Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Make It Happen, Ted!

Greetings, G-Force.

I was saying that I wanted to watch what happened at the QB position in Tampa. Today, Brian Griese was released. He better be a Packer by weeks end! It'd be a huge solution and a veteran presence in the locker room.

Get it done, Ted!

We've had luck with the Maize & Blue in Green & Gold. Think Desmond Howard. Think Chuckie Woodson. While we aren't seeking that level of production, he'd still be a perfect fit.


Talkin' S-Mac.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Who Are You Watching Now? Part 2

Huge omissions on my part. Found another page of old scribble. Two names that jumped out at me and a third that's worth mentioning.

Jahvid Best, RB, Cal, just might be the back that we're seeking.

Gerald McCoy, DL, OK would be an epic piece to our DL.

Kerry Meier is another talented WR for Kansas. He's a Ted Thompson style WR. Thompson would call him a "football player." Not overly fast. Just gets open. Uses his body well.


Talkin' S-Mac

Who Are You Watching Now?

Greetings, G-Force.

As I attempted to master the landscape of the Packers current 2009 roster, I noticed some obvious areas that required improvement in order to become legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Areas that I'd focus on throughout the upcoming college season as I continue my amateur scouting status. I feel the Packers are still lacking the speedy, home run threat out of the backfield. We're also in need of a Strong Safety. Ras-A-tari's ability to recover from injury is a concern for me. We need a solid blocking TE that is a consistent chain mover, possession style receiver. We also need another big body on the DL. As the season wears on, it might be determined that we need help at LB and at OT. For now, I'm going to assume that our LB's can make a smooth switch to the 3-4 and I'm going to assume that between Lang, Meredith, Barbre and Giacomini, we have 2 starting tackles.

At this stage, I'm limited with the number of players that truly excite me as the 2009 college football season nears. Admittedly, I'm a little behind. Oh well, I've got a full season to catch up. However, I've gone through my notes from the previous year and here are some thoughts:

If the NFL Draft were tomorrow, I'd want a SS. I believe the Packers will be a playoff team in 2009. Taylor Mays will be the top S in college football. Eric Berry, from Tennessee, will be a legitimate NFL S. But, the guy I'll be watching most closely is Reshad Jones, SS, Georgia. He follows the ball in the air. He'll lay you out. He looks for contact. He's a lethal tackler. He plays with aggression. I plan on watching as much Georgia football as possible in 2009. Other safeties that I feel are worth mentioning at this point are Myron Rolle, FSU. He's not worth a 1st round pick at this stage, but he could show growth. Major Wright, UF, is a classic speedster Florida DB. Quinten Andrews, WVU, is a solid S, but he has character issues and I'd never want him in Green & Gold.

As for DT, Terrence Cody from Alabama really excites me. Cody is massive. Hard to push around. I'll be interested to see Jeff Owens from Georgia. He would have been a 1st day pick last year had it not been for a season ending injury. Quick as a cat. Not great size. He'd probably have to be a DE in the 3-4. The same could be said for his teammate Geno Atkins. He, too, plays DT for the 'Dogs. Atkins is a better pass rusher than Owens. Owens has been the better run stopper. Both will be worth watching in '09. Other guys that I have my eye on at this point are Doug Worthington, Ohio State, Scotter Berry, WVU, and Dan Williams from Tennessee.

CJ Spiller from Clemson is a superstar, HR style RB. He can score from anywhere on the field. He's exactly what I'd be looking for. He'll probably end up as a top-10 pick - if he stays healthy this year. Noel Devine, WVU, might have that capability. I'll be interested to see what he does without Pat White. Joe McKnight is terrific, but does he have the size to do it in the NFL? CJ Gable, McKnight's teammate has more weight, so it'll be interesting to see if he has the tools to be the better NFL back. Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray from Oklahoma have been a magnificent college combo. It'll be fun to follow them this year. Mikell Simpson, from Virginia, has not shown that he is the HR hitter that I want, but he's been a fighter that has had the athleticism and the football wherewithal to find the 1st down stick. Two guys that I'm really interested in watching are Keith Toston, OK State, and Vondrell McGee, Texas. Both showed flashes of brilliance, but will now given the full reigns as featured backs. Evan Royster, PSU, and Charles Scott, LSU, are prime for big time seasons. I'm not positive that either will fit our scheme. I'll follow it. Miami RB's Greg Cooper and Javarris Jackson have the speed to make it at the next level. They need to show that they have the production to go with it. Ben Tate, Auburn, has the talent and is a patient runner. Needs to stay healthy. If so, he'll be a name to follow in '09. Finally, Brandon James, UF, has been one of my favorite players in college football for the last couple of years. He's displayed limited offensive skills, but he's an electric kick returner.

