Monday, February 21, 2011

Pre-combine Mock Draft

Greetings, G-Force.

The Super Bowl buzz remains stiff. The Green Bay Packers are Super Bowl Champions! For me, the defense of this title begins Thursday with the beginning of the NFL Combine. While Ted Thompson & his staff have been preparing for the 2011 NFL Draft for quite some time, I have been unable to motivate. I've been stuck in Super Bowl savoring mode. Rightfully so. However, with that said, I'm further behind in my analysis of the NFL Draft than I've been in recent memory. Sure, I watched numerous college football games in the '10 campaign & I did write the occasional "Who Are You Watching Now?" during the season, but the majority of my notes did not travel across country with me as I moved from Miami Beach to Denver. Additionally, while I still have the Senior Bowl, a couple of Senior Bowl practices & the East/West Game on DVR, I've yet to watch them in their entirety.

Any way, for those that are new to the mock draft poriton of the blog, there's one rule that I follow: In my mock draft, I don't select OL. Only because I don't follow OL closely enough during the college season. Furthering my 2011 mock draft difficulty, I feel the Packers most pressing need going into the NFL Draft is the OL. Assuming the CBA gets worked out & players are forced to play 6 years on a team before becoming an UFA, the Packers rosted will be loaded at most positions - except for the OL. On the OL, I really like Sitton. I believe he has Pro Bowl ability. I feel Bulaga has a career in the league. Then come the question marks. Clifton is aging. Colledge's career in Green Bay might be coming to a close through FA. Wells is steady, but he's in the middle-tier of NFL Centers. With regards to depth, I want to like Lang, but I'm not sure where he fits. I thought Marshall Newhouse showed a ton of progress in the preseason, but at this stage, he's a developmental prospect. Is for players like Marshall Newhouse that I hope the NFL keeps a 4-game preseason schedule. Those games are imperative to the development of late round draft picks. Continuing with the depth chart, Jason Spitz has played his last down as a Packer, Tauscher has probably done the same unless he comes back at the league minimum as a back-up, and both Nick McDonald & Evan Diedrich-Smith fit into the developmental category. Clearly, to me, the Packers need to draft OL. It just won't happen in my mock draft.

Round 1: Ted Thompson has been aggressive with winning the perimeter on the offensive side of the ball. It has been a priority of his since he took over in 2005. 5 times in 6 drafts, Thompson has drafted a pass catcher in the 1st 3 rounds (Terrance Murphy, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley). While he hasn't invested an early round pick in a pass-catcher since 2008, it wouldn't surprise me if Thompson provided Aaron Rodgers with a weapon in Round 1. After all, Donald Driver isn't getting younger, James Jones has not only disappointed - at times - but he's potentially going to be a FA, and Jord Nelson has had issues with consistency. Two WR's that are presently listed as 2-3 rounders interest me as a potential selection at #32. Don't be surprised if the stock of Leonard Hankerson, WR, []_[], climbs significantly during the combine. He has scored more TD's than any WR in the history of the []_[]. He had a great Senior Bowl. At times, in college, he was unguardable. Not afraid of traffic. He can run the deep route. He has the build that attracts Thompson's eye. For now, my 1st round pick is Hankerson. I realize that NO ONE has Hankerson as a 1st round pick. Still, it's early in the evaluation process. If, after the combine, he's still low on the totem pole, I'll reconsider.

The other WR that interests me is Titus Young, WR, Boise State. In some ways, he reminds me of DeSean Jackson. Electric with the ball. Undersized. He gets deep. He can return kicks. He, too, is listed as a 2-3 round prospect. Wouldn't shock me if he solidifies himself as a solid early round 2nd round prospect. Therefore, if we want him, we have to get him at #32.

Many consider the Packers #1 requirement to be OLB across from the Claymaker. For me, I believe that I saw enough out of Erik Walden to give him a chance to be the starting OLB across Clay. I thought Walden was a terrific addition to our defense. Still, I won't complain if the Packers #1 pick is an OLB. One of the strengths of the 1st round in the 2011 Draft might be the availability of 3-4 OLB's. Von Miller, Bruce Carter, Akeem Ayers & Justin Houston all are potential 1st round picks. I like all of them. At this stage, I see Miller, Carter & Ayers all being selected prior to #32. If Houston is available, he'd be a great pick at #32. For a while, this year, I thought Ayers was as good as any LB in the country at the college level. It'll also be interesting to track how Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue drops in coverage at the Combine. He didn't do much of it in college, but the guy could get to the QB.

If the Packers deem CB to be the pick, Aaron Williams, Texas, is the guy that interests me the most. Williams plays the run well. Also, he aggressive in coverage. To me, he fits in the Dom Capers scheme.

Round 2: Muhammad Wilkerson, DL, Temple. Perfect for the Packers 3-4. He can rush the passer. He can stop the run. He'd be a solid fit in the 2-down lineman rotating with Raji. Though Jolly should be back in 2011, I expect the Packers to lose Cullen Jenkins due to FA. While Mike Neal looks to be a gem, he has to stay healthy. I wouldn't be surprised if the Packers added depth to the DL. For now, most have Wilkerson projected as a late 2nd, early 3rd. Don't be surprised if he climbs the charts post a solid combine. But, until I see his name climbing the ranks, he's my choice.

A couple of other 2nd round prospects to keep an eye on: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado; Jerrell Jernigan, WR/KR, Troy; Brandon Hughes, CB, WVU; Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia. Smith has shut-down capabilities. Jernigan is a threat every time he touches the ball. He'd solve our return woes. Hughes, though only 5-10, was a stand-out at WVU. He battled injuries at the end of the year, so I'd check his durability. The same can be said with Dowling who could not stay healthy this year. When healthy, Dowling was a better player than Chris Cook who was the Vikings 1st selection last year.

Ryan Williams, RB, Va Tech, is a big play gamer. He has a flair for running hard & making big plays in big games. Doubt the Packers look for a RB in the early portions of the draft though.

Round 3: Presently, I see ILB as the best 3rd round value. Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon, Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State, and Colin McCarthy, ILB, []_[] have all grabbed my interest at this point. Naturally, I would like Matthews to be the selection as it'd be great to see the long-haired brothers manning the Packers defense. Therefore, my selection is Casey Matthews.

If Ted Thompson finally chooses a scat back who can return kicks, Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State could be the pick.

