tall in the pocket. It's just that he's not very elusive. You know where to find him. We must pursue.

While the Ravens defense is on the decline, it remains a formidable opponent. Ray Lewis can still intimidate. Ed Reed can still play center field. Haloti Ngata is a premier 3-4 run defender. Dawan Landry is a solid safety. But, this Ravens defense has holes, notably at CB where Dominique Foxworth, Frank Walker, and Chris Carr are all average to below-average CB's. With Suggs not playing due to injury, the Packers should be able to protect Rodgers and if the Ravens come with heavy blitzes, Rodgers should be able to expose the mismatches on the perimeter with an audible to quick, short routes.

Mother Nature calls for mid-20's with a slight snow flurry. Winds of 4 mph. This should be Packer football. It should be picturesque. It should be a Packers victory.

The Ravens start quickly. Pounding it at us. The move into scoring position, only to be held to 3 points.

The Packers respond. Rodgers to J-Mike over the middle of the field for 15 yards. Rodgers to Nelson on a short pass turns into a 1st down. Grant punching it at the Ravens heart. Rodgers to Jennings for 6 points.

The Packers grab a 14-3 lead. The crowd rises. Flacco starts to pick on J-Bush. Getting Mason isolated on Bush, the Ravens pick up consecutive 1st downs. It's Kelly Washington for a first down on a 3rd down. Ray Rice gets loose. 14-10.

With the Packers up 20-10, our pathetic special teams rears its head. The Ravens play solid special teams. The Packers do not. Special teams changes the tide and gives the Ravens sound field position.

Flacco finds Heap. He finds Rice on a screen to get the ball inside the 10. McGahee pounds it in.

6 minutes left. The Packers lead by 3. With the ball. Rodgers goes to work.

***Every year, there is a time when the season changes for the better or for the worse. In 1996, Doug Evans picked off Tony Banks and returned it for a TD. The Packers never looked back. In 2006, Favre connected with Chris Francies on a big third down in Miami. The season looked lost at 1-4 until that play continued an important drive. The Packers finished 8-8. In 2007, it was Favre to Jennings at Denver - in OT - that inspired greatness. In 2008, it was our final drive at Tennessee. We failed to find points with a chance to win. Our season spun downward. In 2009, thus far, it was in Week 10 against the Cowboys. With the score 3-0, the Packers faced 3rd & 11 from their own 34. Rodgers found Jennings for 14 yards. Three plays later, the Packers faced 3rd & 13. Rodgers found Lee for 17 yards. Later that drive, the Packers were staring at 3rd & 6. Rodgers connected with Jordy for 7 yards. The next play Rodgers scored on a 1 yard TD run. Since then, Rodgers has been brilliant.***

Well, Rodgers pulls out his magic wand once again. It's Monday Night brilliance. Completing a big third down to Driver on a quick slant. The check down to Lee. Rodgers continues to show maturity. With under 2 minutes left, it's victory formation.

The Packers win a hard fought, hotly contested battle.

Green Bay 20. Baltimore 17.

After the game, Rodgers has 24 touchdowns. 5 interceptions on the season. He shows that he's Pro Bowl material. In the spotlight on national TV. Rodgers elevates into a premier NFL QB.

Enjoy Sunday. Pay extra attention to the Cowboys/Giants & Eagles/Falcons games. They might impact our season and postseason outlook.


Talkin' S-Mac.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Take -> Week 12

Greetings, G-Force.

For the first time in the '09 season, it felt like things were starting to click. And then, devastating, season-ending injuries occur to Ras-Al & AK-74. One could argue that both will make the Packers Hall of Fame. Now, sadly, both of their futures with the organization are in question. Ouch.

Throughout Ted Thompson's career as GM of the Green Bay Packers, the team has had to deal with a plethora of injuries. In '05, he replaced Robert Ferguson, Javon Walker, Ahman Green, Tony Fisher, Najeh Davenport, and Bubba Franks with the likes of Samkon Gado, Aundrae Thurman, Antonio Chapman, Noah Herron and Donald Lee. It was understood that we went searching for youth as we were clearly rebuilding.

In 2006, he replaced Robert Ferguson & Greg Jennings with the likes of Chris Francies & Carlyle Holiday. When William Henderson went down, we brought in Brandon Miree. When Ahmad Carroll flopped, we experimented with Patrick Dendy & J-Bush. Again, the Packers were in rebuilding mode as it was McCarthy's first year. Time was on both of their sides.

In 2007, we stayed fairly healthy except for when KGB went down with an injury in Week 11. While KGB "played" in 15 games that year, he failed to record a sack over the last 5 games and it was clear that he was not fit. Instead of bringing in a veteran pass rusher, he stuck with Michael Montgomery and Jason Hunter. Both finished with 0 sacks. Thompson got a pass as the Packers went to the NFC Championship.

In '08, the Packers were littered with injuries. Tauscher, Grant, B-Jack & James Jones were all injured or out for portions of the season on offense. On defense, we lost Ras-A-tari, Barnett, Ras-Al, Cullen Jenkins, and KGB. Once again, Thompson relied on youth. Hunter, Montgomery, Jeremy Thompson, J-Bush & Willie B. were all given opportunities. We failed. The fans took notice and considered this unacceptable. Clearly, we lacked both depth and talent.

Which brings us to the present. Ted Thompson must win. NOW. And he knows it. That's why he brought in both Ahman Green & Tauscher. Veterans. And that's also why it was MANDATORY to sign a veteran CB. Like Mike McKenzie. Or Chris McAlister. Both went to the Saints. I understand if we go to battle with Brad Jones at OLB. I don't know if any traditional 3-4 OLB's are available except Willie McGinest and I'm not sure he has anything in the tank. So, it's probably wise to bring up Cyril Obiozor. But, at CB, we're desperate. We can't win with J-Bush as our #3. We know this. Also, as much as I want to like the U-HAUL, he is not ready. Not yet. We need a tried and true veteran. We needed McKenzie or at least someone of his stature. The Packers play a ton of zone defense. If we expect to win with J-Bush on the field for the majority of our snaps, you can kiss this season goodbye. I'm not ready to quit. The Saints showed that they were serious about contending this year - we should do the same! Sign a veteran. Ted, your job is on the line. The time is now.

The win against the 49ers was great. A dominant 1st half. While we were lackadaisical in the 2nd half, we did enough to secure a victory. And it was nice to see the running game. J-Mike was dominant. Jennings was in the flow. Driver was, well, Double-D. Jordy was physical after the catch. And in the 1st half, McCarthy showed great creativity.

Defensively, it was nice to see Jenkins, Raji, Matthews, and Barnett showing great pursuit. Nintendo Nick coming up with the monstrous interception! Chuckie marking Vernon Davis with a blanketing mentality. Why didn't we just go man-to-man on Davis in the 2nd half? Regardless, it was a good win.

It's a short week. It's a nationally televised game. And I anticipate the Packers will be ready for this one. Also, just as the Packers were hurt by injuries, so were the Lions. It appears as though Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ko Simpson will not play for the Lions.

With Stafford & Johnson, the Lions offense has become dangerous. Without them, not so much. Kevin Smith is a solid back who not only runs well, but he's also a good receiver. Brandon Pettigrew is growing into a very good TE. But, on the defensive side of the ball, the Lions are a disaster.

Regardless of who plays for the Lions, they'll test our battered secondary. Capers will have to call a more conservative game, so it'll be important for Matthews and Jenkins to apply pressure. It'd be great to see Raji continue to get a push. T-Mon has always played well against the Lions, for whatever reason.

Expect the Lions to go after our defense with mid-range passes to Brandon Pettigrew, Dennis Northcutt and Bryant Johnson. The Lions will also use a mix of draws and screens to get Kevin Smith involved.

