Saturday, December 29, 2012

College Football: Who Are You Watching Now?

Greetings, G-Force.

The NFL Draft is one of my strongest, innermost passions. I love to talk it. I enjoy the fantasy thought of it. So, here's a brief outline of who I'm going to be watching on Saturday - in anticipation of the upcoming NFL Draft. I expect to be actively watching 4 of the 5 games. If I'm not, I'll have it on DVR and I'll be sure to check it out prior to April's NFL Draft. As a side note, I won't be listing any of the OL.

Rice v Air Force

For Rice, I'll give a quick peak at three players: Jared Williams, DE/OLB; Luke Wilson, TE; Vance McDonald, TE; Sam McGuffie, WR. McGuffie is an interesting prospect. You may remember him from his Freshman year at Michigan. He played RB for Michigan and transferred to Rice. He also runs track for Rice. He recently switched from RB to WR and he also returns kicks.

For Air Force, Alex Means, LB, interests me.

West Virginia v Syracuse

West Virginia's WR's are of high interest for me. Tavon Austin is in the mold of Randall Cobb/Percy Harvin. He's smaller than both, but he's equally as lethal in the open field. He's littered with elusiveness. Great vision. Will be a dynamic KR/PR, slot WR option. Stedman Bailey is a sure handed WR who is great at winning jump balls and making plays in traffic. Geno Smith will be one of the top QB's drafted, but he won't be around when the Packers draft.

Syracuse's QB, Ryan Nassib, is a top notch QB who might pique the Packers interest in the mid-rounds. He can make all of the throws. Gamer. Can get out of the pocket and wing it. Shamarko Thomas, S, is a heavy hitter, but a lacks ideal height. WR's Alec Lemon & Marcus Sales are worth noting. I'll also be curious to see if Brandon Sharpe, DE/OLB, has the ability to disrupt the Dub-V passing attack.

Navy v Arizona State

Frankly, this will probably be one of the few Bowl games that I won't tune into for very long.

Texas v Oregon State

Texas has two highly touted players on defense in Alex Okafor DE/OLB and Kenny Vaccaro, S. Both are likely to be drafted in the first 2-3 rounds.

Oregon State has a great CB in Jordan Poyer. They have a number of Sr's on defense including Castro Masaniani who is a stout DL against the run. He's also had 2 sacks on the year. Andrew Seumalo has been a consistent DL as well for the Beavers. Anthony Watkins, S, might be a prospect in someone's camp as well. Markus Wheaton, WR, has been a great target and has exceeded 1200 yards. TE, Colby Prince has NFL size. It should be noted that Oregon State's best player, Scott Crichton, OLB/DE, is only a Sophomore.

TCU v Michigan State

I'm uber excited for this game. It'll be one of the more interesting Bowl games. It's not going to be filled with an abundance of offensive prowess, but the teams match up well. And I've seen each team play on a couple of occasions this year, so I have good familiarity.

TCU has a young team. Matthew Tucker, RB, is probably the best NFL Draft prospect at the skill positions for them.

Michigan State will potentially have a number of prospects in the first couple of rounds of the Draft - depending on who all declares. Le'Veon Bell, RB; Dion Sims, TE; William Gholston, OLB/DE, and Max Bullough, ILB, would all be drafted in the top 3 rounds. Bullough is one of my favorite players in all of college football. Tough nosed defender. A leader. A 3-down player. Plays the run, drops in coverage and is a stellar blitzing LB. I'd love him in Green Bay. I was excited to see Anthony Rashad White, DL, play this year. White and Jerel Worthy formed a great tandem last year. But, this year, White has seemed winded. He's been less dominant than I expected. He's lacked the energy that I saw last year. Still, I like his game. Excited to see him vs TCU. CB Johnny Adams is a physical defender, despite his size.

Enjoy Bowl Week. It's College Football Heaven.

Go Pack Go!


Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 28, 2012

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

In the holiday spirit, the Packers dropped double-nickle on dem Titans! Mek We Dweet! Gon' straight up Pop Tarts on the Tennessee franchise. Beauty! Yes, 55 points! 55!

Here's some vibes from the game:

* Dom Capers mixing it up was a thing of beauty. The disguise was elite. Let's make that defense the defense that defines the Green Bay Packers. Stay away from the vanilla. Let's pursue the QB!

* Interesting to see Clay Matthews shadowing Jake Locker. Not the first time that we've seen Clay shadowing a QB, but it provided a glimpse of what we'd see if the Packers played the 49ers in a playoff game.

* The Claymaker was an absolute beast last Sunday. In all facets of the game. His intensity is unmatched.

* For only the 2nd time in his career, AJ Hawk had two sacks in a game. Might have been Hawk's best game as a Packer.

* Sammy Swagga is just as he did at the end of the XLV Season.

* Mike Neal. Yes, Mike Neal. He's been a difference maker and has been a key point in allowing Capers to mix things up.

* T-Mon continuing to play at a TRAMONDOUS level.

* Brad Jones has been steady. And improving weekly.

* Mike Daniels showing good ability against the run.

* BJ Raji was an complete stud against the Titans. Bullying folk. Against the run and the pass. He even batted down a pass! Get your hands up, BJ!

* Saw a lot of true 3-4 defense. With Pickett, Raji, Neal, CM3, Moses, Jones and Hawk. Liked what I saw. Might we see the same thing this week?

* Keep plugging holes, Ryan Pickett.

* The Walden/Moses rotation seemed to produce more consistent effort and fresher legs.

* I like the Moses, Neal, CM3, Daniels/Raji pass rush combination. A LOT!

* Casey Hayward showing slot blitzing skills. Kid is a playmaker.

* Sammy Swagga and Morgan Burnett - do a lil' dance, baby. Enjoy yourselves!

* The secondary is playing well right now. Having a pass rush helps. There's a lot of big play potential. Two interceptions last week and extremely close to an abundance of other turnovers. Big plays are coming from the defensive side of the ball.

* Aaron Rodgers won't win the MVP award this year, but when he's playing his best football, he's the best player in the NFL.

* Greg Jennings and Aaron Rodgers were inches away from 3 BIG plays. If they find there rhythm, this team could find that Super feeling.

* James Jones has really developed a nose for the end zone.

* Really wanted Double-D to haul in that last pass. Wanted him to get the standing ovation. So did McCarthy. Would have sealed the 55-0 shutout and Driver - who was playing his last regular season game at Lambeau Field - would have reveled in the applause.

* Hard to watch Cobb get injured. That said - he has to be our kick/punt returner. For this year any way. He's a weapon and a threat every time he touches the ball. When he went down, I immediately thought that I had to alter my mock draft for next year. It's my belief that the Packers will draft someone in the Cobb/Harvin mold who can return kicks and continue to add to that phase of the team. Tavon Austin in Green Bay next year?

* Great return, Jeremy Ross. Even with my previous comment regarding a draft pick, Ross will get a shot to be the return man next year.

* Ryan Grant in the end zone. Beauty! Grant ran hard. Looked like his '07 self.

* DuJuan Harris is fun. Great patience. Yet hits the hole with conviction. Plows forward. Great bounce to his step.

* Imagine this offense if Jordy Nelson and Rodgers can find their rhythm? A plethora of options.

* J-Mike is playing solid football right now. He's become the go-to guy for Rodgers in the 2-minute drill. Like what I'm seeing out of him.

* 8 players had receptions.

* Keep doing your thing, Don Barclay. On Harris' TD run, it was great stuff to watch Barclay clear out the lane. Sitton blowing his man up and getting to the second level. EDS showing the athleticism to slide and help. Harris showed the patience required for the hole to open up. Perfection.

* The Green Bay Packers have a running game. One that is good enough to feel Super about.

* Really like Robert Francois on special teams.

* Contrary to last year, the Green Bay Packers seem to be playing their best football at the right team of the year. Oh, and we're getting healthy.

This week - it's the Viqueens. In the dome. Prior to the 49ers loss to the Seahawks, a piece of me thought that I'd find schadenfreude in the thought of the Packers losing, which would prevent the Bears from making the playoffs. But, with the 49ers loss, the Packers are staring the #2 seed and a 1st round bye in the face. And, with parity in the NFC at an all-time high, a 1st round bye is extremely advantageous. Additionally, it'd give another week for Cobb and Woodson to heal and another week for Nelson and Jennings to seek cohesion with Rodgers.

AP should be this years NFL MVP. Without him, the 'queens would have little-to-no offense. Sure, Kyle Rudolph is a solid player. But, Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson aren't scaring anyone. Neither is Christian Ponder. With AP, the whole dynamics of the offense are changed. On any given play, there is a touchdown waiting to happen. He is THAT good.

The 'queens defense is rock solid. Jared Allen always gives the Packers issues. Kevin Williams is legit. Brian Robison is a fighter. But, the guy who is really coming on as of late is Everson Griffen. Griffen was USC's replacement for the Claymaker. He had a quiet start to his career, but he's been playing at an elite level over the last couple of weeks. The Packers are going to have to establish a running game in order to slow down the 'queens pass rush. And, when the Packers do throw, it'll be up to Rodgers to get rid of the ball quickly. If not, this could be a long day for the Packers offense.

Minnesota is quietly building some other really nice pieces to their defense. Harrison Smith looks like a future All-Pro at Safety. He's a sure tackler who is smart, aware and plays the ball well in the air. Chad Greenway is consistent. Antoine Winfield still has gas in the tank. Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson are serviceable.

Add it all up and add in the fact that the 'queens have a playoff berth on the line and Minnesota is a dangerous opponent. Plus, it's in the dome.

Since divisional play began in 1967, there's never been an NFL team to have back-to-back undefeated seasons within their division. With a win, the Packers would be the first to accomplish this feat. McCarthy has always been adamant about taking care of divisional opponents. It'd be a monumental feat if the Packers could beat the Viqueens on Sunday.

In order for Minnesota to win, they'll have to play mistake free football. AP will need to break the NFL's rushing record. Christian Ponder will have to consistently convert 3rd downs. Kyle Rudolph will have to be a consistent threat on the play-action roll-out passes. And, defensively, the 'queens will have to be able to apply significant pressure with just 4 rushers. It's possible. But, I don't see it happening.

This Packers team is headed in the right direction. Their best football is in front of them. While the Viqueens have been a cute story this year, I can't envision Minnesota stopping this Packers offense for 60 minutes. And, when push-comes-to-shove, I don't foresee Christian Ponder stepping up in the pocket, avoiding the rush and making the big 3rd-down throw. If Ponder doesn't turn the ball over on Sunday, Minnesota has a chance to milk the clock and keep it close down the stretch. But again, I don't see that happening. Expect the Packers defense to force a couple of turnovers.

Harris, Grant, and Rodgers combine for more than 100 yards. Rodgers throws 3 more TD's. We haven't seen many long TD's from our passing game this year, but Jennings gets deep for a big one. Minnesota hangs tough for 45 minutes, but the Packers pull away late.

Green Bay 27. Minnesota 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

I offer you my best Bill Murray voice with this one: We came. We saw. We kicked it's ass!

