Monday, January 31, 2011

My Take -> Super Bowl

Greetings, G-Force

The significance of the #12.

The Packers have 12 World Championships.

Super Bowl XLV will mark the 12th time in which either the Packers or the Stealers have competed in a Super Bowl.

A quick look at past Super Bowl QB winners shows the #12 in abundance. Off the top of my head I can think of Joe Namath, Roger Staubach, Bob Griese, Ken Stabler, Terry Bradshaw, and Tom Brady.

The #12. Aaron Rodgers. The future MVP of Super Bowl XLV.

It's the Green Bay Packers & the Pittsburgh Stealers to determine the World Champion for the 2010 NFL Season. The Packers with 12 World Championships. The Stealers with 6 Super Bowls. Green Bay, the Original Titletown. Pittsburgh, the city that has tried to steal the nickname. Hence, I'll refer to them as the Ste"a"lers. History wants this contest. The Packers bring a 5 game win streak. Winning 5 MUST WIN games, I'd argue that if we win a 6th game, it'll go down as the greatest 6-game stretch of my life. Beating the #1, #2, and #3 NFC teams on the road as a #6 seed, the Packers are prime for this battle. Experts suggest that experience will play a factor in this contest. Well, as a #6 seed in 2005, the Stealers lacked experience & they left victorious. Plus, haven't the Packers gained experience over the last 5 games? I feel so.

In reality, by most, these are probably the two most respected organizations in the league. Jerry Jones, not included. Jerry Jones spent $1.2 billion on JerryWorld. He built it with the vision of watching the Cowboys play in the Super Bowl inside his stadium. Instead, it'll be the two teams outside of the NFC East that he dislikes the most. Thanks for the red carpet, Jerry!

I'll be heading down to the Big "D" along with my Dad, my Mom, & my Brother, Chad. We're bringing the G-Force. We're expecting victory.

I like the way the Packers match-up with the Stealers, especially with the injury to Pouncey. This game will be won at the line of scrimmage. I foresee the Packers utilizing a lot of 2 down lineman. BJ Raji & Cullen Jenkins holding the point of attack. CM3 bringing pressure. Walden shadowing Roethlisberger. Most would argue that the most crucial component to stopping the Stealers attack would be to slow down Mendenhall. I'd argue that it's containing Big Ben. When you make contact with Roethlisberger, you have to bring him to the ground. As I've reviewed this epic playoff run, I've become convinced that Erik Walden is as vicious of a tackler as we have on the field. I'm confident he can bring Roethlesberger to the turf. Walden hasn't missed tackles. He's punished offensive players. Walden's mobility is vital to the success of the Packers defense regardless of whether "Z" can play. Roethlisberger is deceptively athletic. If the Claymaker can get pressure on Big Ben & force him to his left, it'll also limit Roethlisberger's effectiveness. And when this happens, Roethlisberger is prone to making mistakes. If you pressure Big Ben, it's when he's at his weakest. He's best at making things happen on broken plays. So we must keep him in the pocket - much like we did to Michael Vick for most of the game. And when you get to Big Ben, you can't bite on his ball fakes. Run right through him! Don't fall for the pump fake. Go at his torso. Not at his legs. He's too strong & he'll fight thru those tackles.

On 1st down, I'd like to see some of the Big Beefy defensive front with Howard Green, BJ Raji, & Ryan Pickett matched up against the banged up, vulnerable Pittsburgh OL. Not only will this limit Mendenhall's rushing lanes, but it'll also allow Clay to play the pass. Clay will expect pass. He'll come on the speed rush. I'm confident that Clay will be able to beat the aging Flozell Adams to the corner. He'll wreak havoc to the Stealers game plan. Then, on 2nd & 3rd downs, I'd like to see the 2 down lineman with the Packers rotating Cullen Jenkins with CJ Wilson.

BJ Raji must dominate the interior of the Pittsburgh OL. He will. Jazz Hands! G6! The Freezer! Getting busy!

I like the way the Packers match-up with the Stealers on the perimeter. Blessed with an abundance of speed, the Stealers have Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders & Antonio Brown. Further, they have possession receivers with Hines Ward, Heath Miller, and Matt Spaeth. Roethlisberger likes Spaeth inside the red zone & on play-action passes. While Spaeth only had 1 TD & 9 catches this year, he's an option that we must be aware of. Big Ben also loves Heath Miller on third down on curls in which Miller boxes out a defender & uses his big body to create space.

The Stealers might try to go to 4-WR's to try & get J-Bush on the field. They torched him last year. Don't be surprised if we see Pittsburgh in some formations with Wallace, Sanders, Brown & Ward on the field. They'll try to outrun us on a deep route. Roethlisberger loves to take chances. He'll take at least 3 shots deep down the field. Normally, he throws a decent deep ball. We must be prepared with Nintendo Nick playing over the top. Hopefully, Nintendo Nick plays the ball better than he did against the Bears on the Earl Bennett TD. My guess is that he will.

Roethlisberger does not play favorites, so we must honor all of his weapons. We must be cognitive of all of his options & stay focused on our man. Especially if Big Ben gets loose out of the pocket. Don't watch the QB! Watch the receiver!!!! Watch the guy you are guarding. Especially Wallace who will run deep on broken plays. And if you blink, Wallace's speed will get him behind you. If we stay disciplined, I feel that Sammy Swagga & T-Mon are a perfect cover for Wallace, Brown, & Sanders. Hines Ward no longer scares me, even though he's still targeted on 3rd down.

