Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Small Recap...

Greetings, G-Force.

Oh, what a season! From the depths of the deep sea at 4-4 after a putrid loss at Tampa Bay to an impressive 7-1 finish over the last half of the season. The playoff loss to the Cardinals paralleled our season. We started slow. Finished well. Came up short of the ultimate goal. The regular season mission would have been to win the Division. The playoff mission was victory. Throughout the season, there were many thrills. Sadly, in the end, I feel cheated.

A small conspiracy theory before I get started. I have a good mate down in here in Florida that is a avid gambler. Wins WAY more than he loses. On Friday, he said, "McKenna, scary thing happening in Vegas right now. 88% of the money line is on the Packers. 86% of the money against the spread is on the Packers. If it comes down to a referee's call, it's not going the Packers way." Yeah, he picked the Jets, Cowboys and Ravens in the earlier games.

My brother Chad is a master of conspiracies. I told Chad about this statistic shortly after speaking to my good buddy about this statistic. Chad went to the game. The final play did not sit well with him. He did some minor research only to find out that the most suspicious finish in my lifetime between the Chargers & Steelers in '08 was officiated by none other than Scott Green. By now, we all know who was the referee last Sunday at Arizona. I'm not saying...I'm just saying...

Since 1995, the Packers have been involved with some absolutely dramatic NFL playoff finishes. Take away the 1996 Super Bowl and the Packers have dealt with more playoff devastation than anyone minus maybe the Buffalo Bills. Those in Philly might have a gripe, but they've been beaten fair and square. Those in Cleveland in the 80's had it tough as they lost there team after two disgusting losses, but man, our losses have been tough. Think of '95 when we led the Cowboys in the 4th Quarter and the ball hit Sean Jones in the hands yet he could not hold on. The interception would have given the ball back to the Packers inside the 20 yard line. Think of the '97 Super Bowl. We had a chance with the score tied at 24. We had the ball. Favre could have run for the 1st down rolling left. Instead, he threw across his body and missed an open Antonio Freeman. We know how that ended. '98 had the Rice fumble and the TO buzzer beater. '01 finished with Favre throwing 6 interceptions. '02 ended when Vick handed Lambeau its first ever home playoff loss when the Falcons destroyed an injury plagued Packers unit. '03 is still the toughest loss yet. First, we did not go for it on 4th & 1. Then we gave up 4th & 26. Then Favre throws the pick. In '04, Randy Moss mooned us. In '07, Bush could not pick up the fumble, B-Jack could not beat one defender when he had 3 blockers, Ruvell Martin could not catch a bomb, and finally, Favre throws another pick. Throw in the Cardinal game and man, it makes one want to vomit. Ok, Ok, it's time for me to move on.

I'm proud of the 2009 Green Bay Packers. I'm happy to have Mike McCarthy as our Head Coach. I love having Aaron Rodgers as my QB. Sir Charles Woodson is the NFL's Defensive MVP. The Claymaker is a superstar. Nintendo Nick is a Pro Bowler. Jennings & J-Mike are amazingly gifted. Donald Driver is the leading receiver in Green Bay Packers history. T-Mon continues to elevate. Raji, Pickett, Jenkins, and Jolly are an effective rotation. Ryan Grant continues to show that he can handle the bulk of the load. Sitton and College progressed as the season came along. Tauscher and Clifton stabilized. Wells was consistent. Barnett & Hawk became comfortable in the 3-4 as ILB's. Hawk still has limitations, but still, he had a strong stretch mid way through the season against the run. Brad Jones filled in admirably, when it looked like AK-74's injury might leave us without an option at OLB.

Mike McCarthy has the balls of a burglar. I thought he called a terrific game. A great idea on the onside kick. Going for it on 4th down early in the 4th Quarter & grabbing a TD! That was epic. McCarthy, you earned my respect. The team followed your lead and fought back.

Aaron Rodgers, you are our future. Our leader. Our gem. We will go as far as you can take us. And I feel great about our future. In no way, do I blame you for the OT throw to Jennings. You were short on time. Jennings' initial move out of the break was across the middle. You threw the ball at that point. Jennings cut upfield. You threw a dart. It was miscommunication. It reminded me of the '04 playoff game against Minnesota when Favre and Javon Walker had a similar play occur only Brett's pass got picked off. Favre immediately blamed Walker. Aaron, I commend you for how you handled yourself in the post game press conferences. All you said about the play was "I wish I had more time. I wish I had that one back." Unlike me, you did not bring up the rubbish officiating. Not only on the face mask, but also when you got drilled in the head. Aaron, I admire you. Because of you, Aaron, our future is bright. Keep working hard. Good things are on the horizon. The Packers are on the rise.

Congratulations to Sir Charles. It's rare to have your favorite college player ever end up on your favorite NFL team. With you, Sir Charles, it occurred. It's a privilege to watch you play football.

Ted Thompson, you earned my respect. Ted, if you are going to build through the draft. You have to sign your own. Depending on the CBA, this could be your year to flex your muscles, spend some cash, and keep this team together. I have faith that this is your plan.

