Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Take -> Preseason Week 4

Greetings, G-Force.

There is reason for enthusiasm. While it's only the pre-season, the Packers have played with animation over the last 5 quarters. Offensively, we are on a mission. Rodgers is playing at a ridiculously high level. He's using his check-downs. Finding the backs. The safety valves are allowing the big plays down the field as defenses are having to respect both the underneath routes and the middle of the field due to J-Mike's stardom. Thus, our WR's are finding 1 v 1 opportunities. And Rodgers is utilizing the field to spread the ball. On the epic 2-minute drive to close the 1st half, Rodgers connected with 5 different receivers. Sublime.

Rodgers' high command of the offense was displayed on the audible in which he connected with J-Mike for a TD. Phenomenal. His toughness was elite. Standing in the pocket. Taking the hit. Absorbing the pain. 7 points. Beautiful.

As we yearn for health on the defensive side of the ball, the defense made a big statement as it rebounded from a putrid 1st Quarter. We forced turnovers. We applied pressure. While we only sacked Manning once, he was hurried on a number of occasions. The performance reminded me of the 2009 New Orleans Saints. An offense that is nearly impossible to defend only requires a defense that will alter the tide of the game with a crucial turnover. Judging from what we've seen thus far, the Packers defense will give up points. We'll give up yards in abundance. But, that same defense has a knack for making the game changing play.

This defense looks like a team that could force 40 turnovers and notch 40 sacks. We'll call it the "40-40" club. And we'll track it all year. In fact, this might be a requirement to position ourselves for a Super season. Since our special teams is a work in progress, we must depend on our defense to occasionally switch the field. While it would be an "amazing" stat if the Packers had 4 DB's with 5 picks each, it would not "amaze" me. In fact, I'm half-expecting Woodson, T-Mon, Nintendo Nick & Morgan Burnett to pick off 5 passes each.

Speaking of Morgan Burnett, he's the Pimp with the Limp! Loved watching him bounce after the pick. I was also stoked to see Nintendo Nick relishing the moment with Burnett. As Burnett was bouncing, Collins was a leader in celebration right next to him. I like the flavor. I wished Burnett would have had the pick on the deep ball as well, but good to see him in position.

J-Mike looks prime for a 100-catch, 1,000 yard season. He's not only claiming his nickname as TGIF, but he's also shouting that YOTTO is his MOJO. While Greg Bedard is reporting that YOTTO means "Year of the Take Over", the urban dictionary claims that YOTTO is "one who is great..has all power and huge cock. Is almost like god except he walks the earth. Is gorgeous and has sex-appeal. There can be only one Yotto. All others bow to him for Yotto is the greatest." Either way, J-Mike, whatever gets you thru the night...it's alright!

Unless the Packers are able to add a #3 CB via trade over the next week, Sam Shields has earned the right to be our nickel corner in Week 1. Since Ras Al can't play, it wouldn't shock me if Shields is the 5th DB at Philly. In fact, he should be. Props to Shields for proving me wrong thus far. He's a lock for this team & he's been the most pleasant surprise of camp. Well done, Sam. Keep it up, mate.

Frank Zombo has guaranteed himself a spot on this team as well. High intensity. Great motor. Still slow off the ball, but his hustle will find him around the ball. He also plays intelligently. Drops in coverage decently. I've yet to see him tracking a TE down the seam, but when he's dropped inside 10 yards, he's done well.

Mike Neal can play in this league. The artist known as "Bam-Bam" has shown growth & understanding of the defense. He spreads his way down the line of scrimmage like wild fire. He'll be a terrific compliment to Cullen Jenkins. As for Jenkins, we you healthy. NOW! Get well, bro. You're a vital component to our success. On 3rd down, I'd like to see Jenkins, Neal, CM3, & Zombo come after the QB. I'd expect pressure.

Massive props to Chery! Curious to see what he does this week. He'll get an opportunity to repeat the deed. If it happens, it'll earn him an improbable roster spot. I am interested in his kick-off return ability.