Two guys that I'm stoked about play for Oklahoma State; Dez Bryant and Perrish Cox. One is a WR and one is a CB. Dez Bryant might be the best player that no one has heard of. Pay attention. He'll be all over the highlight films in '09. At this point, Dez Bryant is unquestionably my favorite player in college football. Perrish Cox is a football player. He'll be an elite kick returner. He'll also get in your face and play bump-and-run cover corner. Great size. Great speed. Good instincts. Worth a look. Just watching him move - you see he's a football player.

At TE, I'd take Garrett Graham today. Don't get me wrong, I like the Packers TE's. Lee & J-Mike are ballers, but Graham has heavy potential. Great hands. Great blocker. Finds the hole in the defense. He'd compliment our current stable wonderfully. Jermaine Gresham, OK, is the best TE in college football. I'm also looking at Aaron Hernandez, UF, Jeff Cottam, Tenn, and Rob Gronkowski, AZ. All guys that have possession-style TE written all over them. Cottam is a big target that'll warrant a lot of attention. Gronkowski is a legit athlete with all the tools to play at the next level.

DE is one area that I don't present know a whole lot about. I like George Selvie from South Florida, but I thought he was better as a Sophomore than as a Junior. He might end up as an ideal 3-4 end. Brandon Lang, from Michigan, was a terrific pass rusher last year. Greg Hardy, Ole Miss, might end up being the best DE in the country. He's undersized and a speed guy. Gets the corner. Rahim Alem, LSU, is also an undersized, speed rusher who relishes in the notion of attacking the QB. Koa Misi, Utah, is a guy that impressed Stack when Utah destroyed 'Bama in the Bowl game.

Lord knows that I've always followed CB's. Closely. Two years ago, I was stunned by the aggressive nature of Syd'Quan Thompson, CB, CAL. Dude is tiny. But, plays large. Now, he's a Senior. Keep an eye on him. I mentioned Perrish Cox earlier. Javier Arenas, BAMA, is a classic Nick Saban - in your face style CB. Plays with a mean streak. Joe Haden, UF, is another one of the speedy, cocky Florida DB's. True that most have come from either UM or FSU, but you get the point. Alterraun Verner, UCLA, is a guy that I wrote about early last year. He took control of the game against Tennessee last year in the 1st half. I did not get a chance to watch him much after that game, but I expect big things out of him this year. Finds the ball. Good at reading the QB's eyes and jumping routes. Guy can dance. And, on principal, I have to write down Ras-I Dowling, Virginia. Love his name. And can play.

Now that we've transitioned to the 3-4, I'll take a whole new perspective on LB's. Of course, you have the studs: Brandon Spikes, UF, Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri, Dekoda Watson, FSU, and Greg Jones, Michigan State. But, I'm interested in Stevenson Sylvester, Utah. Stack and I discussed him at length after the Utah vs Alabama game. Admittedly, I was intoxicated and watching without volume, but when Stack and I talked, he asked me if I saw the game. I said to him, "#'s 4 & 10 from Utah jumped out at me." #4 was Sean Smith, the 2nd round pick for the Dolphins. #10 was Stevenson Sylvester. Stack can provide a much more detailed analysis of Sylvester. All I know is that he was all over the field. He was quick. He was punishing. Other names to follow: Rico McCoy, Tennessee, Rennie Curran, Georgia and Quan Sturdivant, UNC.

Hopefully, we'll have no interest in drafting a QB. But, if we do, I love Todd Reesing. He'll probably go undrafted. But, man, his heart is worth a late round pick. He's heroic for Jayhawks fans. He's an ultimate entertainer. He might be too small for the NFL, but man, he's instinctive. Lethal. At times, uncontainable. Of course, names like Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, and Sam Bradford will be at the top of Draft Boards. Dan LeFevour is from Central Michigan. A client of mine has been talking to me about him for two years. Check him out. Other names that are worthy of attention: Tony Pike, Cincy, and Matt Grothe from South Florida. Could Juice Williams and Daryll Clark, PSU, have careers in the WildCat formation?