It should be noted that neither Nintendo Nick nor Sir Charles has forced a turnover in the playoffs. Based on the laws of probability alone, I'd expect one of them to be holding the ball in the air at some point on Super Sunday. I envision Sir Charles coming on the blitz out of the slot. Often, he has the tendency to bite on the fake. This week, feeling Super, Sir Charles plays with a vengeance and flies thru Big Ben - ignoring Roethlisberger's actions. Sir Charles gets home on a sack!

Offensively, if I were Mike McCarthy, my strategy would be similar to the approach we took against Atlanta. Let the pass set up the run. I'd study three games in particular. All games in which Troy Polamalu played. I'd look at the 4th Quarter of the Stealers v Cardinals Super Bowl. I'd watch the 1st half of the Patriots v Stealers game from this year. I'd watch the 2nd half of the Jets v Stealers game in the AFC Championship. In each occasion, the Stealers knew the opposition was going to pass. In each occasion, every one in the stadium knew the Stealers opposition was going to pass. And in each occasion, the Stealers opposition had great success. The Stealers can't cover us on the outside. They can't compete with us on the perimeter. If we go 4-wide, you're taking a LB off the field. Clearly, the LB's are the strength of the Pittsburgh defense. We have to trust our OL. And if we get beat on the OL, Rodgers is capable of escaping. Ike Taylor is solid, but he can be beat. Bryant McFadden couldn't play with the Packers WR's last year. William Gay can't stick with Jordy Nelson nor James Jones. We'll be fighting for extra yards. And getting them.

Greg Jennings says that he & Aaron Rodgers are bread & butter. Hit Jennings on the slant & let's watch a #85 run thru the middle of the field like we did Max McGee in Super Bowl I.

Further, if you believe in historical #'s & their recurrence, I encourage you to look for #44 & #86. #44 Donny Anderson was a rookie in 1966. On just 7 carries, he had more yards than any KC Chief in Super Bowl I. In Super Bowl II, Anderson was a stud. I'm not saying, but I'm just saying. Look for James Starks to have an admirable game. Fighting for 70 hard yards. Pushing the Pittsburgh defense. And, almost oddly, I'm predicting a Donald Lee TD. See, the #86 has played a huge role in all 4 Super Bowls that the Packers have played in. In Super Bowl I, it was Dowler's injury that paved the way for Max McGee to have a big game. In Super Bowl II, Dowler was found getting loose in the Oakland secondary. In Super Bowl XXXI, Antonio Freeman caught - what was at the time - the longest TD in the history of the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XXXII, had the Packers won, I had heard speculation that Antonio Freeman was going to be the Super Bowl MVP. Therefore, I'm predicting a short TD pass to Donald Lee in Super Bowl XLV.

I envision a big day for Aaron Rodgers. On a controlled surface. Rodgers finds his rhythm early. He stays possessed throughout. The Stealers come on a variety of blitzes. Cerebral in nature, Rodgers recognizes the blitz. Goes to work. Hits Double-D over the middle on 3rd down. He hits Jennings on a slant. Nelson on a quick hitter. Jones on a comeback. The Packers grab an early lead.

While Tim Masthay has been a true godsend, I still lack confidence in the Packers special teams units. With that, the Stealers also have poor special teams units. Though Antonio Brown can get loose returning kicks, he's also one who will liable to put the ball on the ground. A special teams turnover would be sweet!

The Packers control the line of scrimmage. Frustrating Roethlisberger the defense gets off the field.

On 3rd & long, I like the Stealers defense, but I love our QB! The Packers grab a 2-score lead as Crosby nails a FG.

Back & forth the game goes. The Packers survive the Stealers push. Matching the mighty Pittsburgh defense blow for blow, The Packers come away as the more physical team. It wouldn't surprise me if the Packers win by 2 scores. But, the game is late. The Packers leading by 4. While the defense have been our savior all year when the offense has failed to pick up a 1st down late to run out the clock - this time - Rodgers connects with QUICKIE on a crossing route. Driver raises the ball in the air, flashes his impeccable smile and points 1st down. The Green Bay Packers are Super Bowl Champions! Let me write that again. The Green Bay Packers are Super Bowl Champions!

Green Bay 27. Pittsburgh 23.

There's no exceptions for 2nd best. Sir Charles finishes off his mantle. Erik Walden is remembered as the defensive version of Bruce Wilkerson. The Lombardi Trophy is coming home! As my brother Chad says, we'll be talking #4 & it won't be about Brett Favre rather it will be about our 4 Super Bowl trophies. Soon, on your next visit to Green Bay, you'll be driving down McCarthy Lane. And, it'll feel Super!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Take -> NFC Championship In Review

Greetings, G-Force.

We came. We saw. We kicked ass! And forever, we carry around trump card in our back pocket. The 23rd of January in the Year 2011 is a date that we'll hold dearly for the rest of our lives. We deserve it. We earned it. Not surprisingly to Packers fans, we almost did ourselves a disservice by knocking Ray Nutler out of the game. Without Nutler, the Bears found an offensive spark and nearly made a comeback for the ages. However, Sammy Swagga was there to save the day. And, in the end, the video shows Bears fans burning Ray Nutler jerseys. The image will be etched in my mind forever. 2010 is the year in which we put the final nail in the coffin in Wade Phillips career in Dallas, Brad Childress' career in Minnesota & finally, we have permanently destroyed the relationship between Bears fans & Ray Nutler. Beauty!

