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.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Take - > Week 6

Greetings, G-Force.

Suddenly, desperation has settled in. Almost ridiculously, at 3-2, our lifeline is ticking. Injuries are outrageous. Yet, we're still breathing and we must keep fighting.

8-0 at home. 2-6 on the road. Playoff berth. Let's make it happen. The road to the playoffs comes through us. But, we must control our own turf. Regardless of who steps on the field, we can make it a tough place to play. But, we must bring it.

For this week, it's about playing with a free spirit. Not sure if the expectations have gotten to us or what, but we're playing tight. We must play with passion. But, we also must be carefree. It seems like this team, which was once youthful, jovial & exuberant - its now pressing, playing with panic. I don't know this team. But, this week, we must return to our roots. Return to what has made this generation of Packers a fun team to watch.

No doubt, we should be 5-0. No question. Some may blame Ted Thompson. Others will blame Mike McCarthy. I blame the players that are the leaders of this team. I look at players that we've depended on. In fact, I commend Mike McCarthy. His star QB asked for the football. McCarthy gave both the ball & the game to his QB. Rodgers wanted the ball in his hands. McCarthy positioned Rodgers for success. Rodgers failed to win the game when we had multiple opportunities to do so. In the 4th Quarter & OT, Rodgers had 6 chances to essentially seal the game. The Packers offense totaled 3 first down. 91 yards. 0 points. 1 turnover. Thus, our chances of victory were shattered.

Since 1999, we've depended on Quickie to make plays over the middle. He's been our go-to guy. 4 drops last Sunday were unacceptable. Especially the play when we led 13-3 & we were driving. Rodgers hit him in stride. Double-D has made a living catching that ball. If he hangs on, we have 1st & 10 from the 13. A chance to seal the game. He dropped it. It was the biggest play of the game.

Greg Jennings, ditch the pink. Go back to yellow. Bust out the yellow wrist bands/tape that you were rockin' at the beginning of last year. Play with flava. Play with confidence. Mate, I understand that you're frustrated. But, bro, you have to hang onto the ball when it hits you in the hands.

No one loves Sir Charles more than me. But, Chuckie, man, it's time to roll smoothly. Get your hands off the WR's. Play with confidence. No reason to press. The plays are coming. Be patient. They'll happen. Karma is on your side.

Coming into the year, I thought Nintendo Nick, the Claymaker, YOTTO, and Rodgers were all possibilities for the All-Decade team. But, Nick, it's time for you to make a play. Where are you, Nick? We need you! We depend on you! Nick? Nick? Nick!

By the way, what has happened to Aaron Rodgers? He's back to his jumpy ways. He can't put a team away. Forcing throws. Dancing in the pocket, not trusting his line. Not looking downfield. Rather he's looking at the pass rush. EVEN WHEN HE HAS TIME, he seems to be looking for pressure! Drives me nuts. Aaron, when it's 1st & 10, it's OK to use the check down. It's OK to use the middle of the field. There's nothing wrong with 2nd & 5. Trust Crabtree. We kept 4 TE's for a reason.

Rodgers isn't seeing the field. While, he does have 99 yards rushing, I think that there have been more opportunities to use his legs. Yet, he's forced plays downfield & the result has been an incompletion. Almost amazingly, Rodgers is 12th in the league in passer rating. He's tied for the 6th most interceptions in the league. That's not Aaron Rodgers.

Play with confidence, Aaron. I trust in you. When you play as you're capable, no one is more talented than you. You have the potential to be the MVP. But, you have to play as yourself. Find your playmakers. Let them make plays. Make decisions quick. Get rid of the ball. Good things will happen.

Small observations:

- Anytime we want to sign Cullen Jenkins, I'll be fine with it. He's an anchor on our defense. With Jenkins, Jolly, Pickett, Raji, and Neal, we'll have the best DL in the NFL for the next three years. CJ Wilson is our developmental prospect unless we find someone better as an undrafted FA. LOCK UP JENKINS!

- BJ "Jazz Hands" Raji. What a stud!

- Mike Neal. Making plays. Getting a push.

- AQ81 showing promise. Wish we would have seen more on the 4th & 1. But, he showed enough to get me excited.

- Speaking of the 4th & 1, didn't we learn our lesson yet? On the road, ALWAYS take a 2 score lead when given the opportunity. We had our chance at the TD. We tried a QB sneak when we should have given the ball to Kuhn. When we got stuffed there, we blew our opportunity. Should have kicked the FG. Said it during the timeout. Saying it again right now. ALWAYS take the points if you have a chance to take a 2-score lead.

