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!