In case you did not notice, with authority, the point was proven: THE BEARS STILL SUCK!

The Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy & Dom Capers combination has brought the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl. Where we belong. The Packers are in the Super Bowl despite leading the league with 15 players on IR. Despite a #6 seed in the playoffs. The Packers beat the #'s 1, 2 & 3 seeds in the NFC. All on the road. Mostly, in convincing fashion. Tremendous.

Whether it's the Claymaker, Sir Charles, Nintendo Nick, T-Mon, Desmond Bishop, BJ Raji, or Sammy Swagga, we have players on defense that can change games on any given play. All have done so in the 2010 Season. This list doesn't include Charlie Peprah who made the enormous pick in Week 17. It doesn't include Erik Walden who was the Week 17 Defensive Player of the Week. It doesn't include Cullen Jenkins who was arguably our most dominant defender in the NFC Championship. It doesn't include AJ Hawk who is playing his steadiest football in his 5 year career.

Small Observations:

Sammy Swagga doing his best Deion Sanders impersonation. Dance Sammy, dance. Dance, I say... After the draft in April, Joe Whitt made a comment that he thought the Packers got the best CB in the draft in the undrafted FA, Sammy Swagga. While McCourty might have something to say about that, Whitt might be right.

BJ Raji is bouncing like a G6! Boogie Down, Freezer! For the 2nd week in a row, the Freezer was seen celebrating in the end zone!

Where is there a bigger QB Controversy: Chicago or Minnesota?

Thought McCarthy's play-calling weakened post the Urlacher interception. Became too conservative as the Bears defense intensified.

Erik Walden can play in this league. Kevin Greene has done wonders with him. When he went out, our defense was not the same. I thought Francois played with great effort, but the results were not the same.

Really like the delayed draw to Starks. Thought Starks played another solid game as he fought for tough yards.

While Ray Nutler was on the sideline with a mysterious injury, Aaron Rodgers was busy taking headshots from Julius Peppers while leading the Packers to victory.

For anyone who does not think Greg Jennings is a #1 WR, I completely disagree.

For anyone who thinks Desmond Bishop is too stiff, I completely disagree. In fact, Bishop continues to elevate into one of my favorite players on the team.

B-Jack making Urlacher miss in the open field.

For a long time, I've wanted the Packers to look into a 3rd down back. Little did I know that his name would be John Kuhn. Not the scat back I envisioned, but he knows football. Finds the marker. Fights for yards. Great hands. Blocks well. KKKKUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNN!

While Sammy Swagga & Tim Masthay were co-MVP's in my mind, the best player on the field was Cullen Jenkins. Would love to lock him up. Wish he'd take a discount to be a part of this team. Or, I wish Pickett would give some money back to keep this DL together. The Jenkins/Raji combination is lethal.

BJ RAJI! Biggest play of the NFC Championship. His post-season response: "I'm blessed to be a Green Bay Packer."

Sir Charles' mantle: Heisman Trophy. National Championship. Defensive Rookie of the Year. AFC Championship. Defensive MVP. NFC Championship. Missing one thing & it's coming in 2 weeks!

If Chad Clifton didn't go down with injury, which clearly disrupted our offensive tempo, there is no telling what the final score might have been. Though Clifton came back, our rhythm was not the same.

Tim Masthay. Having a great punter is an absolute weapon!

J-Bush playing at a high level as a special teams gunner! Masthay to Bush was a great connection.

Clay Matthews III. Another day in the life. Vicious approach to the game. Total stallion.

If I'm Mike McCarthy, after we win the Super Bowl, I'm calling a meeting between Mark Murphy, Ted Thompson, McCarthy himself, Dom Capers & Russ Ball. In the meeting, we're going to negotiate a long term contract for Dom Capers. Give the guy what he wants. Regardless of how much he wants.

Aaron Rodgers beats Urlacher to the corner on a scramble for a 1st down. Then, he takes Urlacher down post the interception. A play we'll remember forever.

In case you forgot, Bears fans were burning Ray Nutler jerseys in the parking lot post the NFC Championship.

The year of revenge continues: Brett Favre is behind us. So are the Giants in response to '07. Bye-bye to the Bears after winning the NFC North. Hasta la vista Mike Vick & the memory of '02. The same to the Vikings. And to the Eagles & the ugly memories of '03. Next - it's the Ste"a"lers as they have attempted to steal our "Titletown" nickname.

Another things worth mentioning: The Bears still suck!

Damn it feels good to be a Packer fan. The Lombardi Trophy is coming home. In the words of Sir Charles, "White House on Three!" Let's do this!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Take -> NFC Championship

Greetings, G-Force.

Sweet smell of success. One win & the Packers are in the Super Bowl. Sensational.

Aaron Rodgers! Dynamite. Cerebral. Dominant. Agile. A canon of an arm with only a flick of a wrist. Brilliant! Growing into the elite QB in the league. I've watched the Falcons replay 3 times. I count 7 times that Rodgers recognized the blitz, eluded the pressure and continued his aerial assault. Truly, a legendary performance. One we'll remember forever. Yes, for eternity, we will talk of this absolutely tremendous performance. It was the day Aaron Rodgers became a man.