Round 4: I'm giving the Packers two 4th round picks. The bonus pick will be for Aaron Kampman. I project a 4th round compensatory pick. In the 4th round, the Packers grab Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford. At this point, Sherman is virtually off the board. No one is talking about Sherman. They will soon. From what I saw at the Senior Bowl, he has superstar potential. He reminded me a little of Al Harris. Big CB. Likes to put his hands on you. Then, he'll turn & run with you. He hasn't played a lot of CB. He's fairly raw. Thompson struck gold with Sammy Swagga, who had a similar background. Sherman learned under the tutelage of Jim Harbaugh. He'll be NFL ready.

Others: I like CB value in this draft. Chris Rucker, CB, Michigan State, Marcus Gilchrist, CB, Clemson, Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado are all names that could be solid picks in this area.

With the other 4th round pick, the Packers grab Bruce Miller, OLB, Central Florida. A classic work-hard OLB. Endless motor. Gets to the QB. Closes out games. Every time I watched UCF play, Miller was making plays in workman-like fashion.

Others: Jordan Todman, RB, UConn. I like the way Todman runs & catches the ball. If he lands in the right spot, he'll have an NFL career. Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU. Kid can flat out make plays with the ball in his hands. He, too, can return kicks.

Round 5: Noel Devine, RB, WVU. I'm amazed that most have him as a 6-7 round prospect. Unbelieveable. He was lethat - at times - in college. Every time he touches the ball, he's a threat. He didn't return punts in college. I'd like to see if he can do it, but man, this guy is dangerous. He's undersized, but at this point, he seems like the classic mid-round Ted Thompson selection.

Others: At some point, Thompson will to draft a CB. Shareece Wright, CB, USC could be a solid 5th rounder. Also, at OLB, Mark Herzlich, BC would be a great value pick - if his health clears. Two years ago, he was an elite player. Now, he is a recovered cancer patient. At times, he returned to form in 2010. Will be interesting to track where he falls. WR, Terrance Tolliver, LSU, is a playmaker. He, too, can stretch the field. He'd be solid running the "go" routes that McCarthy designs down the outside of the field. He'd cause potential match-up issues on Rodgers' deep balls.

Round 6: Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama. McCarthy needs a new toy. McElroy is similar to Flynn. In college, he was a winner. Held onto the ball. Managed games. Created crucial third downs. Won a National Championship. Did a lot with his legs. Solid - at times - with his arm. When the game was on the line, he won. He has enough tools to be a weapon for McCarthy to sharpen.

Others: Mario Harvey, ILB, Marshall. Undersized, but always around the ball. Great effort guy. Classic special teams wizard. Jerrell Powe, DT, Mississippi. Big boy. Questionable effort, but you gotta like the size as a 6th rounder. Made some plays against top-notch competition.

Round 7: DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, []_[]. 4 year starter. Going to be reunited with Sammy Swagga. Van Dyke might end up as a better pro than college player. Wouldn't shock me. Good size. He can run. Sees the field well.

Others: Scott Tolzien, QB, WI. Another guy that McCarthy could play with. S, Zac Etheridge, Auburn. Playmaker in the secondary for the National Champions. DT, Brandon Bair, Oregon. A little undersized, but a high energy/high effort guy who produced for Oregon. Often, he was their best defender. Good value pick.

More to come post the combine.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

10 Most Crucial Plays of the '10 Season

Greetings, G-Force.

You may have noticed a post from my cousin, Emmett McKenna. If not, take a look. It's a thorough review of the Super 2010 Packers season. After the season, he mentioned that the blog inspired him to write his thoughts as well. Growing up, most Holidays were spent at either our Grandparents house or at his house talking Packers football. With that, I am stoked that Emmett will be adding his thoughts to the blog as well. Soon, I anticipate his brother, Dan, to be providing his take as well. Further, if anyone else would like to get involved, let me know & I'll set you up as an author. Further my good mate & IT Director in life, PatRad, has suggested some minor changes to the layout of the blog. So, look for those in the near future.

Damn, it feels good to be a Cheesehead! Still, I savor this Super feeling. Thoroughly. This is an easy Championship to relish. Especially as the lockout looms. Through it all, we reign supreme.

As I reflect on the 2010 Season, I've began to think of top-10 lists. But, the one that sticks in my head is the top 10 Most Crucial Plays of the '10 Season. Without these 10 plays, we might not be cherishing the view of the Claymaker holding up the Championship Belt, placing it over Aaron Rodgers' shoulder, and pointing in his direction. Damn, what an epic sight. Ingrained in the mind forever. Seemingly best friends. Teammates. A leader on defense. A leader on offense. Ours. For today. And for tomorrow. Brilliant!

10.) Coming into the season, one could argue that the biggest hurdle the Packers needed to leap was the aura of good ol' #4. Under the lights. Sunday Night Football. At Lambeau Field. We got our chance at revenge. CJ Wilson applied the pressure. Desmond Bishop made the play. Intercepting the gunslinger & returning it 32 yards for a TD. This was the "monkey of the back" game of the year. I believe it to be a unifying game for the locker room.

9.) Opening week. In Philly. Mid-way through the 3rd Quarter, it looked as if the Packers might roll over the Eagles. Then, Michael Vick took over. Looking unstoppable, Vick led the Eagles into Packers territory late in the 4th. Trailing by 7. Facing 4th & 1, Andy Reid called for a QB Sneak. Clay plugged the hole. Brad Jones & Nick Barnett came in to assist & the Packers escaped with victory. This play set the tone for the season. 7 more times after this game, the Packers defense made a 4th quarter stop to preserve victory. 6 of those occasions occurred in the waning moments of a contest.

8.) Facing the #1 seed in the NFC. On the road. In what was a hostile environment. Leading 21-14. Less than 10 seconds in the half. The Falcons gambled. T-Mon played the role of Kenny Rogers. The celebration ensued. The feeling was TRAMONDOUS!

7.) Week 17. Lambeau Field. The hated Bears in town. A playoff berth on the line. Trailing 3-0 in the 3rd Quarter. Seemingly, momentum was fully on the side of the Bears as they were near the red zone & threatening to take a 2-score lead. Then, Ray Nutler arrived. Lofting a beautifully thrown pass into the arms of Charlie Peprah, the 2010 Season had life.

6.) The NFC Championship. Soldier Field. Halas Trophy at stake. After knocking Nutler out with a mysterious injury, it looked as though the Packers would walk away with a convincing victory. Until we discovered that the Bears best QB was their 3rd stringer, Caleb Hanie. Hanie led a valiant comeback attempt. He got the Bears within striking distance until Sammy Swagga jumped in front of a 4th down crossing route. Trump card. Forever. The thought never gets old. Halas Trophy. Visitors Locker Room. Pop Tarts!