A tie game. Hotly contested. Bears with the ball. A minute before halftime. The NFC North Title lingering in the balance. Ray Nutler under center. And, in vintage Nutler fashion, he hits Casey Hayward right between the numbers! Yes, trump card was on display again. On the road. Soldier Field, once again, hoisted the trophy. In the Visitors Locker Room. And, again, Bears fans were in a rage over Ray Nutler. My good buddy, Grammy, texted me in the 3rd Quarter: "Stopped watching game. May not watch another game until they get rid of Cutler. I'm done supporting that fuck. I'm playing Madden instead. Just traded Cutler for a 3rd round pick." Meanwhile, my good buddy, Tommy Datullo, was texting me prior to the Bears final possession,  "Don't worry. This fking loser will throw a pick."

Trump card refreshed. The Green Bay Packers own Soldier Field. And, damn it feels good to be a Packers fan! The NFC North title is ours. And, it tastes sweet. Yes, oh, so sweet.

The Packers have overcame an abundance of hurdles so far in 2012. We had a victory stolen from us by the refs. We have battled immense injuries. We have persevered. We are Division Champs.

No, I'm not on a high horse. We aren't playing at an elite level, but we're getting closer. 

* Didn't like the way McCarthy called the game. Got away from the run in the 1st half. Really disappointed that it took a vintage Nutler play to generate points in the 2-minute offense. When the Packers got the ball with 2:11 to play in the first half, I expected points. Instead, we got a 3-and-out. 

* Ray Nutler hit Casey Hayward right in the chest. Then, he pouted on the sidelines. Like the cry baby that he is. Yoda would calmly say to Ray: Ray Nutler, Cry Baby, you are.

* Getting points before the half was crucial as it positioned the Packers to take a 2-score lead when they got the ball to start the 2nd Half. Thank you, Ray Nutler!

* Huge play of the game: Down 7-0. Bears with all of the momentum. 3rd & 6 from the Green Bay 34. Rodgers to Cobb for 31 yards. Brilliance!

* Rodgers won't be the MVP. McCarthy won't win Coach of the Year. But, the Packers have dealt with as much adversity and injuries as anyone and we are 10-4. Division Champs, baby! And, this is mostly due to Rodgers & McCarthy.

* I love holding Trump Card!

* Welcome back, Claymaker! 5 tackles. 1 assist. 2 sacks. 1 pass defensed. All-around football player. He did a remarkable job against the run.

* Randall Cobb had 6 catches. 3 of them were on 3rd down. 1 was on 4th down. All were first downs. Budding superstar! 

* Speaking of Cobb, he's likely to be the 1st player in the history of the NFL to have 1,000 kickoff return yards & 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

* Aaron Rodgers makes plays that Ray Nutler dreams of.

* Well played, Don Barclay! Be a savior, young man!

* BJ Raji. Looking like he's arrived.

* Tough to tell if it was the Bears OL or not, but the 4-man rush of Moses, Matthews, Neal and the Daniels/Raji rotation applied some significant pressure. Dare I say, Championship type pressure.

* Odd to say maybe, but Mike Neal is a key to the long term success of the Packers. Playing thru pain, Neal was relentless in his pursuit of Ray Nutler. 

* Jerel Worthy has 2.5 sacks on the year. 1.5 of them have come against Nutler. I'll take it.

* If our defensive front can apply that type of pressure for the rest of the year, we will be tough to beat. Our secondary will make big plays and make the most of opportunities.

* T-Mon is playing his best football since the XLV title game.

* Sammy Swagga playing at Pro Bowl levels over the last 2 weeks.

* Mike Daniels brings energy. 

* Ray Nutler for President!

* J-Mike = Ballin'!

* Rest up, Jordy! We're going to need you. 

* Be Great, Greg Jennings. Get your form back.

* James Jones with the HAT TRICK!

* Good game, Ryan Pickett. You, too, Brad Jones. The goal line stand was enormous.

* Mason Crosby, that was pathetic. Almost as bad as the fake punt. What were you thinking, Mike McCarthy? The game was over!

* Up 14. Division on the line. With the ball. 5:14 to play in the 3rd. A 3-score game Would have been a dagger. A classic "Championship Drive" was waiting in the wings. Rodgers to Cobb for 27 yards on 3rd & 10. Ryan Grant bursts thru the hole for 14 yards. And, then, inexplicably, he fumbles! Unbelievable.

* Sometimes the defense needs to provide the dagger. And, in Soldier Field, that man was Sammy Swagga.

* In 2 games against the Packers, Brandon Marshall totaled 7 catches, 80 yards, 1 TD, 1 tear infested press conference. Well done, Dom Capers.

*  Liked the force that DaJuan Harris & Alex Green ran with. Both were fighting for yards.

* This team is starting to show signs that we are ready to make a Super Bowl run. There are glimpses that show we are ready. Then, we follow it up with a fumble, an awful pass interference and an idiotic fake on a punt with the game in hand. We've put one complete game together all year and that was against the Texans. I don't have conviction that we have an XLVII run in us, but I see positive things happening, which offers hope that our best football is still in front of us.

After the game, Ray Nutler proclaimed, "It's not a rivalry anymore. It's a domination." Yes, the Bears still suck!

This week, it's the Titans. At Lambeau Field. I've always felt that one of the more glorious moments in sports is when my Dad pipes in John Lennon's "Happy Christmas" and he belts out "And, so this is Christmas..." Snow in the air. Lambeau smiles all around. Victory in the air. That's sport. That's football. That's picturesque beauty! Bring it G-Force!

The Titans are better than their record suggests. They have a fast, hard hitting defense. For those that have followed the blog, you know that I enjoy Colin McCarthy & Akeem Ayers. I thought both would look good in Green & Gold. They'll be tough to run on. Derrick Morgan provides another stiff test for Don Barclay. Though the Titans depth is limited in the secondary, they do have a solid core with Jordan Babineaux, Altereaun Verner, Jason McCourty & Michael Griffin. Prior to getting drafted, I really enjoyed Verner's game at UCLA. 

The Titans offense is not lethal, but they're fairly healthy. Jake Locker can frustrate you with his toughness and mobility. He's fearless. And, he has a knack for Knowing where the chains are. Chris Johnson is a big play waiting to happen. So are Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Kendall Wright. The Titans are not a push over.

Look for the Packers to pack the box. Give help covering Britt over the top. Expect Raji to have a good game. Neal as well. The Titans will be pesky. They'll annoy you. Frustrate you. Keep it close. Make you believe they can win. Plus, nothing comes easy for this Packers team. Let's make Lambeau a tough place to play. With a slippery track, we can make it a tough world for Chris Johnson. Jake Locker will be in an environment that he's unaccustomed to. 

It'll be tight for a half, but Tennessee cannot run with us for 60 minutes. Harris pounds forward. Keeps the clock running. The yardage marker as well. I enjoy this run game. The Faithful elevate in rowdy fashion.

Green Bay 28. Tennessee 16. 

The college football regular season has ended. With that, here's a mock draft for you to follow during Bowl Season. I'm not advanced with respect to OL knowledge, so once again, I will refrain from drafting OL.  I'm working off of the assumption that thePackers have the 32nd pick of the draft. Additionally, I'm giving the Packers a conditional pick in both the 5th & 6th rounds. Finally, as always, I only comment if I've watched him play previously.

Round 1: I would love to get Sheldon Richardson, DL, Mizzou. The DL needs help as well and I love Richardson's versatility. He can drop in zone coverage. He can move to an end in the 3-4. He can hold the point with only 2-down linemen. He's aggressive in pursuit. He dominates SEC games. I want him. Even if he has attitude concerns. With that said, it is unlikely that Richardson lasts until #32, so my pick is Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford. Ertz has Ted Thompson written all over him. A gifted TE that Thompson would call a "football player." You can spread him wide. He is fearless when the ball is in the air. A match-up nightmare. Plus, Thompson loves his TE's.
Round 2: Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford. Wish I wasn't picking two players from the same school, but I'm enamored with the maturity level of a number of players on this Stanford team. Thomas is an ideal 3-4 OLB. He can drop in coverage. He's a high effort guy. He attacks Tackles with a vicious approach. An all-around football player. Other: Philip Thomas, S, Fresno State. Ballhawk. Finds the ball in the air. Only saw him play once. Against a pathetic Colorado team. Thomas finds the ball. He reads plays well and takes good angles when the ball is in flight.
Round 3: Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State. If Bullough declares, I want him. He'd bring attitude and intensity to our defense. A 3-down ILB. He stops the run. He can blitz. He can cover. He gets sideline-to-sideline. He's a leader.
Round 4: Stedman Bailey, WR, Dub-V. I love me some Mountaineer football. Bailey is a great at winning jump balls. He's a gamer. Catches the ball in traffic. He's sure handed. He has a pension for making big plays.
Round 5: Chris Jones, DL, Bowling Green. A bit undersized, but he's a fearless pass rusher. Provides a strong push with maximum effort
Round 5: Josh Evans, S, Florida. While Matt Elam gets most of the praise, Evans steadily goes about his business. He will knock you backwards, he has a knack for making a play on the ball. He takes good angles when going in to make a tackle. He has a shot to be a legit NFL player.
Round 6: Abry Jones, DL, Georgia. Battled injuries. When healthy, he plugs holes and balls with the best of the SEC. Good rotational player with a football mind. Gets a solid push. True play disruptor. Anthony Rashad White, DL, Michigan State. He's been inconsistent. Hasn't had the year that I thought he would, but he has the potential, if motivated, o be a solid rotational DL. 
Round 6: Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas. A classic pick. Super talented. Cannot stay healthy. When he is on the field, he is a baller. Definitely one to watch. Other: Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State. 1st round talent. Poor attitude. Not a team player. Likely to be a Cowboy. All of the talent in the world. Struggles to be focused. Enjoy his talents. Not sure of the mental make-up.
Round 7: Ryan Radcliff, QB, Central Michigan. His arm passes the eye test, but I believe in BJ Coleman. Call me foolish, but Coleman will be our back-up QB next year. Nonetheless, it is tough for me to imagine Graham Harrell being back with the Packers. Need to invest in another QB. Radcliff wen to Iowa and came away victorious. He was cool, calm and confident. Caught my eye.I like Harry Peoples, WR, UL-Lafayette. He's in the Randall Cobb mold. Just get him the ball and let him work.
More to come after the Bowl season.

Go Packk Go! 

Merry Christmas to all!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

Oh, what a win! Dramatic fashion! On a picturesque evening at Lambeau Field, it started off in awful fashion. But, once again, this Packers team showed its resiliency, mental mettle and will to win as they outfought the Lions over the course of 60 minutes. Nothing comes easy for this Packers team, but due to sheer determination and a fortuitous fumble return, the Packers can clinch the NFC North Championship at Soldier Field.  But, before we dive into the Bears game, here's some vibes from the victory over the Lions:

* DaJuan Harris! Yes, that's right, I just kicked it off with DaJuan Harris! Amazing! After the game, Aaron Rodgers said "he has the chance to be special." That is enough to get me excited. Harris displayed great vision, quickness, and power. He seemed to have a turbo button inside of him and appeared to add a speed dimension to our offense. After watching his YouTube video, it's clear that he can catch the ball as well. I fancy he'll be more involved in the action this week. It wouldn't surprise me to see him utilized via the screen.