Finally, at WR. This year's WR class is loaded with top talent. Again, Dez Bryant from OK State can flat out play. The real deal. Mardy Gilyard, Cincy, is a great WR. He's also a terrific kick returner. He might be the best kick returner in the land. Brandon Lafell, LSU, would have been a 1st day pick if he would have come out last year. He'll probably be the most sparkling WR in the SEC. Jordan Shipley, Texas, is an all-around talent. He's had a flair for making the big play in big games for the Longhorns. Dezmon Briscoe has been phenomenal for Kansas. Great size. Good ability in the air. Very good in traffic. Damian Williams is next in the line of highly skilled college style WR's at USC. Golden Tate, ND, is your classic overachiever. One of those guys that consistently gets the job done. David Gilreath will continue to bring life to the Wisconsin Badger offense. It's always fun when the Badgers have an athletic WR. Gilreath has made a believer out of me.

To close, in order, my favorite players as we enter the college football season (not necessarily the way that I'd draft them - just games that I admire):

1.) Dez Bryant
2.) Resahd Jones - he's probably not better than Mays or Berry, but I like him better.
3.) Taylor Mays
4.) Eric Berry
5.) CJ Spiller
6.) Mardy Gilyard
7.) Terrence Cody
8.) Brandon Lafell
9.) Perrish Cox
10.)Stevenson Sylvester - yes, I need to see more of him, but I'm enchanted both by my blurred vision and by Stack's blessing.

Until Training Camp,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2009 Roster Outlook

Greetings, G-Force.

Sunday Night. Silence in the McKenna household on South Beach. Great weekend. Hope it was splendid for you as well. Three weeks until training camp starts. Yes, I'm counting. I love football. I love the Green Bay Packers.

Prior to the start of training camp, I promised myself that I would add two dimensions to the blog. First, I wanted to state the 53-man rotation that I'll be rooting for come Week 1. Secondly, I wanted to post an initial "Who Are You Watching Now?" The "Who Are You Watching Now?" portion will arrive within the next week, maybe as soon as tomorrow, if you're following along.

Admittedly, I'm not 100% certain as to how many players you keep at each position in the 3-4. Couple that uncertainty with the interesting position battles for the '09 Season and it makes for an entertaining exhibition season.

QB: Keep 3. Seems obvious. UNO-DOS has a chance to be a Pro Bowler in his 2nd season as the starter for the most storied franchise in sports. At this point, it's Flynn and Brohm as the back-ups. As I've stated in numerous posts, I'm hoping to bring a veteran into the mix.

RB: Keep 5. Grant, Lumpkin, Wynn, Quinn The Eskimo, K. Hall. I'm hoping we trade B-Jack for either a pick or a back-up DL. When healthy, Wynn & Lumpkin have shown glimpses of brilliance. Last year, I felt that Lumpkin was on the brink of something special prior to his season-ending injury. Sutton is a candidate for the practice squad. The Eskimo will be the bruising back that we need to assist in short yardage. He'll also add value to our special teams units. Korey Hall beats out John Kuhn due to his special teams ability. This team needs to win the special teams unit. It's a necessary area of improvement. Should the Packers still be fascinated with B-Jack, I'd be OK if we kept only 1 FB - that being The Eskimo.

WR: Keep 5. Greg Jennings is going to be a Superstar in 2009. Pro Bowl. I'm convinced. Donald Driver will have another strong year. James Jones and Jordy Nelson will battle for the #3 spot. Ruvell is a good #5 WR and an average special teams player. I'm going to be keeping my eye on Jamarko Simmons progression. I don't buy the Brett Swain hype.