Defensively, Louis Delmas, Julian Peterson & Larry Foote will attack the line of scrimmage. Nonetheless, we'll move the ball on the Lions. Frequently. Rodgers will consistently find receivers in stride. Streaking thru the defense. And I'm hopeful that the Packers find Red Zone success. If we don't protect the football and if we have to settle for FG's, we could find trouble. Otherwise, assuming Calvin & Stafford are out, I foresee another comfortable Packers victory.

Rodgers throws for over 300 yards. 3 TD's. Grant runs for 75 yards and another TD. It's a Thanksgiving Day treat. And the Turkey's going to taste good.

Green Bay 37. Detroit 16.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Take -> Week 11

Greetings, G-Force.

The crowd was spectacular against the Cowboys. I enjoyed the clear disgust that was displayed by the penalties & play-calling in the 1st half only to have it coupled with complete rowdiness as Romo stepped up to the line of scrimmage. You made life difficult for the Cowboys offense and aided in the near shut-out. If you were in attendance, pat yourself on the back.

Charles Woodson wants his name in the ring of honor at Lambeau Field. Each time I watch him, I begin to think that while I love having Charles Woodson on my team, Chuckie enjoys playing for my team as well. For those of you that know me, you're aware that I'm a Michigan fan. While playing for the Wolverines, Woodson became the 1st defensive player to ever win the Heisman. He left my team and went to the Raiders where he had 17 interceptions in 8 seasons. Since becoming a Packer, he now has 24 interceptions in 3.5 seasons. Chuckie, I need you. But, mate, you need me as well. Together we're a great tandem.

Yes, Charles Woodson saved the Packers season. At least temporarily. 9 tackles. 1 pass defensed. 1 sack. 1 interception. 2 forced fumbles. He was the difference in the game. A telling picture was when Rodgers approached Woodson and shook his hand as a sign of appreciation. Epic.

The defense also got terrific performances out of Clay Matthews III, Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly. They really dominated the line of scrimmage. We were quicker off the snap than the Cowboys OL. And just as I predicted, Jason Garrett became impatient. He abandoned the run. CM3, Jenkins and Jolly made Romo uncomfortable. Often times playing a 2-4-5 formation, Jenkins and Jolly controlled the point of attack, got a push and allowed for Barnett & Hawk to make a difference shooting the gaps with inside blitzes. Both Barnett & Hawk played possessed. Desperate as though their jobs were on the line.

It's also interesting to note that on both fumbles that Woodson forced, Clay Matthews III was the man on top of the football playing until the whistle blew. Additionally, it's noteworthy to state that one play came nearly 40 yards down field and the other play came nearly 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Both displaying terrific versatility.

Matthews has to be in conversations for the defensive rookie of the year - just behind Jairus Byrd. Thus far, Matthews has 23 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 fumbles recovered, 1 forced fumble, 4 passes defensed and 1 TD. I'd like to see Matthews finish with 50 tackles, 8-10 sacks, 2-3 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries. For comparison sake, LaMarr Woodley has 22 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD and 4 passes defensed. Shaun Phillips has 42 tackles, 5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. When you consider that Matthews did not start seeing every down snaps until Week 4, statistically he fits in the 2nd tier of OLB's that play in the 3-4. While he does not force offenses to scheme around him, he does bring an endless energy that elicits positivity.

It was also nice to see Nintendo Nick getting his hands on a couple of passes. And, of course, Ras Al playing steady as ever.

I'm also going to offer applause for Brad Jones. He drops in coverage nicely. He had 7 tackles. He seemed to adapt well to his role. And in his first game in which he saw significant playing time, he was not responsible for any glaring mistakes. With that being said, he was often the last person to move off the snap. His first step seemed slow coming off the edge. He did not look overly comfortable as a pass rushing LB. My fear is that he may have the same disease that plagues Michael Montgomery & Jeremy Thompson. He might be a good effort guy who is not quick enough off the ball while judging the snap count. I hope I'm wrong as I want to like him.

The win moves the Packers to 5-4 & in the thick of the Wild Card hunt. In fact, I could argue that we're in the driver's seat as we are battling Dallas, Philly, the Giants, the Falcons, the Panthers, the 49ers and the Bears for 2 spots. Remember to eliminate one of the NFC East teams as they qualify automatically for winning the division. Dallas still has games against the Giants and Philly. Philly still plays Chicago, Atlanta, the Giants and Dallas. Atlanta still plays the Giants and Philly. Eliminate Chicago as they have two games left against Minnesota. The Giants still play Atlanta, Dallas, Philly and Carolina. What I'm saying is that if we take care of our business, the rest of the teams will knock each other out of it.

The 49ers come into town this weekend. You know Mike Singletary will want this game. His troops will be physical. His team will be ready. They'll be prepared. If we're not focused early in this game, we'll fall behind. And the 49ers are the type of team that can annoy you. They'll bait you into mistakes. They'll frustrate you. They're tough to comeback on. They play good defense, pressuring the QB & stopping the run. They run the football. They use short routes to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree to keep the ball moving.

The 49ers have a small handful of rising star players; notably Patrick Willis, Frank Gore, Davis and Crabtree. I also really enjoy Manny Lawson's game. Lawson is a long armed, lanky defender that pressures the QB and gives optimum effort every play. Playing the same position as CM3 in the 3-4 defense, Lawson (who was the 22nd pick in the '06 draft) can both rush the passer and drop into coverage. He presents mismatches and can alter plays. Across from Lawson is Parys Haralson, an under appreciated, unknown defender who can presser the QB. Haralson & Lawson will provide a stiff challenge for our Tackles.

The 49ers can be attacked as Nate Clements & Takeo Spikes will be out. Mark Roman will see playing time. Though Dre Bly has been a Packer killer, he's aged and slowed down. Shawntae Spencer has nice size, but he'll bite on slants and you can run by him. Michael Lewis is a safety that I wanted the Packers to sign before the 2007 season. He's a respectable safety that is normally fit for his assignment, a sure tackler. Not a terrific playmaker, but he's going to be around the ball.

I'm not going to get into the Alex Smith/Aaron Rodgers draft class, but I'm sure this game weighs heavy on both players minds and that they're especially aware of each others performance.

We're 9 games into the season and we still don't know who the Packers are. We lack an identity. We may go into the offseason wondering the same. Or we may establish ourselves as a legitimate playoff contender in the comfort of the confines of Lambeau Field. A win would not only be good for our playoff standings, but it'll also all but eliminate the 49ers.

The 49ers physical mentality gives the Packers fits early in the game. We struggle with protection. Patrick Willis stops the run game. Frank Gore pounds at us in between the tackles. The 49ers lead 6-3 midway through the 2nd Quarter.

And then the defense provides the lift. Clay gets into Alex Smith's face for a sack. We swing the field position. Rodgers finds Jennings on a deep ball. 10-6 Packers.

Early in the 3rd, Ras-A-tari gets his hands on a ball. Once again the Packers have good field position. It's Rodgers to Grant on a screen. Grant picks up 15. It's Rodgers to Nelson for a 1st down. It's Rodgers to Donald Lee for a TD.

With a two score lead, the Packers bring the pressure. Smith avoids the pressure and finds light success with Vernon Davis who provides a mismatch against Hawk, Chillar and Barnett. He connects with Crabtree on a slant. But, the Packers defense holds to a FG.

In the 4th Quarter, the Packers rediscover the run game. Pounding at the cold and uncomfortable San Francisco DL. The Lambeau crowd leaves with joy for the second week in a row.

Packers 23. 49ers 9.

Charles Woodson for Defensive Player of the Year.


Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Take -> Week 10

Greetings, G-Force.

