Friday, December 31, 2010

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

Sparked by a festive crowd, a brilliant coaching performance, a superstar QB, and an energized defense, the Green Bay Packers continue to control their own destiny following a complete domination of the New York Football Giants.

If you were in attendance on Sunday, you deserve a massive round of applause. Clearly, the crowd made a difference. Afternoon games in the fall/winter at Lambeau are the best. The lights shine bright towards the end of the 1st Quarter. It brings heightened energy. And the Packer faithful were clearly a major component of the utter domination that the football world witnessed last Sunday. One Love, G-Force!

For all the Mike McCarthy haters, I hope you took notice. This game was won via sheer execution of a well-developed game plan. We attacked the middle of the field early in the game. We attacked it often. We established a light running game on the 1st drive of the game & because of it, McCarthy was able to go to the play-action pass which resulted in an 80-yard TD over the middle of the field to Jordy Nelson. McCarthy knew our strengths. He knew the Giants weaknesses. He attacked with true precision. And, finally, McCarthy had success in short yardage situations.

Further, I've often stated that you can learn a lot about a football team & it's coach when you are faced with legitimate adversity - both during the week & during the game. In the 2nd Quarter, the Packers were in complete control. Leading 14-7. Looking as though we were going in for another TD. Rodgers hits Nelson who fumbles at the 15. The next play, Eli hits Manningham for 85 yards. I said to my father-in-law, "right now, we'll fight out who the 2010 Green Bay Packers really are."

79 yards. 3 minutes. 13 seconds. John Kuhn off left tackle for 8 yards and a Packers TD. The offense never blinked. We were ultra focused. Nothing was going to stop us. When we needed it most, the Packers played their best football of the year. Cheers to Mike McCarthy and his staff!

Aaron Rodgers. What a stud! Aaron Rodgers. Total superstar! Aaron Rodgers. Snubbed from the Pro Bowl! Aaron Rodgers. Use that as motivation to carry the Packers in Week 17 & into the playoffs! Aaron Rodgers. When you are in rhythm, I'd argue that you're as good as any player in the NFL! Aaron Rodgers. I'm happy you are the Quarterback of my Football team!

Dom Capers deserves a raise. A coaching promotion. Assistant Head Coach, give him the title. He controls our defense. This defense is active. Players are improving. And Capers deserves much respect. We beat up the Giants OL. We made the big plays on defense. Forcing turnovers at crucial teams. Disrupting Eli in the pocket. Never did Eli Manning look comfortable. In fact, Eli is probably my 2nd least favorite player in the NFL - behind Ray Nutler. As I was skipping the family Christmas dinner at the in-laws for the Packer game, I was animated. In fact, at one point, in the middle of dinner, my beer-consumed mind belted out, "Hey Eli, are you wearing a thong or a diaper!" Yeah, this was in front of all of my in-laws. Including Grandma & her boyfriend! I had to shrug & once again reiterate the presence & importance of the G-Force. Amazingly, they all smiled & totally understood my vibe.

Small Observations:

Last Sunday at Lambeau Field, we witnessed a football game that included many defensive stars. Sir Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews, Justin Tuck, Nintendo Nick Collins, Osi, Keith Bulluck, Antrell Rolle. You know, past & present Pro Bowlers. Yet, the best defensive player on the field was BJ "Jazz Hands" Raji. The Rodgers snub was a bummer, but the Raji snub pissed me off. Dude is the BEST DT in the game! Yeah, I said it. BJ RAJI IS THE BEST DT IN THE NFL! It's a total shame that he didn't get the nomination. And the only national sports writer that I can find that even remotely agrees with me that he should have been a Pro Bowler is Peter King. Someone please justify this!

I'm so irritated that I'm going to add a 2nd paragraph to this "small observation." Consider this: BJ Raji has 6.5 sacks this year. For his career, Wilfork has 7.5. Casey Hampton has 9.0. I know that sacks are only one stat, but still. Jay Ratliff made the Pro Bowl this year. He has 29 tackles, 3.5 sacks. Raji has 39 tackles, 6.5 sacks. Plus, the Packers have been among the league leaders in points allowed all year. We've led the league in rush defense for most of the year. And, all year, Raji has been our 3rd best defender behind CM3 & T-Mon. The NFL whiffed on Raji being absent in Hawaii.

I wish T-Mon would have made it as well, but Samuel & Hall were also deserving. And, if T-Mon would have made it, it should have been at Sir Charles' expense. I imagine that Chuckie won't make the trip & hopefully, that'll mean T-Mon will get the nod.

Props to CM3, Sir Charles, Nintendo Nick, Greg Jennings, & Chad Clifton for their nominations.

John Kuhn! Hat trick!

I thought Bulaga was a battler against Tuck.

Good to see Crabtree run after the catch.

Donald Lee in the end zone!

Aaron Rodgers: 25/37. 404 yards. 4 TD's. 0 interceptions. Phenomenal!

Nance falling forward! Fighting for yards!

James Jones has to catch the ball. So does Jordy.

In back-to-back weeks, our Pro Bowl DB's have dropped potential pick-6's.

Des Bishop: another day at the office with 9 tackles & a pass defensed.

AJ Hawk: Steady.

Sammy Swagga with the pick!

CM3 & Sir Charles making game changing plays.

Double D gone "Quickie" with the one-handed grab!

The most tremendous play of the game came with 6:16 left in the 3rd Quarter. Rodgers stands strong in the pocket. Tuck in his grill. Throws a beauty to Jennings who makes a terrific grab down to the 1-yard line & then asks for additional fan appreciation. Beauty!

Can we please stop giving the ball to B-Jack in short yardage situations?

I always wanted to love Ras-A-tari. He's my kind of guy. Fun-loving. Plays the crowd. Full of flavor. Sadly, his career in Green Bay is probably over after his latest injury. Therefore, thank the Lord for the play of Charlie Peprah. He's been the biggest surprise of 2010.

After 15 weeks, the Packers defense has created 30 turnovers & produced 41 sacks.

This week it's the hated Chicago Bears. The only thing in life that I dislike more than the Bears is Osama bin Laden & Al-Qaeda. I'd like nothing more than to beat the Bears to get into the playoffs!

So, this week, reality occurs. For my analysis, see Week 17 of the 2006 NFL Season. The Bears play their starters. The Packers jump out to the early lead behind a Nintendo Nick pick-6. The Bears rest their starters after falling behind by two scores & claim that the Packers beat their back-ups.

Rodgers throws for 320 yards & once again eclipses 4,000 yards for the season despite missing 6 quarters due to concussion.

Meanwhile, Nutler gives us opportunities to make big plays. It's up to us to seize the moment & hang onto the ball!

No turnovers. Don't lose the game on special teams. This one is a blowout.

Green Bay 27. Chicago 10.

Bring it, G-Force. Loud & in charge. Let's keep the momentum & stay in rhythm. This train is headed to the playoffs. And the 4th Quarter is a polka style sing-a-long to the BEARS STILL SUCK! Happy New Year!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

It's was a valiant effort. A commendable performance. Yet, it wasn't enough. Let's hope that this is not how the 2010 Season is remembered.

For 45 minutes, Mike McCarthy was the shining star in the coaching battle with Bill Belichick. It was McCarthy who had the better strategy. It was McCarthy who was the aggressor. It was McCarthy that had the opposition backpeddling. For 45 minutes, McCarthy had supplied the strategy & execution the NFL executives crave when seeking an NFL Head Coach. Mixing run with play-action pass, the Patriots front was confused. Often, they were on their heels. And, almost amazingly, it appeared the Packers had a running game.

Then, we faced 1st & goal from the 1. It's McCarthy's kryptonite. And McCarthy choked. The overly aggressive McCarthy went into a shell. Belly to Kuhn on 1st down. FB dive to Kuhn on 2nd down. Roll-out pass on 3rd down. FG. Unbelievable. This possession was 4 down territory. We had a one-score lead. With a back-up QB. On the road. In a BIG game against the NFL's best team. We had momentum due to the terrific performance of John Kuhn. Kuhn was elusive. He was powering his way thru New England defenders. To me, it would have been logical to go I-Formation. Quinn Johnson leading the way for Kuhn. Let Kuhn get a head of steam & either barrel thru the pile or get up over the top of the line. We've seen Kuhn do this before. I imagine he'd have done it again. I'd have liked to see this play 4 straight downs. And, if we'd have been stopped, I felt our defense was playing at a level to where I was confident that we would have prevented a 99-yard drive. Meanwhile, as the Packers - yet, again - failed to score a TD from the one, I couldn't help but be reminded of the Vince Lombardi story from the Ice Bowl. I'm paraphrasing, but he said something to the effect of "if you can't get a yard, you don't deserve to be a Champion."

Regardless, the Packers held a 3 point lead after New England took the ball down the field for a FG. At this point, I felt McCarthy lost the game. Three plays. Three passes. At times, there was no running option. We went away from what was working. We lost our strategy. Thus, we failed to execute.

But, this game isn't all on McCarthy. Ultimately, players have to make plays. Sir Charles has to make that interception. On our 2nd drive in the 1st Quarter, James Jones had an opportunity to make a play down the sideline on a deep ball. He didn't go up & get it. Walden had a chance to pick off a pass deep inside the red zone. We failed to tackle an OL on a KO that led to a 71 yard return. If any of these plays had gone our way, the outcome might have been different.

I want to apologize to Matt Flynn & to Ted Thompson. As a man, I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong. Flynn played great. He was as cool as a cucumber in hot sauce. He played with adventure. He played with consistency. He played with confidence. He believed he could lead the team to victory & just as importantly, the team believed in him. His one mistake wasn't his fault as it appeard James Jones stopped his route. And if Jones didn't stop his route, he got outmuscled. And Ted, once again, you were right. I was wrong. Now, the only thing I have on you is Round 2 of the 2008 NFL Draft. But, we'll bring that up again in a couple of months. :)

As for the final 2 minutes of the game, it reminded me of the way Brad Childress & Brett Favre mismanaged the game at Lambeau earlier this year. Yes, I just compared McCarthy to Childress. Oddly, with that being said, I still like McCarthy. A lot. I believe we can win with him. I also believe that he's in the top 10 coaches in the league. Good coaches are hard to find. For fellow fans, if not McCarthy, I ask WHO do you want to be the coach? Besides Gruden.

Small Observations:

As I watched the Lions & Eagles pull off near miracles, I couldn't help but think that God is a Packer fan. And now, a playoff berth can be earned by protecting Lambeau Field.

John Kuhn played with a vengeance!

B-Jack running with heart. And falling forward rather than curling up in the fetal position.

Matt Flynn!

Vince Wilfork was great. But, BJ Raji was the best 3-4 DT in that game. It'd be criminal if Raji doesn't end up in Hawaii.

