And so it begins. With mighty expectations. Self-labeled a "Super Bowl or Die" season. Whether you agree or disagree, jump on board. Let's go for it.
The Family Night is always a fun gathering. It's a celebration of us. A parade of sorts. A national reminder that Packer Nation is truly unique. As the local media wonders why attendance was "down" to 50,000, the national audience stands in awe. And, of course, it was great to meet the 2010 Green Bay Packers.
I hope I'm wrong with my Sam Shields prediction. I really do. I hope he can play in this league. Clearly, he had the play of the day. It was epic to see Shields bring the "U" swagger to Lambeau! Fun to see some high stepping! Due to that play coupled with the national attention that Family Night garners via the NFL Network, it's a near guarantee that Sam Shields is on an NFL Roster this season. I found it interesting that the Packers had him listed as the 7th rated CB on the roster in the release of the current depth chart. Additionally, he was ranked 3rd in KR. Though it was his play that stood out.
Other things that stood out to me from this past weekend:
* Double-D will retire as a Packer. Yes, Donald Driver in the Green & Gold for Life!
* AJ Hawk wearing smaller pads and looking like he is lighter. Yet, he found himself in the offensive backfield. Acting on instinct. Rather than reaction. Was it a solid play by Hawk or poor blocking by Kuhn? Was as it a phenomenal pass rush by Hawk or can Diedrich-Smith not play? Either way, good to see AJ making plays!
* BJ Raji looks fit. And ready to be a difference maker.
* J-Mike = Hawaii
* I liked the way Mike Neal extends his arms and pushes his way into the backfield. Pure strength.
* P-Lee impressed me. So did the U-HAUL.
* Great to see the added attention that Nintendo Nick was giving Morgan Burnett. Between each play and right before each snap, Collins was sure to offer direction. Also great to see Burnett in pursuit. His hit on Quinn Porter was dynamite!
* Brad Jones playing ROLB was an interesting twist. He played really well against the run & certainly held the point of attack on nearly every play that he was on the field. I really liked what I saw.
* I liked the pursuit of ALex Joseph. Too bad that he may not play this weekend.
* Quinn Johnson is in a fight for his life to make this roster.
* Jordy! Could this be his bust out year? Towards the end of last year, Rodgers became more aware at noticing weaknesses in the defense & finding the mismatch. If Jordy is going to be lined up against nickel & dime DB's, he could be in line for a NICE season.
* Also good to see the Packers using James Jones on a crossing route. I believe it to be his best route. Short and underneath. Let him use his vision and turn upfield.
* I really like Chastin West's physique. Wouldn't be shocked if he competes for a spot.
* The Packers are giving Quinn Porter every chance to make the roster. As my good mate, Vargas, reported from camp last week, Porter was having a great practice. Well, it was eye-catching to see him as the #1 kick-off returner.
* Don't overlook the addition of Carnell Lake to our secondary coaching staff. You know his present day best friend is Morgan Burnett.
* I felt that Jarius Wynn was far more impressive than CJ Wilson. More push. Quicker to the ball and off the snap. Better penetration. More instinctive. I know that each player in the 3-4 has a role, but I like Wynn's movement better than Wilson's, thus far.
* This just in - Allen "The Barbie Doll" Barbre is no good.
* It infuriates me that Andrew Quarless drops that pass.
* Oh, neither is Charlie Peprah. Guy can't play in this league. Him on the roster gives me great concern about the depth at the Safety position.
* I'm absolutely shocked that the Packers back-up QB is Matt Flynn as Jeff Garcia goes onto the UFL. Makes no sense to me. Remember that in 1995, Jim McMahon came in and got a BIG 3rd down against the Steelers in the season finale. Without that victory, we don't win the Division. Also, don't forget that this was the FIRST division title under Mike Holmgren. Garcia could pick up that 1st down. He could take us to 2-2 during a 4 game stretch. It's doubtful that Flynn could pick up the first down & with him, we'd likely finish 0-4 in a 4 game stretch. Not hating, just saying.
This Saturday, the Cleveland Browns head to Lambeau Field in the Midwest Shrine Game. The Browns should not be overlooked. Over the last two years, the Browns have stockpiled draft picks and added decent depth. Holmgren has done a decent job of adding a good mix of veterans & rookies this offseason to a roster that finished with 4 straight wins. If you've followed college football over the last couple of years, the likes of Colt McCoy, Montario Hardesty, James Davis, Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, Peyton Hillis, Alex Mack, Kaluka Maiava, Joe Haden, TJ Ward, and Larry Asante are not foreign. Throw in some solid FA signings such as Ben Watson, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Sheldon Brown, Matt Roth, Scott Fujita, and Eric Barton & the Browns field a respectable team in an extremely physical AFC North Division.
While I don't expect CM3, Nick Barnett, Sir Charles & Double-D to play (if Woodson, Barnett & Driver play - it will be extremely limited), I do foresee the Packers jumping out to an early lead. By the way, injuries do concern me right now - especially at OLB. Poppinga, Obi, CM3, Jones have all missed time. We need to get healthy. Now. We need rhythm & continuity.
The Lambeau Faithful is in midseason form on the defense's first stop. T-Mon with a decent punt return. Rodgers grabs control.
Spread 'em out. Quick work. Picking on the undersized Brandon McDonald, Rodgers finds Jordy. He seeks out J-Mike for a 1st down. Jones on a crossing pattern. Jennings on a puma route. Grant walks into the end zone. 7-0 Packers.
BJ Raji disrupts Jerome Harrison at the line of scrimmage. Delhomme forces one, tests the rookie. Burnett makes the play.
Rodgers leads the Packers into FG range The Packers starters exit with a 10-0 lead. And then it gets interesting.
I'll be curious to see how our back-ups compare to the Browns. It'll be also interesting to note where Bulaga plays. Does he see snaps at LG or is he strictly limited to LT?
The U-HAUL & P-Lee are put to the test. Both respond well. Using a variety of blitzes, Desmond Bishop applies the pressure and forces an errant throw. It lands in the hands of the U-HAUL.
The Packers go to work by mixing short passes to Chastin West & pounding away with a combination of Quinn Porter & Lumpkin. An occasional curl finds Tom Crabtree as he grabs extended snaps in light of the injury to Quarless. These types of plays encourage both the local media & the Packers coaches to use words such as "moxie", "leadership" & "tough minded" to describe Flynn. Nonetheless, he'll hold onto the ball & rarely throw down the field. He'll scramble & fight for a first down. He'll get us into FG range.
Flynn departs with a 13-3 lead. In comes, Graham Harrell. Wouldn't surprise me if he slings it a bit. Looking towards Patrick Williams on a deep ball. However, mostly, I expect to see heavy doses of Porter & Lumpkin as they battle for the #3 RB spot as James Starks attends to his lingering hammy issue. Porter slips into the second line of the Browns defense. Fighting for 1st down yards. Finally, he punches it in the end zone.
Green Bay 20. Cleveland 10.
The Packers in 2010. I expect it to be sync with a mature, youthful energy. Classy. Fun. Let's dance in style!