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. 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.