Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

7-7-1. Yet, almost amazingly, we control our destiny. They say that cats have 9 lives. Clearly, so do the 2013 Green Bay Packers.

You'll have to pardon my excitement in this blog. While I'm 100% sober in the mind during this writing, I'm absolutely drunk with Green & Gold flavor. I just spent 6 days in Titletown, U.S.A. A trip that included a marvelous Christmas with the family, the baptism of my niece, lunch at Kroll's, a Lambeau Field tour with my Dad as the guide, hundreds of dollars spent at the Pro Shop, a lunch at Kavarna's, a dinner at Zesty's, beers at Titletown Brewery, my Mom's cinnamon rolls, and multiple New Glarus beers. Oh, and it also included a snowfest at Lambeau Field. Ah, it also included one more newsworthy piece: breaking news that Aaron Rodgers will lead the Packers into Soldier Field with the NFC North title on the line. It's worth mentioning that he'll arrive with TRUMP CARD FOREVER in his pocket.

Sure, the Packers lost to the Steelers. But, man, what a game! It was beautiful outside. The energy in the stadium in the second half had a bit of magic to it. The fans were into it. The defense came alive when we needed them. Down 10 points, the defense forced a turnover and came away with two more consecutive stops. Meanwhile, Matt Flynn was engineering drives. Down 7, Micah Hyde raged a kick return 70 yards to put the Packers within striking distance. Yes, team fell short. However, it didn't come without a fight and it didn't come without excitement. No, I'm not finding consolation in a loss. What I'm saying is that I left Lambeau Field feeling proud to be a Packers fan. The 2013 Green Bay Packers team carries a NEVER SAY DIE mentality to the bone. Injuries have undoubtedly taken a huge toll on this roster. Still, with one game left, if the Packers win, we're in.

Before I get into takeaways from the loss to the Steelers, I want to write one playoff thought: Assuming Rodgers and Cobb are healthy, the only team in the NFC that I'd favor over the Packers would be the 49ers. San Francisco has the Packers number right now. Do I want to see the Packers play at New Orleans? Not necessarily. I'd pick the Packers over the Seahawks in Seattle. Yes, I'm drinking the Green & Gold Kool-Aid, but I've said that since early in the season.

Here are some vibes from the game:

* Mike McCarthy's team fought to the finish. In the end, they didn't get the job done. But, they never quit. McCarthy called a really good game. He was aggressive. In attack mode. If he stays that way for the rest of the year, the Packers might have 5 more games on their schedule.

* The "EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!" chants are alive and well. After the blocked FG/illegal bat play, you had to love the EDDIE chants. Most of the Packers huddle was trying to quiet the crowd down. Not Lacy. He was asking for more volume. On the next play, Lacy pounded it in for 2 yards. That was an epic moment at Lambeau Field.

* Some will criticize Dom Capers for the defense giving up 38 points. Not me. Flynn gifted Pittsburgh a TD. On the Flynn fumble, the defense held only to have special teams choke it away with a penalty. On the opening drive of the 2nd half, the defense held, but a fake punt extended the drive and gave the Steelers the ball at the 26. By the way, I was sitting next to my brother, Chad, and called that fake. It was so predictable. Terrible awareness by our special teams unit. Special teams also cost us field position before the half and thus, the Steelers were able to get 3 points. In all, I thought the defense played fairly well.

* For the third consecutive game, the defense forced two turnovers in the 2nd half.


* The Packers defense is better with Jamari Lattimore on the field than they are with Brad Jones on the field.

* The Packers defense is better with Sean Richardson on the field than they are with MD Jennings on the field.

* AJ Hawk with a fun interception!

* The Packers best run defender last weekend? Andy Mulumba. Gulp.

* Actually, Mulumba holds his ground well against the run. He has no pass rush moves.

* Dear BJ Raji & Ryan Pickett, what happened? At one point, I thought you were a robust duo. Now? A lot to be desired. Raji seriously walked away from $8 million? That's crazy talk.

* Sammy Swagga is a stallion.

* I dig T-Mon.

* Victor Aiyewa is an above average special teams player.

* It hurts to lose Clay and Jolly for the year. A lot.

* Micah Hyde. An artisan. He's vastly improved out of the slot over the last two weeks.