I've enjoyed writing this season. Thanks for reading.

Be Peace,

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Take -> Wild Card Game

Greetings, G-Force.

There are certain moments in life that infinitely alter ones existence. No matter how small or minute they may appear at the time, they're forever archived as monumental. And as odd as it seems, we can often accurately pinpoint that moment with minimal reflection. Crazy as it sounds, often when this moment occurs, you have no idea how much of an impact this occurrence plays in ones future. For Aaron Rodgers & the Green Bay Packers, good fortune swung their way on a 3rd & 11 pass to Greg Jennings with 4 minutes to play in the 3rd Quarter against the Dallas Cowboys. At the time, we carried a 4-4 record. We led 3-0 in a defensive battle. From that play on, the Green Bay Packers have been the elite team in the NFL. And Aaron Rodgers has been the MVP of the NFL.

For Mike McCarthy, that moment came when he FINALLY went to the fade route to J-Mike in the corner of the end zone. For the first 11 weeks, the Packers were a remarkable offense between the 20's. However, when we neared the Red Zone, we lived in misery. Since we went to the J-Mike fade late in the 2nd Quarter of the Ravens game, we've been almost unstoppable in the Red Zone. And, yes, we've seen the fade to J-Mike 3 times in 5 weeks. All 3 times it's been a touchdown. It's unstoppable. Eventually, it'll open up the rest of the field.

Mike McCarthy was a Riverboat Gambler on Sunday. He rolled the dice and risked injury. He played his starters throughout 3 Quarters. He prevailed. Not only did we leave the game healthy, but we steamrolled through the defending NFC Champions. The Cardinals have what we want. They are the NFC Champions. In order for us to stake our claim, we're must go into Arizona and punk them in their own crib. GAME ON!

Twice, the Packers have played Arizona at Arizona this year. Both were "meaningless" games. Both times, the Packers looked like it could not be contained. We enter the Wild Card Game with a boatload of confidence. I have no doubt that victory is on the horizon. None at all.

While the Cardinals have considered these bouts "meaningless" - the Packers have used them for stepping stones to enhanced confidence. What truly excites me is that Arizona played their starting OL for the entire game. Often times, we rushed 4 men. They could not block us. The Claymaker owned Jeremy Bridges. Brad Jones was too athletic for Levi Brown. Jones is so strange to watch. He's not fast. He's not quick. He's not strong. But, he gets the job done impressively. He wins his match-up. He's deceptive. I can't figure him out. And, strangely, I like it that way.

BJ "Jazz Hands" Raji pushed Lyle Sendlein around like my brother Chad did to me while boxing out for rebounds when we were younger. Sendlein was dust in the wind. While Raji was only credited for 2 tackles, however on three occasions, Raji was the dominant figure on the play.

Also, you can't tell me that the Arizona WR's won't be thinking about Ras-A-tari as they cross the middle. Even on Fitzgerald's TD, Bigby lowered the boom.

Offensively, Wells, Colledge and Sitton were continuously getting to the second line of the Cardinal defense. Exciting to see. Darnell Dockett will alter that this week, I'm sure, but nonetheless, there is heightened continuity among the Packers OL.

It should be noted that the Cardinals play a 3-4 defense. Both teams will be familiar with one another in preparation and know-how with regards to attacking each other.

The only way the Cardinals beat the Packers is if Larry Fitzgerald has an epic game. This certainly could occur. After all, he performed terrifically throughout the post season last year and carried the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. However, I believe Dom Capers will devise a game plan to slow Fitzgerald down.

Nick Barnett has been a stallion rushing the QB. Early in the game, he should be our lone blitzer. We should come after Arizona with our standard front-4. Then, when blitzing, we should come with Barnett up the middle. I feel as though the Packers can win the line of scrimmage with just a 4 man rush. I don't think Arizona can block us. In turn, we should double Fitzgerald at all times. T-Mon underneath. Collins over the top. Woodson on Boldin. And then pray that J-Bush can handle Breaston.

The Packers take an early lead when Rodgers connects with Jennings on a deep ball. 7-0 Green Bay.

The Packers defense gets in Warner's face. Forces a 3rd down incompletion.

Rodgers is back at it. To J-Mike. Finley averaged 5.4 catches a game over the last 7 weeks. He continues his domination. Out muscling and out running Clark Haggans and Gerald Hayes. The only players that semi-match up with J-Mike are Dansby and Adrian Wilson. Finley gets loose.

With a 17-7 lead...

Ryan Grant Runs Like an Antelope out of Control! The Packers dominate the line of scrimmage. Grant pounds away at the frustrated Cardinal defense. Quinn the Eskimo Johnson slams away at Adrian Wilson as he creeps near the line of scrimmage. Grant grabs CHUNKS of yardage.

Poor Michael Adams. At 5-8, 181. There is not one player on the Packers roster that he can guard. Aaron Rodgers knows this. He's become an extremely intelligent QB. He knows the weakness. He attacks it. James Jones for a 1st down.

With J-Mike split out wide, the Cardinals think the fade is coming. Instead, it's a draw to Grant up the middle for a Packers touchdown.