OL: Don't be surprised if the Packers keep 10 OL. The weakest unit on the team although we seem to have versatility among the group. A lot of players who are still "developing." Clifton, Colledge, Sitton, and Spitz appear to be locks for the starting line-up. Lang & Meredith are locks to make the team due to their '09 draft status. I'm hoping Lang is our Week 1 starter at RT. Win the job, TJ! I'm pulling for you! Barbre and Giacomini were huge disappointments in the exhibition season last year. Both appear to be in good position to still hold a roster spot in '09. Duke Preston will probably make the team as he was a FA acquisition. But, it'll be an hotly contested battle between him and Scott Wells. Wells appears to be unseated by Spitz at the Center position. Injuries might have taken a toll on him. Nonetheless, I'm hoping that they keep both Wells and Preston. Preston can play both Guard and Center. So can Spitz. Wells at C is a better option that ever having to play Tony Moll again. Moll is useless. If I were involved, he would not make the team. I'm going to be following Andrew Hartline. I read a lot about him prior to the NFL Draft. I'm happy he's in camp. He may be headed to the practice squad.

TE: Keep 3. One year, the Packers did only keep 2 years. This could be another year to do so except for Mike McCarthy's love of the 3-TE set. Personally, I have always felt that it's McCarthy's worst offensive design. Regardless, he uses it often. I'd prefer that the Packers go back to the Jumbo set that Kevin Barry made famous in '03. Donald Lee is the starter. Make no mistake. He's an all around player. J-Mike is going to have a good year. I'm hoping for 30 catches. 5 TD's. May not sound like shattering numbers, but we'll be spreading the ball around. I'm hoping Carson Butler beats out Tory Humphrey. Doubtful, but it'd be cool if Butler can play. As I've stated before, I believe Humphrey is, at best, a poor man's Donald Lee. We need a great blocking TE as our #3 TE.

DL: Here's where I get confused. I have the Packers keeping 6 DL and 8 LB's. This is the one issue that I have with keeping 10 OL. Oh well. We need to protect UNO-DOS. Any way, presently, I have the Packers going with Jenkins, Pickett, Raji, Jolly, Harrell, and Wynn. But, this is potentially problematic. Jenkins is injury prone and is recovering from a season ending injury from last year. Pickett needs his rest. Jolly might be ineligible for a portion of the year. Harrell has never been able to stay healthy. Wynn is not only a rookie, but he's a 6th round pick. Either way - Michael Montgomery does not make my team, if I'm playing GM. I'm hoping Ronald Talley is a player. I've read good things about him coming out of camp. Plus, he was a high school phenom. He got significant playing time as a Freshman and a Sophomore at Notre Dame before transferring to Delaware. So, you are saying there is a chance? Again, I hope so. Or else, I'm hoping that we can potentially claim someone off waivers prior to Week 1.

LB: I've got us keeping 8. Barnett & Hawk as starters in the middle. CM3 will beat out Jeremy Thompson at ROLB. AK-74 playing LOLB. The back-ups are Jeremy Thompson, Brad Jones, Brandon Chillar, and Brady Poppinga. Sadly, Desmond Bishop does not make the team. Could he possibly be traded for an additional DL? Chillar is a back-up at ILB. Brad Jones played some ILB in college. Hopefully, Jeremy Thompson will be able to also be a back-up at RDE. It's also sad for me to bid goodbye to Danny Lansanah. I saw great potential in him last year. It should be noted that the Dolphins tried to sign him off of our practice squad last year. Could he hold trade value? I've also got my fingers crossed that Cyril Obiozor has enough in him to at least be worthy of a practice squad bid.

DB: Keeping 10. Charles Woodson, you are my football idol. Ras Al across from him. So sweet. T-Mon is the best 3rd CB in football. Sign him up, Ted! Nintendo Nick is just playin', baby. Just playin'. Sign him up as well, Ted! Ras-A-tari will hopefully be back to his playoffs of '07 form. If not, we might be in trouble at SS. I believe that we will keep 6 back-ups. T-Mon, Willie B., and P-Lee are locks. I believe that the U-HAUL will definitely be on the team. He might have the versatility to also play S. That leaves Aaron Rouse, J-Bush and Anthony Smith to compete for 2 positions. Rouse is an average dime safety, but he's a liability if he's forced to start. At this point, it's hard to get overly excited about Anthony Smith even though I really liked his game in college. Essentially, he's been a bum in the NFL. J-Bush has been moved to Safety. They love his ability on special teams. I still have not forgiven him for the NFC Championship in '07. Tough to let him make this roster. He's always in position. He almost never makes the play.