5.) NFC Championship. Freezer > Fridge. Totally crucial. 'Nuff said.

4.) NFC Wild Card. Once again, Vick was driving. Looking to give the Packers another heartbreaking playoff defeat in Philly. Much like 1960 & 2003. Then, T-Mon introduced himself to the 2010 Playoffs. Soon he'd become the Defensive MVP of the playoffs. TRAMONDOUS!

3.) Leading by 3. With the ball. Needing to milk the clock. And, hopefully add points to a nail-biter of a Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers gave us a moment we'll remember forever. I've watched this play about 100 times - probably more. 3rd & 10. It wasn't the TD on Ike Taylor that Lil Wayne envisioned, but man, it was just as nice. Marvelously threaded to Greg Jennings. Off the finger tips of Taylor. In front of Polamalu. Into the hands of Jennings. Legitimately beautiful. True courage displayed by the MVP.

2.) By now, we've all seen the NFLN Sound FX. But, the Kevin Greene & Clay Matthews conversation is priceless. The full-blown conversation is extraordinary. Clay understanding Greene's message. Pre-snap, Clay recognizes the play. Clay instructs Pickett - leading his teammate in the right direction. Pickett does his job. Clay goes in unblocked & forces the fumble. Desmond Bishop recovers. Perfection.

1.) While the #1 play should be the Miracle @ the Meadowlands - as without this play the Packers would not have made the playoffs - my #1 play still involves DeSean Jackson. Potentially, this entire playoff run would have been erased had it not been for a Desmond Bishop tackle with less than 2 minutes in the NFC Wild Card. While it's true that the Super Bowl MVP would have got the ball with a chance at either tying or winning the game with approximately a minute left, the circumstance would not have been welcoming. Just to replay: Desmond Bishop, INSIDE LINEBACKER, stopped his college teammate, DeSean Jackson, one of the most lethal open field runners with nothing but green in front of him. It looked as though Jackson would take it all of the way if not for Bishop's arm tackle in the open field. To this day, that replay is cause for a deep breath. Hell, after typing it, I had to exhale. In my mind, without this tackle, there is no T-Mon interception to seal it. There is no celebration in Atlanta. There is no TRUMP CARD over the Bears & the ultimate reminder that the Bears still suck! Without this play, we are not Super Bowl Champions. Thus, for me, the #1 most crucial play of the 2010 Season is the Bishop tackle & regardless of what happens over the next 4 years of his contract, due to this play alone, he's already a financial bargain.

Once again, I'd like to welcome Emmett & soon-to-be, Danny. Again, if anyone else would like to provide their buzz, hit me up.

I've got the Senior Bowl & East-West Shrine Games on DVR. The combine is coming fast. We may not have FA, but we'll have a draft. We'll keep you updated with thoughts leading up to the Draft. But, for now, it's sweet to enjoy this SUPER feeling.

Go Pack Go!


Talkin' S-Mac.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Packers Won the Super Bowl! Season in Review.

Before the NFC Championship game and Super Bowl, I wrote “notes” on Facebook about the upcoming games. My cousin Scott’s weekly blog updates inspired me to write those notes, and I enjoyed doing them, so he invited me to write for his blog, which I gladly accepted. So thank you for the opportunity Scott! Since this is my first post on the blog, it will be long because I’m going to recap the season for me, and I’m still excited about the Super Bowl win so I have a lot to write! So this will be a summary of what was an unbelievable season for me.

I had high expectations going into the season, but I had some concerns going into the season that not many other people were talking about. My main concern was what were the Packers going to do at nickel back? It was no secret that after Al Harris got hurt last year, their defense was vulnerable to good passing teams. Many people told me the cornerback situation wouldn’t be a problem since Al Harris would return from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list after week 6. That never eased my concerns though. What were they going to do those first six weeks at corner? I didn’t trust Brandon Underwood, Pat Lee, or Jarrett Bush. Besides, even after Al Harris returns, he was never that fast of a corner anyway, he’s getting older, and he just blew out his knee the previous year. How well would he be able to overcome that injury, and would he ever been his old self? I didn’t think he was a particularly good fit for the 3-4 defense either, so I was never confident of him making a big impact this year.

So the nickel back was my fear coming into the season, but I was wrong. Not because Al Harris would come back and make an impact: he didn’t. They released him mid-season and never took him off the PUP list. The Dolphins signed him only to release him later in the season. I was right about Al Harris, he’s done. But the guy who stepped up into that nickel spot right away in the season and played fantastic was not one of the three veterans I mentioned in the previous paragraph; it was an undrafted rookie from the University of Miami: Sam Shields. When the Packers signed him as a free agent, I was excited: not because of his cornerback ability, but I thought he would be a good kick returner. My only knowledge of him was watching him return a kickoff for 84 yards against the Badgers in the 2009 Champ Sports Bowl. So I was excited the Packers found a kick returner finally.

Well what I didn’t realize: Sam Shields can’t catch kickoffs. The 84 yard return I saw was a reverse to him, and apparently for good reason. But little did I know that Sam Shields would fill that nickel slot and possibly be one of the best nickel backs in the league (though when Shields is in, which is the majority of snaps, he’s on the outside and Charles Woodson actually plays the nickel slot). I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong: I wanted the Packers to draft Kyle Wilson, cornerback out of Boise State, in the 2010 draft. They took Brian Bulaga at 23 instead, and he did a good (not amazing, but good) job as a starting tackle in his rookie season. Kyle Wilson went to the Jets at 29, and he saw very little playing time. So at least for this season, he didn’t live up to what was expected of him. Sam Shields was one of two best rookie cornerbacks this year, and he was undrafted. The other, Devin McCourtney, went at 27, four picks after Bulaga. So while McCourtney would’ve been a solid pick as well, we got Bulaga AND Sam Shields. So, once again, Ted Thompson proves he knows what he’s doing better than the fans. But Sam Shields emerged as the nickel back the Packers needed to be an elite team and defense, and nobody saw that coming.