* Don Barclay! If he keeps this up, all Packers fans will be yelling: LET'S GOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS! LET'S GOOOOO DRINK SOME BEERS! The Dub-V grad has made an enormous impact on our running game and he's a battler in the passing game as well. He will be tested in grand fashion this weekend as I expect to see Peppers lined up across from him on Sunday. Sure, the Bears will use a rotation, but they'll expect Pappers to be dominant when he matches up with Barclay.

* Hopefully, after this year, Harris & Barclay will add to the legend that is Ted Thompson.

* Aaron Rodgers, the reigning MVP of the National Football League, delivers a belt and a Lambeau Leap post an epic 3rd down TD run.

* Thought Alex Green showed some power with the football.

* The game winning TD was a 7-play drive. All 7 plays were run plays. That's two games in a row in which the run game has produced crucial drives in the 4th Quarter. 

* After the 7-play TD drive, the defense got the stop! It was time for an attempt at a "Championship Drive." Cobb had just ran elegantly down the sideline on the punt return for 13 yards. McCarthy came out in a wishbone formation with Greg Van Roten & John Kuhn as FB. It looked like a run play. McCarthy called play action and looked for the HR. In 2012, we haven't been able to hit the deep ball. Once again, we didn't, but the beauty is found in the fact that if we keep running the ball, defenses will have to trust the run and that play will be open. Further, we've shown the play action on film, so defenses may expect the bomb, which could open up the offense even further.

* On the big play of the "Championship Dive", Rodgers found Cobb for 38 big yards on 3rd down. Oddly, the Lions only rushed 3. The Lions pain was the Packers gain. Cobb is clearly the go-to guy for Rodgers.

* For those that are new to the blog, let me remind you of the CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE. Championship teams know how to deliver the dagger. The have an internal knockout punch. Such as having the ball early in the 4th Quarter with a 2-score lead and delivering the points required to make it a 3-score game and put it out of reach. Or when you have the lead and the ball with under 6 minutes in the 4th Quarter. A 2-score game clinches victory. Championship teams find those points. The last two weeks, the Packers sealed wins late like Championship teams do.

* Rumble On, Mike Daniels. He is our best DL right now. Not because he recovers a fumble that is blown out of a QB's hands by the ghosts of Lambeau and then returns that fumble for a momentum changing TD. Daniels gets a push nearly every time he's on the field. And, when you work hard, you create your own fortune. 

* I believe in Mike McCarthy. It's not always pretty, but he wins. Often. Not to put the cart before the horse, but if the Packers finish 12-4, it'd be an absolutely remarkable achievement by McCarthy. All along, we've known that this team would both evolve and improve as they season grew old. We are playing an abundance of youngsters. Well, who knew, but we are establishing an identity that's based around a commitment to running the ball and we've displayed a character centered around intestinal fortitude. We've been punched in the gut. We've responded with authority and a never say die attitude.

* EDS as a pulling guard! Showing some agility. Might see him as a FB some this week. I expect Lang to be back at LG, which would make EDS the extra blocker instead of Van Roten.

* BJ Raji providing a push. Keep working, big man.

* Brad Jones knows where he should be. He's a hard working player. A smart player. He's in the right place, he's just not good enough to finish every play. Still, I admire his effort, intelligence and desire. Reminds me of Ron Cox from the '96 Packers team.

* Liked seeing a feisty AJ Hawk in the 2nd half.

* T-Mon gon' nose-to-nose and toes-to-toes with Calvin Johnson and playing extraordinary!

* Welcome back, Sammy Swagga! Play On, Playa!

* I will always remember Frank Zombo for his HUGE sack in the 3rd Quarter of the XLV victory. Sadly, he looks awful right now.

* Walden & Moses look exhausted. We need the Claymaker back. Immediately.

* Casey Hayward is a stud! Love his work in the slot. Now, hang onto the ball, mate.

* How is that a 15-yard penalty on Morgan Burnett?

* Good game Josh Sitton & Marshall Newhouse.

* When I watch Nick Fairley, I hope Jerel Worthy's career follows in similar footsteps. Worthy looks like he can't play at this level, but Fairley looked like an average playe last year. Both were beasts in college. Fairley has returned to beast status. Hopefully, the same happens for Worthy next year.

* Has Jerron McMillan hit the rookie wall? Sure seems like it.

* Well done, Mason Crosby. Find your stride, bro.

* J-Mike looking sure handed and fighting for yards. I likey!

* Ryan Grant. Good to see you again.

This week, it's Bear week. Once again, the Packers travel South to attempt to win a title at Soldier Field. Please, let me remind you:

Halas Trophy. Soldier Field. Visitors Locker Room. Trump Card. Forever!

As we look to write another chapter in the rich history of the NFL's most storied rivalry, the Packers aim to clinch the 2012 NFC North title. If the Packers are serious about making an XLVII run, this is the type of game that is a must win. In sports, teams can hold mental advantages over another team. Think about the Cowboys relationship with the Packers in the mid 90's. The same applies for the Packers and Bears right now. At present, the Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers own the Ray Nutler-led Chicago Bears. 

Thus far, the 2012 Packers have done well when they've faced heavy adversity or difficult situations.They beat the Bears when they were in danger of going 0-2 to start the season. They beat the Saints when 1-3 was a possibility. Then, they manhandled the Texans as 2-4 was staring them dead in the face. They've found ways to win without a number of Superstars, such as Clay, Sir Charles, Greg Jennings, and Jordy Nelson. They've played all year without emotional leader, Desmond Bishop. The OL's depth has been decimated. Through it all, the Packers have found ways to win.

Contrary to the Packers, the Bears have struggled with adversity. They have not played well with injuries. They have not made the necessary in-game adjustments. They were once 7-1. Now, they're 8-5. Lovie Smith's job appears to be in jeopardy. This week, I worked in Chicago and three things were mentioned on multiple occasions:

1.) If you want Lovie Smith to be fired, you should root for the Green Bay Packers this week because if he wins the Division, he won't get fired.
2.) This defense looks old. Briggs, Peppers and Tillman look like they've aged over th last 4 weeks.
3.) Should the Bears move on without Ray Nutler? His contract is up after next year and he wants to be paid as though he's a top 5 QB. It was even hypothesized that the Bears could trade their first round pick and Nutler for a top 5-10 pick in the draft.

All real. I swear. Yes, that's how the Chicago media is painting the picture prior to the game with the NFC North title on the line. During the 5:00 rush hour traffic and over the lunch hour. Unbelievable. Seriously.

We can't let them out of this funk. Let's knock them further into their misery. With conviction. On the road. At Soldier Field. In the visitors locker room. Once again. 

Since 1994, the Packers record is 15-4 in the state of IL. At Soldier Field, the record is 14-4 as the two teams played in Champaigne in 2002. While this is a road game, it's been friendly confines for the Packers.

In order for the Bears to win, they will have to run the ball. And, they will have to stay patient with it. I expect to see them try an abundance of ball control. Starting with Michael Bush. Sure, Forte will get his share of touches. Forte will also catch the ball out of the backfield. But, look for Bush to get a bunch of carries. It is a big game for Ryan Pickett this week. BJ Raji as well. It wouldn't surprise me if the Bears take a similar approach that last years Week 15 opponent took on the Packers. The Chiefs ran the ball between the tackles. Mixed in some play action. Then, defensively, they rushed 4. Dropped 7. Tested Rodgers' patience.

If the Bears try to spread us out and Clay plays, the Packers should win by 10 points. They'll get in Nutler's face. Nutler will throw picks. We'll be in position to stick it to them. 

Double team, Marshall. Sammy Swagga & Hayward can handle Jeffery, Hester and Bennett (if he plays). Kellen Davis is a physical mismatch, but he has struggled to hold onto the ball. Beware of Forte out of the backfield. Then pounce when Nutler throws off his back foot. Make the most of your opportunities.

Offensively, start Lang at LG, Barclay at RT. Come out throwing the 12-15 yard post. If Tim Jennings plays, he'll be limited. Attack the side opposite Tillman. Just like the first drive in the '10 NFC Championship. Rodgers to Jennings. Good things happening. Moving sticks! Harris pounds away behind Barclay. We see Ryan Grant on the cutback. He Packers find an offensive rhythm. 

In his career against the Green Bay Packers, Ray Nutler has combined stats that read: 8 games. 1-7 record. 8 TD's. 16 Interceptions. He also limped out of the NFC Championship Game with an injury that the media questioned and Bears fans burned his jersey in the parking lot following the game. He was labeled a quitter. Yes, the Packers have dominated Nutler in his career. We can only hope that it continues for another week.

My prediction: once again, Nutler struggles. He throws a TD with 2 interceptions. He can't find the end zone when he hits the Red Zone.

Neither team is playing great football right now. But, the Packers are winning close games and the Bears are not. The trend continues.

Packers 27. Bears 23.

Once again, let's dance on Soldier Field as Champions! The Bears still suck!

Oh, and after NE beats SF, we will be in position for the #2 seed. And, I'm not going to get crazy here, but Atlanta has 3 games left - all within the NFC. While the Packers have 4 losses, 1 is to an AFC Team. Presently, Atlanta has 2 losses - both of them to NFC teams. Should Atlanta lose 2 out of the last 3, the Packers would own the tie-breaker. Assuming, of course, that the Packers win out. The #1 seed is in reach. But, we have to beat the Bears this week. Party On!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.!/buzzboy3

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

Suddenly, a first round bye is within sight. My how things can change from week to week. But, in order for the Packers to finish 12-4, the Lambeau Faithful will have to be much rowdier than they were on Sunday. Without Morgan Burnett going straight gangsta on the Viqueens, the purple wearing, dome playing football team might have come into the Frozen Tundra and left with victory. Thank you, Rasta Morgan! Here's some takeaways from the victory over the Domers:

* The sideline didn't seem as festive as it has in years past. Prior to the game, Cobb & Hayward appeared to be taking an active role in trying to be inspiring figures. Outside of them, I didn't see a lot of rallying interaction. 

* Loved Sir Charles Woodson's reaction after the bogus 15-yard penalty on T-Mon. He was in the refs grill with extreme intensity. Can't wait to get him back on the field.

* When it's all said and done, we might remember Morgan Burnett for making the biggest play of the year. Down 4. Viqueens threatening to go up 2-scores and holding all momentum in an agitated, frustrated, somewhat lifeless Lambeau Field. Banged up defensively, we were starving for someone to elevate and make a game changing play. Enter Morgan Burnett. Not once, but twice. And, with it, a trigger of life came to the Packers sideline, the Lambeau Faithful and the prospects of an improved Packers playoff seeding.

* AP is a beast. And, he showed as much on Sunday. But, outside of 3 absolutely stunningly amazing runs, I thought Raji, Jones, Pickett, and Hawk did a decent job on him. Sure, those three runs totaled approximately 150 yards, but the 3rd & 1 stop in the 3rd Quarter was monstrous.