Really liked the way AJ Hawk & Desmond Bishop manned the middle of the field in a tough match-up.

Good to see Ryan Pickett making stome stops in what has been a fairly quiet year for him.

Need more consistency from the WR position. Too many dropped balls. Nelson, Driver, Jones. Come on, men! Throw in AQ81's drop & it frustrates.

I thought Quinn Johnson played his best game as a Packer.

This team needs Charles Woodson desperately. Woodson was close on three occasions. Once he dropped a pick. Another he was a 1/2 of a second late. And then he almost got to Brady. Stay focused, Chuckie. The big play is coming!

We need to find a way to free the Claymaker. I give Capers credit. He's moving Clay around. Sending him in different spots. Offenses have adjusted well & they've been able to handle him.

Scott Wells is deteriorating.

I'd argue that the last couple of weeks, we'd only had one OL who has performed & that is Josh Sitton.

After 14 games, we've created 24 turnovers & produced 40 sacks.

This week - it's the New York Football Giants. At Lambeau Field. Instantly, we're reminded of horrific memories from 2007. This game is huge. A playoff game. This game is so important that my 9-year old nephew, Chai, has decided that he'd rather fly to Green Bay to hang out with his grandparents & watch Packer football then to hang out in Albuquerque with his parents. He said, "Chad, I'm going to Green Bay and I don't care if you're coming with me." Yes, as McKennas, Packer Football > Christmas. This tells me three things:

1.) Much props to Chad for letting him go.
2.) Chai is a pimp!
3.) Chai is undoubtedly a McKenna. This was a legendary decision, Chai. Legendary, dude. Absolutely epic, lil' man!

Chai was rewarded with an authentic Clay Matthews jersey from the Packer Pro Shop upon his arrival to Titletown. I received a text message with him giving a vintage Clay pose while wearing his new kit. Yes, the G-Force is already present at Lambeau! And, I feel the G-Force will be the difference this weekend.

Afternoon game. Under the lights. Chance of snow. Weather in the teens. 73,128 G-Force members leaving hoarse. It doesn't get any better.

The Packers defense has made a living stopping the run in 2010. If they can do it again this week, big plays will follow. Win the line of scrimmage. We won't stop the combination of Bradshaw & Jacobs, but we will slow them down. Once again, Raji dominates the interior of the line. Pickett holds the point. And, this is the type of game that Desmond Bishop lives for. Bishop is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.

We know that Eli Manning will give us a chance to make a play. Throwing off his back foot. The ball will float. We'll have an opportunity. We have to make the play.

All day - we must have T-Mon follow Hakeem Nicks. Have Sammy Swagga follow Manningham. Eli misses Steve Smith. Smith was his security blanket. Let Chuckie roam. Find the big play, Chuckie. Find the big play. It's coming.

Kevin Boss has developed into a solid weapon as well. A reliable target. Especially on 3rd down. He's one of the better possession TE's in the league. But, I feel we match up well with him.

My biggest concern is our OL. We'll be playing against the best front in the NFL. The Giants front 4 dominates. Everyone. And our OL is inconsistent. In '07, Colledge was stout against Justin Tuck. We'll need more of the same this weekend.

Get protection. Find the middle of the field. While Antrel Rolle has guaranteed victory, we should be reminded of how last year Rolle stated that he'd rather face Drew Brees than Aaron Rodgers. Well, Antrell, Aaron's healthy and you'll see him again.

4 WR's. Single back. From shotgun. To Rodgers, left is Jennings wide & Driver in the slot. Jennings comes in motion. Inside of Driver to present confusion. Jennings comes on a deep post across the middle of the field. The NY secondary can't guard him. 6 points.

We can win the middle of the field. But, we'll need to protect. Rodgers needs time. The Giants defense is fast. They're powerful big men. We'll need to roll Rodgers. Move the pocket. We'll need to disguise with play-action, but in order for them to respect the play-action, we'll need to try to establish the run early. This game falls on our OL.

It'll be a back & forth contest. Classic NFC battle. Physical in the trenches.

Since the New York Jets game, our defense has not been able to close games. This week it's different. The big play is coming late. In the form of Charles Woodson. Sir Charles to the rescue. Saving the season.

Green Bay 23. New York 20.

Two wins at Lambeau = Playoff berth. I'll take my chances. Bring the noise.

Merry Christmas & Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

When I started this Packer Journal prior to the '07 season, my intention was to provide an approach that was an optimistic yet realistic point of view on the Green Bay Packers. Today, the outlook is bleak & I don't have much positive to say.

After a game that I'd title a complete & utter failure, the Packers face a must-win game on Sunday. While I know the Bears still suck, they'll beat the hapless 'queens. Thus the tie-breaker goes to Chicago & at this point, it doesn't interest me to discuss the wild card possibilities until after the Giants & Eagles game.

You can't lose to Detroit. Not in December. Not when you're in the thick of a playoff race. Shame on us.

I blame this game on Ted Thompson & Mike McCarthy. While I remain a supporter of both, clearly they whiffed on their assessment of Matt Flynn. Not that Flynn is solely to blame for the inept offensive performance, but the reality is that in just over 2 quarters of work, he mustered only 3 points. Further, just when his play garnered praise, he threw a pathetic interception. Really, it's not Flynn's fault though. He played as well as we could have expected him to play. In fact, I'd say that this performance was his best as a member of the Packers, preseason included. Still, it was wasn't good enough to earn a victory. With that said, yes, I'm aware that in nearly two quarters an Aaron Rodgers led team failed to score a point.

My point: I can say with confidence that Jeff Garcia wins that game.

While I know McCarthy didn't score a point in his 1st game as coach of the Packers, I'd argue that this was his worst coaching performance ever. We were unprepared. Lackadaisical. The Lions played a base defense for much of the game. Their front 4 beat our OL. McCarthy couldn't slow them down.

In the 1st Quarter, Jennings showed he could get behind the defense. Why didn't we come back to that until the final 4th & 1? Didn't we watch the Thanksgiving game between NE & Detroit? Didn't McCarthy see the film of the Lions/Bears game the week prior to our game? Detroit's weakness is their secondary. On double moves, they can be beat. We didn't capitalize.

The painful reality: The Drew Stanton led Detroit Lions beat the Green Bay Packers. That's unacceptable. Especially in December.

I found two play calls absolutely baffling. Almost as if McCarthy was calling plays as though he was playing a video game.

1.) McCarthy called a pass the play after Rodgers' concussion.
2.) On the final possession, I was stunned when McCarthy called a run on 2nd & 2. I thought he should have come back to the play-action roll-out to AQ81 that was working effectively.

Again, shame on us. Barring a near miracle, the 2010 season looks as though it'll go down as the most disappointing Packers season of my life. While it's true that the injuries have been devastating, I won't settle for that as an excuse. The bottom line is that we couldn't beat Drew Stanton & the Detroit Lions.

Small Observations:

On a bright note, I want to give a huge shout out to CJ Wilson. He played well. In fact, he'd be the only lineman that I'd give a passing grade. Our Big Beefy Boys got pushed around.

Our secondary played well. Detroit had 0 yards passing late in the 3rd Quarter. We also picked off 2 passes. Though it looks like Sir Charles is strictly a slot CB at this point.

Our OL was beyond awful.

Too bad AQ81 fumbled as otherwise I thought he played well. But, the fumble was a total drive killer. It destroyed our momentum early in the game.

Greg Jennings, wtf?

Why can't we open a lane for Sammy Swagga on Kickoff Returns?

After 13 games, we've created 24 turnovers & produced 37 sacks.

This week it is the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. As I write, I have no idea whether Rodgers is playing. If I were in charge, I'd rest him. He's too crucial to our future. His head needs the rest. With him, we could possibly win a shootout. Even with the crippling injuries to Zombo & Cullen Jenkins. We could outscore them. I truly believe it.

After the game on Sunday, I suggested that it was "the day the music died." It feels that way. Unless we beat NE, it looks like the playoffs will go on without us. We did this to ourselves.

So, let's go into New England and play with fire. With attitude. Possessed. Our life is on the line. Let's fight. And, hopefully, the ball bounces our way a couple of times.

My pep talk to the Packers would be simple. I'd quote Paul Simon:

In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade,
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down,
Or cut him 'til he cried out in his anger and his shame,
"I am leaving, I am leaving."
But the fighter still remains.

I'd state it as we walked out onto the field. Take out our anger of the Lions game on the Patriots. And Sunday, we'll see if the fighter still remains in our belly.

If Rodgers is healthy & ready to go, it's a Packers miracle. Much like 2002. Except this time it's much closer. Green Bay 37. New England 34. If Rodgers doesn't play, no comment.

Let's steal this!

Go Pack!

Talkin' S-Mac.

When your wife lives 2,000 miles away and you're obsessed with football, the only thing that crosses your TV screen from August-December is football. Whether it's college or the NFL, it doesn't matter. Often, it's muted. Still, I was close to football. As we approach bowl season, I thought I'd dedicate a plane ride across the country to a "Who Are You Watching Now?" so that we could pay special attention during the bowl games. As always, at this stage, I only comment if I've actually seen him play. Also, until someone has declared, I only comment on seniors. And, as always, I don't include OL. At this stage, I'm only listing names. We'll have plenty of time to get into the details later on. I intentionally went heavy on listing TCU players for your entertainment value during the Rose Bowl.

Round 1: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M


2.) Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Purdue
3.) Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State
4.) Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal
5.) Jimmy Smith, CB, CO
6.) DeMarco Murray, RB, OK

Round 2: Ras-I Dowling, CB, VA


2.) Leonard Hankerson, WR, []_[]
3.) Colin McCarthy, ILB, []_[]
4.) Mark Herzlich, OLB, BC
5.) KJ Wright, OLB, Miss State
6.) Deunta Williams, S, UNC
7.) DeAndre McDaniels, S, Clemson
8.) Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada

Round 3: Noel Devine, RB, WVU


2.) Chris Rucker, CB, Michigan State
3.) Titus Young, WR, Boise State
4.) Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy
5.) Quan Sturdivant, ILB, UNC
6.) Mason Foster, OLB, Washington
7.) Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State
8.) Marcus Gilchrist, CB, Clemson

Round 4: Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon (Gotta have Clay's brother!)