So the nickel back wasn’t a problem all year; in fact, it was the opposite, the Packers played the nickel back something like 75% of the time, unheard of in the NFL, and they had a lot of success in it. They actually were more of a 2-4-5 team than a 3-4 team. If I knew the nickel back problem would be resolved, I would’ve been very confident going into the season, but of course, other problems arose.
The Packers suffered more significant injuries than any team in the NFL. To name a few of the most significant ones: starting runningback Ryan Grant went out for the season week 1, starting inside linebacker and former All-Pro Nick Barnett went out for the season in week 4 ,and starting tight end and possibly the second most talented player on offense (next to Aaron Rodgers) Jermichael Finley went out for the season in week 5. These are just three of the sixteen players who went on injury reserve for the season; many others would’ve been huge for the team as well. It didn’t make me feel any more confident when the Packers started 3-3, with 3 close losses. And they failed to trade a third round pick for Marshawn Lynch, a guy who I thought would’ve been a big help to the Packers. So six weeks into the season I was not confident at all.

But the Packers pulled off some impressive victories to get me excited again. They shut-out the Jets in New York, which few expected. They beat the Vikings twice, including a 31-3 beat down in Minnesota that cost Brad Childress his job. They dominated Dallas on Sunday Night Football, which also cost Wade Phillips his job. While you might say beating Dallas and Minnesota doesn’t mean much now, these were two teams expected to make possible Super Bowl runs going into the season, and both of them have a lot of talent on them. These were some big wins for the Packers, but questions still arose if they could win a close game.
Then they went to Atlanta, considered the best team in the NFC at the time. They played a great game and should’ve won big, but some crucial turnovers and a defensive letdown at the end allowed the Falcons a last second winning field goal. This seemed too familiar to Packers fans; they could play with anyone, but they had trouble sealing the deal. The following week they beat up a bad 49ers team, who would also later fire their coach in the season. It was a nice win, but didn’t answer some of my concerns.

The next week came the low point of the Packers season. The Packers lost to the Lions in Detroit 7-3. Aaron Rodgers missed over a half with a concussion, but he didn’t look very effective in the game when he was in either. Not to mention, the Lions were on their third string quarterback Drew Stanton. The defense played good for the most part, but the offense was terrible. And the Packers fell far behind in the race for the division title, and the wild card was even a long shot. Even Scott, perhaps the most optimistic Packer fan I know (which I love about him), said in his blog that this loss was probably the end of the season and he said “barring a near miracle, the 2010 season looks as though it'll go down as the most disappointing Packers season of my life.” I shared his sentiment though.

The following week was an interesting week for the Packers. First they were playing the Patriots in New England, who were the hottest team in football at the time. Aaron Rodgers was out with a concussion, and Matt Flynn was making his first career start. Everyone was picking a Patriot domination, including me. I made score predictions throughout the season, and I expected the Patriots to win huge in that game, which I don’t think I ever did before. But the Packers shocked people, they outplayed the Patriots, and ended up losing by 4 points on the final play after giving up some inexcusable plays to help the Patriots out. They lost, but the team learned that, even without their starting quarterback, they could play with the best teams in the league. However, the close loss, while impressive, continued to raise the question if they could win big games. But even with that impressive loss, they got huge help with the Eagles mounting a major comeback, and returning a punt for a touchdown in the last seconds, to defeat the Giants. The Buccaneers also lost. So all the Packers had to do was win their next two games, both at home, but both against good opponents: the Giants and the Bears. Then they would qualify for the playoffs. So to win the Super Bowl, the Packers needed to win six straight games – no easy take, regardless of the opponents.

I went to the Giants game in Green Bay the following week, unfortunately the only game I went to this season. For both teams, it was practically a playoff game. Giants would’ve qualified with a win, and the Packers would’ve been eliminated. But the Packers just dominated the game and won 45-17 and an extremely fun game to go to for me. Aaron Rodgers looked fantastic in first game back from a concussion.

The next week, the Packers played one of their two biggest rivals, the Chicago Bears (between them and the Vikings, depends on who you talk to). The Bears were playing for nothing except to keep their momentum going and to try to knock their divisional rival out of the playoffs, who they likely feared making it knowing how good of a team they were. The Bears played their starters the entire game and put 100% effort into it, which I was very impressed with and I gained respect for Lovie Smith for going all out in a meaningless game for his team. However, the Packers won a close game 10-3, after the Bears drove down the field at the end only to throw a game ending interception. Note the defense making a huge stop in the late game to secure the victory in a close game: this becomes a trend. And this is not something I don’t think most Packer fans are used to.

So the Packers qualified for the playoffs and were playing against the Eagles in Philadelphia! This was actually the game of the playoffs I felt least confident about. Their first game of the season: played the Philadelphia Eagles in Philly. The Packers won in Philadelphia in week 1, but it was a close game, and Michael Vick only played a half after Kevin Kolb got a concussion. This was the beginning of Vick’s “comeback season.” Vick played very well and brought the Eagles back into the game; however, Dom Capers was gameplanning for a Kolb team, and Vick presented a whole new challenge. Nonetheless, the Packers stopped Vick and the Eagles late to hold onto a close win. Early on, the Packers attacked the Eagles early and often, and James Stark had his national coming out party. They had a chance to put the game out of reach by halftime, but James Jones dropped a major touchdown just before halftime that may have sealed the game (I have more thoughts on James Jones that I’ll save for another blog post). However, the Eagles made a late push for a lead on the last drive of the game, and Tramon Williams had a game ending interception in the end zone. Finally the nation learned what Packers fans knew all season: Tramon Williams is one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL.

So the Packers headed to the #1 seed Atlanta, where they lost on a last second field a couple months earlier. The Falcons were 13-3, “Matty Ice” Ryan was 20-2 at home in his NFL career, and the Falcons were coming off a bye so they were well rested. But I felt more confident about this game than I did the Eagles. I never believed the Falcons were that good of a team, mostly just a lucky team. So I picked the Packers to win, which some people gave me grief for since I had a bad record picking Packer games in the regular season. But I honestly did not see the Packers losing to the Falcons. I just expected the game to be close. Early on, it looked like it would be close, or the Falcons might dominate. They scored early and were winning at two different points in the first quarter (the ONLY game the Packers trailed in the playoffs from what I recall… Think about that for a second). But the Packers dominated that game like I’ve rarely seen in the playoffs, and Aaron Rodgers had one of the all-time best playoff games in NFL history: 31/36 for 366 yards, 3 touchdowns passing, and another touchdown rushing. Unbelievable. But as impressive as Aaron Rodgers was, the play that changed the game and was the most important came from Tramon Williams. The Falcons had success rushing against the Packers the first time they played, and they had success at the beginning of the play-off game. So their gameplan was to continue running on the Packers, but with the Packers holding a 21-14 lead shortly before halftime, the Falcons tried to gain a few yards to get in better field goal position. Matt Ryan threw an out to Roddy White, but Tramon Williams stepped in front of it and impressively returned it for a touchdown. Instead of it being 21-17 going into halftime, it was 28-14, and the Packers commanded the game the rest of the way. The Falcons had to abandon the run, and Matt Ryan had no success passing on the Packers defense. Aaron Rodgers was hot, so the Falcons couldn’t afford to try to get in a shoot-out with the Packers. After the dominating 48-21 performance, I honestly believed the Packers had a good chance to win the Super Bowl, though I still remained nervous.