* Erik Walden has extreme limitations and Frank Zombo is invincible. With the Claymaker comes back, I hope Moses starts opposite him; even though Moses didn't play well against MN either. 

* Aaron Rodgers. Man, we're lucky he's a Green Bay Packer.

* Wanted to see Don Barclay. Got my wish. Didn't want him to play due to injury, but it could be a blessing in disguise if Lang is healthy enough to play next week. Thought Barclay played well. We had success running right. Barclay was a big part in that.

* James Starks running with conviction! We're going to miss you, man. 

* Alex Green running hard as well!

* Welcome back, Ryan Grant.

* I like when Kuhn catches the ball out of the backfield.

* Good to see Greg Jennings again. He wasn't his Pro Bowl self, but he's a presence.

* Great catch, James Jones. 

* The more Randall Cobb touches the ball, the happier I am.

* Get healthy, Jordy Nelson. You, as well, TJ Lang. Cannot be stressed enough.

* Can't forget the enormous importance of the second Morgan Burnett interception. 

* It'd be great to get Woodson & Matthews healthy this week. Same with Nelson & Lang. It's December. Time to start peaking.

* D-House, T-Mon, and Casey Hayward all played with tremendous passion. 

* Though Jared Allen had a good statistical performance, I thought Marshall Newhouse played very well. 

* I see you playin', J-Mike!

* Wrap up, MD Jennings. 

* Brad Jones understands football. Doesn't always have the athletic ability to make the play, but he has the smarts.

* This team reminds me of the 2002 Green Bay Packers. We sneak away with victories without playing great football. The win-loss record is probably more favorable than it should be considering the brand of football that's being played. Nonetheless, we're 8-4 and we control our own destiny with respect to winning the Division. And, I still believe that we match-up really well with everyone outside of SF, NYG, and Denver.

This week, it's the Lions. Detroit hasn't won in WI since 1991. Yes, since 1991! But, we must be prepared for battle. Even though we escaped Detroit with a thrilling victory earlier in the year, don't be confused. In that game, we saw a good performance from our defense, but if Matthew Stafford would have been on target, it could have been disastrous. On multiple occasions, Stafford simply missed wide open receivers. I don't expect that to happen this week. So, we will have to tighten up the secondary, much like we did against the Viqueens. And, we will have to pressure Stafford like we did in Detroit. A win at Lambeau over Detroit and we are well positioned to win the Division. We would also be well positioned to gain a first round bye as it is tough to see SF winning their last 4 games.

We match up well with Detroit. We can punch them in the gut on both sides of the ball, even with their intimidating front 4 and our inferior OL. We have had a mental edge over them. If we protect Rodgers, big plays can be had. In abundance.

With the recent pains that the Lions have had at WR, it shouldn't be a problem for us to be able to give a strict double team on Calvin Johnson. While Johnson is as dynamic as there is in the league, Pettigrew and Scheffler are big time problems for our LB's. They will present enormous challenges for Jennings, Hawk, Jones, and McMillan. May I, once again, suggest that Robert Francois deserves snaps and matches up well against the Detroit TE's. Mike Thomas is the type of WR that previously annoyed the Packers, but with Casey Hayward on him, I imagine that Thomas' production will be limited. The key will be our ability to pressure Stafford. We need to knock him off of his spot. If we do so, we will generate either turnovers or sacks. And, possibly both.

The best guess is this: the weather plays a factor. Running games are important. Alex Green runs hard and finds patience. Follow the FB, Alex. John Kuhn also gets involved in the offense. We see Ryan Grant in action. We smash 'em in the mouth a bit. Rush for over 80 yards. Not groundbreaking, but it opens up a little play action. Greg Jennings finds his stride and lives his BE GREAT philosophy and tops 75 yards with a TD. J-Mike finds himself open. Rodgers, the NFL's reigning MVP, is in rhythm. One problem: so is Stafford. The Lions TE's presents immense issues. Johnson gets behind the double team. But, Stafford cannot handle the elements and throws a big interception.

It's a shoot-out. Mason Crosby makes a big kick!

Packers 27. Lions 24.

Go Pack Go!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Take -> Week 13

Greetings, G-Force.

We've had time to relax. We've had time to reflect. That beat down was painful. Here's some of my takeaways:

* This Packers team is better than all but three teams: SF, NYG, and Denver. In an era where match-ups dominate the landscape of an NFL game, the Packers possess a woeful OL. Props to TJ Lang. I admire him for sliding outside, but the reality is that he's a guard; he's not a tackle. Lang is an above average and a below average tackle. EDS is a below average guard. Jeff Saturday is done. He's gets no push. If I were Mike McCarthy, I'd consider playing EDS a center, moving Lang back to guard and giving Barclay an opportunity at RT. I can't fully blame Ted Thompson as I'm sure he figured Sherrod would be healthy. Instead our last 3 1st round picks - 2 of which were tackles - are done for the year and the depth of the OL went with those injuries. I also don't blam Ted Thompson for Jeff Saturday's failures. If Packers fans are honest with themselves, they'd all have agreed that Saturday was a good signing, a patchwork piece. Well, his game absolutely diminished in the off season. 

So, due to our OL struggles, I find it difficult to see the Packers getting to the Super Bowl this year. The NYG exposed us. Badly. As did SF earlier this year. They have beastly DL 's, which allows them to rush 4 and drop 7. Further, the NYG seem to have a leg up on us, much like the Cowboys did in the 90's. It's mental. We were defeated in the 1st Quarter. 

* Regardless, we have a legitimate shot at 12-4, if we can dominate our Division. While it is unlikely that 12-4 gets a 1st round bye, it might prevent the Packers from having to play both the 49ers and the NYG on the road to the Super Bowl.

* Dear Mike McCarthy, please don't try a 55- yard FG in a tie all game when your on the road and you have a slumping kicker who lacks confidence. Especially on the road against the defending Champions. That was a bad decision. Should have played the field position battle. 

* We needed an early turnover. Casey Hayward had that turnover in his hands. 

* Where's the Randall Cobb creativity? Find ways to get him the ball!

* WR screens can be a fine substitute for a poor run game.  So can a short slant.

* Dezman Moses has a future in this league. 

* Brad Jones has played well at ILB. He's not a punisher, but he's responsible and pays hard. Not bad for the 4th ILB on the roster.

* This is a completely different Jerel Worthy than the one I expected to see. Lacks push. Lacks fire. Lacks  energy. No quickness. Odd.

* Scary question: is CJ Wilson our best DL this year?

* We've saw a lot of bad Packers teams in the 80's. But, this team might be the most frustrating team I've ever watched. So many expectations. Were they unrealistic?

* Bottom line: this team needs to get healthy. Hopefully, Jennings plays this weekend. It'd be great to get Matthews back for the Lions game. Woodson for the Bears game. If so, we can make a run at 12-4, if our line doesn't completely falter us.

* This week, it's the hated Viqueens of Minnesota heading to Lambeau Field. As I write, I'm on a flight. Headed to Titletown, U.S.A. A win this week coupled with a Bears win over the Seahawks (don't get me wrong, I'm cheering for Seattle) and a Denver win over Tampa and the Packers are in a prime spot for a Wild Card spot. First things first, let's get to the playoffs.

Defensively, the game plan is simple this week.  AP is amazing. Crowd the line. Hope Harvin & Rudolph don't play. Force Ponder to beat. Come with an abundance of inside blitzes. Force Ponder left. Watch for the screen. Expect an abundance of play-action short passes in which Ponder safely dumps it off. Be prepared, defense. Watch the film! It won't be complicated.

Offensively, it's fairly simple as well. Max protect. The Viqueens are better than us at the line of scrimmage. Move the pocket. Roll Rodgers right, away from Jared Allen. Do not underestimate Robison as the dude is athletic. Look for the dump off to John Kuhn. WR screens to Nelson. Don't be afraid to pass out of multiple TE sets. If Rodgers has time we will see some big plays. They can't cover us. They'll try to frustrate us, so don't get cute. Attack with strafe.

Elite teams find their stride in December. There's still time for the Packers to righ this ship. But, it's going to take a different a focus, a renewed commitment and a heightened energy. From the fans as well. Pump on the volume, Lambeau Field. From play one. Leave hoarse or stay home. Gon' Pop Tarts this weekend, baby!

Packers 23 Queens 19.

Yes, it's another nail biter.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Take -> Week 12

Greetings, G-Force.

First place! Defined by perseverance and elite survival skills. Next man up. Every week. Fighting through injuries and coming out victorious on the road within the Division. True trademarks of a Champion. Here's some quick vibes from the win over the Lions:

* Mike McCarthy did not call his best game. I admire his patience and commitment to the run game, but I felt he was far too conservative for much of the game. But, if you even remotely question him as a leader, be sure to watch the celebration video in the locker room on the Packers website.

* Aaron Rodgers is unbelievable. His footwork is the best in the game. When it's all said and done, we might reflect on the game winning drive as the most important possession of the season. Down 6. On the road. In the division. 4:19 left on the clock. 82 yards away. Epic!

* Randall Cobb is quickly becoming a Superstar.

* Cheers to you, J-Mike! That catch-and-run was sensational.

* The OL had issues, but I thought Newhouse played well.

* Casey Hayward, yo! Dude is legit!

* Rasta House can play on my team any day of the week. A get-in-your-face defender.

* Mike Daniels providing a push!

* Dezman Moses! Showed huge effort and great promise.

* Man, if Morgan Burnett would have picked off the Calvin Johnson TD, his performance would have been stellar.

* TJ Lang is a fighter, but I'm not sure he's a RT. EDS, I hope things get better. Saturday gets overwhelmed often.

* Great game, Brad Jones!

* Good energy from Pickett, Raji & Neal. Need more from you, Jerel Worthy!

* James Starks bringing passion to the run game.

* J-Bush, well done as a gunner. Pro Bowl worthy special teams performer.

* What to do with Mason Crosby?

* Need more conviction from T-Mon. Seemed less aggressive.

* Stick in man coverage Dom Capers.

* Interesting to see an abundance of 3-TE sets. Mostly ran out of that formation. Look for DJ Williams running down the seam one of these weeks. Possibly this week.

* Keep getting creative with Randall Cobb. Find new ways to get him the ball.

* MD JENNINGS! The Doctor getting busy with it! Huge play! Momentum swinger!

So, we ride a 5-game winning streak. And, because of the clutch plays down the stretch, this game is not a must win. But, frankly, at this stage, I'm a fan with a lot of hope. Hope that this team could go on an XLV run. This is the game that could change me from a man with hope to an absolute believer. Win this week and I'll have belief that we are Super Bowl ready. McCarthy - for the most part - has developed his teams, so that they peak at the end of the year. It could be argued that this was the case in '06, '07, '09, and '10. With that, I am hopeful that our best football is ahead of us. I expect this team to improve as we become healthier. But, for immediate belief to be upon me, we need a win this week. 

In the past, McCarthy teams have often played to the level of its competition. Well, boys, belly up. NFL teams aren't supposed to be able to flip the switch like they do in the NBA. Do not tell that to Osi, Tuck, Eli, and Coughlin. As a franchise, the Giants have been able to turn it up at crunch time. In order for the Giants to make a Super Bowl run, they'll need to up their level of play as well.