2.) Chris Carter, OLB, Fresno State
3.) Brandon Hogan, CB, WVU
4.) Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
5.) Tejay Johnson, S, TCU
6.) Wayne Daniels, OLB, TCU

Round 5: Terrence Tolliver, WR, LSU


2.) Anthony Egbuniwe, OLB, Ga Tech (you won't find him on most draft sites, but I like his game & he's played in the 3-4)
3.) Evan Royster, RB, PSU
4.) Anthony Allen, RB, Ga Tech
5.) Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa
6.) Greg McElroy, QB, Bama
7.) Armon Binns, WR, Cincy
8.) Jalil Brown, CB, CO
9.) Mario Butler, CB, Ga Tech
10.) Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
11.) Pernell McPhee, 3-4 DE, Miss State
12.) Ian Williams, 3-4 DE, ND
13.) Brooks Reed, OLB, AZ

Round 6: Mario Harvey, ILB, Marshall


2.) Bruce Miller, OLB, Central Florida
3.) Brian Duncan, OLB, Texas Tech
4.) Devon Torrence, CB, Ohio State
5.) Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU
6.) Cory Grant, 3-4 DE, TCU
7.) Graig Cooper, RB, []_[]
8.) Derrick Locke, RB, KY

Round 7: Brandon Bair, DE, OR


2.) Scott Tolzien, QB, WI
3.) Jerrod Johnson, QB, A&M
4.) Ryan Colburn, QB, Fresno State
5.) Case Keenum, QB, Houston
6.) Anthony Gaitor, CB, FIU
7.) Jake Coffman, OLB, NIU (Former military man. Served the country in Iraq. Fearless.)
8.) Baron Batch, RB, Texas Tech
9.) CJ Gable, RB, USC
10.) Damien Berry, RB, []_[]
11.) Dom DeCicco, S, Pitt
12.) Zac Etheridge, S, Auburn
13.) Jasper Simmons, S, Missouri
14.) Mario Edwards, S, Ga Tech
15.) Chad Spann, RB, NIU
16.) Thomas Merriweather, RB, Miami of Ohio

I'm going to be paying attention to WR's during the Bowl games. Looks to be some good underclassmen at WR. More to come later on...cheers!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

James Starks, good to meet you! What a thrill! While I'm not ready to call him the savior, it was spectacular to see him not only FALLING FORWARD, but man, he was CARRYING Patrick Willis for a yard or two EVERY SINGLE TIME! On multiple occasions, he stepped out of a Takeo Spikes tackle. Once, he even bounced off of Spikes in a full-out collision. Undoubtedly, this was cause for excitement. And, if you're like me, you probably put in a claim for him on the Fantasy Football waiver wire. James Starks gives reason for excitement. Cause for optimism. 18 carries for more than 4.1 yards per carry & nothing was longer than 16 yards. What a treat to see a back seeking contact. He reminded me of a cross between Ryan Grant & Dorsey Levens. His strides were like Grant, while he lowered his shoulder like Levens. One cut and go, baby. Hitting the hole in stride as his mission. Welcome aboard, James Starks. You provided the spark!

Yes, on Sunday, the Packers were perfect on 3rd & 1, but I left Sunday's game yearning to see James "the Spark Plug" Starks carrying the ball in a short yardage situation. His running style seems to cater to short yardage situations.

Speaking of 3rd & 1, I enjoyed the 3-FB set that McCarthy unveiled this weekend. Look for the play-action out of that set in the next couple of weeks. The ball will likely go to AQ81 down the seam. Expecting big results.

After the impressive 34-16 victory, the Packers continued to control their own destiny with respect to a 1st round bye. Win out & we get a bye to rest & wait for our opponent. To me, it looks like we could use a week of rest. Especially Chad Clifton. While, I know that he sustained a concussion at some point Sunday, I've felt that the last two weeks Clifton has struggled mightily.

Aaron Rodgers has undoubtedly thrown his name in a short list of MVP candidates along with Tom Brady (the clear front runner) and Matt Ryan. Rodgers was brilliant against the 49ers post his mistake when he missed a wide open Quickie in the end zone in the 1st Quarter. It was a great play call. With fine design. Double-D was open. Rodgers overthrew him. No worries, A-Rodge. You were a stallion on Sunday. Making the reads. Using the drop down. Connecting with 8 receivers. Rodgers was sensational. He was having fun & clearly, it was a treat for him to see the Spark Plug providing a running game.

Small Observations:

Donald Driver's TD was the play of the year thus far. Good to see Double-D get busy.

Once again, BJ Raji was a dominant force. Loved his sack. But, man, the guy is slippery. Finds his way into the backfield & disrupts the action most plays. It'd be a shame if he doesn't make the Pro Bowl.

Presently, Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings is the most lethal combination in the National Football League.

Props to Cullen Jenkins & Frank Zombo. After what I thought was their worst game at Atlanta, I felt both played their best game of the year. Sad to see Jenkins hurt again, but prior to the injury, Jenkins was a dominant force. 2 much needed sacks. The "Z-Man" also chipped in with a sack & 3 tackles. Moreover, I felt the "Z-Man" was strong at the point of attack. I liked his coverage. He was active. It'd be great to see him get 4 more sacks over the last 4 weeks and to finish with 8 for the year. After all, he's dealing with single coverage.

Erik Walden has made a difference on special teams. He made a great special teams tackle on Ted Ginn.

I also thought Josh Gordy was active on special teams.

Korey Hall's injury is the only reason Quinn Johnson will be active for the rest of the year. Johnson continually makes mental errors offensively. He, too, had a nice special teams tackle, but this guy can't be very intelligent. Rodgers was clearly frustrated with Quinn Johnson's inability to know the offense & where he was supposed to line up.

Well done, John Kuhn. Hard running in short yardage situations. Played with heart. And Fight.

Let me continue the man-crush. Watching Starks return the short kickoffs was totally buzzworthy. He was elusive. Almost vicious as he picked his legs up. A total upgrade.

Sammy Swagga brings flava to the kickoff game. Man, he's fast to the corner. Would be great to see him hit a hole up the gut.

Wish both Sammy Swagga & T-Mon would have picked off passes that hit them in the hands.

Mad props to Nintendo Nick for getting dirty on the pick. Hopefully, that play will be a momentum builder for him. He gets picks in bunches. That play might have been the start of something special.

Good to see Jordy Nelson picking up a 1st down.

Tom Crabtree deserves a mention. Solid blocking. Almost another OL at times. Wondering if he might be a receiving option in the near future. Possibly next week at NE.

Dear Claymaker & Sir Charles, don't get frustrated. The big plays are coming. Chuckie-Wood, remember you're going back to Detroit. And we all know that you own the state of Michigan. You'll be dancing this weekend. Clay, the sacks are coming. But, remember, mate, you're playing the run with excellent style & bro, you led the team with 6 solo tackles. Keep on keepin' on, mate. The sacks are coming.

TJ Lang got blown up on the missed 29-yard FG. Unacceptable.

James Jones was a total disappointment. Showed alligator arms on a deep ball down the left sideline. Thought he also should have made a play on the ball when the ball hit Nate Clements in the head. I also thought he ran a 2nd down route a 1/2 yard short of the 1st down. Thankfully, John Kuhn bailed him out with a 2nd effort on 3rd down to get the 1st down. Nonetheless, James, pay attention to the details. And give us full effort. Every play. Every week.

I loved the 1929 kits. Would love to see them pull it off again. Represented well. And in style.

After 12 games, the Packers have forced 22 turnovers and we've accumulated 35 sacks. I still reckon that the Packers will need to force a minimum of 30 turnovers to run the table & earn the 1st round bye.

The Detroit Lions. At 2-10. With a 3rd string QB. Without a starting DE & a starting CB. Playoff teams don't lose this game. We won't. It'll be convincing. It'll be fun. As long as we rush the passer. We all know Suh. Guy is a stud. Sucks that he's in our division. Will be interesting to see Sitton battle him again. Corey Williams can apply pressure, but I imagine Colledge can handle him. But, the guy that scares me the most is Cliff Avril. Avril can flat out pressure the QB. It'll be a great test for Bulaga. We'll be able to see Bulaga's progress this week. Avril has 7 sacks & every time I've watched Avril play, he's applying immense pressure. The loss of Kyle Vanden Bosch hurts the Lions a lot. Turk McBride can be had. I expect to see Starks start his runs to the ride followed by a wicked cut back to the left. Holes will be found at the expense of McBride & Williams. Other than Louis Delmas & Julian Peterson, I don't respect anyone in the LB core & the secondary of the Lions. They can be buried. We'll score points. In abundance.

Offensively, the Lions don't offer much with Stanton. Yes, Calvin Johnson is a stud. But, T-Mon matches up with him perfectly. I really like Jahvid Best, but he's not getting loose against us. At this stage of his career, Nate Burleson is not a #2 WR. Sammy Swagga can handle him. In fact, Sammy will probably pick off a little comeback route this week. Tony Scheffler matches up well against our LB's, so I'd put Sir Charles on him. Brandon Pettigrew has been a machine this year. I'd instruct Desmond Bishop & AJ Hawk to be sitting on the curl ALL DAY. I'd challenge Pettigrew to run the seams. Pettigrew runs a solid down & out. He's talented on the curl - where he boxes out the defender. JUMP THE CURL! If so, we'll get a pick. It's all timing. If we do our homework, we'll pick off this pass. I'd have Peprah double Pettigrew on 2nd & long as that's when they typically come to this play. Keep Nintendo Nick over the top against Calvin Johnson.

Three rules for this game:

1.) Protect our Pro Bowl QB.
2.) One turnover or less.
3.) Don't let Stefan Logan beat us on special teams.

If this happens, the Packers win a blowout. While the Lions have been extremely competitive all season, I don't envision a contest this week. See, we are the Green Bay Packers. We have a superstar QB. We have a solid coach who has compiled a tremendous staff. We have playmakers on defense. Many of them. And soon, those playmakers are going to make plays in bunches. It's likely that'll happen against the Lions.

Lets go for the dagger early. 1st drive. 3 WR. 1 TE. B-Jack in the backfield. Throw the screen. The Lions will be aggressive up front. It'll get a first down. On our initial 2nd down, I'd like to see Starks on the field. I-Form. Crabtree at TE. Two WR. Jennings lined up against Chris Houston. Everyone in the building will think a running play. I want play-action. Jennings on the back-yard style down, out & around. Jennings gives a little SHAKE with his hips. Curls it up-field. It'll be 65 yards & a Packer touchdown.

Force the Lions to become predictable. Most of the routes will be under 10 yards & then they'll try us with Calvin Johnson. I expect a pick-6 from our secondary.

The Packers grab a 17-3 lead & then it's the Spark Plug. Starks gets to the 2nd level of the Lions defense. It'll be interesting to see him in the open field.

We must be ultra-focused early. We should be prepared to dominate. Win the line of scrimmage early. The Lions will get frustrated as we grab a three score lead in the 2nd Quarter as we score on 4 of our first 5 possessions. When we snatch this lead, be careful of falling into silly tactics by the Detroit defense. They might try to scuffle. They might be a bit dirty. But, be mature. Don't do anything stupid that might jeopardize the ability to play in the following week. Laugh it off. Let's win this one early. Then lets rest.

Green Bay 41. Detroit 13.