* Matt Flynn is what he is. He's a back-up QB who knows the Packers offense well. The team has confidence in him. McCarthy is comfortable with him as they've worked together long enough. Because the Packers have multiple weapons, Flynn can succeed on this team. Hell, without him, the season would be over. He's been good enough to keep the Packers alive. He's a top-10 back-up QB in the league. But, he's a back-up who has plenty of deficiencies. Namely, he struggles to see the field. On multiple occasions, Jordy Nelson had big gains coming out of the slot. Flynn rarely looked his way. With 10:07 seconds left in the 2nd Quarter and the game tied at 7, the Packers took over the ball at their own 7 yard line. On the first two downs of the drive, Jordy Nelson was WIDE OPEN. On the first one, he'd likely have scored a 93-yard TD. No one was near him. On both occasions, Flynn never looked his way.

* Congrats to Eddie Lacy for breaking the Packers rookie rushing record.

* I'll eat crow for my earlier EDS comments. He's a fighter. He'll never be a Pro Bowler, but he plays with guts.

* David Bakhtiari is a very good player.

* TJ Lang and Josh Sitton have become an elite Guard tandem.


* Jarrett Boykin is a baller. So is Jordy Nelson. So is JJ.

* Here's how the Packers could win the next 5 games and leave the 2013 season as Super Bowl Champions: James Jones spread wide to the left. Jordy in the slot to the left. Cobb in the slot to the right. Boykin split wide right. Rodgers in shotgun. Lacy lined up next to him. Jordy & Cobb are both lined up a 1/2 step off the line of scrimmage to avoid the jam. Rodgers is given two plays before each down. He's in control of the game at the line of scrimmage. How could you defend that? You'd need 6 DB's on the field or else you're covering Jordy or Cobb with a LB. Would the DB's be willing - much less able - to tackle Eddie? This offense could put up 38 points per game. Lethal. One game at a time. With five games in sight.

* Last weekend - I bought my wife an Eddie Lacy jersey and multiple Eddie Lacy rookie cards. EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!

This week - it's the hated Chicago Bears. At Soldier Field. For all of the NFC North marbles. Clearly, the Packers have had the edge at Soldier Field in recent history. In the 2010 season, the Packers gained TRUMP CARD FOREVER as they took home the Halas Trophy at Soldier Field. Yes, that's right. Halas Trophy. Soldier Field. Visitors Locker Room. TRUMP CARD FOREVER. Then, in 2012, the Packers captured the 2012 NFC North crown at Soldier Field. This year, they're gunning to do the same.

Thankfully, Ray Nutler will be the starting QB for the Bears. Throughout his career, the Packers have owned Nutler. In his career against the Green Bay Packers, Ray Nutler has combined stats that read: 9 games. His team carries a 1-8 record. 9 TD's. 17 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. Let's hope it continues for another week.

This version of the Bears is different. They're loaded with weapons. Jeffery and Marshall are superstars. Martellus Bennett is a mismatch. Earl Bennett is a solid 3rd WR. Matt Forte is elite. The Bears OL is vastly improved. Marc Trestman keeps Defensive Coordinators guessing with a large playbook. The Bears have a first-class offense.

Oddly, while the offense is in the upper echelon, the defense is among the worst in the league. They don't tackle well. They apply limited pressure on the QB. They can't stop the run. They're safety play is as bad as the Packers' safety play.

Expect a high scoring game. Thus, the edge goes to the Packers. Rodgers > Nutler.

Give credit where credit is due. Had the Bears not knocked Rodgers out, the Packers would have won this Division already. The Bears did what they had to do. Therefore, with one week left, they have home-field advantage in the winner-take-all contest.

Trestman loves to send Jeffery on the end around. He doesn't always give it to him on the reverse, but it's good trickery. Often, he'll send Forte into the short side of the field on those plays. The Bears run the reverse often enough that you have to take Jeffery seriously as he's running across the backfield.

The Bears will also run the pitch to Forte a couple of times. They'll have Martellus Bennett lined up tight against the tackle. Brandon Marshall will be lined up wide. He'll come in motion. Slowly. Towards Bennett. The design will appear for the play to go the opposite direction. Instead it'll be a wide pitch, which makes it easy for Forte to get to the outside. Jon Gruden used to run this play often with Charlie Garner. It's consistently effective.

Trestman is a river boat gambler. He's aggressive in a video-game style. It doesn't always seem sensible, but on occasion, he's scored big with his tactics. He'll attack the Packers secondary early in the game. He'll send Marshall in motion and hide him in the slot. Then, Marshall will sit down beyond the first down marker.

Even with winds exceeding 20 mph, expect a shoot-out. Like most Packers v Bears contests, it'll be a back-and-forth game. It's Nutler who makes the big mistake. And, therefore, it's the Packers who walk away with the NFC North title.

Lacy runs for 120 and 2 TD's. Rodgers throws for 300 yards and three TD's.

Packers 38. Bears 34.


Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

7-6-1. With ecstasy! In control of our own destiny. This calls for a taste of the Hair of the Dog Adam. 10% ABV. Smokey buzz with a sensational full bodied chocolate note.

The win at Dallas called for an "OUR HOUSE" chant. In legendary form, the comeback was historic. Tied for the greatest in franchise history. And, in the 2nd half, everyone did their part. Throw in Justin Tucker's 61-yard FG to beat Detroit on Monday Night Football and the Packers control their own destiny.

Here are some takeaways from the epic win over Dallas:

* Kudos to Mike McCarthy. It would have been easy to give up. But, not for a Mike McCarthy coached team. Since his arrival, he's portrayed a NEVER SAY DIE mentality. So has his team. Throughout, I found him to be animated. His appearance was though he always believed in his team. Well done, Irishman.

* It's been easy to point fingers at our defense over the course of the last 7 games. But, in the 2nd half, over the last two weeks, the defense has given up only 10 combined points. Over the same period, they've forced 4 turnovers; including 2 that have sealed victories. Noteworthy!

* It's time to remind the G-Force of who we are as a team. We aren't a dominant defense. We don't have elite special teams return units. But, we don't have a super running back, lethal WR's, an above average OL and an extremely capable TE. When we play with ball controlled offense and run the clock, we're tough to beat. But, as fans and as a franchise, we have to remember our identity. And, we have to play within ourselves. And, when we eat up clock, our defense is well rested and, thus we're more physical and an all-around better team. With Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb, this team feels like it could make a run.


* Big ups to Matt Flynn. Flynn responded in grand fashion. After a miserable 1st half, Flynn was brilliant in the 2nd half. In the 1st half, I thought Flynn made three miserable decisions. On the 1st drive, he had Jordy in the slot. He saw the blitz. He didn't get rid of the ball. Crosby bailed him out and saved three points by drilling a 57-yard FG. On the interception he threw, he tried to force the ball to Jordy. However, in plain view, AQ81 was running wide open down the seam. On the 3rd & 1 pass to Lacy on the last offensive drive of the 1st half, he had AQ81 all alone. It was a 2-man route. There was no excuse for not seeing him. Had he seen AQ81, Quarless would have had an easy 60-yard TD. In the 2nd half, Flynn found his TE 5 times for 62 yards and a TD. A TE and a RB are a QB's safety valve. They also breed confidence in a QB. When Flynn throws the underneath routes on early downs, he moves the offense efficiently. In the end, Flynn finished with 299 yards and 4 TD's. He connected with 7 WR's. Rightfully, he was given the game ball. And, he saved our season. Terrific work, Matt Flynn!

* Jordy Nelson is unbelievable. He never ceases to amaze me. He's a natural at making catches in traffic.

* Way to elevate, AQ81! Huge ups!

* Josh Sitton, EDS and TJ Lang played supremely.

* David Bakhtiari is going to have a long career in Green Bay.

* JJ with the TD!

* Had to enjoy the middle screen to Starks. What a great play call by The Irishman!

* Consider this: the Packers got the ball 5 teams in the 2nd half. The drives went for 80 yards, 80 yards, 22 yards, 80 yards and 50 yards. All were TD's. Magnificent offensive display.

* T-Mon has caught a lot of flack over the last 2.5 years, but man, that dude is a gamer. He's a big play waiting to happen.

* Mike Daniels. Man, it's so fun to have him on the team. Dude has 6.5 sacks. He's constantly fighting. I loved seeing him congratulate Lacy after his game winning TD. Lined up next to the Freezer, Daniels appeared to be stoked to aid as a blocker.

* Sammy Swagga looks to be the most crucial FA that the Packers have to re-sign this offseason.

* Congrats to Eddie Lacy! Topping 1,000 yards as a rookie. 77 yards from tying John Brockington's franchise rookie record.

* Nice effort Mike Neal.

* Nick Perry gets a push on pass downs.

* It's clear to me that Clay Matthews should spend more time as an inside rusher. He's been swallowed recently in 1 on 1 situations when rushing from the outside. But, his 1/2 sack was huge. Got Dallas off the field. Datone Jones did a great job in preventing Romo from getting outside the pocket. Loved seeing Daniels' celebration after the play.

* I'm going to combine all of the excessive negatives into one asterisk. MD Jennings should never see the field again. If he were cut, I doubt anyone would pick him up. Brad Jones consistently tackles too high. His year started off with a lot of life. Now, he's a liability. Morgan Burnett? Dude, really? Really? He's been poor.

* Keep fighting, Josh Boyd. Like the effort. He's either beefy at the line of scrimmage or he's driven 5 yards back. There's no middle ground. Strive for consistency, young man.