- BRAD JONES? Where are you, Brad? You've disappeared. And it looks like you've lost the confidence of the coaching staff. Interesting to see him dropping back into coverage. Almost as though he was an ILB as Desmond Bishop was pressuring the QB.

- Super impressed with Desmond Bishop. HUGE game from Bishop. Would love to see more of it.

- Like the intensity that AJ Hawk is playing with as well.

- T-Mon Williams, any day now, Ted. LOCK HIM UP! Nothing to wait for. Get it on this year's books. Get it done, Ted.

- Can't be pissed with Peprah. Sure, he got beat twice, but you almost had to expect it. Other than those two plays, I thought he played physical & confident. Looked comfortable in the defense.

- P-Lee can't play in this league.

- I wouldn't be disappointed if we started TJ Lang & Bulaga at tackle one of these weeks. See what we have in both of them.

- Our special teams are a disaster.

- Lets promote Dom Capers to Co-Head Coach. Give him a title. Can't let him leave!

- After 5 weeks, our defense has totaled 21 sacks & 8 turnovers.

This week - the Dolphins come to town. Without special teams miscues, the 'Fins might be 4-0. They've been playing better on the road than at home. Expect a stiff challenge. They'll take chances with Brandon Marshall deep down the middle of the field. On 3rd down, they'll look for Davone Bess. While Henne has been mistake prone, he's also made good progress. He'll look for Fasano on 1st down & take what the defense gives him.

Ronnie Brown looks to be on his last leg, while Ricky Williams continues to pound away. Yet, on 3rd & 2 or less, the ball is going to Lousaka Polite. Every time, expect the ball to be in Polite's hands. Normally, he'll fight for a 1st down.

Surprisingly, the Dolphins have looked good on defense. Randy Starks, Karlos Dansby, Cameron Wake, Vontae Davis, and Yeremiah Bell have all had great years thus far. Additionally, they'll get Channing Crowder & Jared Odrick back this week. Koa Misi has shown promise at OLB. Chris Clemons has been decent, but he can be beaten over the top. Jason Allen has improved, but he to can be beaten.

The Dolphins special teams have been the worst in the NFL. I just fear that we can't take control of this weakness.

The 'Fins will use a variety of blitz packages to confuse the Packers & then they'll depend on Starks to get a push from the inside & Wake to beat whoever plays RT with a speed rush. Wake has developed as a rusher. He'll force Rodgers to step up in the pocket, which has become Rodgers' biggest weakness.

The opening play of the game. I want 3 WR. 1 TE. B-Jack in the backfield. Jennings is split wide left. He'll be 1 on 1 vs. Jason Allen. Next to our RT is AQ81. Next to AQ 81 is Double-D. James Jones is split wide right. B-Jack gives help against Cameron Wake. It's Jennings on a puma-route. He'll catch it. Turn. He'll be man v man against Allen. Make a play, Greg.

Quarless grabs 5 balls this weekend. Gives us hope in a post J-Mike life.

Prediction of the week: Our defense scores a TD.

Packers 23. Dolphins 20.

Polish your helmets. Let 'em sparkle. Let 'em shine. Lambeau will rise. We're ready. Let's go have fun. Remember to enjoy yourself. Play with a free spirit & you'll capture the victory. Even with the injuries, we are the better team. Our depth will rise. Our youth will elevate. Play with energy. This is our game. 8-0 at home brings us a playoff berth.

Go Pack!

Talkin' S-Mac.

For those of you that are new to the blog, when I had more time, I would occasionally post a blog titled "Who are you watching now?" It focused on players that I was interested in at the college level. As time has diminished, I've narrowed the list to a mock draft. I only include Seniors that I've seen play. Also, I don't draft OL as I don't follow it closely enough. I'm projecting the Packers as having approximately the 24th pick in the draft. I try to apply a few principles that Ted Thompson seems to follow - mainly that he mostly drafts players with associations to Texas, Michigan, Florida, NJ, and California. I also apply a couple of basic McKenna-isms. First, the "Mark Clayton effect" which forces me to pay attention to the University of Louisville. If the Packers would have followed this effect, the 2008 draft would have looked significantly different. The "Law of Brian Dawkins" which makes sure you pay attention to the defensive backfield at Clemson. The "Antonio Freeman Attraction" which ensures that Virginia Tech playmakers are noticed. Thus, the 2011 Packers mock draft:

Round 1: Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan St. When Stack speaks, I listen. 3 years ago, he brought his name up to me. I've paid high attention to his game ever since. He'd instantly be an upgrade at ILB. Jones has the speed and power to play at the next level.