I must admit excitement that I plan on cheering for the Old Dirty Bastard. Good ol' #4 could do the Packers a HUGE favor by winning the next two weekends. If my math is correct, a Packers victory officially eliminates the Viqueens from post season contention. So, let's cheer for the Viqueens to grab the highly unenviable 18th pick of the NFL Draft. Hell, for old times sake, I want to offer a good old school country yell: Come On, Brett!

Final note to Ras Al. I was sorry to read that you went on the IR. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

Play with confidence. Play with focus. Play with certainty. We're the better team. Do what we are supposed to do. Go Pack!

Vibe On.

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Take -> Week 13

Greetings, G-Force.

For the 4th time in the 2010 season the Packers walked off the field wondering "what if?" Again, in a game that was ours to win, the Packers left with disappointment. And as the players walked off the field, to me, they carried a sense of frustration. Matt Bryant's FG was a clear kick to the Packers mid-section.

Immediately after the contest, I, too, felt the devastation. Admittedly, this one hurt. However, as I've reflected on this battle, my outlook has changed. I like our QB. I like our Coach. I like the immense amount of playmakers we have on defense. I'd feel comfortable playing the Falcons in Atlanta in the playoffs. The Georgia Dome is the least intimidating stadium I've ever entered - regardless of Matty Ice's home record.

Truly, if the Packers hadn't fumbled at the one-yard line, I have no doubt that we'd be 9-3 & in control of our own destiny with regards to home field advantage. It wasn't meant to be. Still, the Packers control their own destiny with respect to a 1st round bye. And, frankly, this might be a best case scenario. Gain a 1st round bye. Play the Divisional round at Lambeau. Play the NFC Championship in a dome where we can spread 'em out. Minimize our inability to run the football.

As Rodgers led our game-tying drive, I felt like I was witnessing the greatest drive in the lure of recent Packers history. Not since Favre hit Corey Bradford with 12 seconds left on a 23 yard TD on 4th down to beat the Vikings in 1999 had Packers fans potentially watched a drive of such epic magnitude. It was Aaron Rodgers at his best. Keeping both drives and plays alive with his feet. The brilliant back-handed flip to James Jones was nearly one for the ages. The pass to Nelson was supposed to be archived as one of the more remarkable plays in my Packer memory. Instead, it's chalked up as a valiant effort in another close loss. I'm not demeaning the moment as it was a spectacular play, but we left the dome as losers & that, to me, is the everlasting memory.

I've heard a number of people criticize McCarthy for his play-calling near the goal line. While I agree that I'd like to see Kuhn on the field as an option, I can't complain about the play-selection. As a review:

1st down: Roll out pass. Rodgers had two options. AQ81 & Quinn Johnson. Good disguise to the play. The pass wasn't great. It still hit Quinn Johnson in the hands. It would've been a tough catch, but I believe that Kuhn would have caught it. Rodgers seemed to have complained to Johnson that the ball was intended for AQ81 who had a step. Nonetheless, I liked the play call. Our players have to make the play.

2nd down: Let's remember that Rodgers called an audible to the sneak. Prior to the play, I turned to my buddy, Joe, and said "a QB draw would work here. It's wide open." Rodgers saw what I did. Colledge didn't finish his block. If so, Rodgers would have walked in.

3rd down: QB sneak from less than a 1/2 yard. I would have like Kuhn over the top, but man, I can't complain about our coach expecting our OL to push forward for a 1/2 yard. We have to be able to pick this up. We failed up front with pathetic fashion.

Additionally, I loved the flea flicker that McCarthy called on 3rd & 2. It worked in a big way. Fooled the Falcons masterfully. On the 3rd & 1 play to Nance, I wish that referee would have considered Nance's 2nd effort. I thought he made a push towards the marker & wasn't rewarded for it. His concussion hurt us later as we missed his physical nature near the goal line.

It was a game in which I kept waiting for our defense to make a game changing play. That play never occurred. For the first time all year, our defense did not make a big play.

Small Observations:

Our WR's played terrific football against Atlanta. The Falcons DB's could not match us.

BJ Raji is a superstar. A total stud. A man.

Good to see AQ81 making some plays as well. Moving sticks.

Desmond Bishop is a beast against the run! LOCK HIM UP!

Props to Ted Thompson for taking care of T-Mon. Great work, Ted.

On the kickoff return that drew the 15-yard penalty, Mason Crosby cannot be blamed. He kicked it 3-yards deep. To me, Brett Swain didn't seem overly anxious to make a tackle.

On the opening kickoff of the 2nd half, if Sammy Swagga dances to the right of the kicker, he's off to races. It would have been PAYDIRT. Instead, it was a solid return.

This game was won & lost on the line of scrimmage. I really felt that whenever Atlanta needed yardage on the ground, they went after Zombo & Cullen Jenkins. Generally, they were successful. For the 2nd week in a row, Zombo missed an open field tackle on 3rd down which would have got us off the field. This was also Jenkins' worst game of the season. Yes, I understand that both Zombo & Jenkins had sacks. Nonetheless, both got pushed around at the line of scrimmage. Offensively, Daryn Colledge was treated like a rag doll. Each short yardage situation, Colledge was abused. Badly.

Nintendo Nick, we need more out of you. Severely. We need plays, Nick. Be a difference maker, Nick. NOW. You can single-handedly change the season. You have that play making ability. But, the time is now, Nick. Play On, Player.

After 11 games, we have forced 21 turnovers and generated 31 sacks. The 40/40 club is officially out of question. We might need the 30/40 club in order to make the playoffs.

We need to get hot. Right now. Let's rattle off 5 in a row. This week we remember the 1929 season. The first of our 12 World Championships. If you're in Green Bay, be sure to stop by the Titletown Brewery and dive into a Johnny "The Blood" McNally Red Ale. In 1929, Johnny "The Blood" was 2nd on the team in TD's with 5. I sure hope Titletown has this beer on special for the weekend.

The 49ers come into town. Strangely, in the NFL, there seems to be certain teams that dominate other teams. Dating back to the 1989 upset at Candlestick, this has seemed to be the case with this rivalry. Take away the Rice fumble turned into Young to Owens miracle loss and the Packers have essentially owned this relationship for more than 20 years. Once again, I expect the same.

The 49ers will be playing without Frank Gore, their most explosive playmaker. However, the 49ers have solid back-ups in Brian Westbrook & Anthony Dixon. Both will compliment each other & will provide a challenge for the Packers front. With that being said, I expect the Packers front 7 to be able to man handle the 49ers young OL. The 49ers OL has a lot of promise, it's just not ready to handle the big stage that Lambeau Field will present this weekend. I fully expect Lambeau to be rocking. In full force. This is a must win against an NFC opponent. Lambeau will elevate.

Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis each pose threats, but I believe the Packers will get enough of a push to force Troy Smith into mistakes. More than a couple of mistakes. It wouldn't shock me if the Packers force 3-4 turnovers this weekend. We'll swarm the 49ers backfield & with that, big plays will follow for the 1929 throwback uniforms.

While the 49ers defense has struggled at times this year, they do have terrific linebackers with Lawson, Spikes, Willis & Haralson. Due to the LB strength, I hope the Packers spread the field. Give Rodgers the game. Let's win with our strength. The 49ers can't cover us.

Don't be surprised if this is a blowout. In grand fashion. A fun December game at Lambeau. A day in which the beer tastes that much better.

The weather is calling for 28 degrees. 13 mph winds. 0% chance of precipitation. Sounds like a perfect day to bring the California boys outdoors. Yet warm enough with light enough winds for us to open up the playbook & go to work.

Rodgers goes for 275 yards and 3 TD's. Sir Charles grabs a pick. So does Nintendo Nick. Clay finds a sack. Our big gun Pro Bowl players pull through.

Green Bay 30. San Francisco 13.

Packer fans remain warm with a lil' fire in the soul. Off 'yur ass. On 'yur feet!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Take -> Week 12

Greetings, G-Force.

Dear Aaron Rodgers, Till death do us part. Promise me, Aaron. Promise me. Aaron, in our short time know, you as player & as fan & shareholder of the Green Bay single favorite moment was when were replaced by Matt Flynn midway thru the 4th Quarter. Your sheepish smile as you both received and offered congratulations to your teammates...ah, Aaron, that was pure. It was sublime. Simply, it was epic. In every sense of the word. Be Proud, Aaron. You deserve it. The NFC North is yours to win.

I'd like to thank the likes of Ryan & Emily Meisinger, Becky & PatRad, & Sean Flanagan for making the trek to the Mall...excuse me, to the Dome for this celebration. As fans, you all deserve a raise. I'm sure it was an absolute treat. A successful adventure. Surely, it was a fantastic victory. And you all played a part in this funky retirement party. Mike McCarthy's press conference was hilarious when asked whether or not he heard the "Go Pack Go!" chants - his response, "well, how could you not?" Great work, G-Force! You brought it!

Sensationally, once again, we witnessed how a Mike McCarthy team performs during tough circumstances. We rise to the top. We are well coached. We needed points to start the 3rd Quarter. We needed a dagger. What does McCarthy draw up? Double TE. Lined up strong to the short side of the field as Crabtree goes in motion. Nance in the backfield. Jennings split wide left. Safety slides to the middle. EVERYONE was expecting a run. Even me. I said, "Dad, well Nance is in. Crabtree in motion. This is a run to the right." Instead, it's play action. Puma route. Jennings coming back to the ball. Making Asher Allen miss. Single coverage. 6 points for Mike McCarthy. Draw it up, Mike!

What I absolutely cherish about this football team is that we have so many players that can pick us up while we're down. Clearly, we were all nervous entering the 2nd Quarter. Down 3-0. Looking for a spark. The 'queens looked to be gaining confidence. Favre hits Gerhardt. And Sir Charles changes the momentum with his right paw. Slap on, Chuckie! Handshakes all around. Well deserved.

Still, Aaron Rodgers needed a bail out. With nearly 10 minutes left in the 2nd Quarter the Packers had one first down. That came on a Dmitry Nance run in which he was stuffed short of the yardage and fought for the extra yardage. In the 1st Quarter, we had minus-8 yards passing.

Enter Greg Jennings.

Aaron Rodgers + Greg Jennings = A true phenomenon that is quickly becoming the most dynamic passing combination in all of football.

Small Observations:

Great to see Favre willingly sit down as the Claymaker was chasing him. Fear, I tell you. Fear. Clay does so much that doesn't show up on the box score. Teams seriously fear Clay Matthews III.

Heavy props to Dmitry Nance. Loved the way he hit the hole. Plants the foot. Small burst. Falls forward upon contact. Focused on ball security. Might be hope.

Aaron Rodgers' two-minute drill to end the 1st half was the best of his career. Saw the field. Used Jones, AQ81 & B-Jack to perfection.