A flea flicker leads to a Jordy Nelson 55 yard TD.

Matthews grabs a sack. Bigby continues his play with confidence. Jolly gets his hands in the air. Hawk continues to play with a physical mind. Barnett shows that he's meant to be a 3-4 ILB.

Green Bay 34. Arizona 23.

Aaron Rodgers, you have never played in a Wild Card game. Fret not. Be yourself. Be patient. Let the game come to you. And then strap on your heavy weight championship belt. For the first 8 weeks, we lacked leadership. We were "Charles Woodson's Green Bay Packers." Yet, Woodson did not want to be the vocal leader. Aaron, that was your job. I congratulate you for recognizing this. I appreciated it when I watched you walk up and down the sideline in the last minute of the game applauding the efforts of your teammates. Great job, Aaron. I have faith in you. You are a winner.

It's not arrogance. It's confidence. You know you are good. And you are right. The time is now. Play like Champions. Act like Champions. Look good. Feel good. Onward and upward. Go Pack Go!

I am positive that my brother Chad, my nephew Chai, and my good mate & IT Director PatRad will be in attendance. I hear my cousins Patrick, Emily & Ryan are possibilities as well. Therefore, I am positive that there will be more than enough G-Force vibe to outlast any Arizona Cardinal home spirit.

I'm freakin' stoked!


Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Random 2010 NFL Draft thoughts

Greetings, G-Force.

I woke up on this relaxing Sunday morning & thought that I'd present a small vibe into the 2010 NFL Draft. I have to admit that fewer collegiate players jumped out at me than ever before. One Senior, Lucien Antoine, S, Oklahoma State certainly caught my attention. I can't find his name listed on the draft sites that I typically jump on. I'd grab him in the mid-to-late rounds without hesitation. He's nicknamed "The Punisher" and he lives up to his nickname.

Any way, I know less about the upcoming draft than I normally do. But, what I've tried to compile at this stage is a list of 5 players at each position that would interest me in each of the 7 rounds.

I should note that as the draft approaches in rapid fashion, I believe the team that will enjoy the most success will follow the model of the Philadelphia Eagles. They've drafted fast, electric offensive players. Teams are scoring at fascinating levels in the present era of the NFL. Special teams points are a premium. This draft has special teams game breakers in it. It's imperative that the Packers grab one.

Also as a reminder, while the Packers CLEARLY need youth on the OL, I do not list OL in my round by round breakdown.

Round 1:

* CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson. He was the most electrifying player in college football. If I had a vote, he would have won the Heisman Trophy. If he's on the board when we draft in Round 1, we should grab him.

* Noel Devine, RB, WVU. Ok, call me a homer. This is probably too early for him, but unquestionably, I want Devine. For years, I've been asking for the quick change of pace RB. A player that can score from ANYWHERE on the field - much in the mold of Darren Sproles. Devine is that guy. Many will say he is too small. Personally, I would overlook his height and focus on his playmaking skills. You can't coach speed. Devine is loaded with it. If Devine decides to come out, he'll probably end up being a 2nd or 3rd rounder, but for now, I want him, so I'll have him in Round 1.

* Jahvid Best, RB, Cal. Best also has question marks to him. He missed the end of this year due to injury. Regardless, when he's been on the field, he's lived in the defensive backfield after bursting through front 7's.

* Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama. If the Packers choose not to resign Pickett, DT would become a position of need. Cody's size makes him a strong fit for a 3-4 DT. He also has a knack for blocking kicks on special teams.

* Reshad Jones, S, Georgia. He's an absolute animal in the secondary. He's a heavy hitter. And he's a hawk attacking the football.

In the interest of time, I'm simply going to list the players for the remaining rounds. After the season, I'll post more thoughts.

Round 2

* Perrish Cox, CB, Auburn.
* Von Miller, OLB, Texas A & M.
* Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State.
* Chad Jones, S, LSU.
* Nate Allen, S, South Florida.

Round 3

* Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincy.
* Dexter McCluster, RB, Ole Miss.
* Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina.
* Jermaine Cunningham, OLB/DE, Florida.
* Stevenson Sylvester, OLB, Utah.

Round 4

* Quan Sturdivant, OLB, UNC.
* Dekoda Watson, OLB, FSU.
* Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA.
* George Selvie, DE/OLB, South Florida.
* Danario Alexander, WR, Missouri.

Round 5

* Water McFadden, CB, Auburn.
* Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas.
* Terrance Tolliver, WR, LSU.
* Dez Briscoe, WR, Kansas
* Cameron Sheffield, OLB, Troy

Round 6

* Lucien Antoine, S, Oklahoma State.
* Matt Marcorelle, OLB, Delaware.
* Antonio Coleman, OLB, Auburn.
* Stafon Johnson, RB, USC.
* Brian Jackson, CB, Oklahoma.

Round 7

* Dan LeFevour, QB, Central Michigan.
* Kade Watson, DT, Georgia.
* Kerry Meier, WR, Kansas.
* David Nelson, WR, Florida.
* Sam Shields, CB, Miami.


Talkin' S-Mac.