Jones barely beats out Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia. Come on! How could I not consider him. First, his name is Ras-I! He's 6-2, 200 lbs. By now, we know that Ted Thompson only drafts CB's that stand at least 6-0 tall. He attacks the ball in the air. Living in ACC land, I've been watching him for 3 years. I thought he was a better player than Chris Cook - who the Vikings drafted with the 1st pick of the 2nd round. He mans up. Plays the ball. Moreover, he's dealt with a hamstring injury. Doesn't that make him a lock for our 1st round pick?

I'm trying to look at LB's as much as possible this year. Guys I'm following as 1st round prospects are Jeremy Beal, OLB, OK and Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. Interestingly, both have Texas ties. I've also got my eye on DeMarco Murray, RB, OK.

Round 2: Noel Devine, RB, WVU. For years, I've been begging for an electric scat back. A HR hitter. A game changer. A guy who can also return kicks. Devine fits this category.

Others: If not Devine, another HR hitter is Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky. He can do it all. He single-handedly keeps Kentucky in games. A terrific utility football player. How can you not cheer for Mark Herzlich after all he's been through with - beating cancer. If healthy, the big time playmaking OLB from Boston College will have a career in the NFL. A trend is that I'm following OLB's that can drop in coverage. Stand 6-2 or above. Weigh approximately 250. Would like for them to run in the 4.6 range. Mason Foster, OLB, Washington played a huge role in Washington's upset of USC. I want to see more of him as I hadn't noticed him prior to that game. Prior to the disaster at UNC, I was enjoying Quan Sturdivant, ILB. Austin Pettis, WR, Boise has big time playmaking ability. Another player that I'm considering is Chris Culliver, CB, South Carolina. Has the size and the make to perform at the next level.

Round 3: Chris Rucker, CB, Michigan State. Rucker has the size & speed that Thompson looks for in a CB. He'll also make a play on the ball. Displayed in the game at Michigan when Rucker stepped in front of a Denard Robinson ball. Rucker plays the ball well in the air. And he's not afraid to help out in run defense. At this point, Rucker beats out Leonard Hankerson, WR, []_[]. Hankerson will make it in the NFL. Guy can play in the slot. Will run over the middle. Can take you deep. Great size. Great speed. Occasionally, he'll drop a pass, but he'll also amaze with sensational grabs. Jones is soon to be a FA. Jordy has not developed like we'd hoped. Driver is aging. Need to continue to give Rodgers options. Hankerson fits what we do.

Cliff Matthews, OLB, South Carolina. No relation to Clay, but he'd look nice rushing the passer opposite Clay. Guy has speed & can get to the QB. Big problem is that he can't drop in coverage like we'd need, so he's not the answer.Others: Marcus Gilchrist, CB, Clemson. I like Gilchrist, but he's only 5-11. Need to be 6-0 to be on our roster. Kelvin Sheppard, LB, LSU. I fear that Sheppard might not be fast enough for the NFL. Will be interesting to see how he times. Sometimes he's slow to get sideline-to-sideline, but he'll bury you if you're in front of him. Kendall Hunter, RB, OK State. Not the dynamic scat back, but he'll run around you. Great vision. Can catch the ball. Has shown some HR ability. Another OLB's that has caught my eye is KJ Wright from Mississippi State. He isn't as big in stature, but he can drop in coverage and has decent pass rush skills. Finds the football.

Round 4: Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada. Have yet to see him this year, but last year I was indoors on a rainy night watching Missouri at Nevada. Dontay Moch stood out. He was the sole playmaker on the Nevada defense. Great speed, but passive. Nonetheless, he was in Missouri's backfield. Going to try & catch a Nevada game this year on TV, but I've had his name jarred in my memory for the better part of a year. Moch beats out Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky as I selected Noel Devine earlier. Locke can cut with the best of them. Dangerous in the open field. He'd fit what we need. Small & elusive. Quick with the ball. Big play capabilities.

Others: If only Brandon Hogan, CB, WVU was listed at 6-0. He plays the ball in the air with the best of them. Sure tackler. Physical style. But, he's only 5-10. Colin McCarthy, ILB, []_[] reminds me of Brian Noble in many ways. Gritty player. Fighter. Get dirty. Plays physical and with attitude. Great heart. Also, when I watch Nevada later on, I'm going to have my eye on Colin Kaepernick, QB.