The Packers and Giants have developed a nice little rivalry. In '07, they ended our season. In '10, we ended theirs. In '11, they got us again. This one doesn't carry the same magnitude that others have had, but both teams would like to have this one for playoff positioning. It's not a must-win, but it's a nice-to-have.

Tuck, Boley, Osi, JPP, Webster and Blackburn have all played well against us. While Osi and Tuck have not been themselves this year, they'll be tough match-ups for EDS & Newhouse. 

The Giants secondary can be attacked. Stevie Brown has had a good year, but he's not overly athletic. Antrel Rolle has extreme limitations. Prince is soft. Tyron & Hosley are AWFUL. YES, THEY ARE TERRIBLE. Easier said than done, but if we protect Rodgers, the reigning MVP will have a huge game. 

Hosley normally covers the slot receiver. It'll likely be Randall Cobb. Hosley has no chance. Run the slant. Run crossing routes. Hosley will give up loads of yardage and first downs.

Last week, McCarthy used an abundance of 3-TE sets. We ran out of that set every time. This week, look for McCarthy to come with play action. McCarthy likes to draft new plays in big games. He unleashes the unexpected. I'm hoping to see DJ Williams running down the seam a la Keith Jackson in 1996. If so, we could see a HUGE gain. 

Casey Hayward gets his stiffest test of the year against Victor Cruz. Hakeem Nicks has destroyed the Packers. We need to limit his touches. House matches up well with Nicks. I'm curious to see how our young DB's perform. 

The Giants OL has had trouble protecting Eli. It'll be another big test for Walden, Moses and Zombo. We'll also need to see Raji, Daniels, Neal, Pickett and Worthy to bring excessive energy. Daniels has been a beast getting a push in the interior. 

If the Giants use Webster in single coverage on the outside against either James Jones or Jordy Nelson, I look for the Packers to come with a mixture of double moves. If so, we could see a 60-yard TD. 

The last team with the ball wins. It'll be a thriller.

Packers 34. Giants 30.

Each team scores 6-times. Bend. Don't break. 

Also, as a side note, if you have any interest in the 2013 NFL DRAFT, watch Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford. He's going o be a Packer next year.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Take -> Week 11

Greetings, G-Force.

The bye week didn't treat us as I had hoped. The mettle of the 2012 Green Bay Packers will be tested in grand fashion. As fans, we expected the team to be healthier for the stretch run. Instead, we found out that Bulaga & Perry were done for the year, there is no timetable set for Jennings & Benson, and the Claymaker is also out. We're banged up. It's time to, once again, display the excellence of the Mike McCarthy/Aaron Rodgers tandem.

Much like in the XLV season, the Irishman is being challenged. McCarthy is forced to rally the troops and fully promote the "next an up" philosophy. Without Matthews & Perry, it will be up to Moses & Walden to carry the load. It'll also require the likes of Raji, Neal, Daniels and Worthy to elevate their pass rush.  Without Bulaga, TJ Lang & EDS are thrown into crucial positions with the shift on the OL. 

More than ever, the team needs the reigning MVP to play at his best. Without Jennings and with an immensely underperforming J-Mike, Rodgers is carrying a large load on his shoulders. Since the Indianapolis game, he as been brilliant. Cerebral. Accurate. In control. And, due to his play, the Packers are in great position to make a run at the NFC North crown. Without Rodgers' dominance over the last 4 weeks, the Packers might presently be on the outside, looking at ways to put themselves in position to grab a Wild Card berth.

A win against the Lions and we can start to seriously discuss both divisional and wild card situations. A win against Detroit would essentially eliminate the Lions from playoff conversation. A loss at Detroit and the season tenses significantly.

One thing is for certain: these two teams do not like each other. The coaches don't seem to care for one another and, as we saw last Thanksgiving day, the players battling on the line of scrimmage have hatred as well. There won't be much trickery. We know each other. Line 'em up. Punch 'em in the mouth. Leave with victory.

We have Aaron Rodgers on our side. With the exception of the '10 game at Ford Field in which Rodgers got knocked out, in domes, he's been dynamite. We are going to need Rodgers in rhythm or this could be a long day.

It's beyond vital for the Packers to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. When Stafford has time, he has elite ability. When you get in his face, he'll make mistakes. He can be rattled. Offensively, simply put, we must protect Rodgers.

Leshoure is an underrated back. He has good hands. He cuts well. He lowers his shoulder, gets low and picks up extra yards. 

Calvin Johnson. Keep T-Mon in his face. Burnett over the top. Double him up. T-Mon has to bump him. Consistently.

Go man on Titus Young. Hayward matches well with both Young and Ryan Broyles. Davon House should be able to jam both off of their routes.

Brandon Pettigrew & Tony Scheffler are tough match-ups for AJ Hawk & Brad Jones. I'd like to see Francois getting some playing time.

If Moses struggles to find the QB, I wonder if Zombo will get his first action of the year.

The Lions might have holes in the middle of the secondary with both Spievey & Delmas out with injury. It'd open up the middle of the already poor Lions secondary. Might J-Mike finally have a big day? I imagine McCarthy taking his chances with Nelson deep down the field. He will also try Jones on a double move.

The difference in the game might be special teams. Stefan Logan has had decent games against the Packers, but he's also vulnerable to turning the ball over. Further, expect a big return from Randall Cobb.

Rodgers tops 300 yards and goes for 3 TD's. Nelson, Jones and Finley all score. T-Mon grabs a big pick. It'll be a tight one.

Packers 34. Lions 30.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Take -> Week 9

Greetings, G-Force.

5-3. With another game at Lambeau before the bye. A chance to get to 6-3 an to position ourselves into the drivers seat with respect to a Wild Card berth. Here some vibes from the win over J'ville:

* Sometimes, in this league, it's about survival. Especially when you're banged up. And on a day in which Blaine Gabbert throws for 117 more yards than Aaron Rodgers. And on a day in which the Jaguars run more plays, gain 103 more yards, and win the time of possession battle. It wasn't pretty, but it shows up in the win column.

* Mike McCarthy coached his worst game of the year. He was passive. Stagnant. He lacked offensive creativity. There was no motion. He never injected fire in the offense and never made adjustments to try and keep the Jaguars guessing. We were predictable throughout and it almost turned catastrophic. But, in the end, it was a win. 

* The 15-yard penalty on Davon House was an absolute joke. What has happened to the NFL?

* Alex Green does not see the field well. He lacks patience and doesn't look for the cut back. 

* I liked what James Starks did. Regardless of the dropped pass. Want to see more of him. Immediately. 

* Davon House with the blocked punt! EPIC!

* Let's get the ball to Randall Cobb more often. 

* It is fun to see Double-D in the end zone.

* Mason Crosby. Yikes!

* James Jones. 7 catches on 9 targets. He's been phenomenal.

* Our TE play is disappointing.

* Donde esta BJ Raji?

* Note to Dom Capers: Rush Clay Matthews. Every play.

* Good game, Morgan Burnett. 

* Nice stats, Brad Jones. Liked the sack. Liked the forced fumble. Didn't like the inconsistent tackling.

* AJ Hawk, bro, wrap up!

* Tim Masthay = stellar punter, bad thrower. Great play design. Ryan Taylor had a first down. He was wide open and begging for the ball.

* Wish the Packers WR's would simply pick up the first down rather than getting fancy when a yard short of t sticks. Both Cobb and Boykin got cute.

This week - it is the Arizona Cardinals. Frankly, I have fears. I don't like the way we match up with them. Not with our injuries. If we were full boat, we'd win by 20 or more. But, we're not and the Irishman will likely be conservative with his play calling. This could spell disaster. We must be on the attack. 

Arizona pursues the QB. This is a defense that stymied Tom Brady in New England. Daryl Washington is an excellent blitzing ILB. It will be Jeff Saturday's job to watch him. The Cardinals defensive front does a good job stunting. Dockett and Campbell can benefit from shoddy line play. Almost amazingly, Paris Lenon is still in the league. And, he's actually playing decent. Arizona also has an underrated secondary with playmakers Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes and Patrick Peterson. The Arizona defense has the toys to play with the depleted defense. The Cardinals should NOT be overlooked.

The Arizona offense is not a powerhouse, but they have enough talent to make you nibble on your nails. Larry Fitzgerald is as talented as any WR in the game. Andre Roberts is the type of WR who annoys you throughout. There's nothing that overwhelms you about him, but he's often open and picking up first downs. Thus far, Michael Floyd has underachieved, but he has the tools to be an elite player. However, none of these guys can make an impact if the Arizona OL can't keep John Skelton upright. The Cardinals OL is pathetic. And LaRod Stephens-Howling is among the worst starting RB's in this league.

If the Packers aren't careful, the game could be similar to the 2010 Dolphins contest. We must protect the reigning MVP and when on defense, let's go after Skelton. We need to come with a vengeance and make this thing difficult for the immobile QB. Skelton won't beat you with his legs. He's a sitting target. Double up Larry Fitzgerald with help over the top. Jam Roberts at the line. Come with blitzes up the middle. Try and put the Claymaker in 1 v 1 battles. 

Pound James Starks early. Pound him often. Get Randall Cobb 10 touches. Somehow. Someway. Try to get J-Mike involved on the 1st possession.  

Do NOT let Patrick Peterson beat you on special teams!

Show your fidelity, G-Force! Be loud! Be proud! Bring personal animation to peak levels. The crowd was ridiculously quiet during the Jaguars win. Elevate this weekend. Let's get a win! It will be a battle.

Packers 23. Cardinals 20.

Get to 6-3. Then rest. Get Worthy, Shields, Perry, Nelson and Kuhn healthy. Jennings gets a week closer to full strength. Be prepared for the stretch run. This is a MUST win! Rise Up, Lambeau!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Take -> Week 8

Greetings, G-Force.

Finally, a winning record. Finally. It took 7 weeks, but we're on the positive end of a win/loss record. And, if we protect Lambeau, and finish 7-1 at home, we'll likely be playoff bound. It starts with the Jaguars this weekend. But, before we touch on Jacksonville, here are some kind vibes from the victory over St. Louis:

* I love Mike McCarthy. The Irishman loves possessions. This year, he's been a wizard with respect to adding possessions. Against Chicago, he had the fake FG that led to a TD. Against NO, he had the fake punt to steal a possession. Against St. Louis, he came with the onside kick. He's rolled the dice three times. He's a perfect 3-3. Further, I thought he called a great game. Though Alex Green never got going, McCarthy didn't get away from the run game. He kept the defense honest and Green carried the ball 20 times. He also used the screen to try to slow down the talented front-4 of the Rams. He's consistently using Cobb in new ways - each week. I also believe that the two best drives of the season were witnessed in this game - both ending with Randall Cobb TD's.

* Suddenly, Aaron Rodgers looks like the leading candidate for the MVP award. ON FIRE!

