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.