As a prerequisite to writing this week, I required the influence of tequila. So, as I sit, a margarita rests by my side.

Growing up in Green Bay, some of my earliest childhood memories came in 1982 when I was 5 years old. I remember the 1st Packer game I went to against the Detroit Lions. On the way to the game, my Dad talked to me about Freddie Scott, a WR for Detroit. I thought it was so cool that a guy shared a name with me. Freddie Scott scored that day. I remember asking my Dad if I was supposed to cheer. He made certain that it was not OK to cheer for the opposition at Lambeau Field. I vividly remember the 1982 Wild Card playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals. I went to the game with my Mom, my Dad, and my brother Chad. We sat in section 22. Beautiful seats. I remember watching John Jefferson score 2 TD's leading to the famous JJ & James Lofton high five! I remember Gary Lewis block a kick. I remember seeing Ezra Johnson sack Neil Lomax and throwing his arms in the air. I remember seeing Ezra Johnson in the mall the following day and then seeing Lynn Dickey at K-Mart later that same evening. In my youth, that was football ecstasy.

Since 1982, I've been a Green Bay Packers addict. Without counting, I'm confident that I've gone to over 150 games. Through the years, I've probably gone to close to 100 practices as well. I've always wore my Packer colors with great pride. Then came this past Sunday.

If at one time you lived in Green Bay and you no longer do, you'll be able to relate to my next paragraph: as a transplant, in some way, you feel like a Packers bully. You always value others opinions of the team. You love to read about them. You enjoy watching them on TV. But, in the end, you don't make your final judgment on the team until you've seen them in person.

For the first time in my life, as a fan, I was embarrassed. Of course, I was talking noise in the parking lot. Walking with confidence. Responding to nonsensical Favre jokes with an I'm over it type flair. And then, the team responds as though they were fake imitations.

Good teams don't lose that game. Teams with strong leadership don't lose those games. Championship teams don't lose those games. When is it OK to call AK-74, Driver, Woodson, Pickett, Barnett, Harris, Jenkins, Clifton, and Wells leaders? Not until we win, I guess. We need an influx of players that have played in a Super Bowl. Players that have tasted winning. Mix that with our youth to install a winning culture. Presently, our mentality is dreadful.

While it's nice to catch replays on the TV, I'd rather see what happens off the ball. Like how do WR's react on busted plays? What types of routes do our WR's run? How do RB's, TE's adjust to plays that are slower to develop when they are originally called upon to block? Are CB's taking plays off when the action appears to be directed towards the other side of the field. How do our LB's drop in coverage? These are things that are best seen in person.

Against Tampa, we failed. Miserably. It looks to me as though this team is lazy, unmotivated, and extremely predictable. Greg Jennings is clearly annoyed. He's lost confidence in Rodgers. I guarantee it. His body language shows it all. Busted plays used to lead to dump offs to our TE's, FB's, and RB's. Often times, they led to first down gains. Today, our team lacks football instincts. We're robotic. If we're initially instructed to block, forget the improvisation. It's not happening.

I've been extremely critical of Rodgers holding onto the ball too long. But, man, often times, he only has TWO guys running routes. And NO ONE releases for him. He has TWO options. Tampa often rushed 4 guys. We were running pass plays with TWO offensive players against SEVEN defenders. Terrible coaching imagination. No creativity. No faith in the front line. How can you blame McCarthy, I guess?

Where did the play action roll out pass to the TE go? You know the one where the TE immediately breaks off the line of scrimmage about 2-3 yards down field? Havner turned that into a TD against Cleveland, but why don't we see it more often? Rodgers is on the move. He's out of the pocket. Clearly, right now, Rodgers is afraid to step up into the pocket. He does not trust it, for whatever reason.

While Rodgers was learning to play QB in the NFL in the preseason, his greatest weapon was the crossing route. He was in great rhythm. He was able to get his WR's in position to grab yards after the catch. Today, whenever we run three WR routes with one crossing the face of the defense, Rodgers is slow to find him. He's always open. Normally, it's James Jones running the route.

I know we have injuries at WR, but I can't be convinced that Jake Allen is the best WR that we can find.

Defensively, I can't take watching AK-74 drop in coverage any more. It's annoying. It's frustrating. He left the game as he supposedly had a concussion. It sure felt like he had a bruised ego. He, too, is frustrated. It's all over his face. He used to be the guy standing first in line to watch the offense on the field. Now, he stands in the distance - three rows deep.

This defense needs desire. It needs attitude. Four defensive players were walking around like they wanted that game: Raji, Woodson, Harris, and Collins. The rest stood around hanging their heads with their hands on their hips. This defense does not intimidate. In no way.

Why is J-Bush on the field? Why? I saw that the Broncos picked up Ty Law. Why didn't we do that? Clearly, we needed another DB. Yet, we continue to allow for our team to lose games due to J-Bush giving up a big play.

Metaphorically, let me explain the difference between Ted Thompson in Ron Wolf. Ron Wolf wanted to like Lenny McGill. McGill was a decent gunner on special teams. Played hard. Was in a 2-year battle to become our Dime DB. He was given the role in 1995. We played the Steelers on Christmas Eve. If we won, we won the NFC Central. We had the lead in the closing seconds. On 4th down, McGill got smoked by Yancy Thigpen. Thankfully, Thigpen dropped the ball. That year, Wolf spent a 3rd round pick on Tyrone Williams. McGill never played another down in Green Bay. I'm not going to waste my breath rehashing the J-Bush story.

Paul Simon once sang, "and isn't strange that after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same. After changes, we are more or less the same." Such is life for the Green Bay Packers defense. In the offseason, we made immense coaching changes to top-grade our staff. Brought in a new intensity. A heightened passion for football. Still, Nick Barnett can't bring down a QB on a blitz. Still, we can't get off the field on 3rd down. Still, when the game is on the line, our defense can't get the stop we needed. Thus, we just lost to the worst team in the NFL. Miserable. Freaking pathetic. 4 games this year, our defense has had a chance to either win or game or keep us in a game in the 4th Quarter. In each game, we gave up points. Sure, eventually, we picked off Cutler on the last drive, but remember we gave up the lead late in the game on the possession before. In the last Minnesota game, if we would have stopped them after the Crosby missed FG, we would have still been in the game. Instead, it was 4 plays & 59 yards. We lack an identity on defense.

We're a miserable zone defense. It strips Nintendo Nick's playmaking sills. He is an artist at safety. He needs to be creative. Jumping routes. Playing free. We don't put enough pressure on the QB to play a zone defense. It's too easy to read. Our LB's can't cover in space. And our LB's can't get to the QB. We don't pursue with a viscous mentality.

Paul Simon must have also been talking about our special teams unit. Each week - our special teams unit fails us.

This week against the Cowboys is the job that could determine Mike McCarthy's career as coach of the Green Bay Packers. A loss and the Packers drop to 2-3 at Lambeau Field. We fall to 4-5 on the season. And Wild Card hopes are all but mathematically eliminated.

Frankly, it's hard for me to imagine a scenario in which the Packers win this game. Unless, of course, we play with EXTREME desperation.

DeMarcus Ware scares me. Miles Austin is terrific. Tony Romo is elusive. Marion Barber III is a bruiser. Jason Witten is a tough cover. Felix Jones is fast and tough to stop in the open field. Roy Williams & Romo are finding continuity. Mike Jenkins is a fast improving CB. Dallas is playing solid football.

But, the purpose of the blog is to provide a glimpse as to how the Packers can win each & every game. So here goes.

You have to be patient against the Dallas offense. Understand that they're going to pound away at you, but know that Jason Garrett will go away from constantly running the ball. You can't play zone. If you do, Romo will murder you. You have to man up against them. Beware of the long ball. Romo will go deep to Austin at least 2-3 times especially if matched up against T-Mon. It'll happen.