* Get healthy soon, Sir Charles. We'll need you down the stretch. Heal fast, mate. While most reporters believe we'll get along just fine without him, I believe we're going to miss him immensely. Sure, he hasn't been the playmaker that we've been used to. But, he's still a leader, a motivator and an ABSOLUTE BEAST in the box. He is great against the run. And, he has to be accounted for on every play. He plays mind games with QB's.

* With that said, I'm excited to see more of Jerron McMillan. Want to see him in the box. Not MD Jennings. More of McMillan. Less of Jennings. Please.

* Thought Brad Jones hit the hole hard early in the game. Didn't always seek the right hole. But, he showed small promise. He's not going to be a star, but if he can be a sure tackler and have a Ron Cox type role on this team, we'll be fine.

* Ryan Pickett played well. Liked the way he plugged holes early in the game.

* I finally found the reason Brett Favre went to Minnesota!!! So, he introduced ways that Percy Harvin should be used. Ted Thompson watched with envy. And, in the copy cat NFL, he drafted Randall Cobb. Now, Cobb is used similarly to the way Harvin is used. And, the results are fascinating. SUPERSTAR! The 3rd & 7 with 6:52 left in the game was absolutely brilliant. Catches the ball 1.5 yards short of the first down marker. Slides out of a tackle and gets the first down. Dude is a ball player, man. Straight up player. Love him!

* Casey Hayward! 4 picks, yo! 4 picks! Stallion.

* Is it just me or have the Packers had trouble keeping their footing over the last two weeks? A number of players. Alex Green in particular. Strange.

* Jordy Nelson finding his stride.

* TJ Lang, put that game behind you, mate.

* Bulaga played like a Pro Bowler.

* D-House looked legit. Seems as though we have 4 solid CB's in Hayward, T-Mon, House and Sammy Swagga.

* Need more out of Morgan Burnett.

* The Claymaker is as good as any player in the NFL. Runner-up for Defensive MVP thus far. Behind JJ Watt.

* James Jones continues his stellar year.

* The Packers are a better team when John Kuhn is involved. We can't forget how crucial he was during the stretch of the XLV Run. KKKKKKKUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNN!

* Dezman Moses gives great effort. But, he might not be fast enough to play OLB. Sam Bradford was gaining on him. He looks to be strictly a special teams player.

* Cheers to Brett Goode! He's the type of guy you want on your team. And, I'm stoked he got the extension.

* Tim Masthay. Would you rather any other punter than him? I wouldn't. Master of downing it inside the 20.

* J-Bush is an elite gunner.

* Get it together, Mason Crosby.

* Two guys to watch in College Football this week as I target prospects for the NFL Draft: Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford. Wasn't getting much attention. Wasn't listed on Draft Sites. I wrote about him last week. Drops in coverage well. Puts pressure on the QB. He's 6-6, 261. Just named a Butkus finalist. The other is Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee. Big game for UT as they take on South Carolina this weekend. Worth a watch to see a fun prospect in action.

This week - it's Jacksonville. Let's make it 3 in a row, Lambeau. WE CANNOT LET DOWN! WE CAN'T! We are banged up on both sides of the ball. And, the G-Force need to bring energy. Let's carry this team. We'll get healthy in December, but the Lambeau Faithful have to propel a victory and make it difficult for the Jaguars offense to perform.

With highs in the mid-40's, winds at 6 mph, and a mostly sunny day, it seems like a PERFECT DAY in late October! A perfect day for an AFC team to come to Titletown, USA. A perfect day for a team from Florida to come to America's Dairyland. A perfect day to kick some AFC (Amateur Football Conference) ass. Let's do this. Let's do it in GRAND FASHION. And, then let's celebrate. It has the makings of one of those days where I wish I was in the state of WI. With the Viqueens loss and the Cardinals on the Packers schedule next week, along with Seattle and Detroit battling this weekend, the Packers could head into the bye at 6-3 and in good shape in the NFC.

The Jaguars come to Lambeau without MJD, the best player in their Franchise's history. They will be with starting QB, Blaine Gabbert. And that's a good thing. I'd rather face Gabbert than Henne. Henne performed well in his only start in Green Bay, when he led an average Dolphins team into Lambeau Field in 2010 and he prevailed, 23-20 over the eventual Super Bowl Champions. Gabbert is the worst starting QB in the NFL. For my mind, that is a statement of fact, not opinion.

Offensively, Jacksonville is limited. Justin Blackmon has Pro Bowl potential. But, his desire is highly questionable. The Packers must know of his whereabouts at all times. Mercedes Lewis is in the upper-tier of TE's in the league. Rashad Jennings is an under-rated RB, but he should be contained if you have 8 in the box. Laurent Robinson had a decent year with Dallas last year, but he doesn't scare anyone. The Packers should be able to win man-to-man battles.

Jacksonville will try to run the ball and eat up clock. They'll eat up most of the play clock between plays. They'll be cognitive of keeping the clock running. They know they can't score with us. Hence, they'll be searching for a number of 5-8 minute drives. It'll be up to the Packers to stuff the box. Force Gabbert to beat us. If so, he'll put at least two balls in our hands. I expect Burnett to get a pick. Same with T-Mon. Big plays will be in front of this defense. It wouldn't surprise me if the Packers defense scores points this weekend.

Defensively, Jacksonville is not ready for the prime time. Rashean Mathis can still play. Paul Posluszny is a solid ILB. Tyson Alualu is a decent player, but he hasn't lived up to management expectations. Bottom line: Aaron Rodgers is in line for another big game.

We can freeze this J'ville team out of Lambeau. Jump on 'em early and they'll be warming up the buses by the middle of the 2nd Quarter. McCarthy has to keep his foot on the gas pedal. He can't let this Jacksonville team hang around. Even with Greg Jennings out for the game and Jordy Nelson likely sitting this game out, the Packers should be able to put up points. Expect a big game out of James Jones and Randall Cobb. J-Mike will be put in position to succeed. We'll see more of Double-D than we've seen all year. And Boykin will make the first catch of his NFL career. Remember it was Jacksonville that cut Boykin earlier this year. Boykin will get his shot this Sunday.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Starks get his shot in the 2nd half. It'd be interesting to see how the Irishman would call the 2nd half if the Packers jump out to a 3-score lead. I could see him running the clock and going ground-and-pound with Starks as the featured back.

Look for the Packers to jump out to an early lead. I'm predicting a 23-6 halftime lead. Then, the 2nd half is a yawner on the field and a party in the stands.

Green Bay 33. Jacksonville 13.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.!/buzzboy3

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Take -> Week 7

Greetings, G-Force.

Once again, back to even! Emphatically! Who knew that the requirement the Packers needed to jump start the offense was facing a Wade Phillips coached defense. On this day, Wade went Bum. Since the disaster in Kansas City last year, the recipe had been laid out to slow down the Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy attack. Rush 4. Two deep safety. Jam WR's at the line of scrimmage. Test the patience of the NFL's MVP. Try to get pressure with 4 rushers against 5 lineman. Then, cover 5 receivers with 7 defenders. Don't get beat deep. Thankfully, Wade Phillips wasn't privy to this defense. Instead, he went with a single high safety and added a safety in the box. He let the WR's have a free release off the line of scrimmage. And, for him, the result was beyond catastrophic. Once again, Aaron Rodgers was absolutely brilliant. Don't expect a Jeff Fisher led team to make the same mistake this week.

As I write, I'm an enjoying a Friendship Brew. It's a Black Saison brewed by the Green Flash Brewery & the St Feuillien Brewery. Good stuff.

Some quick vibes from the victory over the Texans:

* Tell me you weren't saying "not again" after Rodgers missed Jones on the first possession. I certainly was. Glad he got hot. It was magic to watch. One of the best games in Rodgers' career. It certainly doesn't top the Falcons game in the XLV Super Bowl run, but it was absolute brilliance all of the way around.

* It was nice to see Alex Green with 22 carries. Not an abundance of yards, but he had productive carries. Saw a lot of things to like. Green hit the hole hard. Showed a burst. One area for improvement: I'd encourage him to remember that he's not playing Wyoming and New Mexico anymore. Not every run needs to be a Home Run. Pick and choose the battle. I thought he should have gotten a 1st down on the screen. Instead, he cut it outside and was stopped short of the marker. There were other carries in which I thought he could have gotten 5-8 yards, but instead he quickly looked outside and was stopped for a 2 yard gain. When he adjusts to the speed of the game, Green will have some 100 yard games.

* Quick note on the OL. I've thought the guard play has been solid all year. Sitton and Lang have been strong. Newhouse has played as well as we could have hoped. Bulaga has been a disappointment, but he'll improve. I'm confident in that. Saturday concerns me. He might be done.

* James Jones is having a career year. Man, this guy is making plays! Showing great concentration, a pizzazz for the ball and he's running solid routes.

* Jordy Nelson, have a day, kid. Have a day! With the hat trick!

* Aaron Rodgers tying the Packers record with 6 TD's!

* Casey Hayward!!!! One of the greatest buzzes this blog can provide is when you watched a guy thoroughly during his last collegiate season. You hope the Packers draft him. They do. And then he plays at peak levels. I predicted a minimum of 4 interceptions for this guy prior to the season. He has 3 of them already. Yes, he's our team leader in interceptions right now. And, we're just seeing the beginning. Dude can play!

* Really like Jerron McMillan's game. He has a future with the Packers. On the contrary, it's time for Morgan Burnett to make a play.

* Non-breaking new category: Clay Matthews is a stud!

* Great to see CJ Wilson with the sack on the first play of the game.

* How about Robert Francois? Seems that guy lowers the boom on a special teams tackle on a weekly basis. While I understand that Brad Jones is going to be the man to replace DJ Smith, I would really like to see Francois get a shot to play in the dime defense. Last year, in limited action, he had 2 interceptions and played decent at ILB. Jones might be the better interior blitzing ILB, but Francois might be the best dime ILB that we have on the roster.

* Tom Crabtree with the big time TD reception. Beautiful play design by McCarthy. Great toughness by Rodgers. Brilliance all around!

* Send Tim Masthay to Hawaii. He's legit.

* Hoping Sammy Swagga's injury isn't too serious. Would be a devastating blow. He's playing good football. Again, though, man, he got screwed on a pass interference call.

* Randall Cobb continues to show elite playmaking skills. And, with each play, he solidifies his growth in the "favorite Packer category." Each week he seems to become more lethal. Credit McCarthy for continuing to find unique ways to get the ball in his hands.

* I like the special teams combination of Francois, Dezman Moses, and Jamari Lattimore. Reminding me of the Bernardo Harris, Lamont Hollinquest days.

* There was a Jerel Worthy sighting. In a BIG way!

* J-Bush looks like a Pro Bowl Special Teams gunner to me.

* AJ Hawk making plays!!!

* Nice to see Mike Neal making a tackle for a loss.

* Don't like the cheap shot that ended DJ Smith's season. Our ILB depth is being tested. Mightily.

This week - it's the Rams. In St. Louis. It won't be the gimme that you might have thought it'd be before the season. The Rams are competitive. Especially in the dome. Though there will be plenty of Packers fans, it'll be fairly loud. And the Rams will bring a pass rush. Unlike the Texans, the Rams CB's will get in your face and jam you. They'll be competitive. In order for the Packers to win convincingly, the defense will need to force at least two turnovers. Without them, it'll be closer than we'd like and as we've seen previously, Jeff Fisher teams generally fair well in close games.