Rodgers on 3rd down is a magical thing. The 3rd & 9 deep ball to Jennings got him out of the funk. He withstood a hit on this throw & showed his physicality. The 3rd & 10 laser to Jones propelled our 1st 10. The 3rd & 8 scramble kept alive the game sealing drive. Rodgers won third down with his patience, his arm, his intelligence, his toughness, & his legs.

James Jones is our #2 WR. Meanwhile, Double-D is tip toeing sidelines for 1st down. Still got it, Quickie!

Vote BJ Raji into the Pro Bowl. Vote early. Vote often. Guy is simply dominant. Seriously. Dominant. He controlled the early portions of that game.

AJ Hawk is flourishing behind Raji. Seeing holes. Hitting holes. Finding ball carriers.

Cullen Jenkins continues to supply a solid pass rush.

T-Mon. Pro Bowl. They need to be together. Show me a CB playing better than T-Mon.

Nintendo Nick beating AP to the corner. Loved it. Good to see him on the blitz as well.

Peprah continues to fight.

Pickett hitting AP in the backfield.

Bishop is a beast.

After a rough start, I really liked the way the Z-Man settled down. I feared that he was in over his head early on. Missing the tackle on 3rd down in the open field against Gerhardt. Jumping off-sides in the red zone. But, he calmed down. Well done, youngster. This week - we need you at the QB.

Defensively, we have so many players that can dramatically impact the outcome on any given play. At all times, offensesmust beware of the big mistake.

Once again, our offensive line played with courage. With fight. With belief. I really like Colledge & Sitton at guard. Man, do they open up the cutback, which is exactly the design of our offensive front. Anxious to see more of Nance & then Starks in the future. Big plays might be coming in the run game as the weather nears single digits.

It was frustrating to watch the normally aggressive McCarthy go overly conservative towards the end of the 3rd & early in the 4th. Then it was 3rd & 1 from the 22. I-Form. Kuhn as the deep back. Play action. 12 to 85. 6 points. Rodgers eclipses 300 yards and rifles his 4th TD. Ah, the significance of the #4.

It was great to rub dirt in the face of Childress. McCarthy gets the last laugh. Terrific vibes. His energy on the sidelines was spectacular. And when Childress was let go, I'm sure there were plenty of high fives running around 1265 Lombardi Ave. Guaranteed.

Also, I liked McCarthy's aggressiveness with the design of the reverse with Sammy Swagga. While it didn't work, I liked the intention. Putting players in position to making plays. Utilizing strengths.

Say what you will, but Ted Thompson claims victory over Brett Favre. Ted also gets the last laugh. Beautiful.

I'd argue that this was my favorite Packer game since the '97 victory over Dallas at Lambeau. Sweet revenge. Served cold. Adios, Chilly!

After 10 games, the Packers have 21 turnovers & 29 sacks.

This week - it's the Falcons. Essentially, the winner will be in 1st place in the NFC. Controllers of home-field throughout. I'm heading to the Dome for the game. Charlie Daniels once wrote, "The Devil went down to Georgia. He was looking for a soul to steal." Well, Charlie, I guess I'm the Devil. And, by the way, Charlie, I'm heading "up" to Georgia. But, yes Charlie, I'm looking for a soul to steal.

The Dirty Birds will present the stiffest challenge of the year for the Packers. In the dome, Matt Ryan has only lost once in his career. After this week - we'll have a barometer to gauge whether the Packers are legitimately a favorite to finish with a Super season. Prior to the season, my Super Bowl was Atlanta vs. Pittsburgh. This week - we find out the true legitimacy of our current status. In my eyes, it's a playoff game.

I'm not trying to overstate, the reality is: Win out at Lambeau. Beat Detroit on the road. Then the worst case scenario is 11-5. This would ensure a playoff berth. The problem is that at 10-6 - you might not get into the playoffs. So, each game carries a heavy weight. I'm sure we'll be ready to perform.

Let me start by giving credit to the Falcons. In 2008, I did not think that either Roddy White or Matt Ryan would have successful NFL careers. What do I know? Boy - was I wrong! Roddy White is playing at peak levels. Ryan is a winner. He wins close games. When his team is trailing/tied late, he leads the game winning drive. When he's had the lead, he engineers drives by pounding away with Michael Turner & using Tony Gonzalez as a safety valve. Seriously, I'm amazed with Ryan's development.

The Falcons have a variety of weapons. I like Jason Snelling & Justin Peele as back-ups as well. The combination of Snelling & Turner packs a powerful punch. Peele & Gonzalez compliment each other well. But, where they are weak is opposite Roddy White. I'm not convinced that either Michael Jenkins or Harry Douglas can play with our DB's. We win those match-ups. I have a small liking for Douglas. While he hasn't developed as I thought he might due to injury, he does show flashes of being similar to Antonio Freeman. He'll occasionally drop passes, but he's not afraid to go over the middle & he's a threat on third down. Also, he's solid with the ball in his hands. Regardless, they can't play with our DB's.

Defensively, the Dirty Birds have done a tremendous job building talent via the draft & FA. John Abraham will present a tough challenge for Clifton & Bulaga. Jonathan Babineaux gets a solid inside push. Kroy Biermann is a fighter. He's not going to get a great pass rush, but he'll play the run at elite levels. I really like their LB core of Lofton, Weatherspoon, & Peterson. Additionally, Dunta Robinson is a solid CB. They've been getting solid play out of their youngsters in the secondary. William Moore has adapted well in the NFL. Brent Grimes plays the ball well. Thomas DeCoud makes plays on the ball, but he'll also bite & can be beat over the top.

We'll beat the Falcons by spreading them out. We need Chris Owens and Brian Williams on the field. They can't cover us. We'll pick on them all day. Gotta throw over Owens' head. Williams couldn't cover us when he was with MN, he won't cover us now. I can't imagine a scenario in which we run the ball well against Atlanta. We have to run occasionally to keep them honest, but if we're going to win this game, it'll be because Aaron Rodgers puts up another MVP performance.

This game will be won on 3rd down. Matt Ryan is also a solid 3rd down QB. He knows the markers. He can roll to his right. Keep plays alive. He'll find the sticks. Or he'll keep his eyes downfield to hit the open man. We've got to pressure Ryan. Woodson & CM3 lining up on the same side of the field. Send Woodson to the outside. Clay to the inside. I love Clay's inside rush. It's beyond elite. By sending Woodson to the outside, it'll contain Ryan from escaping the pocket. He'll have to step up. Hopefully, we can close the gap.

It's a big day for BJ Raji, Howard Green, & Ryan Pickett. I imagine that we'll see plenty of the "Beefy Front" in an effort to slow down the run. We'll force the Falcons to be patient. The mistake will come.

I'm predicting a big victory. Rodgers puts his name into MVP contention. And Jordy Nelson...yes, Jordy Nelson makes a big play.

Green Bay 27. Atlanta 23.

For Thanksgiving weekend, we aren't eating Turkey. Instead, we're eating Falcon. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Take -> Week 11

Greetings, G-Force.

For those that have followed my writing over the years, I anticipate that you'll understand this week's take. For those that haven't, I hope that you carry an open mind as you read.

It's strange to anticipate closure. It's almost an awkward emotion. Uniquely, this weekend has been anticipated for the last three years. It's even rarer to have emoted closure with such vengeance. Nonetheless, closure is upon us.

So, the day has come for the sun to set on the career of the greatest legend over the last 40 years of our storied franchise. For 16 years, we held onto his every step. Cherished 442 TD passes. Mourned 286 interceptions. We honored his greatness as he played through pain. Through immense personal hardship, he played with spectacular fever. We praised his 3 consecutive NFL MVP's. Endorsed his back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. And with grateful emotions, we celebrated the righteous Return of the Lombardi Trophy to the place where it all began. For 16 years, he was our White Knight. The Don Quixote - el hombre of Lambeau. At times, it seemed he was the Lone Ranger as he pulled out victories throwing crucial TD's to the likes of Bill Schroeder, Corey Bradford, Kitrick Taylor, Jeff Thomason and Terry Mickens. Truly, he was the Leader of the Pack. In time, once again, we will memorialize these moments. Not this Sunday. This Sunday marks the end of a legendary career. The crucifiction of the Football Jesus.

They say that life comes full circle. It's fitting that closure will occur at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. In the dome. For years, when these teams met, Favre struggled when the match-up took place in Minnesota. Once again, Favre will walk off the field & into the losing locker room. And, at that point, for all practical purposes, his career will be over as the Packers will have a 4 game lead with 6 to play. Throw in the fact that we'll have the tie-breaker & the Viqueens will be out of the race. Thoroughly demoralized.

Soon. Yes, soon. With great acceptance, we'll welcome #4 back to Football's Holy Land. Just as we did Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, Jim Taylor, and Reggie White. All who left Green Bay to play elsewhere. Some left with a bitter taste & were welcomed back. All are remembered as Packers legends. The same will happen with the present day Judas.

But, this Sunday is about Aaron Rodgers. He is the ONE. He is the ONLY.

For most Packer fans, the ultimate pain would be to witness Favre winning a Super Bowl in Purple. Until Favre is eliminated, I'm not counting him out. I've seen it before. Too many times to deny him. Most when I was rooting for him. A Minnesota win & our lead is only 2 games. The following two weeks Minnesota plays Washington & Buffalo. They'd be staring 6-6 in the face. They'd have life. For those doubters, all you need to do is look at the Packers in 2003 & 2004. Favre has pulled this magic before. And, call me foolish, but as long as #4 walks out of the tunnel, I fear that he has the capacity to do it again.

It's true that the Land of 10,000 Lakes has immense drama. It's true that they play in a dome that's embarrassingly named Mall of America Field. It's true that Brad Childress is the Coach of the Viqueens. It's true that it appears some players are quitting on their coach. It's true that Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice & Percy Harvin are all battling injuries. If all of these issues continue, it'll be unimaginable for #4 to muster up the impossible.

The Packers enter the Dome with immense confidence. Winners of three in a row. The 'queens arrive with confusion. Tremendous uncertainty. At 3-6.

While my tone makes it seem like a foregone conclusion - yes, that's intentional - this game is not a certain victory. I'm writing on the assumption that we're well rested. Better prepared. But, the reality is that we must jump out early. Eliminate any and all hope that the 'queens might have. Let's score first and strike negative thoughts.

This is a big game for Cullen Jenkins & CJ Wilson. We need production out of Jenkins & Wilson. I imagine that we'll see significant snaps out of both. They'll need to control the line of scrimmage & beware of Favre's cadence. Couple Pickett's availability with Favre's use of the audible & the use of our "Beefy Front" of Green, Raji & Pickett might be limited. While this defensive front would surely provide a push on assumed run plays, it'd also offer a light pass rush, which certainly would signal an audible.