Then the Packers returned to Chicago to play their divisional rival Bears in the NFC Championship. The oldest rivals in the NFL meet for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. The Bears beat the Packers early in the season in Chicago on a last second field goal, in a game where the Packers committed an absurd 18 penalties. The Packers beat the Bears in the final regular season game to qualify for the playoffs, but it was a close (10-3) game, and the Bears were driving at the end to tie or possibly win before a Packers interception. The game was meaningless for the Bears: they were the #2 seed in the playoffs, win or lose, but they played because they wanted momentum and they wanted to knock the Packers out of the playoffs. I told my brother Dan I had a lot of respect for Lovie Smith for playing that game so hard. Going into the NFC Championship, I had no question the Packers were the better team, but I also knew the Bears always played the Packers tough, and for whatever reason, Aaron Rodgers had more trouble with the Bears defense than anyone else. I watched the game at my brother Dan’s house, and the night before, we watched a replay of the earlier Packers loss to the Bears on the NFL Network. After watching that, I was more convinced than ever that the Packers would win; the Packers should’ve dominated that game if not for so many uncharacteristic mental mistakes.

The Packers got off to an early lead against the Bears and looked like they were going to run away from the game. Just before half, as the Bears were driving for points, but Sam Shields came away with a crucial interception, preserving a 14-0 lead. But Jay Cutler got hurt and only played for a little over a half, and I said to Dan that this might actually be bad for the Packers: without Cutler, Mike Martz might actually run the ball, which is the way I predicted the Bears would be able to beat the Packers. Martz is too stubborn to run the ball with his starting quarterbacks, and has cost his teams many victories because of this (See: Super Bowl Eventually the Bears did have some success running the ball and third string QB Haleb Canie was looking decent, and it changed the momentum some. They cut the lead 14-7, and I was nervous. Then B.J. Raji, underrated but dominant second year defensive tackle, dropped in a zone blitz and intercepted a pass, running it in for a touchdown – a 340lb guy scoring a touchdown in the NFC Championship game! Dan, my sister-in-law Jeanne, their kids, and I celebrated like the Packers made the Super Bowl! We thought that was game: a 14 point lead in the fourth quarter should’ve sealed it. But Haleb Canie drove the Bears down to a score to cut it to 21-14, the Packers offense stuttered on the next drive, and the game seemed in question. The Bears were driving the field again, but on 4th down Sam Shields came away with his second interception to clinch the game. Remember, the initial concern I had coming into season was the Packers nickel back, and in the NFC Championship game, an undrafted rookie came away with two interceptions as a nickel back! Sam Shields was a significant piece that helped lead the Packers to the Super Bowl.

So after the Packers beat the Bears, Dan, Jeanne, and I watched to see who the Packers would face in the Super Bowl: Steelers or Jets. I figured the Steelers would win, but I was much more confident that the Packers could beat the Jets. The Steelers jumped out to an early lead, but the Jets rallied just to fall short at the end (similar to the Packers victory over the Bears). At the beginning of the game, I thought the Steelers would beat the Packers, but after watching them I became less convinced. I thought the Packers had a legitimate shot at beating the Steelers in the Super Bowl! But I still had my doubts.

The two weeks between the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl were exciting, but nerve wrecking. I spent a lot of free time thinking about the individual matchups and the different game plans trying to figure out who had the edge. Honestly, there were nights I had trouble falling asleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about the game. But the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became the Packers had the edge and probably should win. The Steelers were a good team and I wasn’t discounting them winning by any means, but I believed the Packers had the advantage. The one thing people kept saying was “the Steelers had the advantage in Super Bowl experience.” I never bought that; that may help the Steelers during Media Day, but once the game starts, it’s still football, and both teams have experience playing football. So I tried to think about other ways the Steelers could win: one thing people were saying was the Steelers had a good running game and the Packers run defense was vulnerable. The Packers run defense wasn’t spectacular during the season, but it also wasn’t as bad as people made it seem. Remember, the Packers played with 2 defensive linemen on the majority of plays, which may have left them open to the run a little more. So teams would break off nice runs and occasionally get some yards on the ground, but I said few teams were able to drive down the field running the ball against the Packers. So I discounted the significance of the two advantages the Steelers supposedly had over the Packers: experience and the running game.

I thought a lot about how the Packers could win the game. Teams haven’t effectively rushed against the Steelers all season, and the Packers running game obviously wasn’t their strength. But the Steelers pass defense was vulnerable; their secondary was not that good, and with Aaron Rodgers spreading the field with four fast receivers in a dome, I thought the Packers offense could score on the Steelers. The more I thought about it, the more confident I became. I even took the step to call into a national sports radio show for the first time ever (Sean Pendergast) the Friday night before the game to explain how I believed the Packers would win by spreading the field and throwing on the Steelers. Sean, while picking the Steelers, admitted I made a solid point, and after the Packers won by doing what I said, he gave me credit for it on Monday.

I didn’t expect the win to come easy. I knew the Steelers would put up a fight, but I didn’t expect that fight to include losing a starting wide receiver and two starting cornerbacks (I consider Sam Shields a starter since the Packers play the nickel more than a standard 3-4) who were so important to our team. While I expected the game to be close, the Packers jumped out to a huge 21-3 lead early in the game, and I started to think it would be a blow-out. The Steelers had some success running against the Packers, but not enough to sustain long drives against the Packers. Also, great passing by Aaron Rodgers and a huge interception returned for a touchdown by Nick Collins gave the Packers a large lead and made the Steelers more pass oriented (like the Packers game against the Falcons). But then the injuries started: Driver, Shields, Woodson, all missed over a half of the game, and the Steelers cut it to 21-10 at halftime. The injuries to Driver, Woodson, and Shields changed everything, and I became extremely nervous. Now the Packers really needed their backup receivers and cornerbacks to step up and make plays.