Looks like we have solid developmental depth of ILB with Francois, Simpkins, and the little we've seen of Alex Joseph. It'll be an interesting practice squad battle this weekend.

B-Jack continues to master the blitz pick-up.

Andrew Quarless! Drew-Q! Go up & get it, Drew-Q! Then, get up in the stands, kid! Flex those muscles. Lets party. Become a secret weapon. The Drew-Q/J-Mike combo could revolutionize the NFL.

It's too bad Lumpkin can't stay healthy as he can do things with the ball that none of our other backs offer. I like his style. Not sure if we can keep him as we've learned this lesson before with DeShawn Wynn. Since Starks goes to the PUP list, it appears we'll look at Lumpkin on an additional 6-week trial basis.

Said it before. Sayin' it again. I am really impressed with the continued growth of Marshal Newhouse. Looks like he could be a player in this league.

I fear that our DL depth is a weakness. We might only have 4 players who can play. Jenkins, Neal, Raji, Pickett. Might be wise to trade for an additional DL.

Heavy credit to Colledge for shutting his mouth. Taking the right approach. Winning the starting LG job. Moreover, cheers to Bulaga for the way he conducted himself after it was announced that Colledge had won the starting job.

I know I've beat it up, but I really hope we keep Chastin West. Every time they throw the ball in his direction, he makes a play. He's an imposing target. I think he has great potential.

I hope Nick Barnett hasn't lost a step. He seems a bit hobbled.

Tom Crabtree wasn't on the same page as A-Rodge on the crossing route in the 2nd Quarter. I'm sure A-Rodge wasn't happy when Crabtree stopped his route. While Crabtree has not shown a lot catching the ball in the preseason, he has impressed with his blocking. It was great to see him throwing Jerry Hughes around like a rag-doll. No doubt that Crabtree can block.

Finally, BIG UPS to Ted Thompson! The man has endured fierce scrutiny. Instead of crumbling, he's rising to the top. From what I've seen this preseason, I believe Bulaga, Neal, Burnett, Newhouse & Quarless all have futures with this franchise. In some capacity, each looks capable of having a positive impact. Furthermore, I felt the Indy game was Wilson's best game thus far. And I'm jonesin' to see James Starks!

Ted Thompson, I admire your courage. I buy into your vision. Keep building it your way. And, most importantly, stay brave, Ted.

This week the Packers travel to Arrowhead to take on the Chiefs in the "Stay Healthy" game of the preseason. If you are a starter, you get one series this week. ONE. Make it count.

It's Aaron Rodgers, the Surgeon, finding 4 different receivers. Driver, Jones & Nelson all grab balls for 1st downs. The Surgeon finds TGIF for the TD.

Playing without Sir Charles, Ras AL, Barnett, Brad Jones, CM3 & Cullen Jenkins, the defense gets the stop as Neal squirms thru & forces a hurried 3rd down throw by Matt Cassel.

Then the evaluation begins. Coming off his best performance in Green & Gold, Matt Flynn gets his change. Using West, Williams, Dillon, Chery, and Swain as his weapons, Flynn gets after it. These 5 WR's are all competing for the final WR spot. Flynn finds confidence in the underneath routes. I'm begging for West to get a glowing chance. I'm confident he'll shine.

Lumpkin grabs 20 carries. Playing to ensure a roster spot, Lumpkin spins, lowers his shoulder & finds additional yardage. Eventually, he finds the end zone.

Flynn finds Donald Lee for a potentially farewell TD. Lee, a consummate pro, deserves this TD. Regardless of what happens to his Packers fate over the next week.

The Packers defense continues to give up yards. Points as well. But, in true fashion, we find turnovers. Zombo gets to the QB. Shields grabs his 3rd pick of the preseason.

Packers 30. Chiefs 20.

Stay healthy.


Talkin' S-Mac.

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