We're going to need Chuckie to jump an out pattern. Have him line up against Crayton in the slot. Crayton runs a solid down & out. Chuckie MUST jump one of these. If so, it'll be 6 points.

Romo also likes to take shots deep down the middle of the field. There will be an opportunity for a Safety to make a play. Once Romo crosses midfield, he's thinking about the HR strike.

We're going to need to force at least two turnovers in order to win this game.

Offensively, we must go in with a game plan in which we understand that Dallas will score at least 23 points. They will score at least 5 times in this game. So, we must be prepared to match them.

Short passes. Short passes. Short passes.




Run the draw. No sweeps. Our OL can't hold their blocks.

Quick positive note - Quinn Johnson has done wonders for our running game.

More 3 step drops than 5 or 7 step drops. In fact, eliminate the 7 step drop. It's unnecessary. Aaron, get rid of the ball.

We need both Jennings & Driver to top 75 yards. Jones over 50 yards. Rodgers over 300 yards. Grant & Green helping with ball possession. We need at least 31 points.

Green Bay 34. Dallas 30.

Sorry for the rant.

Go Pack Go.

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Take -> Week 9

Greetings, G-Force!

First & foremost, I want to applaud the incomparable support displayed by the fans during the tumultuous defeat suffered at the hands of the 'queens. Down 24-3, that game had the feeling of a 48-17 finish. The overwhelming energy ignited the spark that the team required to make a comeback. While the effort did not result in a victory, the effects of the G-Force was felt. Bryant McKinnie was quoted as saying that "the fans were great. I could not even hear. I had to watch the ball all game." I commend the fans undying passion in the franchise.

It seems as though I stand isolated on the present status of Mike McCarthy & Ted Thompson. It's fashionable to want McCarthy & Thompson ousted from their current posts. Don't mistake me, I'm not satisfied with defeat. In fact, the loss was devastating. However, I don't think we're far off the natural trend of success that is undertaken when a franchise moves towards a younger QB that is expected to win football games for his team.

Ben Roethlisberger & Joe Flacco are recent young QB's to have success early in their careers. The difference is that Rodgers plays in a pass first offense. The Steelers and Ravens play on teams that were founded on ball control and tremendous defenses. My barometer for the current state of the franchise is the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers' careers should be forever compared. They were thrown into similar situations. While it could be argued that the Falcons have played much better than us, both teams hold 4-3 records after 7 games.

In July, I wrote that via the natural progression of our franchise, I felt that 9 wins should be a minimum expectation. 10 wins would make it a great year. http://talkins-mac.blogspot.com/2009/07/lessons-learned-experience-gained.html. Even though we have gaping holes in our roster, I still feel that we've progressed from '08 to '09. I truly believe that one successful offseason could have us in the mix of Super Bowl talk. We need a draft a la 1995. We must sign a veteran OT to protect Rodgers back side.

Again, I'm not completely satisfied with Thompson & McCarthy. I wanted Thompson to sign Vonnie Holliday. I was begging for it. I wanted the Packers to talk to Brian Dawkins. I was hollering for the Packers to talk to Greg Ellis (he has 4 sacks this year for the pathetic Oakland Raiders). Thompson ignored all of them. However, Thompson has traded up to find CM3 who has superstar potential. J-Mike has blossomed in his 2nd year. Thompson has not failed completely.

McCarthy frustrates as his team seems to make the same mistakes every week. But, offensively, he's been dealt a difficult hand. He has had to endure a plethora of injuries over the last two years. Grant, B-Jack, Wynn, Hall, Jones, Nelson, J-Mike, Spitz, Tauscher, Colledge, and Clifton have all either missed significant time or played with difficult injuries. It's been tough to find continuity. Plus, he's playing a version of a West Coast offense which demands heightened QB play. Rodgers has been a starting QB for less than 1.5 years. This week marks his 24th game as a starting QB. If McCarthy's Packers can finish 6-3, they'll finish with a 10-6 record. That may not be good enough for a Wild Card berth, but it should be enough for another season as coach of the Green Bay Packers.

Also, for the record, I disagree with the trendy take that the Packers did not come out ready to play early in the Minnesota game. Other than Aaron Rodgers, I thought the Packers came out aggressively. Rodgers came out nervously. After Jolly recovered the fumble, we were staring at a 3rd & 5. Rodgers had James Jones wide open on a crossing route. It would have been a 1st & goal. I contend that if Rodgers makes that pass, he may have relaxed and the game might have been differently. Instead, Rodgers takes a sack and the Packers are forced to settle for 3. It makes me wonder, is Rodgers looking down field or is he looking solely at the DL applying the pressure?

Before everyone jumps on the fire Thompson/McCarthy bandwagon, I ask for you to remember 1994. Recall the way you felt when an inferior New England team beat us. Our record went to 2-3. Or how about when we went to Minnesota in Week 8. After a bye. It seemed as though our season was on the line. We choked away the game on a Mark Brunell fumble. We lost a 10-7 4th quarter lead and dropped to 3-4. The similarities are strikingly similar. After both Week 5 & Week 8, I remember sitting in my kitchen, eating dinner and listening to the local media questioning whether Mike Holmgren was the right coach for us.

In 1994, on Thanksgiving Day, I listened to my Grandpa, my uncles and my Dad tell me how Holmgren was wrong for us. We lost to a Jason Garrett led Dallas Cowboys team. We had given up 42 points. The media trashed Holmgren. They questioned Fritz Shurmur's defense. Remember that 1994 was also Shurmur's first year implementing a new defense. The following week we went to Detroit. Again, we got exposed as we lost 34-31. Shurmur & Holmgren were questioned as distinguished leaders. LeRoy Butler was complaining as to whether he was a fit for the new Packers defense. Can you draw comparisons to the present day Packers?

Oh, but the Packers won their last three games and finished 9-7. We clinched a playoff berth. We beat the Lions in the 1st round of the playoffs. Today, Holmgren has a prominent street in Green Bay named after him. In no way, am I predicting that this happens with McCarthy. Instead I'm suggesting that McCarthy deserves an open mind over the next 9 games.

For the past couple of weeks, I've talked about the 8-game swing stretch that will determine our season. Currently, we're 2-1 in those games. I'm headed to Tampa to ensure that we go 3-1. I'm off to Siesta Key on Friday Night. I'm spending Saturday eating oysters & crawfish on the beach. The only shirts I'm bringing are Packer t-shirts. I'm going to find the Packer community on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We will unite. We will stand strong. We will bring the G-Force to Tampa in joyous fashion.

As I've tried to emphasize for weeks, there are two ways to make the playoffs:

1.) Win the Division
2.) Win the Wild Card

Let's focus on the Wild Card. It starts with a win at Tampa Bay.

Tampa is a terrible football team. Arguably the worst in the NFL. This should make for a game in which we get rid of some frustrations. Tampa will try to control the clock on the ground. They'll attempt to pound away at us and hope that Aqib Talib can make a play to keep the Yucks in the game. It's not happening.

This is a blowout victory for the Packers. Once again, we find our stride offensively. The Sunshine State brings warmth to the Packers mentality through a necessary dose of Vitamin D.

Rodgers goes for 250 and 2. Grant tops 75 and grabs a TD. Jenkins finds a sack. CM3 also notches a sack.

Packers 34. Yucks 13.

I'm off to marinate in the beach & bring peace to the G-Force.