The Falcons were 13-3. They were the #1 seed. In the dome, they were 20-2 at Atlanta with Matty Ice at QB. And the Packers steamrolled the Falcons with relative ease. The feeling inside the Georgia Dome was SUPER. During the 4th Quarter, the lower bowl of the Georgia Dome was littered with the G-Force. 5 days later, I'm finally getting my voice back. We were present. We were felt. The buzz was surreal.

Once again, a Mike McCarthy team overcame adverse conditions in grand fashion. Excitingly, both Capers & McCarthy kept their foot on the gas until the final whistle. An aggressive performance that silenced a rowdy Atlanta crowd. And because of this monumental evening, for the 2nd time in 4 years, a Mike McCarthy team will be playing in the NFC Championship game.

The Falcons crowd believed they'd win. And then, they met T-Mon. T-Mon is permanently etching his name in the glorious, famed history of the Green Bay Packers. Largely, T-Mon was in man-coverage against Roddy White. White, a Pro Bowl receiver finished with 6 catches for 57 yards & a TD. T-Mon finished with 2 catches for 70 yards & a game-changing TD. A back-breaker.

Our Superstars came to play. Jennings caught 8 ball for over 100 yards. The Claymaker had 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery. Sir Charles had 6 tackles & 1 sack. Nintendo Nick ushered T-Mon down the field & was the 1st to congratulate him post his life-altering TD. BJ Raji had a sack.

The CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE occurred at the start of the 3rd Quarter. While the T-Mon interception was truly devastating to the Falcons, it was important to make it a 3-score game. The opening drive of the 3rd Quarter: 12 plays. 80 yards. 6:32. Starks ran for 27 yards. Rodgers scrambling to the right for 7 points, a dagger, and a berth in the NFC Championship.

Small Observations:

This team enjoys one another. I spent significant time watching the sideline. We're having fun - respecting one another. When Nintendo Nick got carted off, my brother Bob & I were concerned for a moment. Only to see him sprinting out of the tunnel 5 minutes later with a huge smile on his face. He wanted to be on the sideline celebrating with his mates. Raji & Pickett bouncing together is a thing of beauty. Sublime to watch the WR's gather to banter. Smiles all around. Strong camaraderie. Pure confidence. While I can't hear what the coaches are saying obviously, to me, it's apparent that there's a lot of hands on guidance. Especially on the defensive side of the ball. I compare our Defensive Coaches of today to our Offensive Coaches of the 90's. A number of bright minds that will have larger roles in the future.

My good buddy, Stack, & I are strange birds. Both from WI. Both Badger fans with a strange appreciation for the Michigan Wolverines. We've been talking about & loving Charles Woodson even prior to his Heisman Trophy. Stack eloquently states that the only thing missing from Sir Charles' mantle is the Super Bowl title. He's 2 games away.

Loved Erik Walden's block on T-Mon's pick.

CJ Wilson has played two SOLID playoff games. He helped stop Vick on the 3rd & 1 on the first drive of the Eagles game. Then, against Atlanta he had 4 tackles & a sack.

The Packers win the toss. Elect to defer. Good coaching. Put this defense on the field.

Rodgers connects with 7 different receivers. Excitingly, Jennings, Quickie, Jones, and Nelson combined for 26 catches. When in rhythm, there's not a team that can cover us.

BJ Raji & Cullen Jenkins are a tough tandem to block - even when we've only got 2 DL on the field.

Sometimes stats can be deceiving. James Starks played a great game. His numbers don't suggest that, but he kept the Falcons honest and provided a legitimate running threat. He's a fighter. I like his running style.

Kuhn finding paydirt!

Another day in the life for Des Bishop - 6 tackles. And a fumble recovery. Guy can play.

Thought Charlie Peprah did a solid job against the run. Credited with 8 tackles, he did a good job in run support early in the game.

Donald Driver moving sticks on a crossing route over the middle! Some things in life never get old. That's one of 'em.

How about we sign CM3 to a lifetime deal! Watching him walk off the field with his bad-ass mentality was an elite image in my mind.

Aaron Rodgers shakin' his hips to escape Atlanta defenders. Epic.

James Jones - sporting yellow gloves & yellow wrist bands - grabbing everything in sight. Hopefully, this becomes a string of things this week with another solid performance.

BJ Raji as lead blocker! Calling himself the "FREEZER!" Good coaching.

Offensively, we had 4 TD drives that were 80 yards or more. Almost unimaginable.

Sammy Swagga sporting yellow wrist bands. Just sayin'. Fashion statement. I need myself some of those.

Fun to watch T-Mon baiting QB's into making bad decisions.

The defense finished with 5 sacks & forced 4 turnovers.

The Green Bay Packers v the Chicago Bears. A berth in the Super Bowl on the line. The NFL's oldest rivalry in peak form. 22 degrees. No precipitation. Little wind. Football weather. This is grand.

By now, if you've been following along, you know my disdain for the Bears. If not, plainly stated, it's enormous.

Once again, the Packers will take the greatest show in the NFL on the road. And once again, I'm feeling confident. Eerily confident. We've got the better QB. We have better players on the perimeter - on both sides of the ball. We'll be able to win the middle of the field. My concerns are minimal, but they exist. Julius Peppers scares me. So does the Bears ability to run the ball with a combination of Forte & Chester Taylor. Outside of that, I believe that we're unquestionably the better team.