Round 5: Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon. Can you imagine two long-haired Matthews brothers manning our LB unit? It's possible. Make it happen, Ted! Another to consider is Terrence Tolliver, WR, LSU. Great size. Gets deep. Tough to bring down. When it's all said & done, he might be a 3rd rounder, but for now, I see him listed on web sites as a 4th-5th round prospect.

Others: Similar to Locke is James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State though I'm not certain how Rodgers will respond to injury. Similar to Tolliver is Armon Binns, WR, Cincy.

** While it's likely that the Packers will have an additional 4th or 5th rounder via compensation with the loss of AK-74, until it's announced, I'm not going to make a pick. **

Round 6: Tejay Johnson, S, TCU. Smart player. Good range. Plays the ball well. Sure tackler. Damien Berry, RB, []_[]. Guy has speed and great vision. A one cut runner who can fight through arm tackles.

Others: Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona. Might not have the true speed to drop in coverage, but he's a fighter. And he has the motor that's required. At the college level, he can pursue the QB. Damien Berry, RB, []_[]. Guy has speed and great vision.

Round 7: Dom DeCicco, S, Pitt. A ball hawk. A football player. Tough minded. Finds the ball in the air. Though a bit stiff, he seems to play faster than he runs.

Round 7a: Kevin Riley, QB, Cal. Poise in the pocket. Good composure. Confident. Good developmental prospect.

Others: Jock Sanders, WR, WVU. Good return skills. Offensive utility player. Can play a WR or can play RB. Poor man's Percy Harvin. Elusive. Makes people miss and makes plays with the ball in his hands. Zac Etheridge, S, Auburn. Physical. Leader on a solid Auburn team. Also, two RB's to watch are Graig Cooper, RB, []_[] & Donald Buckram, RB, UTEP. Prior to injury, Cooper might have been one of the top backs in the country. Rushed his way back. Relegated to mostly special teams work. Worth considering. Buckram is elusive and aggressive with the ball in his hands. Shifty. Small. Makes you miss.

More to come in the following weeks. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Take -> Week 5

Greetings, G-Force.

Amazing how much can change in less than a week. As a writer, I view myself as an optimistic realist. One who looks at the bright side & enjoys imagining ways in which the Packers are going to be victorious. Frankly, this week has taken some wind out of my sails. Some of it we can control, others we cannot.

I'll start with Marshawn Lynch. I like Marshawn Lynch. I don't love him. While our running game infuriates me, the fact that we didn't trade for Lynch doesn't overwhelm me. What bothers me is that we are standing firm with who we've already got. I believe that we're a capable RB away from being the elite offense in the NFL. We don't need a superstar. We need a threat. Sure, Lynch would have been that guy, but I'm sure there are also small school street FA's that can handle the duty as well. We need someone that defenses have to be aware of. And really, running in our system is a fairly easy task. Use your vision. Plant the foot. Cut back. Hold onto the ball. And GO! Full speed ahead. San Diego found a replacement in Tolbert. NE has a couple of guys that no one has ever heard of. This week, we'll see Ryan Torain - he fits in that mold. He was in for a tryout last year. We didn't keep him around. He would have fit our present needs. WE NEED A BACK! NOW!

Bless John Kuhn's heart. He has guts. He has courage. I like having him on our team. But, man, we need a compliment. On the first play of our last drive, a number of players in this league would have taken that play to the house. Kuhn can't get a 1st down on the play. The 3rd & 2 in the 1st Quarter was blocked perfectly. Kuhn couldn't get to the outside. Note to McCarthy - use Kuhn straight ahead or not at all.

I've been direct with my thoughts over the last couple of years with regards to B-Jack. I've received criticism for my thoughts in the past. To me, he is what he is. An excellent blocker on 3rd down. Decent hands. But, he's below average while running with the ball.

Where's Dmitry Nance? Is he that bad that he can't get on the field for anything other than special teams play. I'm baffled. I was convinced that he'd get a try. I trust Ted Thompson & I hope he is right with Nance. If not, we wait for James Starks. Starks was last seen running with the football in 2008 while he played for the University at Buffalo. Starks, I'm pulling for you, but kid, it's a long way from the University at Buffalo to the NFL. Especially after not taking contact in nearly 2 years. I'm not positive that we recognize this.