*** I've been slacking in the "Who Are You Watching Now?" portion of the blog. While I've been intently watching a plethora of college football and taking enormous amounts of mental notes, I've failed to jot much of it on paper. I've struggled to find time. As of now, my mock draft for 2010 reads (Clearly, OL is a pressing problem, but I don't follow it closely enough to include them in my rankings):

Round 1.) CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson. He's the game breaker the Packers need. He's a Darren Sproles type back. Fast. Elusive. And when he finds the open field, consider it 6 points. Lord knows, I'd love Eric Berry, S, Tennessee as I feel he's the best player in CFB, but I've estimated that the Packers pick between 15-22 and there's no way Berry lasts that far. Should Spiller be drafted, I'd select Jahvid Best, RB, Cal.

Round 2.) Jermaine Cunningham, OLB/DE, FL. He is a natural pass rusher who is athletic enough to drop in coverage. Every time I watch him, he impresses me. Cunningham is a physical specimen who's caught my eye on numerous occasions. I am always intent on watching Carlos Dunlap yet Cunningham steals my attention. I'm also high on pass rushing OLB/DE Ricky Sapp and Eric Norwood. I'm also hoping Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State falls. We don't need another WR, but I think Bryant is absolutely legit and he could drop due to his suspension.

Round 3.) Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State. I'm also impressed with Alterraun Verner as a mid round prospect.

Round 4.) Von Miller, OLB, Texas A & M. Miller can flat out rush the passer. The Packers love A & M grads. Miller would fit as a 3-4 OLB.

Round 5.) Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas. He's a game changer. A speedy WR. Workaholic. Great attitude. Sure to end up a NE Patriot.

Round 6.) Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee. He has the size to play the NT spot. Been taught by Monte Kiffin for the last year. That's enough for me, at this point.

Round 7a.) Dan LeFevor, QB, Central Michigan. He'll definitely be drafted. We'll definitely draft a QB. He has the size and has shown great promise.

Round 7b.) Lucien Antoine, S, Oklahoma State. I never see his name listed on draft sites. But, every time I watch Oklahoma State, this guy is physically making his presence felt. Hence, his nickname is the "Punisher."

The Packers acquired a 7th Round pick from the Panthers for long snapper J.J. Jansen. ***

Never Say Die,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Take -> Week 8

Greetings, G-Force.

Dominant victories over the hapless Lions and Browns have a man feeling cautiously optimistic. Yes, the combined 57-3 thrashing offers a positive vibe, but for the first time in the '09 Regular Season, the Green Bay Packers look like their having fun. The camaraderie is back. Unity is apparent.

Successful athletes walk a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Often times crossing the border. When in the spotlight, they want to look good. Feel good. Play good. Last week, as a unit, the Packers played this part. It was good to see a lil' flair in the wardrobe. T-Mon rockin' the yellow boots! Pickett, Ras-Al kickin' it with yellow wrist bands. We added flavor. A zest that this roster required. A new attitude.

Suddenly, the Packers are playing inspired football. Playing with a purpose. Clicking on all cylinders. TJ Lang getting to the 2nd level creating the extra space for Grant to bust into the secondary. Lang also providing gaps in which you could almost hear Vince Lombardi echoing, "you get a seal here and a seal here and you run the play through the alley!"

Rodgers goes for 246 and 3 TD's. For the most part, he was releasing the ball on cue. A nearly flawless performance. Displayed via a QB rating over 155. Connecting with 8 different receivers.

Grant was explosive. Following blocks and getting to the second level. Bouncing off defenders. Quinn Johnson makes Grant a different back.

Driver & Jennings running after the catch and looking as dangerous as ever. It was also good to see James Jones in the end zone again. Donald Lee continuing to show himself as a legitimate possession receiver. Spencer Havner! Are you kidding me?

Charles Woodson! Ohio native. University of Michigan grad. When I saw him lined across from Brian Robiskie wiggling his fingers early in the game, I turned to Vargas and A* and said, "Chuckie is lined up across from a Ohio State alum, you know he's grabbing a pick." Congrats on #4 for the season, Charles. And #40 for a career. 10 more and to me, you're a lock for the Hall of Fame. Also notable, in two games against Ohio teams this year, Charles Woodson compiled 13 tackles, 3 interceptions, a forced fumble and a TD. He's a stallion.

Cullen Jenkins makes a play every game. He'll never get Pro Bowl consideration, but he's deserving of being mentioned.

AK-74 playing possessed. He's hand is in the dirt. I love it.

Nick Barnett & AJ Hawk playing aggressively.

Why is Brady Poppinga on the field?

It's so nice to have Ras-A-tari back on the field.

Ras-Al playing like he's in his mid-20's.

The past two weeks have propelled the Packers back into the thick of the playoff race. One game out of the Division lead. In a 4-way tie for the Wild Card. Importantly, one game ahead of the hated Chicago Bears.

This week, it's the 'queens coming back to town. A tie for 1st place in the division is at stake. The forecast is calling for an epic early November day. Low 40's. Light snow flurries. It'll be picture perfect.

Brett Favre in Purple. The notion still seems wicked to me. Somewhere Peter Tosh is screaming "every time I see the wicked man, my blood turns cold." I'm not going to get into my sheer disdain over the last 6 months again. It's not beneficial to be redundant. However, I beg that the Lambeau Field faithful offer a rude welcoming for the man who brought our team back to football prominence.

In no way do I want him feeling comfortable. Please, G-Force, I beg of you, offer the entire Minnesota sideline a standing...BOOOOOOOO!!!! Be loud. Be proud. Hate the color purple. Do so with a spitting vengeance! For 60 minutes, this is an off 'yur ass, on 'yur feet type game. If you can't bring it for 60 minutes, offer your ticket to someone that can. This is a statement game for the future of our franchise. It's up to the G-Force to provide the support and heightened Green & Gold praise. Don't sway.

The game at Minnesota could be considered "sticking it" to Ted Thompson. The game at Green Bay would be "sticking it" to the Green Bay Packers. It's up to us to help not let this happen.

When I break down this game, the first place I look is Jared Allen vs TJ Lang. Lang has been terrific against mediocre talent. If Clifton can't go, Lang must elevate to show he can compete versus the best in the business. If so, he may be our LT for years to come.

Surprisingly, A.P. has been quiet this year. At Lambeau, we've done fairly well against him. Using Ras-A-tari as an extra LB at the line, Bigby has been a sure tackler and an 8th man in the box. Meanwhile, Collins has been deep preventing the BIG HR play. Obviously, we must contain A.P.

Favre to Sidney Rice has become one of the more lethal tandems in all of football. Rice tortured us in the first match-up. We have to trust that T-Mon can cover Rice over the top and try to have Nintendo Nick jump the deep slants that Rice has been running effectively.

Throughout his career, Berrian has been a stiff test for Ras-Al. He was in the first game. He will be again. He seems to make a big play every time they match up. Favre's going to go to this well. Unquestionably. Ras-Al must be up to the task.

Shiancoe continues to develop a great rapport with Favre. A consistent chain mover. A terrific red-zone threat.

In order to slow down the Minnesota offense, you HAVE TO GET PRESSURE FROM THE INSIDE! Without it, the 'queens are difficult to contain. But, if you can get in the immobile Favre's face, you can slow them down.

Losing J-Mike will hurt our offensive attack. He was our best weapon in the first match-up. Rest assured, McCarthy is sitting under a night lamp drawing up a bit of trickery to create points and to make up for J-Mike's absence.

The Packers come out throwing early. Attacking the left side of the 'queens defense where there's a huge void as they're playing without Winfield. Benny Sapp & Tyrell Johnson are the weakness of their defense. We go after them.

Puma route to Jennings. Short curl to Lee. Crossing route over the middle to Double-D. We move inside the 30. Grant gets stuffed on a 3rd & short. Yes, the Packers short-yardage offensive woes continue. However, Crosby is true from 43 yards. The Packers take an early 3-0 lead.

