6-0. Defending Super Bowl Champions. Relishing the notion of living as the elite. The Lions of the Football Kingdom. And the most encourage aspect is that Mike McCarthy's teams improve. They play their best football in December. It was true in '06. They played terrific in '07. They play very well in '09. In '10, they won two must-win games to propel them into the playoffs. Mike McCarthy teams improve. And there is no reason to think that they won't improve in 2011 as well. After all, there has been obvious areas to improve. But, I'm not going to focus on those aspects. I'm going to leave them to the National Media who seem to be more focused on the imperfections of this 6-0 team.
Sure the pass rush has us all yearning for Cullen Jenkins to return. But, I'm confident that if the "Z-Man" & Neal get healthy and when So'oto makes his presence felt...well, I'm confident that the pass rush will improve. So, will the motor of the defense. And, yes, I know Zombo was back last week, but he did leave the game with an injury and he's out against Minnesota. I also think that T-Mon's injury has hurt the pass rush. Sammy Swagga's early season coverage hurt the pass rush. Sir Charles' nagging injuries have hurt his blitzing abilities. So have the Claymaker's nagging injuries. But, the bye week is coming. It's a time to get healthy. A time to study. A time to refresh. A time to retool. And while the Packers have other deficiencies, I'm not going to focus on them. I'm going to treasure this 6-0 start. I'm going to cherish the highlights of the way the defending champions are playing.
Some takeaways from the Packers thrashing of the Rams:
* Had to love McCarthy going for a 2nd Quarter dagger. Leading 10-0. Ball at his own 7. I turned to my wife and said, "*, we're 93 yards from a 3-score lead. And there's no way the Rams come back from that deficit." The next play, McCarthy picks on Ras Al. Beautiful pump fake by Rodgers. Jordy is open. You know the rest. Props to McCarthy. Great play design. Great call. Ball game.
* It drives me crazy to hear that the Packers lost aggression or got lackadaisical during the 2nd half of the game. Sure, I would have liked Jordy to hold onto the 3rd down ball. It was unacceptable. It was also ridiculous that Jennings lost focus and dropped what was a potential TD and it turned into an interception. But, let's face it. It's a long season. The NFL Season is long. And there are times in which you can't show your hand. Clearly, McCarthy wanted to end the game as soon as possible. Rightfully, he took his foot off the gas pedal. And the team followed the leader. They were in cruise control. And the Packers left with a healthy 21-point victory.
* Cheers to CM3! The Claymaker played his best game of the year. Great motor. Great effort. Great to see him taking Bradford to the turf and giving us his signature pose.
* Sir Charles with a sack! I believe he's 1/2 sack from being the FIRST PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF THE NFL to record 50 interceptions and 15 sacks. I haven't seen this published anywhere, but I gave a quick check at those with 50 career interceptions and I didn't see anyone that has such accolades. "HOF, dude." Had to love Sir Charles talking to Jim Rome and saying that he'd probably hang it up rather than playing for another team. Totally epic!
* After 6 weeks, Aaron Rodgers is the MVP of the NFL. And it's not even close.
* I'm stoked to see Vic So'oto this week!
* Morgan Burnett lowering the boom with one hand!
* Loved DJ Williams' effort on the Jordy 93-yard TD. Though Williams did not make a crucial block, he certainly put himself in position in case it was required. Good work, young man.
* Two years in a row the Packers have busted out the 1929 jerseys - which I like by the way - and two years in a row we've convincingly beat an NFC West opponent.
* Desmond Bishop playing with a righteous viciousness. Playing hard. Seeking contact.
* AJ Hawk flipping the "Hawk" to the sidelines. Comedy. Gotta admit - I missed it during the initial action. And while it was not a classy gesture - I can't say I have a problem with it. And I don't see it as a big deal.
* Sammy Swagga playing as he did during the stretch run last year! He is a key to a repeat. And I really like the way he's turning to see the football as of late.
* Saw what you want, T-Mon is not healthy. Still shying away from contact. The bye week will do him good.
* Josh Sitton has been the biggest disappointment of the year.
* Marshall Newhouse continues to make Bruce Wilkerson like strides.
* While Lang has not been as powerful as he was early in the year, he's still an upgrade to Colledge.
* Really liked the play of Howard Green. Going to need him to be plugging holes this week as well.
* Charlie Peprah is finding his groove and playing as well as he can play right now.
This week - the Packers travel to the Dome. You know - the one that's named after a shopping mall. And, there will probably be as many Packer fans as there will be Viqueens fans. And Mike McCarthy wants this one. After dealing with the Brett Favre in Purple drama for 2 years, Mike McCarthy is ready to take his team to 7-0 as he heads into the bye! Clearly, McCarthy hates the 'queens. More than any other team, McCarthy wants to beat the 'queens. And, he will.
Don't get me wrong. The 'queens have the tools to play with the Packers. Offensively, they have a ball control offense. Similar to the City Chickens from Atlanta. They can pound the ball at the heart of your defense. A.P. is legit. Shiancoe can give the Packers match-up problems. Percy Harvin is a nightmare. And - if the 'queens can stay patient - they should be able to move the sticks and eat clock...keeping NFL's MVP off the field. Even with a rookie QB, if Ponder stays calm and doesn't panic in the pocket, he should be able to dump off the ball for 1st downs. Further, Ponder is elusive in the pocket. He can avoid the rush. He can make plays in the pocket. Additionally, on the defensive side of the ball, the 'queens have a DL that is capable of giving the Packers headaches. It's also noteworthy that the 'queens have blown big leads three times this year. They could easily be 4-2 right now. But, they aren't. And they won't have 2 wins after this week.
The 'queens have significant offensive limitations. They never replaced Sidney Rice and thus, they have no deep threat. 8 in the box. Peprah takes A.P. head on. Holds him up. Help comes. And if A.P. gets through to the second level, which we know he will at some point, hopefully, "The Predator", Morgan Burnett takes the right angle to prevent the Home Run.
Expect Capers to unleash a couple of different looks. Obviously, with Ponder making his first start, he'll be easily confused. Throw the kitchen sink at him. 7-0 would be tasty. We'd also move to 6-0 in the Conference. 2-0 in the Division. Christian Ponder, meet the zone blitz. And, I'm certain you'll meet Desmond Bishop on that blitz.
The 'queens have some significant injuries on the OL. While it looks like Phil Loadholt will be able to play, he is not 100%. Additionally, John Sullivan, the starting C, looks to be out. Just the remedy a struggling pass rush needs. Further, Charlie Johnson is a liability at LT. It's a chance for So'oto to apply a rush!
On the defensive side of the ball, if we protect the MVP, the 'queens can't guard us. Winfield is banged up, but it looks like he'll play. We saw last year that Asher Allen and Chris Cook couldn't guard any of our WR's. Cedric Griffin is a nice player, but he's still not the same post his ACL injury. The 'queens are a disaster at Safety and it sounds like Jamarca Sanford might also miss this week's game. Trouble in the Minnesota secondary.
Spread 'em out. Protecting the XLV MVP. Light 'em up!
Packers 34 Queens 16
7-0 heading into the bye.
Go Pack Go!