So, in short, I'm not mad that we didn't go after Lynch. I'm frustrated that we are doing NOTHING to jump start this running game. One last thing on Lynch - conventional wisdom would think that a 4th in the next two drafts would have landed us Lynch. Most analysts are projecting that we'll get a 4th as a compensatory pick for the loss of AK-74. So, we'll be armed with two 4th rounders. It wouldn't have been unreasonable to part with one of them.

As Judas was leaving the Packers organization, he discussed whether he thought the leadership in the Packers front office was serious enough to make the required moves that would propel the Green & Gold to the Super Bowl. I don't want this notion to begin to echo throughout our locker room. As my good mate, Stack, puts it: "Charles Woodson has one thing missing from his trophy mantel. He has the Heisman, a National Championship, a Defensive MVP." It's time to get Sir Charles the necessary tools to win a title. After all, it's the "logical" thing to do.

As the 'queens are playing for the title by bringing Randy Moss into the Twin Cities, we are holding onto our draft picks as if they're gold. There are various types of currency in the NFL. There's the draft, free agency & signing your own stallions. For Thompson, clearly, his draft picks are his ultimate treasure. Yet, we failed to acquire a pick during the final days of the preseason even though we had the most players claimed after the final cuts. Again, I like Thompson, I am just confused.

With success comes heightened expectations. And it starts at the top in what has become a win-now league. It's time for the Packers to look at the mountain & to determine what it'll take to summit it.

Injuries are at ridiculous levels. Burnett is done for the year. The severity of Barnett & Chillar's injuries are unknown. Nintendo Nick is questionable for this weekend. Tauscher & Clifton are banged up. Sam Shields is unable to practice. Thus, we see more of J-Bush.

Offensively, the 2010 Packers have been unable to delivery a knock-out punch. No resemblance of the Championship Drive I've discussed in the past. In the Philly, Chicago, & Detroit games, I felt we had the ball and a chance to essentially secure victory. In each case, we couldn't seal the fate until the very end. Time to find our inner "dagger."

Small Observations:

- Cullen Jenkins continues to gut it out with one hand. 4 sacks. 4 games. Can we please sign this guy? What are we waiting for?

- Really impressed with the work of the OL last week. Thought both Sitton & Colledge did a nice job on Suh. Sure, Suh had a sack, but for the most part he was quiet. Wells did a nice job chiming in on him as well.

- J-Mike = YOTTO! Can we please use him & that 4 yard slant as our passing game? Spread out the offense. Get the ball to J-Mike. He's quickly becoming one of the most lethal weapons in football. Gotta use him more. He should be getting a similar amount of receptions as Wes Welker does each week.

- Surprised that Rodgers has not been on the same page with receivers a couple of times this year. Last week alone, he wasn't on the same page as AQ81, Nelson, and Greg Jennings on 3 separate plays.

- AQ81 gets the start. Packers come out in double TE formation. AQ81 split out right. Only to have him run a 5 yard down & in. Things that make you go hmmmm.

- Any time we want to get Jordy Nelson off Kickoff Returns, it'll be fine with me. He's becoming a liability.

- At this stage, we also need someone other than T-Mon returning Punts. Can't risk injury.

- Once again, Aaron Rodgers takes a cheap shot on the sack by Delmas. No call. Rubbish.

- Love when BJ Raji shows us the "Jazz Hands!" So much comedy.

- Props to Mike Neal for forcing the fumble!

- Double-D getting in the end zone. Surprised that Rodgers missed him on the quick out pattern on 3rd down. He was open beyond the marker. Instead, Rodgers forced it to Jennings & it got picked.

- Why can't Jennings catch the deep ball anymore?

- If anyone sees Brad Jones, please send him to 1265 Lombardi Ave, Green Bay, WI 54304. Thanks. Clearly, he's lost. Guy needs to make a play.

- The Claymaker is an absolute force. Wish they'd just leave the Z-Man across from him. And please don't show me Poppinga across from him again. We need to create ways to free up Clay. In order to do so, someone needs to elevate across from him.

- There was an AJ Hawk sighting at Lambeau Field last week. Without him, we don't win that game.

- Anyone else notice Sir Charles' reaction after the Calvin Johnson TD at the end of the 1st half? He turned to Derrick Martin with complete disgust. How can Martin not make a play on either the ball or Johnson?

-Massive props to both the OL & to Kuhn during the last drive. Also to Rodgers for his intelligence. His mind was in the right place on the scramble where he stayed inbounds. During the Redskins-Eagles game, McNabb ran out of bounds on a similar play & later on they had to punt. Gave the Eagles an additional 40 seconds. Granted, the Eagles didn't do much with it, but that's beside the point.