Favre leads the 'queens to midfield where miscommunication occurs on a 3rd down. The defense is off the field. The faithful are rowdy!

Early in the 2nd Quarter, Minnesota moves the football. A shovel pass to AP for 12 yards. AP pounds at the interior of defense. Favre to Shiancoe. It's Favre to Rice on a back shoulder fade into the corner of the end zone. Minnesota grabs the lead.

The Packers strike back. Showing a youthful fight. An exuberant energy inside the huddle concocts a Rodgers inspired drive. Rodgers picks on Benny Sapp again. James Jones fighting for extra yards. The Lambeau faithful shows their approval with a rousing ovation. It's Rodgers to Driver for 6 points and a Lambeau Leap into the South End Zone stands! The Packers regain the lead!

Percy Harvin responds with a big time return to put Minnesota into Packers territory. Minnesota closes the half with a late FG to tie it at 13.

Early in the third quarter, Berrian gets deep.

The Packers continue to play with heart. Pride abound. Under the lights of Lambeau. Players blowing cold smoke with each breath. Grant pounds for first down yardage. Almost unbelievably, the Packers find success with physical football. The Packers spread out Minnesota's depleted secondary and hit them with Grant who gets himself into the second wave of their defense. Inside the red zone, it's Rodgers to Jennings on a slant to the right side of the Minnesota defense. 20-20.

The Packers get their turnover. AK-74 gets to Favre and the football comes loose. Jenkins recovers. We convert into points.

It's late. 5 minutes left. Favre comes strolling out. One more magic Lambeau moment in his pocket. Methodically picking the Packers apart. Pissing us off with each 3rd down completion. Favre to Shiancoe. Favre to Rice. Favre to Taylor. AP plows into the end zone from 12 yards out.

And then, it's the true passing of the baton. It's 2 minutes left. Where Favre created his legacy. Standing on the sidelines. While Rodgers goes to work. Hollywood could not have wrote a better story. As time expires, it's Mason Crosby from 45 yards and a Green Bay Packers dagger into the hearts of the Minnesota Viqueens.

It's a thriller.

Green Bay 30. Minnesota 27.

This young generation of Packers grabs their first trademark victory in the post Brett Favre era. Against their former leader. It draws them into a tie for first place in the Division. There's an overwhelming state of euphoria inside the elite theater in all of sports. Pure ecstasy. Joy in a picturesque Lambeau Field.

Feel it on the inside. Wear it on the outside, baby!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Take -> Week 7

Greetings, G-Force.

I find it comical when I read the press and the utter negativity that surrounds the present state of our organization. I read blogs and others opinions and it's full of hate. Instead of rejoicing in a 26-0 victory, an emphasis is placed on our faults. Quite sickening, it is.

Sure, the penalties are unacceptable. Rodgers still held onto the ball too long. For the most part, the OL looked pathetic. Our running game is below expectations, even though Grant did rush for 90 yards. I was frustrated as Quinn Johnson blew up LB's to open up holes, only to have a guard not be able to sustain a block. But, the reality is that we SHUT OUT an NFL franchise. I believe that I read the Lions had not been shut out since 2001. I also heard that the Packers had not shut out the Lions since the 1950's. To me, these are significant achievements.

Don't get me wrong, I'm frustrated in McCarthy's tolerance for inexcusable performance. We consistent fail to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. I'm also disappointed by Thompson's refraining of veteran FA's. Additionally, I heard rumors of Joe Thomas being on the trading block. I would have offered Bishop, AK-74, Hawk and a 1st rounder for Thomas to be the pillar of Rodgers' backside for the next 12 years. Instead, the Packers remain at the center of trade rumors and on the outside looking in when the deadline passes.

Any way, I was stoked to see Ras-A-tari back on the field making the interception in the end zone to preserve the shut out. I was stoked to see Nick Barnett beat Kevin Smith to the corner on 4th & 1, which forced Smith to the inside where CM3 was able to make the play behind the line of scrimmage. I was stoked to see CM3 record 2 sacks in a game. Cullen Jenkins making a pick on a well designed screen play! Reading the play perfectly. AK-74 with his best game of the year, the first time he's looked comfortable. Ras-Al coming on the blitz and getting home! Double-D setting the Packers receptions record. Greg Jennings getting into the open field. James Jones getting deep on a beautiful look-off by Rodgers which created the wide open big play. J-Mike continues to impress. Jordy and T-Mon both looked strong returning kicks. Rodgers connected with 9 different receivers!

I'm not saying that we don't have a ton of work ahead of us. In fact, we're an average football team. But, with our schedule, we can do some damage. And, it's important to remember that in Week 5, the Detroit Lions were trailing the Super Bowl champions 28-20 late. They had the ball inside the 30 yard line and looking like they were to equalize. G-Force, a win is a win just as a loss is a loss. In the standings, this win is the equivalent of the loss to the 'queens. And, it's important for us to keep this in perspective. We also must remember that there's two ways to get into the playoffs: 1.) you win the division. 2.) you qualify for the wild card. After 5 games, we're in decent shape.

As fans, we become obsessed with the quality of team that we've defeated. We use that as THE barometer to measure ourselves. Whatever happened to the days of 1994? In '94, we squeaked out wins against bottom feeders such as the Jets & Rams. In no way were we dominant. However, as fans, we cherished those victories and thought of them as monumental. The only reason that '09 is different is because of the expectations we've placed on the season. Admittedly, I'm one of those that predicted great things. Even today, I still believe that we are in solid position to be playoff bound. And as the Giants displayed in '07, once in the playoffs, anything can happen.

This week, we have the Browns. Another contest in the 8 game swing stretch that will decide our season. As I think about this game, if we don't become arrogant and overlook this game, we should win it easily. But, we CANNOT look ahead to the November 1 show down. Stay focused on the task at hand.

As I mentioned this 8 game swing stretch will decide our fate. If you can't win at home and if you can't win against inferior teams in a league intended to breed parity, you may as well pack up your bags and start the offseason. I'm confident that we will perform.

A trip to Cleveland should continue to provide some much needed momentum to our locker room. Let's remember that Cleveland was an opponent that we demolished in the preseason when we looked primed for big things. But, in the same breath, let's remind ourselves that the Browns have played better over the last three weeks. They played the Bengals nose-to-nose for 75 minutes only to lose on the last play of OT. They beat Buffalo in swirling winds. They played the Steelers tough and were threatening midway through the 4th Quarter to make it a one-score game.

If you haven't been paying attention, Mohammed Massaquoi is quietly becoming a dangerous weapon for the Browns. Since Derek Anderson took over as the QB for the Browns 3 games ago, Massaquoi has 14 catches for nearly 250 yards. Anderson can throw the deep ball and Massaquoi is a deep threat. Expect the Browns to challenge T-Mon deep.

Josh Cribbs is the NFL's elite kick return man. He's averaging nearly 30 yards per kickoff and 17 yards per punt return. He's returned two kicks for TD's. It would not surprise me if Cribbs has a BIG return this weekend.

Chansi Stuckey recently joined Cleveland in the Braylon Edwards trade. He'll add a decent slot option for Anderson on short, check-down routes.

The right side of the Browns line is a couple of sieve's. AK-74 gets to the QB this weekend.

It's a homecoming-of-sorts for CM3. Too bad he has to go against Joe Thomas, one of the elite young LT's in football. It'll be an interesting challenge for CM3. If he can impress this week, it'll be a huge step in his development as a player. Over the next 2 weeks, we'll learn a lot about where CM3 is at in the early stages of his career.