If Rice & Berrian are unable to go, let's enhance our attention on Shiancoe & Harvin, which will force the 'queens to beat us with a combination of Greg Camarillo, Greg Lewis & Hank Baskett. In this scenario, the Packers might win by 20. But, I expect Rice & Berrian to play. If not for themselves, I believe they'll play for Brett. Sort of a "win one for the gipper" philosophy.

AP is the most dangerous back in the NFL. Occasionally, he'll get loose. But, keep Nintendo in Center Field & AP isn't busting one to the house. Further, keep Peprah inching towards the box & he'll attack the line. Peprah has been totally impressive thus far.

But, this game is for Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers comes of age this Sunday. It's his day. It'll be a legendary day in the career of our young, Pro Bowl QB. For only the second time in the last 19 years, Brett Favre will not be the best QB in the NFC North. The other time, Favre was with the Jets. This year - it's about Aaron Rodgers. He's the elite QB in the Division. Once again, he proves it on Sunday. In terrific form, Rodgers throws for more than 300 yards. He throws 3 TD's. He's nearly perfect.

With Rodgers as the leader, the offense walks in lockstep. Using a variety of screens, McCarthy slows down the rush. Clifton controls an animated Jared Allen. Bulaga handles Ray Edwards. Rodgers connects with Jennings on a big one.

Once again, Rodgers utilizes the TE's over the middle against the once-dangerous 'queens defense. AQ81 & D-Lee each find 1st down grabs.

Rodgers hits J-squared with a 25 yard fly route as Jones breaks off the jam against Chris Cook.

Don't be surprised if Sammy Swagga gets loose on a KO Return. I have a feeling.

Clay Matthews grabs another sack. T-Mon grabs another pick. So does Nintendo Nick.

Green Bay 30. Minnesota 23.

Dagger. Heart. Inserted. Twisted. Dinner Time. Let's close the curtain. And, Brett, when it happens - please return to your old domain. We're waiting. And when it occurs, maybe I'm too forgiving but Brett, I offer you peace. For when it's all said & done, we'll both have the understanding that Karma is the way of life. It's a must that we all learn to be certain that Karma remains on our side.

When it's all said and done, Favre, I ask that you picture Jerry Garcia singing to you "Lay Down My Dear Brother. Lay Down And Take Your Rest. And I Bid You Good Night. Good Night. Good Night." And Brett, if you let the G-Force know that you've learned from your mistakes and you admit that you put both the organization & its fans in a tough spot - at that point - consider Garcia's voice a melodious mix of angst giving birth to forgiveness and reverence. Brett, "Thank You For A Real Good Time."

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Finally, my heart goes out to AK-74 after a 2nd consecutive season ending torn ACL. Wishing you the best on your comeback, AK-74! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off with my Dad to the Bears at Dolphins game this Thursday night. We're dressing in Green & Gold. We'll be sure to remind Ras Al that he's still loved by the G-Force. We'll also ensure that it's difficult for Ray Nutler to succeed. Fins up! Cheers!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Take -> Week 10

Greetings, G-Force.

Hey Jerry Jones, How 'bout dem Packers? Hope you enjoyed your trip back to America's Dairyland, Jerry.

Greatness is found in the ability to overcome problematic circumstances. It requires a strong-willed mind. Vince Lombardi often stated that "adversity not only tests the character of a man, but it builds it." Over the last 3 years, the Mike McCarthy led Packers have dealt with overwhelming - almost unprecedented - obstacles. Thus far, we're flourishing. At 6-3, the Packers not only have sole possession of 1st place in the NFC North, but as we head into the bye, we also control our own destiny with regards to home field advantage throughout the playoffs. I'm not getting ahead of myself as I'm aware that there are 7 weeks left, however when you consider that we still have dates with the Giants & the Falcons, the NFC is ours to lose. Considering the heavy amount of injuries that we've encountered, I offer a standing ovation to Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, his staff and the Players within the locker room. Your contributions are absolutely recognized! And appreciated. Keep up the good work, men.

It's a true treat to defeat the NFL's evil empire. It's even more elegant when it's on National TV and when the final score is an absolute massacre, which is the final straw in the Wade Phillips era. We completely destroyed the Cowboys in every facet of the game.

It was great to see Aaron Rodgers in rhythm. Undoubtedly, it was his best game of the year. He was both patient & accurate. But, more so, he was intelligent. He stepped up in the pocket. He chose his running opportunities carefully. He was the master of Sunday Night Football.

Clay Matthews = Defensive MVP. It's not even close. He's a legit playmaker - even when he is either double or triple teamed. He fights with magnificent courage. He's an absolute difference maker. He's undoubtedly the biggest defensive game changer in the National Football League. And - the best part - he makes big plays at key moments. Not since Reggie White have we had a closer. Clay Matthews finishes games.

It's been exciting to see Sir Charles making plays over the last 2 weeks. Notching his first sack and his third forced fumble of the season. It's also noteworthy that Woodson is 7.5 sacks & 3 interceptions away from the exceptional 50 interception, 20 sack club. We need another 2-3 sacks out of Woodson this year as we consistently search for additional ways to pressure the QB.

When Aaron Rodgers & Greg Jennings are mentally united, they are among the elite passing combinations in the league. Jennings in the end zone provides a pleasant buzz.

Nintendo Nick finding paydirt!

Yes, it's nice to have your superstars playing like superstars. But, the true delight was the play of Sammy Swagga, B-Jack, James Jones, Desmond Bishop, the entire OL, and J-Bush. Sammy Swagga was the MVP of the game. His HUGE interception set the tone. His KO Return offers hope for the future. B-Jack running with conviction. I like the pitch to him. Allows him to run with patience and our guards are continuously opening up the cut-back. James Jones eclipsing 100 yards for the 2nd time in 3 games. Desmond Bishop punishing the QB! J-Bush ripping the ball loose, which leads to 6 points.

It was also nice to see the referees show favoritism to the Packers on a couple of plays.

Suddenly, the OL is dominant. Getting a push. Protecting the QB. Winning the line of scrimmage with a tenacious feel. I've been impressed with the interior of the our line. Colledge, Wells & Sitton have played with strong continuity. On the outside, Clifton & Bulaga have been walls. Clifton is playing as well if not better than he's played since his injury at Tampa Bay. Bulaga continues to show his worth - the kid is a fighter.

Also, on the DL, we continue to show maturation & progression. We're well coached. CJ Wilson is a high energy player with a future in this league. Howard Green, BJ Raji & Ryan Pickett lean on you. Plus, Raji's quickness dominates each & every week. Above it all, Cullen Jenkins is arguably our best DL.

Good to see Ras-A-tari back.

Looking forward to seeing James Starks in the coming weeks. Wondering if he might be a KO Return option as well.

Once again, both the Z-Man & AJ Hawk were sound. It was Hawk's deflection that allowed us to see the Claymaker's 1st Lambeau Leap.

Dear Ras Al, you'll be missed. You've been a fan favorite for the last 8 years. No doubt that you'll eventually be enshrined into the Packers Hall of Fame. Thanks for the memories, Ras Al. I sincerely wish you the best. Further, I am stoked to be in attendance as you take on the Bears next week on Thursday Night Football. I promise to elevate on 3rd down to help make difficult for the hated Bears. Thanks for conducting yourself with class. 'Nuff Respect, Ras Al! You'll be missed.

Now, Ted Thompson, I beg of you. We've let go of a fan favorite. I trust that it's the best decision, Ted. But, let's ensure that T-Mon & Jenkins are locked up. Further, it's time to talk to Desmond Bishop as well. Let's get the discussions going. He has flourished in the 3-4 system. Let's communicate with him. He brings a unique dimension to our defense.

I've said it before and I've felt like I've been on an island. But, I'll say it again: I believe in the combination of Ted Thompson & Mike McCarthy. I seriously feel that this could be a Super tandem.

After 9 games, we have forced 19 turnovers & have accumulated 28 sacks. Let the race to the 40/40 club continue. Must continue to force turnovers in November & December as the weather turns.

Maybe I'm stating the obvious, but if this team doesn't turn the ball over & doesn't lose games on special teams, we are capable of having a special season.

Over the bye week, I would like to see two things:

1.) Get healthy.
2.) Find additional ways to get CM3 free. Is Bishop a solution at OLB on 3rd down? Drop AJ & Chillar into coverage. Rush Bishop & Clay. I'd like to see more of Bishop lining up next to the Z-Man as well. Stack the right side of the DL with the Z-Man, Bishop & Jenkins. Therefore, it'd limit the amount of double teams that the future Defensive MVP receives.

6-3. 1st place in the Division. Feelin' Fine.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Take -> Week 9

Greetings, G-Force.

How sweet it is! We went into NYC. Played J.E.T.S. style of football. Got on the plane with a "W." F@ck YES! WOO-HOO! I awoke Monday with a strain in my throat. I also pulled a muscle in my left arm after a forceful fist pump following Crosby's clinching FG. Literally. Clearly, I'm getting old.

This victory was tremendously emphatic.

Dom Capers playing the role of magician. Tim Masthay playing the role of MVP. Mike McCarthy & Aaron Rodgers as game managers. Clay as the Closer. EPIC!

When the Jets tried the fake punt, it was an absolute insult to our franchise. They were spitting in the faces of our coaches. They were laughing at our talent. It was arrogance at its best. It was great to see us rise to the occasion. Namely, happy to see Anthony Smith showing solid awareness.

From the infancy stages of this contest, it was clear that McCarthy's goal offensively was to not commit a game changing turnover. It was his duty to play conservatively & Rodgers' job to control the offense & then clock followed by converting on 3rd downs - often 3rd & long. The Packers wanted to shorten the game. The strategy worked.

Frankly, during the game, I disagreed with the plan. I thought we were unorganized. I was disappointed that we didn't have a play designed to get us into the end zone on 1st & goal. I would have thought that this was a play McCarthy had spent significant time pondering. I was certain that we'd have something in the works for this situation. Instead, we had to call timeout as the play seemed late in getting to the huddle. We also looked disorganized as we faced 3rd & 1. If Rodgers would have improvised, he could have ran a quick-set QB sneak for a 1st down. Instead, we ran the clock down and used B-Jack to the left hand side. B-Jack lost yardage.

Our clock management was also questionable around the 2-minute mark in the 1st half. I thought the Packers should have run the ball on third down so that the Jets would have got the ball back with approximately 1:10 left. Instead, we threw the ball to the outside & Donald Lee was knocked out of bounds. The clock stopped & the Jets got the ball back with around 1:50 left.

It was especially strange to see the Packers run the ball 3 straight times with the game on the line. All we needed was one first down. We ran the ball 3 times for little gain. Weird. But, the normally overly aggressive McCarthy went overly conservative. I strongly disagreed with the strategy. But, it worked. So, who am I to complain?