- Our special teams units have cost us one game already. It wouldn't surprise me if it costs us at least 2 more this season.

- Congrats to Sir Charles for being the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week. Carry us thru the month of October Chuckie, we need you! His TD was one for the ages. Seriously.

- With J-Bush on the field, the Packers were unable to blitz Sir Charles. Had to keep Chuckie on the outside. Couldn't trust J-Bush in coverage. Bush has to play in the slot or not at all. Otherwise, we'll be held hostage.

- Dear Desmond Bishop, you get your chance this week. You've been begging for it. Be a run-stopper. A force up the middle. Shadow McNabb. Play with instinct, but be cognitive of your desire to over pursue. Be ready to bang heads, mate. Get after it.

- Nick Barnett looks like he's lost a step. Yes, he was hurt. But, it was his wrist. Shouldn't affect his speed.

- Nintendo Nick should consider the same vision surgery that LeRoy Butler had prior to the 1993 season. By my unofficial count, he's had his hands on 4 balls that could have been intercepted this year.

- Is the Quinn Johnson injury for real? Or are they going to have some quiet IR injury for him when Starks comes back? Is P-Lee going to be gone when Ras Al comes back?

- After 3 sacks & 3 turnovers, after 4 games, the totals are 17 sacks & 7 turnovers.

Through it all, a win is a win in this league. And the Lions are scrappy. They're fighters. They're 0-4, but they are a few plays from being in position to be 4-0. Therefore, every win is a good win. No matter how ugly it may seem.

This week - we travel to the Nation's Capital to visit the Redskins in what I call a MUST WIN. We need to win our next two games before this schedule gets unbelievably tough. Since we won the Super Bowl in 1996, two of our three best teams were prevented another Title by Donovan McNabb & Mike Shanahan. Now, the nemeses have united. And they need this win just as badly as we do.

Armed with a 3-4 defenses that is still figuring out the kinks, the Redskins have played solid defense in 2 of their 4 games. Even though - after three games - they had given up the most yards in the NFL. Led by Jim Haslett, the defense is a work in progress. They have players built for the 4-3 playing in the 3-4. A total adjustment. Haynesworth, Andre Carter & Brian Orakpo are solid NFL starters, but they aren't 3-4 players. Vonnie Holiday & Philip Daniels are seasoned professionals, but they're at the end of their careers. Rocky McIntosh & London Fletcher are football players. Put pads on them & they'll find the football. DeAngelo Hall, Philip Buchanon, Carlos Rogers, and Kevin Barnes all have flava. But, all can be beat. I loved LaRon Landry coming out of college. He's great against the run. He's been a bit vulnerable in the air. A piercing hitter, Landry, will surely be present on all crossing routes. Kareem Moore can be had.

With Clinton Portis out, they turn to Torain. Torain is an underappreciated back. He runs with force. With pace. Occasionally, a little upright, but he'll fall forward. And, at times, he'll run through you. Everytime we play the 'Skins, it seems Chris Cooley gets the best of us. McNabb loves the TE - expect Cooley to get his chances. It's no surprise that Santana Moss is McNabb's go-to guy. Moss doesn't scare me. Occasionally, McNabb will look for Anthony Armstrong on 3rd down.

I agree with Aaron Rodgers. Lets spread 'em out. Get our best players on the field. Matt Schaub passed for 497 yards against the Redskins. Let me repeat, 497 yards.

Give the game to Rodgers. Finley gets 10 catches and 2 TD's. Jennings grabs 5 and a TD. Double-D notches 3 and a TD. Jones holds onto 3 as well. Kuhn, Hall, B-Jack, Jordy, & Lee also catch ball. Yes, 9 different receivers. And Rodgers is in control. It's his game. The pass rush of the Redskins does not strike fear in me. Let's attack.

Defensively, play a lot of base 3-4. Straight up. Man up against these guys. Get ready to be physical. Bishop -> you are the guy who is accountable for shadowing McNabb. Don't let him get loose. Ever. He's your responsibility. Run him down. Keep him contained.

AJ, let your nuts hang, mate. Go after Torain. Get him straight on. Set the standard early. We can get down and dirty against these guys.

Look for Pickett to have a big game against the run.

This week - our depth gets tested. I think we've got enough to get by. McNabb has been a thorn in our side. Not this Sunday.

Packers 31. Redskins 20.

Sorry for the rant.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.