In the end, it's quite possible that the likes of B-Jack, Desmond Bishop and Brandon Chillar might hold trade value. It should also be noted that J-Bush received attention in the Free Agent market. We need another DL, pending the Jolly suspension.

Up Next: "Who Are You Watching Now?"



Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lessons learned. Experience gained.

Greetings, G-Force.

I am married to a lawyer. She works deep into the night. It forces me to sit in silence. Limited TV access. No stereo. It rains nightly. My ability to act freely is limited. In three weeks, her "case" will be over. Until then, I read. I write. I think about football. A lot. For a football fan, it's that anxious time of year.

I describe myself as having a simple complexity. I enjoy simple things. Sports. Music. Cooking. Photography. To name a few. But, with those simple things, I like to get detailed with them, which, in some ways, makes me complex.

Over the last 48 hours, I've been stuck on a buzz. Heavily. We are going to be lethal this year. Energized. Eccentric offensively.

Things seem to be falling into place. I have a strong feeling that Collins will get a deal. We have three picks left to sign: BJ, CM3, and Quinn "The Eskimo" Johnson. BJ has stated that he won't miss camp. I can't imagine that The Football Eskimo will be overly difficult to sign. CM3 comes from football bloodlines. I imagine his Father will encourage him to get into camp on-time. Plus, I bet CM3 is dead set on winning the starting OLB job come Week 1.

If I were to give the 2008 Green Bay Packers season a title, I'd name it "Lessons learned. Experience gained." Over the past couple of weeks, with little to no volume, I have caught the replay of the Panthers, Texans and Bears games. We lost all 3. But, damn, there were moments in which we looked sublime. However, in each game, our own mental deficiencies prevented us from victory. UNO-DOS took the brunt of the blame. He finished 0-8 in games decided in the last 5 minutes. But, I think we learned how to win. By the end of the year, UNO-DOS was not throwing picks on the last drive. Instead, we were missing FG's or getting stopped on 3 downs from the 1. The Eskimo will make sure that we get in from the 1 this year. Defensively, we were sieve's in the last 5 minutes. This has been well documented. Ted Thompson appears to have repaired the defense with a new coordinator, new defensive coaches and two first round picks.

At this time last year, I thought that we were a 5-11 or a 6-10 team. I thought that we'd do well to finish 8-8 and that if we did finish 8-8, last year would have been a success. We finished 6-10. It was painful. Not surprising. Just frustrating. Each week seemed more devastating than the previous one.

This year, I'm thinking that 8-8 would be a disappointment. You have to go 4-2 in the Division. Sweep the Lions. Split with the Bears and Vikings. We play the NFC West. All injuries being equal, we should be able to go 3-1 vs that Division. The AFC North is physical. The Bengals will be improved. So might the Browns. The Ravens are always tough. The Steelers are the defending champs. Let's say we go 2-2. Due to our 3rd place finish in '08, we play the Cowboys and Bucs. We could go 0-2, but I'd like to think we'll win 1 of them. Either way - 9 wins should be the minimal in '09. 10 or more and it's been a great year.

Prior to training camp, I'm going to put together my prediction for the '09 roster. I'm concerned about our back-up QB spot. What to do if UNO-DOS goes down? Can Flynn win us a game? Doubt it. Can Brohm? Unlikely. At this point, it's Flynn's job. I remain attached to my thoughts about Brohm prior to last year's draft and throughout the pre-season. You have to keep Brohm because of your investment in him. But, can we upgrade over Flynn?

I'm super curious as to what will happen in Tampa Bay at the QB position. They have Brian Griese, Byron Leftwich, Josh Freeman, Luck McCown and Josh Johnson. I was interested in Johnson prior to last year's draft. I thought McCarthy could potentially do some magic with him. I'm not positive that he could step in and win us a game this year, but he might bring more future upside than Flynn. It'll be fun to follow.

I crave football. Especially Green & Gold flavors.

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Greetings, G-Force.

Maybe this is just my mind wandering to wondrous places, but in a year in which the Packers fortunes might be defined by their LB core, it appears Nick Barnett has gone Rasta. And I like it.

Bounce to the Rhythm, Nick.

Talkin' S-Mac.