Frankly, the Bears feel the exact same way. They didn't want us in the dance. They did everything in their power to eliminate us in Week 17. They did not want this game. And, honestly, I believe that this is the match-up McCarthy wanted.

This game will require PATIENCE! Especially offensively. The Bears will stay in their single high safety, cover 2 defense for the majority of the game. They'll blitz infrequently. They dare us to take a chance. They'd love it if Rodgers took a shot down the middle of the field. The Bears would feel like they could win that play. Don't expect Rodgers to take that gamble.

Expect the Packers to move the ball effectively - as they normally do against Chicago. The Bears will utilize their bend but don't break defense. The Packers will consistently find themselves in Bears territory, but whether they're able to have success inside the Bears 35 will determine the outcome of the game. If the Bears can hold the Packers to FG's or pooch punts, it'll be a nail-biter throughout. If the Packers continue to have success finding the end zone, we'll be dancing in the streets for the next two weeks in preparation for the Super Bowl.

I foresee a big game out of James Starks. Another 100 yard performance, including a BIG run. Packers line up strong side right. Crabtree in motion. I-Form. Quinn Johnson leading the way. Starks runs to the weakside. Clifton pushes Peppers forward, allowing Peppers into the offensive backfield. Starks slips between Colledge & Clifton. Starks is off to the races. It might be a 55 yard TD run.

All day, I envision Quinn Johnson's hat on Urlacher's hat. Urlacher falling backwards. Starks running through Briggs & into the secondary. As our horse, Starks is punishing the Bears defense.

We know that the Bears will give us the underneath routes. Then, they'll try to strip it. BALL SECURITY FIRST! Mandatory. Don't turn the ball over. Make tackles on special teams & we're headed to Dallas. Undoubtedly.

Defensively, we'll need another big game out of Erik Walden. The Bears will focus on slowing CM3. Walden will be shadowing Nutler, coming on delayed blitzes. We can't let Nutler escape the pocket as that's when he most dangerous. Walden must get home & force Nutler into erroneous choices. Further, the Bears will try to run to the left side. They'll run at Walden. They'll see some results, but we must limit the big gains. Peprah did a sound job last week against Turner. I expect Peprah to step into the box this week as well.

Sir Charles dominated the 3rd Quarter of our last contest. Continuously, he came out of a slot position to blitz Nutler. He was in Nutler's head. There will definitely be carry-over. Nutler will have his eye on Chuckie early & often. Don't be surprised if the Packers use Woodson as a decoy early in this game, which might lead to a big play for Desmond Bishop on a middle blitz.

The Bears will mix Forte & Taylor. They'll throw screens. They'll run the draw. They'll pound it at us in an attempt to keep the clock moving. They know that Nutler can't beat us. He's too mistake prone against an opportunistic defense.

I don't expect Rodgers to have a magical night like he did last week. I envision him as having a steady game. Managing the game. 225 yards. 3 more TD's. 0 interceptions.

I see the Packers getting to Nutler at least 4 times. I see at least 2 turnovers.

Once again, the Packers start out on defense. After a 1st down, the Bears are forced to punt.

Starks begins to pound away. Rodgers finds Driver for a 1st down. Jones on a comeback grabs 12. Quinn Johnson knocks Urlacher to the ground with a punishing blow. Starks is in the Bears secondary. Galloping with force. Rodgers finds Donald Lee for a Packer Touchdown!

The Bears respond by trying to get Olsen involved on short routes. They try him on a seam route, but Nintendo Nick steps in front & it's a vintage Nutler interception.

With the Packers leading by 7, the Bears look to pick on Sammy Swagga. The try the back shoulder deep ball to Johnny Knox. This time Sammy turns his head and gives the Packers the ball back. I'll guarantee that the Bears will take at least three deep shots against Sammy. He'll be up to the task.

With the Packers up 14 late in the 3rd, Rodgers gets the ball back. It's the Championship Drive. Rodgers hits Jennings on a deep ball against Tim Jennings. We can beat Tim Jennings deep. Greg Jennings > Tim Jennings. Every day. Especially this Sunday.

We let the dogs loose on defense. We're barking at Nutler. We're coming after him.

The Packers are raising the Halas Trophy at Soldier Field. It's trump card forever. It's tasty. Much like Jim McMahon winning as many Super Bowls with the Packers as he did with the Bears.

Be loud. Be Proud, G-Force.

Packers 31. Bears 17.

The Bears Still Suck.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Take -> Divisional Playoffs

Greetings, G-Force.

For the second time this year, at Philadelphia, the Packers defense rose to the challenge on the final possession to save victory. This time - it was T-Mon who made it feel oh, so sweet!

This team has a Championship caliber defense. This defense is loaded with playmakers. With closers. With game changers. At a time when we needed it most, the defense played exceptionally. Dom Capers has been a mastermind in the 2010 NFL Season. Each week, his defense amazes me. For the most part, we shut Michael Vick down. It was hard for me to imagine a scenario in which the Packers defense would make Vick look ordinary. Last Sunday, it happened.

If you've followed my writing in past, you'll know that I'm a firm believer in what I refer to as the CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE. It's when your offense is against the wall. Points are a necessity. You need a response. Usually, these drives occur between the final 7 minutes of the 3rd & the first 7 minutes of the 4th. Against Philly, I thought our CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE occured earlier. Leading 14-10 with 13:50 in the 3rd Quarter, it felt like momentum was changing. My pulse felt as though a TD was a necessity or else we'd be in trouble. We needed 7 points.