Defensively, outside of Shaun Rogers, the Browns are vulnerable. Kamerion Wimbley, Brandon McDonald, Brodney Pool and Eric Wright are all young, athletic, aggressive and improving, but they are not ready to carry a defense. With the loss to leading tackler, D'Qwell Jackson, they have a major void in the middle of their defense. I'd attack the right side of their defense with Robaire Smith and David Bowens. I'd also go over the top of Abram Elam.

The Packers come out and grab an early 7-0 lead. Rodgers gets the TE's involved early. Lee & J-Mike both move the chains. Forcing the LB's to drop back in coverage, Grant breaks through the left side of the line for a 12 yard gain. It's Rodgers to Driver for a TD.

The defense holds and Rodgers goes to work. It's James Jones on a short ball. He goes back to the TE's. Again to Lee. Again to J-Mike down the seam. 10-0 Packers.

Midway through the 2nd Quarter, Cribbs turns the tide with a kick return. Mixing Jerome Harrison and Jamal Lewis, the Browns punch it in to make it 10-7. The Dawg Pound rises and makes life tough for Rodgers to close the half. 13-7 Packers at the break.

At 16-7, it looks like the Packers will pull away until Anderson finds Massaquoi deep. The Browns close to 16-14.

Then the Packers respond. Rodgers finds Jennings behind the defense and the Packers respond with a quick strike behind Abram Elam. 23-14 Packers.

Derek Anderson has thrown 6 interceptions compared to 2 TD's. With the Browns trailing, the offense becomes predictable and so do Anderson's results. Nintendo Nick steps in front of a pass and takes it to the house.

Rodgers finishes with 250 yards and 2 TD's. Grant tops 100 yards. We move to 4-2 and we're in the thick of the Wild Card Race.

Packers 30. Browns 14.

Welcome back Ahman Green. I hope you spend time with our youngsters educating them on what it means to be a member of the Green Bay Packers. I wish for you to elevate our mental state through veteran leadership. I believe that you can still give us 30 offensive yards a game. That would be an upgrade over what we're currently getting from our back-up RB's.

Finally, I'm presenting a solution to our red zone woes: BACK SHOULDER PASS TO J-MIKE! GET IT DONE!

Have a Little Faith,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Take -> Week 5

Greetings, G-Force.

I hope you enjoyed your bye week as much as I did. The timing was impeccable. The Monday Night buzz kill is behind me and I'm ready to watch our football program excel over the next 8 weeks. Yes, it's an 8 week mission that includes matches against some of the poorest talent in the NFL. 2 games against the Lions. 1 against the Browns. 1 against Tampa. If we play with aggressiveness, they should all be double-digit wins. In addition, over the next 8 games, we have 4 winnable HOME games versus Minnesota, Dallas, SF and Baltimore. Anything less than 7-1 is a disappointment. If you can't win the games you are supposed to win and you can't dominate your home field, you are no more than a pretender.

Before I get to the game, I feel it necessary to point out the obvious: The entire offseason I was saying it was imperative to bring in a guy like Vonnie Holliday. He knew the 3-4. He was a proven vet that brought leadership to the locker room. He'd played with Capers previously. Thus far, in 5 games, Holliday has 2 sacks and a forced fumble that kept the Broncos in the game against the Patriots. In 5 seasons, Michael Montgomery has brought ZERO leadership. He also has 1 forced fumble. The most sacks he's ever produced in a season is 2.5. Yet, we continue to accept such deficiencies. We allow the same people to make the same mistakes. Holliday's 2 sacks would also be tied for the team lead.

I'm happy Mark Tauscher is back. I hope he is fit enough to make an impact.

I can't believe I'm about to say it but I'm excited for B-Jack to play again. Wynn has been a failure.

Barnett has no inside pass rushing ability. I hope Bishop plays more this week.

We need Bigby healthy.

Rodgers continues to hold the ball too long. If I can see it for the first 20 games of his career, why can't our coaching staff? It's comical to me that the media is finally making it a topic.

It all starts this week. Detroit comes to town. The last time the Lions won at Lambeau was December of 1991. I was with my brother Chad. We were frozen. Barry Sanders hurdled a Packers LB. Mike Tomczak was the Packers QB. Vince Workman was our RB. Almost seems ancient to me. The streak continues this Sunday.

The Packers will use a balanced attack. Expect a heavy dose of Ryan Grant in the 1st quarter. The Lions have been surprisingly good for the 1st half of games. They pursue the line of scrimmage with Larry Foote and Julian Peterson. But, when you start players such as Deandre Levy, William James, Marquand Manuel and Jason Hunter, you are prone to giving up big plays down the field. Eventually, you're worn down.

Early in the game, it's Grant on the cutback. It's Grant on the pitch to the right. It's Grant powering left and cutting right.

With the exception of the 4th Quarter against the Rams, our OL has been pushed around. This week, we get off to a good start. Our running game opens up the pass. It's play action pass and deep down the field to Jennings.

The Lions defense has been destroyed against the likes of Brees, Cutler and Roethlisberger. Rodgers will have similar success. Utilizing short routes. Quicker designs. Rodgers finds Lee, J-Mike, Grant, B-Jack, Jones, Nelson, Driver and Jennings.

I'm sad to see Willie B. go, but I believe Jordy makes a play on special teams as well this week.

Defensively, with Calvin Johnson's status in question, the mission is to stop Kevin Smith. 8 in the box. A variety of blitzes. We attack.

Clay Matthews 3 gets his first clean hit on a QB. Jeff Backus is not what he once was. He can be pushed back and run around. Matthews makes a consistent difference.

Woodson gets his first sack of the year. He also gets his 4th pick.

Nintendo Nick records his 2nd interception.

If this one is not convincing, I'm concerned.

Packers 38. Lions 20.

Seasons change. So does the football mentality. Bring on the cold weather.

Oh, and also, the Vikings and the Bears both lose this week. We're back in it!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Take -> Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

In 1967, Jimmy Cliff wrote the song "Give a Little, Take a Little." Thankfully, the Packers have not listened or else we'd be 0-3. Our defense has attacked the football like piranhas. And with the exception of a Ryan Grant lapse, we've possessed the ball with heightened care. The end result: turnovers have been the difference in our two wins this season.

Minus Brett Favre the setting would be: The Green Bay Packers at the Minnesota 'queens. On Monday Night. The 'queens at 3-0. The Pack at 2-1. You'd be ready for some football.

Add Brett Favre and this one is personal.

Make no mistake about it, Brett Favre is an egotistical maniac. For 16 years, he was my idol. For the last 16 months, he's been a self-righteous, arrogant jerk. Due to his present state, Favre came back for this game. He's not playing for the records. He has them already. He is not playing for the money. He has plenty. He's not playing for a Super Bowl. He has one. Brett Favre has come back to "stick it" to the Green Bay Packers. You know, that same organization that created his Legendary status. Yeah, you know, that franchise that helped develop the man that could presently be referred to as the greatest REGULAR SEASON QB in the History of the NFL.

Without the Green Bay Packers organization, Brett Favre would be divorced. An alcoholic. A vicodin drug addict. His family home in Mississippi would still be destroyed from Hurricane Katrina. Neither he nor Deanna would have their own charity. Essentially, he'd be living in a shack with Ryan Leaf. What a crying, ungrateful son of a bitch! For now, he's the Drama Viqueen.

The hype that surrounds the Drama Viqueen's reunion has created an event that Aaron Rodgers has never seen. Not of this magnitude. This will be the biggest arena in which he's ever played center stage. He can eliminate the notion that he's unable to replace the Drama Viqueen. He can prove Ted Thompson right, for once and for all. He's presently at the pinnacle of media hype in the national sports world.