So at halftime of the Super Bowl, my concern returned to the concern I had in the pre-season for the Packers: the cornerback position. With losing Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, the Packers needed to depend on both Pat Lee and Jarrett Bush to keep the Steelers from scoring! The thought of this terrified me: last year the Steelers scored 37 points against the Packers when Jarrett Bush was the nickel back, and this is when Charles Woodson was still in the lineup! The Packers offense obviously needed to step up too to put up enough points to fend off the Steelers, so the pressure was on.

And the Packers did not handle the pressure well at first. Brett Swain, Jordy Nelson, and James Jones dropping crucial passes kept the Steelers in the game. Jordy Nelson had a good game overall, but dropped a few significant passes that I have trouble forgiving him for. I do not care to see James Jones and Brett Swain on the roster next season because I think the Packers can upgrade at the position and be even more dangerous offensively, but I’ll save that for another post. Meanwhile, Jarrett Bush, while having a nice pick in the first half, got embarrassed on a touchdown by Hines Ward that cut the lead to 4. If the receivers wouldn't have dropped so many balls, and the cornerbacks didn't get hurt, this game would have been a blow-out.

The Steelers got the ball back in good field position, and looked to take their first lead of the game. Cameras caught Outside Linebackers coach Kevin Greene (former Steeler) saying to Clay Matthews before the play “Since Woodson is out, NO ONE has stepped up as a leader. It’s time… It’s time.” I found these to be beautiful words of encouragement trying to get a young star and future leader to step up into his role. Then before the play, Clay told the defense “I think they’re running at me, they’re looking at me… This play is headed toward me!” On the next play, Rashard Mendenhall got the ball and was headed toward Clay’s side, but first he got nailed in the backfield by both Ryan Pickett and Clay, and Clay’s hit knocked the ball loose, which Desmond Bishop scooped up. This play was a significant game-changer that swung momentum back in the Packers’ favor.

The Packers had good field position and they were looking to takeover this game. Aaron Rodgers, despite his receivers’ drops, was not giving up and drove the Packers down to take a 28-17 lead with a Greg Jennings touchdown. I celebrated, but I knew this game was far from over. The Steelers got the ball back, drove the field, and beat an injured Sam Shields for a touchdown. Shields wanted to try to play through his injury, but only made it a few plays. The Steelers convert the two-point conversion and it’s 28-25 with plenty of time left.

The Packers next drive was crucial for the Packers: they desperately needed points and to take time off the clock. This drive could have been a legendary drive for Rodgers. How would he respond? It didn’t look good at first and second down, but on third and 10, Rodgers hits Jennings running a seam route for a huge gain. This was one of the biggest plays of the game for the Packers. It kept the Steelers offense off the field and they would have had good field position. The Packers continued to drive, and McCarthy trusted in his quarterback on this drive, just like he needed to. However, the Packers stalled on third and goal and had to settle for a field goal. The field goal helped because it made the Steelers score a touchdown, but the Packers needed a touchdown to seal the game there. It was a good drive , but that drive wasn’t the legendary drive Packer fans hoped for because once again, just like against the Eagles and the Bears twice during this “must win” span of six games, the Packers offense was unable to seal the game and depended on the defense to stop the opposing team from taking the lead or tying the game.

We all know: Roethlisberger has had a last minute Super Bowl comeback before. Could he do it again against the Packers fourth and fifth string cornerbacks? I didn’t feel very confident in the Packers chances of stopping the Steelers since I don’t trust Jarrett Bush or Pat Lee on defense. The Steelers gained a first down on the first play, then gained five yards. Then Dom Capers decided the Packers needed to put some pressure on Big Ben or his cornerbacks would get eaten up. So he started blitzing heavier, and this worked. Under pressure, Big Ben missed his next two throws, so it was fourth and five. Mike Wallace runs a curl route and Big Ben throws it to him, but Tramon Williams (hero of so many games this season) reads the play and swats the ball away. Ball game. The Packers could just take a victory kneel down.

The Packers won the Super Bowl! I still can’t believe it. What an impressive six game run to end the season too. In the six must-win games for the Packers, they beat teams with a combined record (including playoffs) of 71-34, which is equal to about 68%. That is remarkable to beat so many good teams in a row, and three of those were away, and one was neutral. Also as impressive was not only the injuries the Packers overcame during the season, but overcoming the injuries in the Super Bowl. My biggest fear coming into the season is that the Packers would have Jarrett Bush, Pat Lee, or Brandon Underwood as their nickel back, and I don’t like any of them. I thought that was the Packers weakness. As I said earlier, Shields filled that roll for the season. But in the Super Bowl, with Woodson and Shields out, both Jarrett Bush and Pat Lee are playing! You can imagine how nervous that made me. But honestly, they did a serviceable job; they weren’t great (Bush had an interception, but also got beat pretty bad for a touchdown), but it wasn’t a disaster like I would’ve expected. What an incredible season for the Packers, and barring a major injury to Aaron Rodgers, you have to think they’ll continue to contend for years. Sure, we thought the same thing about the 96 Packers, but they were an older team and Holmgren had bigger aspirations. The Packers are young and their GM and coach situation should be stable for years to come. If there is a season next year, I am optimistic about the Packers chances. If the deal doesn’t get done until August or September, it will – in a way – favor the Packers since they have such continuity, and teams implementing new schemes or bringing in a lot of new players will struggle.

This post ended up being much longer – and taking much longer – than I initially anticipated, but I enjoyed going back and thinking about the season again. I can’t wrap up a Super Bowl season as exciting as this one without rambling on! Look for a future post about what the Packers should or will do in the off-season whenever that off-season occurs, then I’ll also write one (or more) about the draft.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Take -> Super Bowl XLV Champions!

Greetings, G-Force.

I went to my 1st game in December of 1982. I remember it vividly. My Mom & Dad took my brother, Chad, & I to Lambeau Field to take on the Detroit Lions. The Packers were in the thick of the NFC Central race. I remember my Dad telling us about the Lions RB, Billy Sims, & their best WR, Freddie Scott. Not knowing any better, I thought it was cool that I shared a name with Freddie Scott. Foolishly, I asked if I should cheer for him if he scored. My Dad promptly educated me that we never cheer for the rival at Lambeau Field. I remember Freddie Scott scoring a TD & thinking that it would have been nice if I could have cheered for him. We were sitting in Section 22. The Packers got crushed by the Lions.