12 plays. 80 yards. 6:17 off the clock. Twice on 3rd down, Rodgers found Driver to move the sticks. Starks with 35 yards rushing. Then a beautifully orchestrated screen to B-Jack. Stellar!

Maybe, just maybe, 2010 will be remembered as the season for revenge. Starting with the Week 16 victory over the Giants, which could eventually avenge the '07 NFC Championship. The Wild Card victory against Vick would not only erase the 2002 loss to Vick in which he provided Lambeau its 1st ever playoff loss, but the Wild Card victory over the Eagles marks the 1st time the Eagles have ever lost a home Wild Card game. This week - it's the Falcons - who beat us in the '02 playoffs. It's time for additional revenge.

I'm heading to Atlanta to give as much G-Force as I can offer. I expect to see many Packer fans raising the volume with me.

Small Observations:

The Claymaker! Lock him up for life! Congrats on the Defensive MVP award. Total stallion. He dominated Philly.

Erik Walden making in plays in space. He drops nicely in coverage. His long wing span makes him a challenge for opposing offenses. Still, I question his ability to play the run, but nonetheless, he's played well since Zombo's injury. Much better than we could have expected. Great sack. Nice to see the forced fumble. I was extremely impressed when he made the tackle against Vick on the opening series on 3rd down.

Congrats to Aaron Rodgers! 1st playoff win. Many more to come. I'm positive of it.

Coming into the year - who would have thought that one of the weaknesses at this point would be our WR's ability to hang onto the ball? While Driver was ol' reliable on 3rd down, he dropped a crucial ball. James Jones dropped - what could have been a dagger to close the 1st half. Jennings might have been credited with 2 drops.

James Starks. Keep runnin', kid! Keep fallin' forward. Muscle threw. Beat the 1st contact.

Really enjoyed the swing passes to Starks & Kuhn. Hope we turn to this if we struggle running the ball this week. Great to get a RB running with a head of steam on the outside.

Really impressed with the performance of our OL. Great game for Colledge & Wells. Thought they really opened up the cut-back. Colledge was also crucial on B-Jack's TD.

Is it just me or do defenders put hands in Bulaga's face all of the time? Wish this would get called.

Sammy Swagga continues to impress. He has a great future!

Liked Peprah's play against the run.

Desmond Bishop saves the season with the tackle against DeSean Jackson. Earned his extension with that tackle. Regardless of what happens in the future. HUGE play. Season saver!

AJ Hawk playing with reckless abandon. Playing super!

Capers blitz calling was exceptional. Delayed blitzes had Vick confused all day.

Tim Masthay is legit!

Aaron. Rodgers! TEN different receivers. Yes, 10! Let me repeat that, 10 different receivers! 3 TD's. That makes 7 TD's in 2 playoff games. Time to elevate even further, Aaron Rodgers!

Quinn Johnson has been terrific ever since the loss to the Lions. He's been delivering crushing blows. I also liked seeing him fight for the 1st down!

Fun to see Crabtree in the end zone, making noise & talking rubbish to the fans of Philly! Hilarity!

Defense rose to the task forcing a turnover and notching 3 sacks.

This week - we head back to the Georgia Dome. Though we lost over T-Day weekend, when I walked out of the Dome, it felt like we were the better team. It felt like we beat ourselves. It felt like we'd be back in Atlanta for the playoffs. It felt like we'd be able to beat them if we played them again. That time is NOW! I'm stoked to be a part of it.

Matt Ryan vs Aaron Rodgers. Two of the best young QB's in the league. The winner will surely be the favorite to go to Dallas for the Super Bowl. Regardless of the result between Chicago & Seattle. Ryan & Rodgers have developed into elite 3rd down QB's. Two of the best in the game.

Expect the Falcons to run the ball. To try to control the clock. I'd be surprised if the Falcons don't try to own the time of possession by running the ball approximately 30 times. And this is a big game for Erik Walden. Expect the Falcons to roll Tony Gonzalez in motion to the left side of the line of scrimmage. Line him up tight against the LT. Run at Erik Walden & Cullen Jenkins. After all, they had success running at Jenkins & Zombo in the regular season match-up. I imagine Snelling & Turner will pound away against us. This will also open up the play action for Atlanta. We'll see Ryan rolling out to his right where he'll find Roddy White matched up against T-Mon. White will run a number of 8-15 yard comebacks off the play-action. Meanwhile, Gonzalez & Jenkins will be running crossing routes. It'll be important for us to stay disciplined.

In response, I hope the Packers switch Jenkins & Raji when we're playing with only 2 down lineman. I'd move Jenkins to LDE & have Raji lined up next to Walden. Further, I'd put Woodson just outside Walden & I'd make it Woodson's responsibility to follow Gonzalez. Let's match our Hall of Fame DB against their Hall of Fame TE. It'd be a physical match-up. And, by doing so, it might limit Atlanta's ability to run the ball left. Should Gonzalez break into a pattern, Woodson will follow. Peprah gives support over the middle & Nintendo Nick gives T-Mon help over the top against Roddy White.

If Walden can win his battle this week, we might begin to refer to him as the 2010 version of Bruce Wilkerson.

Clay Matthews must win his battle against Tyson Clabo.