A huge applause goes to Ted Thompson. Off the streets, he brings in 4 players. Howard Green & Erik Walden were pressed into action with essentially one practice. Both made impressive contributions. Walden had 3 tackles. Green had 1 and it was a huge play as he forced a fumble, which led to an 8-yard loss. Additionally, thanks to Thompson for his more than gracious offer to T-Mon. Now, T-Mon, ink the deal, mate. We want you. We need you. You want us. You need us. It's a match, mate. Get it done!

I've been hesitant to write this, but I'm ready to state my feelings: The Green Bay Packers are a better defense with Desmond Bishop at ILB than we are with Nick Barnett at ILB. In Bishop's 4 games as a starter, he has totaled 13, 10, 8 and 10 tackles. Additionally, he has registered a pass defensed in each game, he has a sack and the vital pick-6 against Minnesota. Bishop has been an enforcer on our defense. Moreover, as a fan, it's thrilling to watch us line up on defense when we show blitz as Bishop & CM3 are lined up next to each other. That's two freakish athletes applying pressure.

It was great to watch Aaron Rodgers. On the road. Against an elite defense. He was cool as a cucumber in hot sauce. Throughout the game, I kept thinking "man, I like their defense, but I love our QB." He was putting the ball where either we'd catch the ball or no one would catch it. Playing with great confidence. For the most part, he was hitting his throws - with the exception of that out pattern on the sideline in which he's consistently missing badly. If Driver, Jones & Quarless would have held onto the ball, his stats would have looked a lot differently.

Small Observations:

Greg Jennings turning on the light switch. When he's in rhythm, he's as good as any WR in the league. I hope Rodgers turns to him on big downs throughout the rest of the year. Over the final 8 games of the year, there's no reason for Jennings not to score 8 more TD's. When those two are on the same page, they're unstoppable. Great to see Jennings involved again.

James Jones has got to catch that ball. Same with AQ81.

Quickie needs to get healthy.

Jordy with a nice sliding grab on 3rd down!

Hey B-Jack, look for the cutback! I was super impressed with Daryn Colledge. Thought Colledge played a great game. The back-side cutback was wide open throughout the 1st half, but B-Jack never saw it.

I was also really enjoying Sitton's game. In fact, our whole OL did a very good job for the 2nd game in a row. Bryan Bulaga has a career in this league.

Gotta love Jazz Hands Raji. Drawing a HUGE penalty flag, which pushed the Jets back 10 yards and eventually aided in the missed FG. Each week, Raji reads a screen. He amazes me with his strength & quickness.

On 3rd down on the final drive, I turned to my buddy, Braulio, who I was watching the game with & I said, back in the day, we'd just shout "Reggie! Reggie!" and we'd grab victory. We need Clay to become that guy. Next thing we see, is the SPIN MOVE! Picture perfect. Clay = Closer.

Send T-Mon to Hawaii.

Great to see Sir Charles making a play.

Charlie Peprah continues to impress against the run.

Liking the look of Cullen Jenkins as Mr. T.

Chillar on the blitz!

The Z-Man was on point. Forcing a fumble. Assignment sure against the run. Fighting at the point of attack. A treat to watch.

AJ Hawk playing steady.

And a BIG TIME shout-out to Sammy "Swagga" Shields. His speed was on display when he beat Brad Smith to the corner on the reverse. That play had the makings of a big time run, but Swagga came out of nowhere to rip Smith to the turf. Great anticipation. Additionally, Swagga made a nice tackle on Smith's long Kickoff Return.

Sounds like Ras-A-tari comes back this weekend. Can't wait to see the 'locks flowing in the secondary.

After 8 games, we have forced 15 turnovers & we have 24 sacks.

This weekend it's the Dallas Cowboys. Sunday Night. Prime time. Under the lights. Lambeau Field. Doesn't get much better than this. Again, it's time to polish those helmets. Show me the sparkle. Shine On, Green & Gold. Shine On. I'd argue that this is the most legendary non-divisional rivalry in the National Football League. So much history between these two teams. I can't wait to bury them.

First, we must come out aggressive. We must attack. Don't mistake this Dallas team. They have a lot of talent. Granted, they seem to be playing lackadaisically, however this team is littered with past Pro Bowlers. If things click, they have the talent to beat almost anyone. Even with Jon Kitna. So we must be prepared.

Offensively, this is Aaron Rodgers' game. Spread these 'boys out. Attack the middle of the field. I want 4-wide. B-Jack helping with D-Ware. I want Jennings in the slot. I want him running a deep post across the middle of the field. We'll get 6 points.

This is a game for the pass to set up the run. And stay patient, A-Rodg. Stay patient. Take what the defense gives you. Get rid of the ball. Don't take the sack. Know that they're going to force you to step out of the pocket with outside, speed rushes. It'll be tough for you to escape to your right. So, stay you. Be calm. Step up. The protection will hold. And release to your open receiver. They'll be all over the place.

While there is no question that I am confident in our defense, I have small concerns about our ability to slow down the playmakers on Dallas. Miles Austin & Felix Jones have beat us badly in the past. Their speed will challenge us. So will Dez Bryant's. Watch the quick passes to Bryant & Austin. They're dangerous in one-on-one situations. Jason Witten is a tough match-up. Wouldn't surprise me if Sir Charles spends some time matched up with Witten.

I see the Packers loading up on the left side of the Cowboys OL. It's Bishop on the blitz. Bishop gets home and knocks Kitna to the turf.

We'll find turnovers this weekend. I expect to see 3 of them. Sir Charles picks one off and takes it to the house. I also see the Packers notching 3 sacks. Cullen Jenkins gets one, so does Clay, and Bishop has the other.

It's another big game for Tim Masthay. Dez Bryant is a dangerous punt returner. Every time he touches it, he's thinking 6 points. Kick it out of bounds. Or at least pin him towards the sidelines.

This game is ours. We're more physical. We'll be more prepared. We're ready to make a statement in front of a national audience.

Packers 34. Cowboys 13.

We're in stride. We're playing with excitement. We have found continuity. The bye is coming, so give your soul this week. Leave it all out on the field. We need this victory as it'd put us in great position as the Bears & Viqueens battle in Week 10. While we're resting. Getting healthy. A win this week & we're in great position as we head into the bye. Let's dominate. This is our house. Own Lambeau Field. And from the fans, it's Power from the People. Bring it, G-Force. Bring it!

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys.


Talkin' S-Mac.

**** On a side note, congrats to AK-74 who notched his 4th sack last week. Keep 'em coming AK-74! Our draft pick is aided by your stats.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Take -> Week 8

Greetings, G-Force.

It was a great day at Lambeau Field. One for the ages. The crowd brought it in vintage form. My cousin Ryan returned the "mooning" favor to Randy Moss. He said his mission was to show both "Favre & Moss his game face." Thanks for bringing it, Ryan. We had home field advantage and the fans played a HUGE role in the victory.

Man, it was great to see the Football Jesus leading the Packers to victory once again. Truly epic to see him throw a TD to the Green & Gold at Lambeau Field once again. He hit Bishop right in stride. A thing of beauty. Couple the Packers victory with another dynamite performance by Ray Nutler and suddenly, the Packers have life again!

My good mate, Patrick, often sports a shirt that reads: "12 > 4." As a die-hard fan of the Green Bay Packers, it was sensational to see the sigh of relief come out of Rodgers after the final Favre pass fell incomplete. Sheepishly, he even elevated a #1 signal. Hopefully, the victory formation will be the turning point in Rodgers' season. Typically, when a team goes through a sluggish point in a season and elevates it into a phenomenal finish, there's a singular turning point that comes to mind. Think Doug Evans at St. Louis in 1996. Think Favre v Reggie White in 1992. Think Najeh Davenport & Ahman Green bullying through the defending champion, Tampa Bay defense in 2003 in a game in which we redefined ourselves. Think about Rodgers' performance during the 2nd half of the Cowboys game last year. Don't be surprised if the victory formation last Sunday night has the same effect on the 2010 season. Clearly, that was the best moment of Aaron Rodgers' young career. Rightfully so. Our young Pro Bowler beat the Legend. And at Lambeau Field, the Final Score read "12 > 4."

One thing you have to like about McCarthy is that when his team encounters controversy, generally, they've become stronger. Unlike our enemies from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, to my eye, McCarthy seems to have the respect of his team. Additionally, I feel McCarthy called his best game of the year when he needed it most.

Personally, I enjoyed the offensive sets with tight formation. Out of the I-formation. Double TE. Single WR to Rodgers' left. Kuhn at FB. Nance/Jackson about 5 yards deep in the backfield. Quick hand-off to the FB. We lined up in this set at least 3 times in which Kuhn got the ball. Twice on 4th & 1. Granted, the play have great success, but I'm more than confident that we'll find a big play out of this formation in the next 2-3 games. I envision a fake handoff to Kuhn & a pitch to Nance in the open field. Similar to the old Charlie Garner play that Jon Gruden made famous in the home opener when the Packers hosted the Raiders in 1999. Additionally, play action out of this formation could find AQ81 wide open in the flat.

McCarthy also showed great design with the TE screen. I really liked when he came back to it a 2nd time. Great imagination.

I liked the game plan. Attack Cook. Mix in the run. Use the play-action. And when Cook was replaced, go after Frank Walker. He was the weak leak.

Small Observations:

T-Mon taking ownership over Randy Moss' domain. It's a wonderful thing. Once again, Ted, the time is now. Put it on this years books.

Desmond Bishop bringing the riddim to the Packers defense. Each week he seems to make an impressive play.

Charlie Peprah earning his stripes. Playing ferocious. Earning respect. Giving heart.

Nintendo Nick! Play On, Player. When he's on point, he bounces with a magic flava.

Clay Matthews = The Intimidator.

Props to AQ81 for his first NFL TD. Also enjoyed seeing him as the 1st to congratulate B-Jack after Jackson's 1st Quarter TD. While at the time, I was furious - in hindsight - it is comical to see the replay of AQ81 doing his best impersonation of LeShon Johnson. Tripping over an apparent piece of tall grass. By the way, another great decision by McCarthy.

Good to see AJ Hawk in on the action once again. Hawk continues to battle & even though the majority of his tackles are 3-8 yards down field, he's fighting and around the football.

With the loss of Brad Jones & Brady Poppinga for the rest of the year, we'll find out what we have in Frank Zombo in a hurry. Might Shawne Merriman be in our future?

Great to witness pure domination by our OL. Clifton. Colledge. Wells. Sitton. Bulaga. Rubbing the once-fierce DL of the 'queens into the dirt in sublime fashion. Freakin' epic. We were the physical beasts. As we head into November, they must be the foundation of our roster.

Jairus Wynn with a HUGE sack which forced a MN timeout.

CJ Wilson giving us solid production. A battler. Getting dirty. Forcing the pick-6 with his pressure. Playing disciplined.

Donald Lee be nimble. Donald Lee be quick. Donald Lee jump over that 1st down stick!