The Packers defense has playmakers that are due to make plays. Mostly in the secondary. Sir Charles, T-Mon, and Burnett are due for big games. It could come this week.

Sam Bradford is a decent QB. He can beat you. But, he'll be without his top WR, Danny Amendola. Brandon Gibson and Austin Pettis aren't ready to be starters. Steve Smith has never recovered from his injury, though he's still an average 3rd down WR. Lance Kendricks is a threat at TE, but he shouldn't beat us too badly. Look for the Rams to try to pound the ball at us with Stephen Jackson and the under appreciated, Daryl Richardson. For those that don't know Richardson yet, it's likely that you will after Sunday. With Richardson and Jackson, the Rams will do everything in their power to slow down the game.

The Rams OL is weak. Look for Clay to make an impact. Also, look for Erik Walden to come up with a sack or two. The Packers will get pressure as long as Capers doesn't play it conservatively. It's important for the defense to come out aggressive. Early and often.

The Rams make their name on defense and special teams. Kicker Greg Zuerlein is a sure thing. Punter Johnny Hekker is the real deal. Defensively, they are a get in your face team. Long and Quinn are studs. They'll test Bulaga and Newhouse. The Packers will likely have to keep a back as a blocker. Rodgers will have to be patient and look for his check downs. Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan are in-your-face corners. Jenkins is small, but physical. Finnegan is a fighter. James Laurinaitis is the ILB that the Packers thought they were getting when they drafted AJ Hawk. The St Louis safeties can be beat. Further, the Rams don't have great depth at CB with Bradley Fletcher and Trumaine Johnson. I liked Fletcher coming out of college, but he has not developed as I expected he might. Johnson is loaded with physical gifts, but he's not ready to make an impact.

I'm expecting a big day for the defense. Three turnovers. Three sacks. Woodson gets a pick. So does T-Mon. The defense carries us on a frustrating day for the offense.

Green Bay 23. St Louis 13.

We're a couple of weeks away from a bye week, in which I'll ask my good mate, Stack, to join me in a Packers Mock Draft. But, prior to that, I figured I'd compile some thoughts, so if you're interested you can keep an eye on some guys whose game is interesting me. I've had a string of luck over the last couple of years, if you've followed along. Last year, I was all over Casey Hayward earlier in the college season. I was also writing about Jerel Worthy and Nick Perry. In my mock draft, I selected BJ Coleman. The year before I was writing about Randall Cobb. This week - the Packers picked up Jeremy Ross for the practice squad. In my 2011 Mock Draft, he was my 7th Round pick. I had also selected Robert Francois coming out of college.

With the arrival of my first son, I've not watched as much college football as in past years. Nonetheless, I feel qualified to say that I don't like the Senior talent as much as I have in past years. At this point, I feel it'll likely require a heavy quantity of juniors to enter the draft in order for it to be as fertile as it has been over the last couple of years. In the Mock Draft, I'm going to give the Packers an additional 4th and an additional 6th Round pick. I'm acting as though the Packers have the 32nd pick. Presently, I know little to nothing about the OL in the draft, so I won't be selecting any in the Mock Draft. Also, as always, I'll only comment on players that I've seen play this year. On tap for this weekend are the Oregon v Arizona State game (I have it on DVR), the South Carolina v Florida game, the WVU v Kansas State game and the Alabama v Tennessee game. Here goes my current picks:

Round 1.) Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri. He has the athleticism and the size to fit into Dom Capers defense. You can stand him up. You can move him inside. You can move outside. He hustles. Doesn't have the best endurance, but he'll chase ball carriers down from behind. He has great pursuit. Ted Thompson would refer to him as a "football player." My selection was going to be John Jenkins, DT, Georgia, but it's unlikely he'll last to the end of the first round. Jenkins would be the perfect replacement for Ryan Pickett as his days in Green Bay are likely numbered. Depending on where you look, Jenkins is projected as early as 15 or as late as the 2nd round. Jenkins is beefy. Like his push at the pint of attack and he moves his weight around well. Others I'm watching: Tyler Eifert, TE, ND; Manti Te'o, ILB, ND; Kawaan Short, DL, Purdue (thanks to my good friend, Stack); Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor; Sharriff Floyd, DL, FL.

Round 2.) If Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State declares, without question, he's my pick. The Packers must address the OL, ILB and WR in the 2013 NFL Draft. But, from what I've researched, it doesn't appear that Bullough is coming out, so I'm going to select Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee. Yes, I love SEC football. In fact, this year I've enjoyed SEC football more than I've enjoyed the NFL. Patterson is flamboyant with the football in his hands. He has return skills. He's elusive. He has the size to be a productive NFL receiver. His route running, focus, hands and attitude might have inconsistencies, but his upside is littered with greatness. Plus, the Packers must look at the WR position in this years draft. Others I'm watching: Tavon Austin, WR, WVU (a side kick to Randall Cobb); Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia; Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State; Robert Lester, S, Alabama; Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia; William Gholston, DE/OLB, Michigan State.

Round 3.) Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse. Nassib has the leadership skills to be earn the respect of the huddle. He has good velocity on the ball. Good wits to him. A willing learner. A good pupil for McCarthy. Out of need, I considered Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford. He's a leader. He's a quarterback of the defense. Not positive that he's a three down player like Teo, Ogletree and Bullough would be, but he's able to come on the blitz and looks to be able to get sideline-to-sideline. He's an energizer and he's a sure tackler. I'm not in love with Skov, but the Packers need ILB depth and he's the best on the board at this point. Others I'm watching as possible selections: Steadman Bailey, WR, WVU; Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma; Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State; Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall; Zac Dysert, QB, Miami (OH), Niko Johnson, ILB, Alabama; and Michael Buchanan, OLB, IL; Shawn Williams, S, Georgia, Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia.

Round 4.) Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt & Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas. Ladler is only a junior. He's unlikely to come out, but he's one to watch. In some ways, he's fluid like Nintendo Nick was in a Packers uniform. He's an active tackler. He plays the ball in the air. Shows good field awareness. Great quickness. Seems to have super football instincts. When he is healthy, Knile Davis has elite talent. He's a fun back with the ball in his hands. He runs north and south and hits the hole with a vengeance. Others I'm watching are Abry Jones, DL, Georgia; Cobi Johnson, WR, Arkansas; DeVonte Holloman, LB, South Carolina; Devin Taylor, OLB, South Carolina

Round 5.) Harry Peoples, WR, UL-Lafayette. So, last Tuesday Night, I was on baby duty. I went to turn on the replay of the Packers game, but I turned on ESPN and I noticed North Texas was playing the Raging Cajuns of UL-Lafayette. I thought that I'd give the game a chance. Instantly, Harry Peoples caught my eye. When the ball is in his hands, he's legit. It was like playing backyard football with him. Catch him if you can. He knew where the marker was and found the end zone. He hurt his shoulder later in the game, but I'll be following to see what happens with him over the rest of the year. Currently, he's not listed on any draft web sites as a prospect. I saw him differently. We'll see. Others are Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington; Jonathan Bostic, ILB, FL, DJ Swearinger, S, South Carolina.

Round 6.) Ray Ray Armstrong, S, []_[] & Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford. Ray Ray would have been a potential 1st round pick if he would have been able to stay out of trouble. Once, he was called "the next Sean Taylor." Now, he's out of football. He's the type of guy that Thompson might take a shot on. At some point in this years draft, Thompson will look at TE. Trent Murphy isn't listed on most draft websites. But, the kid is an ideal 3-4 OLB. Can apply significant pressure. Physical. A fighter. Bruising at the line of scrimmage. I considered Mychael Rivera, TE, Tennessee. I like Rivera's size and athleticism. Moves well. Has decent hands. He's under-utilized in the college game. Might be a better pro than he is a collegiate player. Others I'm watching are Tracy Moore, WR, Oklahoma State; Kiko Alonso, ILB, Oregon; Anthony Rashad-White, DL, Michigan State.

Round 7.) Byron Jerideau, DL, South Carolina. He's active along the line of scrimmage. Gets a strong push. Like his mobility. Great against the run. Thick body. I strongly considered Ryan Radcliff, QB, Central Michigan. Radcliff can flat out throw the football. He passes the eye test. We know Thompson likes kids from Central and Western Michigan. Radcliff has had a productive collegiate career. He's worth a look. Others I'm watching are Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State; Mesack Williams, OLB, Kansas State; Dominick Legrande, S, Marshall; Demetrius Hartsfield, ILB, Maryland, Byron Jerideau, DL, South Carolina.

I'll be watching an abundance of NCAA Football over the next couple of weeks, so these names are likely to change. I'm failing at ILB. Haven't seen anyone that I love that I'm certain will declare.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Take -> Week 6

Greetings, G-Force.

Our memories are short. We don't remember what this feels like. After being righteously spoiled for a 22 game stretch, as fans, we are in a distasteful state of mind. Kind of like the team that we follow.

Here are my takeaways from the loss to the Colts:

* Most seem to be blaming McCarthy, Capers or the loss of Philbin. All are convenient, easy thoughts. For me, it's not the case. For the most part, I've liked our schemes and play calling. But, sometimes, in sports, it's not about the coaching. It's about the players. Coaches put players in position to make plays. Players are supposed to make those plays. And, this year, the Packers players aren't making plays. No one is making plays. Take - for instance - the first drive of the game. 3rd & 6. McCarthy gets Nelson isolated on the outside. Nelson beats his man. Last year, this was 6 points. This year - Rodgers missed Nelson. Incomplete pass. Packers punt.

* Play of the game last week: 3rd & 2 from the Packers 28. 3rd Quarter. Packers leading the Colts 21-3. Game seemingly in hand. One more solid drive and the Packers can deliver a 3rd Quarter dagger. 3 wide to the left. 1 to the right. McCarthy calls a bubble screen to Cobb. He wants the ball in Cobb's hands. I loved the design. Would have had a first down. Easily. Instead, Rodgers looks right. Similar to the final 3rd down play a week earlier against the Saints. Rodgers looks for Jones in man-coverage. His throw is off target. It's intercepted. The Packers never regained momentum. Never. Maybe I'm being too critical, but we've come to expect magic from #12. He's as cerebral as anyone in the game. He's as accurate as anyone in the game. But, thus far in 2012, his mental game and accuracy have not been what we're accustomed to seeing throughout his career. Oddly, in the last 8 games in which Rodgers has started at QB, the Packers are 3-5. With that said, he's the NFL's MVP. He's a Super Bowl MVP. He'll get it turned around.

* Continuing with the thread of not making plays, no one loves Sir Charles more than me. But, come on, man. How many picks are going to hit him in the hands before he grabs another? He's dropped 3 in the last two games. None of them have been easy, but we're accustomed to seeing him make those plays.

* T-Mon & Sammy Swagga also had opportunities to provide game changing plays. Neither held onto the football.

* The Packers haven't been able to seize the moment. 3rd & 12. Late in the 4th. A stop and the Packers move to 3-2. Burnett gets stymied by a RB. Clay has Luck from the blindside, but can't seal the deal. Players need to make plays.