Call me crazy, but offensively, I want this game to be in the hands of Aaron Rodgers. The Falcons DB's can't stop our WR's. The strength of the Falcons Defense is the LB core. We need to get those LB's off the field. I imagine it'll be tough to run against them. I'm not suggesting that we abandon the run game. I'm simply saying that I'd like to see us come out throwing.

1st play of the game. I-Form. Quinn lined up in front of Starks. I'm going play-action. Up top to Jennings. Take a shot early. Let's make a statement from the start. Get rid of the butterflies. Launch it. Let our Pro Bowl WR make a play!

The pass can open up the run.

Curtis Lofton is a tackling machine. We need to put a helmet on him. If we can neutralize Lofton, we'll establish a run game. That's easier said than done. If Colledge, Sitton, Wells, & Quinn can get to the second line of the Falcons defense, Starks will be able to operate. Last time we matched up with them, the Falcons front 7 won the line of scrimmage & we had little to no running room.

I foresee a big game for Aaron Rodgers. I see deep balls to Jennings & Jones. Almost shockingly, Jones hangs on. Catches it in stride. For a big play.

Consistently, we're rolling Rodgers to right. And crossing routes will be the death of the Falcons defense. Their defensive front might be more physical than our offensive line, but we have too much speed on the outside. Deep crossing routes will bury Atlanta's secondary. It'll be important for McCarthy to devise a game plan that buys Rodgers additional time.

Tackle Eric Weems on special teams. Don't turn the ball over. And we'll be victorious. I'd almost guarantee it.

At some point, someone on our defense will make the play that will swing momentum in our favor. And, early in the 4th Quarter, Rodgers gets the ball leading 20-16. And, once again, it's 80 yards. 7 minutes off the clock. It's Rodgers to Jones in the corner of the end zone. 3 more TD's for Aaron Rodgers. It's the CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE of the Divisional Playoffs.

Again, the defensive play of the Packers is beyond crucial! And thus, I see the Packers winning by two scores.

Packers 27. Falcons 16.

Keep believing & the Dallas dream will stay alive.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Take -> Wild Card

Greetings, G-Force.

Nintendo Nick! Just playin', baby! And an ecstasy filled sigh of relief permeated thru America's most hallowed sports theater.

If Jim Miller, Brian Griese or Kyle Orton were the Bears QB last weekend, the Packers would have been watching the playoffs at home. Thank you, Ray Nutler. You saved our season. Down 3-0 & the Bears nearing the red zone, I was worried as the game was mid-way thru the 3rd Quarter. And then Nutler found Charlie Peprah wide open in the end zone. Momentum changed. And the Lambeau faithful were gloriously able to belt out the "Bears still suck" as they exited football's palace in the season finale. Cheers, Nutler!

The Packers beat the Bears in a game that was won via special teams & defense. I'd have never guessed it. But, yes, last Sunday, our defense & special teams beat the Bears defense & special teams.

Thank you, Dom Capers. You were a savior! In a game that determined our playoff fate, our defense was stellar! The Bears were confused and unable to come up with an offensive solution.

Ted Thompson never seizes to amaze. Let's consider his last week. During the Bears game, we had 6 sacks. 3.5 of the 6 sacks were by a player that wasn't even on the roster at the beginning of the year. Erik Walden was credited with 3 sacks (originally, it was registered as 2) and Jarius Wynn had a 1/2 of a sack. Making matters even more sublime for Thompson was that Howard Green was originally credited with one of the Walden sacks. It should be reiterated that Green did not play with us until late October. Then, this week, he's locked up Desmond Bishop & Brett Goode. With Ted Thompson at the helm, the Packers will be competitive. Every year.

4 more years of watching Desmond Bishop rub the belly & tap the head! OH BABY!

This offense cannot continue to make lackadaisical mistakes. A lack of focus. Lazy. I thought the offense started the game with a great tempo. A smooth rhythm. Then came a series of nearly colossal mistakes. And then B-Jack dropped the ball on third down. The following possession, we're moving near the 30 & Driver fumbles. In the 2nd Quarter, Jennings drops the ball on what would have been a TD. On the following play, James Jones drops a 1st down pass.

Let's hope that '1 yard to go' isn't the death of us. Why don't we put Kuhn at Tailback in the I-form? "Use him like Peyton Hillis!" This is unquestionably McCarthy's kryptonite. He needs to figure this out. Immediately. Either way - he's confused & this '1 yard to go' scenario is in his head.

Small Observations:

Great to see Erik Walden win the Defensive Player of the Week award! 11 tackles (I heard a rumor that this was going to be increased to 16!). 3 sacks. Great pursuit of Nutler. Huge in victory. With that said, to me, he looked like a liability on run downs. It's certainly something to note as we enter the playoffs.

We get Cullen Jenkins back this week!

Great to see Sir Charles come up with another big play! He was in control of the game for a couple of series. Single handedly, he was dominating the Bears offense.

CM3 getting to the QB.

Let me reiterate, Desmond Bishop is locked up!

And Nintendo Nick is sealing the deal!

Two weeks in a row - it's Donald Lee in the end zone.

When in rhythm, there is no better QB/WR tandem than Rodgers to Jennings.

James Starks might be the real deal. Need to see more of him. He was absolutely dangerous on the dump off. He ran thru Urlacher. And every time that he is tackled, he is falling forward. Every time. He's impressive. Wish he'd be our go-to back.

Tim Masthay was an MVP of the game. He's another Ted Thompson gem. Since the 1st Bears game, Masthay has been excellent.