Later that year, I went to my first playoff game. The Wild Card game against the St. Louis Cardinals. James Lofton & John Jefferson had legendary performances. I remember going to McDonald's during the week after the game with the Flanagan's. Sean & I fell in love with Jefferson. When we'd play backyard football, we'd pretend to be him. Chad had fallen in love with Lofton & Paul Coffman. Chad loved Coffman so much that he mastered the down-and-out & the down-and-in routes. When we played backyard football, Sean & I couldn't stop those routes.

By 1983, I was regularly attending home games with my Mom, Dad, & Chad. When the Packers beat the Redskins in the famed MNF game, Chad & I were unable to attend due to my parents school curfew. We were supposed to be in bed at halftime. Instead, we simply shut the door to the bedroom & turned the volume down low. I remember Chad jumping up out of bed & pumping his fist after Mark Moseley missed the chip-shot FG.

By this time, every Sunday morning, Chad & I would sit outside the bathroom as my Dad would get ready in the morning. The three of us would have a weekly Fantasy Football Draft. We'd only select Green Bay Packers. Mixing Eddie Lee Ivery, Jessie Clark, Gerry Ellis, & Harlan Huckleby, we all got a RB. Combining WR & TE, we'd mix Lofton, Jefferson, Coffman & Philip Epps. Chad would normally win because he'd select Coffman first.

By 1984, we'd occasionally attend my Uncle Tim's tailgate parties. My cousin, Danny, Chad, & I would whip a football around Lambeau's parking lot. The Packers were our religion. We lived for the Bears game & the "F@ck Chicago!" shirts that were sold. We were constantly belting out "the Bears Still Suck!"

In 1985, Chad & I sat through the Snow Bowl. I was 8 years old. Today, that game would be canceled.

Fast forward to 1996. By now, I quit my summer job so I could attend the Packers practice. I went to everyone practice that was open to the public. I went to 10 regular season games. I went to the two playoff games. I went to the Super Bowl with my Uncle Pat, Aunt Kathy & Aunt Mary. Sitting next to my Uncle Pat, he famously suggested, "now, we'll find out what Champions are made of." The next play Desmond Howard returned the KO 99 yards for a TD.

In 1997, the Super Bowl was played on my 21st Birthday. I was in SD for the game with my Mom & my Dad. After the loss, beer didn't taste good.

In 1998, my Grandpa bought me stock in the Green Bay Packers. My share allows me to lay claim to franchise ownership!

Speeding ahead to 2005, I was pissed the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers. I wanted Odell Thurman.

In 2007, after the NFC Championship, I remember sitting in the parking lot with my Mom, PatRad & Vargas. Total buzzkill. We were listening to the post-game show. When I heard Mike McCarthy speak, I was convinced that he'd bring the Packers the Super Bowl Championship. In my blog, I compared the '07 vibe to the devastation of '03. And on January 27, 2008, I wrote:

"The major difference between '03 and '07 is that I trust Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. While in Green Bay, prior to the game, I read a terrific quote from Ted Thompson:

'The difference between winning and losing in the NFL is so small. But the emotions that are attached to them - winning and losing - are so different. When you lose, it feels as though something inside of you has died. When you win, you've never felt more alive.'

Post the loss, during Mike McCarthy's interview, Larry McCarren asked McCarthy if he'd look at this season as a successful one after the dust has settled...

And McCarthy responded, 'I will look at this year as a season of exceptional progress, but we had our eyes on the target. And today, we missed a terrific opportunity to win the NFC Championship at Lambeau Field.'

In light of these two statements, I feel that our franchise is in good hands. I trust McCarthy and Thompson. I'm happy that both are going to be locked up for 5 more years."

Which brings me to 2010. Aaron Rodgers, I apologize. I was wrong. Today, you are a Super Bowl MVP. And I wear YOUR NAME on MY BACK every time that you step onto the football field. You've become an idol of mine, Aaron. I admire you. So do your competitors.

To Mike McCarthy & Ted Thompson, I'm glad that I have stood by your side. It should be noted that during this stretch, McCarthy beat Tom Coughlin, Lovie Smith (twice), Andy Reid, Mike Smith & Mike Tomlin. I wonder if anyone questions whether he can out-smart a good coach in a big game anymore?

The 2010 NFL Season goes down as the most emotional season that I've endured. Coming into the season, we had heightened expectations. Injuries seemed to have derailed those aspirations. Sparked by an elite defense & the Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings combination, once again the Packers had life. At times, they looked invincible. Then, came the "Disaster at Detroit." I declared it as "the day the music died." I felt the season was over.

And then, irony occurred.

While I have always stood in Thompson's corner, I wished he had made two decisions. I wanted Randy Moss in 2007. And I wanted DeSean Jackson in the 2008 NFL Draft. He passed on Jackson for Jordy Nelson. The irony: The Packers should fit Jackson for a Super Bowl ring. Without him, we would not have made the playoffs. His Miracle in the Meadowlands gave the Packers life & proved that God is a Packers fan. Then, in the Super Bowl, Nelson came up HUGE with 9 receptions and the game's 1st TD. Say what you will about the drops & yes, Nelson dropped 4 balls, but Jordy Nelson was a match-up nightmare for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 6 game playoff season for the Packers goes down as the most legendary performance in my lifetime. Undoubtedly. 6 games. All against quality opponents. In each game, we were clearly the better team. In fact, we were Super!

The playoff game in Atlanta with my brother, Bob, is the most celebratory I've ever been during a Packers game. My throat hurt for 2 weeks. Seriously. Zero exaggeration. My wife even suggested that I see a Doctor.

My trip to Dallas began with a special surprise. I was late to board a plane. Scrambling to find a seat, I grabbed a middle seat. I asked this young lady if the middle seat was open. She responded, "you're just lucky you're a Packers fan. Otherwise, I'd have kicked you to the back."

Her name was Catherine Lundy. She was an ultimate Packer fan. She knew the history. And all the details. The Packers were as much her life as they were mine. Instantly, we were best friends. Sharing stories, the flight flew by. She told me that she wrote her thesis analyzing the media's response to Brett Favre's back-to-back retirements. Further, she coined the term "TRAMONDOUS!" From here on out, I'll use it as my own.

Walking thru the NFL Experience on Saturday, we saw Kevin Greene. Yes, the same Kevin Greene that struck fear in offenses while he wore the Black & Yellow of Pittsburgh in the '90's. Well, on this day, he was decked out with a Packers shirt, a Packers coat, and a Packers visor. I couldn't help myself. I patted him on the back as he walked by. His loyalties were with us. No doubt about it. It was clear for all to see.