* Nick Perry. Watched a lot of him in college. Loved his intensity. He attacked lineman. Today, he seems to be thinking rather than playing. He is lacking instincts. Just play, Nick. Just play.

* Speaking of Perry, that penalty on the sack was absolutely terrible. A game changer. It was 14-0. The Packers were in complete control. The Packers recovered the fumble. Would have been 21-0. Frankly, as my good friend Stack said, "it's penalties like that which are encouraging me to watch less of the NFL than I've ever watched in my life." It's not your Grandpa's and your Dad's NFL anymore. I'm not sure what's a penalty and what's not a penalty.

* The Packers need better ILB play. DJ Smith seems to be a step slow. He struggles in coverage. AJ Hawk has been decent, but all of his plays seem to be 3-6 yards down field. Nothing behind the line of scrimmage. Ever.

* The pass-rush from the DL has been a yawner. Yes, it was nice to see Mike Neal recording a sack. Overall, though, I thought Neal was less active than I hoped. Worthy has been a disappointment. He's getting stuffed - with no movement - way too much.

* Donald Driver, thanks for the memories. You're a Packers Hall of Famer. But, the old-man clock is ticking. In his limited reps, we have no time for dropped passes. I'm at the point where I'd like to see Jarrett Boykin active for a game. I'd like to see him in action. Throughout the pre-season, Boykin had stellar hands. Right now, this offense needs consistency. Boykin offered consistency when he was on the field.

* Sammy Swagga seems cursed. He's playing great football when he's lined up on the outside, but man, these pass interference calls are absolutely ridiculous. Absolutely unjustified.

* Randall Cobb is fast emerging as an ELITE player in the NFL. He's been my favorite Packer in the 2012 campaign.

* Cedric Benson. Injury. Out 8 weeks. Ouch.

* Alex Green, keep it going, kid. Keep it going. Liked the bounce to the outside.

* Way to be Casey Hayward! The first interception in his NFL career! I'm on record as predicting that he'll get a minimum of 4 interceptions this year.

* Through 5 games, Randall Cobb is our Offensive MVP.

* Through 5 games, Clay Matthews is our Defensive MVP.

* Through 5 games, Tim Masthay is our Special Teams MVP.

2-3. Two games out of first. Heading into Houston to face the Texans. If it hadn't been for a Matt Schaub injury late in the year last year, the Texans might be the defending Super Bowl Champions. We're staring 2-4 dead in the face. And, this is when McCarthy teams have played their best football.

I believe the Colts loss is the 2nd worst in the McCarthy era. The worst being the 2009 loss to the Buccaneers in Tampa. We'll bounce back. If not this week, it'll be next week. This team has a long winning streak ahead of them. We've been close, we just haven't sealed the deal.

Through 5 weeks, the Texans are the NFL's best team. With or without Cushing. On both sides of the ball, this team dominates the line of scrimmage. JJ Watt, Shaun Cody, Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, and Whitney Mercilus have been intimidating. Their OL is underrated. The OL consistently opens holes in their zone running attack.

In order for the Packers to beat the Texans, we have to stop the run game. Not just Arian Foster, but Ben Tate as well. We all know the damage that Foster can do, but Tate has emerged as one of the best back-up RB's in the NFL. Tate's success might be scheme related, but nonetheless, he's been great when given opportunities.

The Texans offensive design is as dynamite as anyone in the NFL. They use the run to set up the play action. Then they hit you deep. We all know what Andre Johnson brings to the table, but Kevin Walters is a reliable 2nd option. He can get over the top. He's a solid route runner. He'll challenge our secondary as well. Once again, DJ Smith's coverage skills will be tested. This time, it'll be Owen Daniels who'll threaten significant damage to the Packers defense.

So far, the Texans defense has been tough to move the ball on. But, their competition has been light. Big plays can be made. But, we'll need to slow down the pass rush with either a run game or more likely, the screen pass. Let's get Alex Green in the open field. Early in the game - likely the first drive - look for the aggressive Texans defense to be tested. McCarthy tries to get his guards into the 2nd line of defense and the ball into Green's hands. Green on the screen, good things might happen.

If our WR's return to their 2011 form, the Texans cannot cover us on the outside. They can't. But, if we're mediocre, like we have been throughout the first 5 weeks, we're going to be in trouble. Big trouble.

The guess is this: Rodgers finds his stride. Hits his rhythm. It becomes a shootout. And, finally, the football gods smile on us. And, once again, everything is right in the world.

Packers 34. Texans 30.

Play by Play. Move on. Think positive thoughts. We knew this would be a frustrating start to the season. Youth requires patience. But, we're getting to a spot where wins need to be present. Or the season will be lost. A season with so much promise will suffer in despair. Unite, G-Force. Unite. We still have another with the Bears. We have two with the Viqueens. We can get back in this thing. But, it won't come without frustration. We expected our best football to come towards the end of the year. We just have to make certain that those games still have meaning. We need a win.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Take -> Week 5

Greetings, G-Force.

Back to even! 2-2. A game out of first. The toughest month of our schedule is behind us. Now, we need to get hot.

Once again, the Packers dealt with shoddy officiating. This time, we prevailed. Be proud, Packers fans. Be proud. You stood tall. You were loud. You made Lambeau a difficult environment. Not necessarily for the Saints, but for the officials. And, when the game was on the line, the Saints were called for a questionable holding call, which put them back 10 yards. Hartley misses wide. Rodgers to Jones on 3rd down. And, the record is squared up at 2.

It felt good to see some Lambeau magic. Close games at Lambeau have not been kind to Mike McCarthy. Where previous head coaches found plenty of Lambeau victories in games decided by 4 points or less, despite all of his successes, Mike McCarthy had a 5-6 record in such games prior to beating the Saints. To say the least, it was more than enjoyable to see the Lambeau ghosts blow the ball wide left.

Quick vibes from the victory over the Saints:

* The NFL's MVP hasn't completely found his rhythm in the 2012 Season. Despite going 31-41 with 319 yards, 4 TD's and 1 interception, we've seen Rodgers miss some throws this year. It seems as though we've seen Rodgers "miss" on more throws in the first 4 games of this year compared to the entire regular season last year. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying. Don't get me wrong, he's brilliant, but Rodgers has not been as razor sharp as he was last year. Take, for example, the first 3rd down last week. 3rd and 3. Jones runs a short crossing route approximately 1/2 yard past the sticks. He's open. If the pass hits Jones in stride, it would have been a 4-6 yard gain. Instead the throw was behind Jones. Jones had to stop his route and come back for the ball. Thus, he lost momentum and was stopped just shy of the first down. I'm positive that Rodgers will find his rhythm. It just hasn't happened yet.

* James Jones is having his best year as a Packer. He's on pace for career highs in catches, yards, TD's, and first downs. His yards per catch are down significantly, but, thus far, he has been a reliable target for Rodgers.

* I love the way Mike McCarthy is using Randall Cobb. The shovel pass! Felt like that play was out of the repertoire! It was brought back and Cobb ran it in splendid fashion.

* It was nice to see J-Mike picking up some yards after contact.

* Greg Jennings, BE GREAT, and BE HEALTHY.

* Really liked the play of the OL. TJ Lang can play.

* Benson is running hard. Falling forward with robust passion. 4.7 yards per carry with a long of 9 yards. That's consistent running. He also caught 4 balls for 22 yards. He's been a solid addition.

* Graham Harrell had one job and that was to hand off the ball. He failed miserably. It almost was a big enough play to change the entire season.

* In 4 games this year, Clay Matthews has more sacks than he did the entire season last year.

* Morgan Burnett & T-Mon need better communication. Like that they were both going for the ball, but man, where's the field awareness?

* Speaking of T-Mon. Dude is playing at a Pro Bowl level.

* Casey Hayward and Jerron McMillan will be in the Packers secondary for the next decade. They bring flavor to our secondary. Both are playing like veterans.

* Don't like it when Sammy Swagga finds his way into the slot. He does a decent job using the sideline as his friend. But, when he's in the middle of the field, he doesn't stand a chance.

* The Packers need more push out of the interior of the DL. I don't like it when Worthy is standing up. His strength is when he's got his hand in the mud. Let's simplify the game for Worthy. He made a great play on Clay's sack as he cleared the ally for Matthews to run through when he pushed the guard into the tackle.

* I like how Capers is moving Matthews around. Trying to disguise him. I like the inside stunts. I don't like how often he's standing over the guard. It's fine on occasion. But, it's been happening way too frequently.

* Would like to see more out of Mike Daniels. Was disappointed in him jumping offsides on the FG attempt. Further, I'd like to see him collapsing the pocket. His low center of gravity should allow for him to get a push. It hasn't consistently occurred. I believe we'll see improvement.

* Dezman Moses might have only had 1 tackle last week. But, he's active. And, he's passionate. Like his intensity. He brings physical anger to the field.

This week - it's the Colts. In Indianapolis. Plain and simple, the Packers aren't losing this game. In fact,it'll be convincing. The Colts can't run with the Packers. And they know it. So, expect them to try to be conservative. Look for a lot of 2-TE sets with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen trying to be active in the middle of the field. The Colts will try to slow the game down with Donald Brown and Vick Ballard. They'll use timely roll-outs and play-action passes. Thus far, Andrew Luck has done what he's been asked. He's been a decent game manager. Late in close games, he's effectively moved the ball and put the Colts in position to win.

Not this week.

While Fleener and Allen will test Hawk and DJ Smith over the middle, the Packers will adjust. Look for Morgan Burnett to play over the top and get an interception on an overthrown ball.

Sammy Swagga can run with Reggie Wayne. They'll try to beat Sammy on double moves, but if Sammy can stay focused and not bite on any routes, he won't give up the big play.

TY Hilton is a fun, undersized WR. He can get behind the defense if your not careful. But, he's not going to be doing any damage on the underneath routes.

Donnie Avery is well used in the system. They'll try to get him the ball in a variety of ways. Often sending him in motion. Look for a play-action pass in which Avery is used as a decoy coming around the formation on a reverse. Luck might try his luck and see if the design opens up a big play down the field.

Offensively, it's time to spread 'em out. The Colts can't cover us. They're also nicked up. Vontae Davis, Justin King and Pat Angerer won't play. Dwight Freeney is a gamer, but he's banged up and might be only used in a situational role. Therefore, let's chip Robert Mathis. Don't be too proud. Line Finley up right next to Bulaga. Have Finley knock Mathis off of his course. Mathis is a relentless speed rusher. But, if you give Bulaga an ounce of help, we should be able to contain him.

It wouldn't surprise me to see the Packers with a bunch of 4 WR and 1 TE formations. Some empty sets. With Cobb shifting as the focal point. And Driver seeing additional snaps. The Colts simply cannot cover us. And the NFL's MVP finds his stride in grand form.

Rodgers finishes with over 300 yards and 4 TD's. Matthews grabs another sack. It's a great day to be a Packers fan. For the first time in the 2012 Season, the Packers have a winning record.

Green Bay 41. Indianapolis 13.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.