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.