Matt Wilhelm did a great job leading T-Mon's path on the punt return.

AJ Hawk consistently playing with a fierce nature. The most physical he's been in a Packer uniform. 2010 has been a solid year for AJ Hawk.

Charlie Peprah might have saved the Packers season. The unlikeliest of heroes.

Good to see Driver getting loose on 3rd down.

Quinn Johnson was beating Urlacher up early in the game. And then we stopped running the ball. Should have run I-Form with Johnson leading Starks all game.

While Bulaga struggled with 4 penalties, at times, I thought he was dominant. The Colledge/Wells combo scares me. On the 3rd & goal in which Rodgers got sacked by Tommie Harris. Harris was on the ground & Colledge didn't keep him there. Horrible protection.

Defensively, we finished the season with 47 sacks & 32 turnovers.

Sooner or later, it all gets real. We'll that time is now! Win & I'm heading to Atlanta to meet the Packers! Let's do this! Prior to the season, my head said it'd be a Falcons vs Steelers Super Bowl. My heart said it'd be a Packers vs Steelers Super Bowl. Let's hope my heart wins out.

First, we must take care of the Philadelphia Eagles. Frankly, playing the Eagles in Philly is what I'd consider the most difficult task on the road to Dallas. It's an intimidating place to play. The Eagles have a number of offensive weapons. And, at times, Michael Vick has been a thorn in the side of the Packers organization. However, it should be stated that if memory serves me correct, the Packers are 3-1 in games in which we've played Vick. We beat him in the '02 opener. Lost to him in the '02 playoffs. We beat him in Atlanta in '05. And then we beat him earlier this year as our defense stopped him late!

The Eagles secondary is decimated with injury. The game plan should be simple: Attack Dmitri Patterson, Joselio Hanson & Trevard Lindley with quick hitters. Short puma routes to Jennings. Back shoulder passes to Jones. And on a 2nd & 2 play, it's Kuhn lined up in pro-set. Crabtree in motion. It's play-action to Jordy Nelson on a deep ball. 55 yards & a Packers TD.

Attack Patterson, Hanson & Lindley. These guys can't cover ANY of our WR's.

Kurt Coleman is a rookie from Ohio State. 7th round pick. He's showed signs of progress. A good tackler against the run. He struggles in coverage. He'll be exposed on the deep ball as well.

Asante Samuel & Quintin Mikell scare me. Samuel is a pick-6 threat every week. Mikell will come on the blitz, he'll stop the run, and he's good in coverage.

Jamar Chaney is also a 7th round pick. Guy has developed into a budding star in the middle of the Philadelphia defense. He attacks in a manner similar to Bishop.

Philadelphia's defense has attitude. They come after you with a blitzing mentality. Similar to us. They'll be aggressive. Juqua Parker & Trent Cole possess an interesting speed & power mix. They'll present a problem for our tackles. We'll need to keep Crabtree in to block. We'll also need to keep B-Jack to chip as well.

I believe that the Packers can have some success running it right at the teeth of the Philly defense. If we attempt to run outside, I'd expect trouble. Philly's defense is quick. But, I believe that we'll find success with Starks on the quick cut-back.

Offensively, it's no secret. Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin & LeSean McCoy are capable of scoring a TD every time they touch the ball. We must stay disciplined.

It wouldn't surprise me to see Clay Matthews rush from the right side of the defense - at times - this week. We need to force Vick to his right. Occasionally lining Clay up on the right side of the defense would certainly present confusion for the Eagles. We'd blitz Woodson from Vick's blindside. Walden would be a spy. It should be noted that Walden was often coming on a delayed blitz last weekend. Additionally, Jenkins could line up as LDE on passing downs.

Andy Reid will have his team prepared. Mike McCarthy has assured the nation during his post-game press conference that he'd have his team ready for Philadelphia. Therefore, expect a consistent & balanced attack. Maybe I'm crazy, but I anticipate 10-12 carries for Starks. Possibly the same for B-Jack. And then, Rodgers to Jennings via play-action will win us this game. Attack Patterson.

I'd like to see the TE screen to Donald Lee again this week. The Eagles will be in heavy pursuit. This play could lead to an easy 12-15 yard gain.

Our defense has played emphatically this year, however it's hard to expect them to hold the Eagles below 23 points. So, we must be prepared to score in abundance.

We're an elite passing team in this league & this week we show it. Aaron Rodgers needs this victory. If he hasn't already, it'll quiet any skeptics that say he can't win the big game. I expect him to be efficient. I expect him to be accurate. I expect him to be in control. Rodgers throws for 330 and 3 TD's. Jennings gets busy for 120 yards. Kuhn finds the end zone.

Sure, McCoy gets his 130 total yards. And Vick will get into our secondary. But, Sammy Swagga & T-Mon are good match-ups for DeSean & Maclin. I think AJ & Bishop can neutralize Celek. Sir Charles can slow down Avant.

With temperatures in the mid-to-high 20's & 0% chance of precipitation, it'll be a shoot-out. High powered offenses frustrating aggressive defenses with big plays. With every score, the opposition has an answer. Rodgers & McCarthy beat the 4-point demon.

Packers 34. Eagles 30.

Attack Patterson, Hanson & Lindley. Points will come in abundance. Be patiently aggressive on defense. Stay in your lane. Win with a physical mentality.

The Destination is Dallas, but first, we must take care of Philly. One game at a time.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.