Greg Jennings shaking the hips!

James Jones pulling out the yellow tape around the wrists was a thing of beauty.

Back to Rodgers - loved to see him take the corner & stretch for the 1st down. Though he was inches short, had to appreciate & acknowledge the effort. With that said, what was going on with the chemistry between Rodgers and the WR's? Not on the same page. Surprising. But, should be easily worked out.

Mostly, our special teams remain miserable. Need to get this fixed ASAP. Again, no reason to keep T-Mon back on punt return duties.

BJ "Jazz Hands" Raji is among the smartest football players on our team. He reads plays with terrific intelligence. A true talent. Wish we could limit his snaps. Need to keep him healthy. This would require Pickett & Jenkins to return immediately.

With all of the injuries on defense, Brandon Chillar must become a playmaker. Now.

Want to welcome the Rastas back to our defensive backfield. Bring heightened attitude. Ras-Al & Ras-A-tari, any day now. 'Nuff Respect.

I like the signing of Matt Wilhelm. He'll improve our special teams units immediately. I don't know anything about either Diyral Briggs or Howard Green.

Sam Shields doing an admirable job of getting his nose dirty & showing he belongs.

Anyone else scared that P-Lee puts one on the turf in a big spot this year while running back a kickoff?

After 7 games, we have 22 sacks & 12 turnovers.

This week - we travel to NYC to play the team many project to play in the Super Bowl. Coming off a bye, the Jets are 5-1 and playing as well as anybody thus far. Blessed with one of the best OL's in the league, the Jets have been able to play nearly mistake-free football and they're enjoying a rejuvenation in the career of LT. Shonne Green is a solid second option. The Jets also have two big play WR's in Santonio Holmes & Braylon Edwards. Brad Smith is one of the most versatile players in the league. Throw in Dustin Keller, who is one of the best young TE's in football, and Jericho Cotchery, who is a solid possession receiver, and Mark Sanchez has plenty of toys to play with. Further, it's the Jets defense that make them one of the most feared teams in the NFL. Jason Taylor & Shaun Ellis have combined for 7 sacks. David Harris & Bart Scott are the epitome of a 3-4 ILB. Calvin Pace is healthy. Darrell Revis has proclaimed himself 100% healthy. Antonio Cromartie has found himself in NYC. Jim Leonhard has developed into a very good safety. Brodney Pool is still a work-in-progress. He can be beat, but he'll also make an occasional play. From what I've seen of the Jets & I've watched them play three games this year - once in person - Pool can be looked off. I really like Dwight Lowery as a 3rd corner. Kyle Wilson has a bright future, but he's not there yet. The Jets will try to hide him in the slot. If healthy, Donald Driver, must be licking his chops.

Brad Smith will undoubtedly have a big kickoff return in this game. Jim Leonhard will probably do the same on a punt return.

We can pressure the Jets by blitzing through the middle and attacking Nick Mangold's left. The weakness on the OL is Matt Slauson. Though it's doubtful, it'd be great if we could get 15 run-down plays out of Pickett & 15 pass-down plays out of Jenkins. If Jenkins, is unable to go, Capers is going to have to get extremely creative with his blitzes. Occasionally, I'd drop all 11 in coverage to confuse Sanchez - much like Belichek used to do to Peyton Manning. Line up as though you're bringing 6-7. Instead, come with none. On the field, you'd have Raji, 5 LB's, and 5 DB's.

We will have opportunities to force turnovers. Carpe diem, men. I envision Sir Charles getting home on a blitz. He's due to make a play. It'll happen this week. Blindside hit on Sanchez. Ball comes loose.

I also see Bishop getting home on a blitz.

If the Jets simply pound away with the run, it'll be tough to stop them. If I were Brian Schottenheimer - the Jets Offensive Coordinator - I'd probably run the ball 40 times this weekend, if the game allowed me to. Based on injuries, I find it difficult to believe we'll be able to stop their running game. But, I also feel that Schottenheimer is occasionally too arrogant & gets away from what's working. He out-thinks himself & mismanages games.

The Jets will test us deep. They'll take at least 2 chances deep down the field. Possibly many more than that. They'll use Keller & Cotchery to keep us honest.

But, if we're patiently aggressive & the timing of our blitzes are proper, we'll make a game changing play on defense.

Offensively, Rodgers parlays the victory into a productive offensive performance. All week, the Packers will be bracing for the blitz. Stay calm, Aaron. And don't be afraid to take your shots deep. While both Cromartie & Revis are studs, I'll take my chances in 1 vs 1 coverage. Look to Driver in the slot. Take what the defense is giving you and expect the Jets to come with the kitchen sink whenever possible.

B-Jack slowly nickles & dimes the defense. The screen stays in the offense. Great to see it once again!

And on a crucial 3rd & 1 play, it's a flip to Nance who finds himself in the open field..........and I have a feeling we're going to like the outcome.

It's James Jones on a short crossing route. It's AQ81 finding the seam over the middle. It's Jennings beating Cromartie on a deep ball.

It's a nail biter & again Rodgers wins a game by 4 points or less.

Packers 23. Jets 20.

This game is about playing as a team. We are not one man. We are a unit. No man on this team is an island. We aren't leaving anyone behind. We are all for one. One for all. We're going into this game together. We might be physically bruised, but we're emotionally high & mentally prepared. We're a team. A brotherhood. No one stands alone. We're dreaming of a Halloween Smash in which victory goes to the original "Green" Costume of the NFL. We reign supreme. But, it'll require a complete game with unparalleled effort. Trust in each other. This is a business trip to the World's Financial Capital. Prevent special teams miscues and this is ours to steal.

Getter done!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Take -> Week 7

Greetings, G-Force.

Desperation is upon us.

After another disappointing day in the career of our Pro Bowl QB, the Packers have met the crossroads. It's only Week 7. As Bob McGinn aptly pointed out, in his career, Aaron Rodgers is 1-11 in games decided by 4 points or less. And shockingly, it's the offense that has sputtered throughout the 2010 season. Thus, we're staring at 3-3 and as the 'queens head to town, the season is on the line.

Don't get me wrong, I am ecstatic to have Rodgers as our QB. But, in 2010, he's looked more like the Majik Man of the late 80's, early 90's than he has the cautious yet carefree playmaking QB of the last two years. He's returned to his negative roots. He lacks confidence in the pocket. He's quick to give up on plays - even when he has protection. He's lost a pocket presence. He's not seeing the field. He's missing throws. He's turning his back to the field as he wrecklessly spins in the pocket. On at least two occasions, he made Bryan Bulaga look bad. And, when Rodgers has had a chance to win games, frustratingly, he has not been able to lead us to victory.

I was stunned that we didn't continue to attack the middle of the field after Crabtree & AQ81 combined for two catches totaling 56 yards early in the game. I was also surprised that we did not test the Fins deep with Jennings after the 86 yard strike. McCarthy lacked both strategy & discipline.

Mentally, every time we get something going offensively, we're constantly mitigating the risk of disaster which leads to enhanced uncertainty. Call it the "Risk of Indictment." Someone makes a mistake. Rodgers throws a pick or removes himself from the pocket too soon. An offensive lineman gets a flag. Someone drops a pass. Jones fumbles. Crosby misses a crucial FG. Each week - we find new ways to kill drives.

Amazingly, we're 1 game out of first place & unless Minnesota suddenly figures itself out, I'd be surprised if a 10-6 record is not good enough to win the Division. Win this week & essentially we control our own destiny. Excitingly, we'll hopefully get some of our defensive stalwarts back. Give me Pickett, Neal, CM3, Ras Al & Ras-A-tari back & I'll feel good about where we are at. Without them, not so much. Also, I read that the status of Nintendo Nick & AJ Hawk is in question. With a lack of effective defenders, we become ridiculously vulnerable.

Further, it'll be good to see Anthony Smith back as a Packer. I was surprised we let him go last year. I'm happy that Ted Thompson admitted his mistake.

Hey Ted, any day you want to sign T-Mon & Cullen Jenkins to lock term deals, that day will be fine by me. What are we waiting for? Each week, they are our two best defenders.

In not-so breaking news, I would be thrilled if Shawn Slocum lost his job. We have the worst special teams in football. Tackling Percy Harvin scares me this weekend. Our special teams are an absolute liability.

This weekend, we must get pressure on Favre. We have to get into his face. I'm praying for rain. Mistakes will follow. But, first, we have to throw Favre to the turf a couple of times. Get in his face.

AP can run whether it's rain, shine or snow. It'll be tough to stop him. But, if it's raining, the slippery ball might mean a fumble or two from the occasionally sloppy MN offense.

Offensively, we have to use the breadth of the field. With repeatability. Test them deep down the middle of the field. Utilize what works and that's the abundance of playmakers that we have on offense. And, hopefully, Jordy & Jones come to play. And, Aaron, if it's not the play is not there on 1st or 2nd down, it's OK to realize minimal returns. Small gains are positive gains. In our offensive strategy, it's OK to produce less than significant returns on 1st & 2nd down. Focus on consistent positive productivity. Then challenge the defense down the field as things open up.

McCarthy, when calling this game, I offer you three words: SECURE. RELIABLE. EASY.

Punch them in the mouth. At the gut of the defense. Kuhn & Jackson up the middle. It'll open up play-action. Stick with it. And when we come with play-action, Korey Hall, it's YOUR job to stand up and get physical. Nut up, bro. Don't try to cut a pass rusher. Stand up & take him on. Play mean.

Frankly, it's tough for me to give a solid breakdown of this game. We know who the Viqueens are. But, I have no idea who will suit up for the Packers on Sunday. Therefore, to me, presently, we lack an identity. In order for the Packers to win this weekend, we have to score at least 30 points. We also must hit Favre & force at least 2 turnovers. Anything less and victory will be tough to find. I'm thinking Rodgers gets his act together & the Packers get on track. Rodgers forgets about expectations. Throws for 330. 3 TD's.

Packers 34. Vikings 31.

Men, the lights are on. This is our house. Add some gloss to the helmets. Let them shine. Let them sparkle. Let's play with polish. Let's play with intensity. It's now. Or it's never. I'm not ready to let this season burn in flames. So play with fire. I'll be bringing it in my one-bedroom condo on SoBe. I hope you'll do the same in the most majestic of stadiums, Lambeau Field. Amp up the volume. The season is on the line. The Division is ours to lose. If you can't perform in this game, you're useless to me.

Let's do this!

Talkin' S-Mac.

One side note with regards to the "Who Are You Watching Now?" category. Do yourself a favor this Thursday night. 9 PM EST. ESPN. UCLA v Oregon. Watch #10, OLB, UCLA. His name is Akeem Ayers. I didn't list him as he's only a junior, but he's probably my favorite player in college football this year. Only a junior, he's 6-4, 255. He can do it all. He'd look good across from CM3.