Long term - the magnitude of this game is beyond mighty to both franchises. I can only imagine how much this game means to Thompson & McCarthy. I'll never be able to comprehend its importance. For the Packers, a loss could lead to both a divided fan base and locker room. It could envelop questions regarding the future of the teams leadership. Meanwhile, while the Drama Queen is most likely a flash in the pan of the Minnesota franchise, it should be mentioned that Childress went out of his way to ensure he got #4 as his QB. A loss on Monday Night could cloud the focus of the Drama Queen and therefore the future of Childress.

If I were in charge of the Packers, I'd challenge a member of the organization to run towards the media with statements begging Favre to try and beat us. I'd publicly state that we respect the Vikings organization. I'd say that we acknowledge AP is the best back in the league. That they have a great OL. That Shiancoe is an up and coming TE. That they have a special defense with remarkable run defense statistics. But, that we don't think Favre can beat us. That he can't lead them to victory. I'd publicly challenge him in a humiliating way. I'd stroke his ego and play the mind games with the media that he has attempted to master.

Two of the biggest story lines in this weeks box score will be: AP's rushing attempts and the Drama Viqueen's passing attempts. If AP rushes 22 times or more, it could spell difficulty for us. If #4 throws 30 times or more, I would expect a victory.

Clearly, this has the makings of a monumental game. While the Packers have turned the ball over once in 2009, the 'queens have only turned it over twice. The Packers have forced 9 turnovers as the 'queens have forced 6. The Packers have sacked the QB 5 times compared to the 'queens 7 times. All are important statistics to consider leading up to this significant battle.

Over the last two years, Jared Allen has destroyed a healthy Chad Clifton. Once as a Chief. Twice as a 'queen. If Clifton plays, I'm sure he'll be far from 100%, playing on pure grit. This match-up scares me.

The Williams boys up front provide a mismatch against the interior of our OL. Plainly stated, they are far superior to the likes of College, Spitz and Sitton. The Williams boys are probably the most intimidating DT-combo in football.

Ray Edwards is a productive DE. Without help, Barbre will have his hands full.

The 'queens LB core is arguably the most underrated group in the NFL. Chad Greenway can flat out play. Ben Leber is a football player. EJ Henderson is a talented run stuffer, but a bad pass defender.

Antoine Winfield is well, Antoine Winfield. He can play on my team any day - except when he's wearing purple.

After that, I smell weaknesses. You can attack the safeties. Cedric Griffin can be beat. You must be careful as he is slapping wrists when tackling, but he can be had. Benny Sapp is undersized. Karl Paymah can't play.

In 276 games, the Drama Viqueen has thrown 311 interceptions. Most came while I wholeheartedly supported him. Now, it's time for me to be the beneficiary of these statistics.

A.P. is the best player in the NFL. Chester Taylor seems to always make a play against us.

On the OL, Hutchinson and McKinnie are studs. Phil Loadholt has been a pleasant surprise for Minnesota fans as a rookie RT. Anthony Herrera and John Sullivan can be attacked. I've watched every play of every Minnesota game this year. Pressure can come by overloading the right side of the Minnesota OL.

Offensively, if we try to man up against Minnesota, we won't stand a chance. But, if we line up with 4-wide, spread them out, single back - they can't play with us. It's in McCarthy's mental hands to get the ball out of Rodgers hands. Run the delay to the over-pursuing side of Jared Allen. Clifton pushes him forward. Grant will have to make one guy miss before he has a 1st down.

We have to get Minnesota's LB's off the field and force them to play with extra DB's. That's the mismatch. The pass will set up the run. It'll set up manageable 2nd and 3rd downs via productive 1st downs. Thus, simplifying Rodgers' life.

Defensively, I'd match Chuckie one-on-one with Harvin in the slot. I'd stick T-Mon on Sidney Rice. He'd match Rice's speed, height, athleticism and jumping ability. While Berrian has had productive games against Al Harris, I'd put Harris to the task. Challenge him and believe he's game for the match-up.

I'd have Collins play CF to prevent the deep ball. Moreover, Collins is a sure tackler and has the speed to prevent the big HR by A.P.

On nearly every obvious passing down, I'm coming with a middle LB blitz. Pressuring the right side of the OL. At this stage in his career, you know where the Drama Viqueen will be. He's lost his lateral mobility and for the most part, his ability to escape. By utilizing the middle LB blitz, we'll either force turnovers, hurried throws or get to the QB. Trust me.

Early in the game, nerves are high. Almost a state of anxiousness. A couple of 1st downs by each team, but no points.

Late in the 1st Quarter, the Packers get the first break. It's the Drama Viqueen on a short timing route hitting Shiancoe in the shoulder. The ball floats in the air. Into the hands of Nick Barnett.

The Packers take advantage. Rodgers rolling to his right. Launches a rocket that lands in the lap of Jennings. 7-0 Green Bay.

Minnesota shows the ability to move the ball. Shiancoe grabbing 1st downs, frustrating the Packer defense. We bend, but don't break. Giving up FG's.

With Minnesota leading 9-7, Favre takes a shot deep. The ball lands in the lap of T-Mon.

The offense finds our stride and gets into FG range. 10-9. We get the ball back. A late 2-minute drill gives us a 13-9 lead at the half.

Chuckie grabs the Drama Queen's third pick. The Packers capitalize via a Driver TD reception. 20-9.

AP busts into our defensive backfield. Getting loose. Into the Red Zone. It's the Drama Viqueen to Shiancoe for a TD. 20-16.

Minnesota gets the ball back. 10 minutes to play. Drives into Packers territory. AP busts off another one for 20 yards. Drama Viqueen to Harvin. They have all momentum. But, Chillar coming on a center blitz gets the Pack off the field forcing an errant pass. The 'queens settle for 3. 20-19.

Rodgers gets the ball. Utilizing a variety of short passes, the Packers keep the chains moving. And the clock ticking. On a crucial third down, it's Rodgers to Driver for the Packers reception record. We get a late FG. 23-19.

With little time and no timeouts, this time there's no "Majik" in Favre. We're leaving the Dome victorious.

Grant goes for 77 yards. Rodgers efficiently passes for 215 yards and 2 TD's. Peterson tops 110 yards on 19 carries. The Drama Queen finishes 23-38 for 232 yards. 1 TD. 3 Interceptions.

I can't lie - Minnesota might be more talented than us. But, you can't measure spirit. You can't measure intestinal fortitude. You can intensity. For 16 months, the Drama Viqueen has spit in our faces. Tarnished our name. Rubbed it in the dirt. On Monday, we get to prove our might. We want this one. We get this one.

If Minnesota gives the ball to AP and let's him run, it'll be tough. But, I can't see it happening. I can't see #4 tucking his ego aside. Playing in the rhythm of the game. Putting away the gunslinger mentality. I can't see it. Not this game any ways. If he can, we might be in trouble. But, in my eyes, his ego is too large and this time it gets the best of him.

Green Bay 23. Minnesota 19.

Brett, someday, I'll love you again. Just as I do Reggie White, Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi. They also finished their careers elsewhere. But, for now, I wish for you to get blindsided. Viciously. Ball falling loose. Into the hands of a Green Bay Packer. After all, while playing for the Packers, one has an individual duty to keep up the legacy & traditions that go along with being a member of the Green Bay Packer organization. And you, I want you to feel defeated. I hope you recognize that your former throne is in good hands - those of Aaron Rodgers.

Aaron, this week you come into my life. Come into stay. This is the first time that I will have met you. I want to feel like I want you all of the time. Come into my life, Aaron. Yes, Aaron, it's all about evolution providing the revolution. Bring it!

We're the Green Bay Packers. We're walking to the front. Opening the gates. Feeling like 12-time World Champions. Performing profoundly.


I'm fired up! Ready to go!

Talkin' S-Mac.