After a 2-hour wait to get into the Stadium, we were in our seats. 21 rows from the field. Beauty!

Small Observations from the game:

The Packers showed up with a playful business approach. The Steelers looked lackadaisical. I commented to my Dad that the two teams warmed up similarly to the way the Packers & Broncos warmed up in '97. The Steelers looked like the '97 Packers, while the Packers looked like the '97 Broncos. Small reminder, the final of the '97 contest: 31-24. Super Bowl XLV final score: 31-25.

This was the 5th time I've been around a Super Bowl. This was the 3rd I've attended & the '06 & '09 Super Bowls were in my backyard. For each, I attended pre-game festivities and for all but the '96 Bowl, I went to the NFL Experience. I caught the vibe. This game was unique. Both teams fans were full of class. It was total respect. I give the Steelers fans mighty props. They were louder than Packers fans. They had more fans in attendance than us. In the 3rd Quarter, they helped change the tide of the game.

It was the first time I'd ever studied James Starks' pre-game movements. He's excitable. A leader. He & Edgar Bennett had great camaraderie. A treat to witness.

It was evident early in the game that McCarthy & Rodgers liked the Jordy Nelson vs. Bryant McFadden match-up.

The 3rd & 10 Rodgers to Jennings strike on the final possession was simply sublime. A play for the ages. Vintage, Aaron Rodgers. One of those moments where prior to the play, you say to yourself, "I like the Steelers defense. But, I love my QB!"

The best pre-game shirt that I saw read: Hey Ben! Everyone loves a BJ! Beneath that slogan was a picture of Raji. Yes, that was true brilliance.

Tom Crabtree with the diving catch!

I give "Z" huge props for his performance. Big spin move sack to knock the Steelers out of reasonable FG range. And the miss that ensued on the following play was one of the biggest plays of the game.

The Claymaker causes the fumble! And Des Bishop scoops it up.

Quite fitting that T-Mon made the final play of the post-season. He was the most dominant Defensive Player of the Postseason & the runner-up MVP of the Playoffs. TRAMONDOUS!

I give Sammy Swagga massive props for fighting thru pain & giving it all he had.

Howard Green with the pressure leading to Nintendo Nick grabbing the pick-6! Thanks to Nintendo Nick for accurately proving the laws of probability. With the interception for a TD, Nick Collins joins Willie Wood & Herb Adderley as the players with big-time interceptions in the Super Bowl for the Packers. Only Adderley & Collins have had Super Bowl interceptions that were returned to paydirt. It should be noted that both Adderley & Wood are Hall of Famers. I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'. Collins has been to 3 straight Pro Bowls. Again, I'm just sayin'. I love Collins' heart & determination. Battling dehydration. Selling his soul. He's a champion. A Super Bowl Champion.

Desmond Bishop is a beast. A leader on our defense. A staple in the heart of the 3-4 for years to come.

While Charlie Peprah didn't make the tackle as often as I'd have liked, it was good to see him in position.

AJ Hawk viciously finishing plays.

Thought Clifton & Bulaga did a solid job on Harrison & Woodley.

My apologies to J-Bush. You came thru. After rightfully cursing you in '07, now, I'll remember you for stepping in front of Big Ben's pass, which led to 7 points for the Packers.

Jennings grabs the TD! Absorbs the Polamalu hit! Gives the ring motion & in essence, he "cut Troy Polamalu's hair off!"

Aaron Rodgers = MVP. Get used to it.

Sir Charles has a full trophy mantle! In some way, I hope the City of Green Bay permanently acknowledges him as a Knight. Forever, his presence shall remain.

Double-D has his ring!

Dom Capers > Dick LeBeau. No disrespect. It's truth.

The relationship between Aaron Rodgers & Mike McCarthy is unmatched in the NFL today. True admiration.

Watching Kevin Greene on the sidelines is an absolute treat. Capers provides the brains from the booth. Greene provides the energy from the sidelines. Great design. A winning combination.

It'd be great if we could keep our coaching staff together through at least the 2011 NFL Season.

When Clay popped the Championship belt over Aaron Rodgers, while Rodgers was holding the Lombardi Trophy, it was the greatest sports moment my eyes have witnessed.

For this trip to Dallas, I was with my Dad, my Mom, & my brother, Chad. Just as it all began for me. My brother, Bob, and my wife, A*, were severely missed. So was my nephew, Chai. In the 2011 Super Bowl, in Indy, I hope we'll all be together. With the Packers as our religion. And the Super Bowl as our tradition.

As I walked out of my final bar of the trip to Dallas, it was semi-quiet. Near 1:00 am. In full throat, I belted out "Hey Packers fans!" I had EVERYONE in the bars attention. To paraphrase, I followed with, "If you're a part of the G-Force, raise your index finger! We've earned this. And the Lombardi Trophy is coming home. Go Pack Go!"

2010 is the year of revenge. Buh-bye to Favre with a sweep. Time to come home, Brett! The Giants grabbed '07, but we got '10 from them. The Bears took the Division title, but we repaid with the NFC Championship in their house! Vick got us in '02. So did the Falcons. Hasta la vista to both. The Eagles in '03. We took care of them as well. The Steelers have tried to steal our City's nickname, Titletown. They've also tried to claim that the real home of the Lombardi Trophy is in Pittsburgh. Well, not so fast. They have the Terrible Towel. We have the Title Towel. And, for today, we'll hoist the Title!

Today marked the Return to Titletown. Also on today's agenda - for Ted Thompson - was his 1st tune up for the NFL Draft. Yes, his 1st NFL Draft meeting was today. Just as he did after the NFC Championship game, he took one day off. After the NFC Championship game, he headed to the Senior Bowl. So much for savoring the title. He wants another. So, soon, I'll analyze what I'd like for the off-season. But, for now, you'll have to pardon me, I'm off to smoke my victory Cuban Cohiba. I've been saving it for nearly a month. The Lombardi Trophy is coming home! And, in the words of Lil Wayne, we'll remember the 2010 Season as "Pop Tarts!"

But, before I go I want to remind everyone of one thing: Nutler gets mysterious injury to knee. Followed by Halas Trophy at Soldier Field. Visitors Locker Room. "White House on Three!" Bears fans burning Nutler jerseys in the parking lot. Equals TRUMP CARD FOREVER!!! The Bears still suck! "Pop Tarts!"

In Thompson, McCarthy, Capers & Rodgers We Trust. The Green Bay Packers are Super Bowl XLV Champions! We rule the football world. Raise your index finger! "Pop Tarts!"

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.