* Sean Richardson is a presence. Can't say he's a star in coverage, but by appearance, he's far superior to MD Jennings.

* Mason Crosby has been gold.

* Jarrett Boykin can dance. I'd like to see him in Green Bay for the next 10 years. Great length. Terrific hands. Smooth after the catch.

* Eddie Lacy's smile is magical.


* It's worth mentioning: in 2010, DeSean Jackson did the unthinkable in Week 15 to allow us to control our own destiny. In 2013, in Week 15, Justin Tucker made a ridiculously long kick to allow us to control our own destiny. Both amazing special teams plays that offered us hope. There are plenty of other parallels. But, that one has me scratching my head.

* It's also worth mentioning two players stats: Greg Jennings is up to 59 catches for 733 yards and 4 TD's. Was hoping he'd get 70 catches, 1,000 yards and 6 TD's and hope that we could get a 4th Round compensatory pick for him. That's unlikely. Erik Walden notched his 3rd sack last week. I'd predict that the Packers will get a 6th Round pick for him.

This week - I'm headed to Titletown, U.S.A. My favorite game of the year is the Christmas Game. I'm stoked for a 3:25 kickoff. I'm hoping for light snowflakes. I'm looking forward to my Dad belting out John Lennon's "So, this is Christmas" over the loud speaker. Always a treat. It'll be joyful to witness this one with my Family. Can't be more excited.

The last time we saw the Steelers, it was the XLV Super Bowl. #1, baby. #1. XLV Forever. Gon' Pop Tarts on 'dem Steelers. Guarantee that my car will be bouncing Lil' Wayne's "Green & Yellow" this weekend. That'll be savory.

As I turn down memory lane, how can I not bring up the Yancy Thigpen game. That, too, was a Christmas game. That game brought us an NFC Central title.

I realize that I'm writing this blog early, but the reality is that I'm driving back to Titletown, U.S.A. It was my only chance to get something posted. While it doesn't feel as though Rodgers is playing, I have to set a stage: Could this be one of the most unique moments in the history of the Green Bay Packers? Think of the frustrations we've felt this year. A once promising season suddenly turned evil when the hated Bears slammed our MVP to the turf and knocked him out. He misses the majority of 7 games. In those games, we go 2-4-1. It appeared the season was over, but suddenly, after two great comeback victories, the Packers control their destiny. And, then, out of the tunnel, we hear Bill Jartz belt out..."And, at Quarterback, from Cal, #12, Aaron Rodgers! Lambeau will be electric! This has to happen. Destiny is on our side. It feels that way. We're influenced by positive imaginations.

The Steelers and the Packers. At Lambeau. In December. That's football. In vintage form. Two of the greatest franchises in the NFL squaring off. All beautiful.

The Steelers have weapons on the outside. Antonio Brown is one of the most underrated WR's in the league. He's an elite weapon. A great kick return. Dangerous. The Steelers love to throw the screen to Brown. He's a big play threat. Every time he touches the ball, he's thinking about 6 points. Emmanuel Sanders is a talented, but inconsistent player. The Steelers love the WR screen to Sanders as well. He's shifty and is capable of taking it to the house. Jerricho Cotchery is a wily veteran. He finds holes in the defense. A great 3rd down WR. Heath Miller isn't the guy he used to be, but he's a MAN. A crafty player who understands the game and is in lock-step with Big Ben. Le'Veon Bell is a 3-down back who is a receiving threat. Jonathan Dwyer is tough to bring down.

Big Ben is playing well. Over his last 5 games, he has 12 TD's and only 1 interception. He's in a groove.

The Steelers OL is a work-in-progress. They've been banged up. The Packers DL should win the line of scrimmage.

The Steelers defense isn't what is once was, but they're savvy veterans. Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark may have lost some speed, but they still have power and strike fear into opposing WR's. Ike Taylor has lost a step. The Steelers DL isn't what is once was, but they appear to be healthy for this week with Brett Keisel and Steve McLendon returning to the line-up. I really like their LB's: Lawrence Timmons is a rising superstar; Vince Williams hits everything that walks; Jarvis Jones hasn't been what I had expected he'd be, but he's a strong pass rusher; and Jason Worilds/Chris Carter are young, developing players.

The Packers are the better team. With or without Aaron Rodgers. With Rodgers, the Packers might win by 17 points. Without him, it'll be a nail biter. But, this version of the Steelers doesn't dominate the line of scrimmage. I really think the Packers will beat Pittsburgh up in the trenches. We'll be the more physical team. Being from Pittsburgh, you know this one is important to Mike McCarthy. The boys will be ready.

Assuming Rodgers sits, it'll be closer than it should be. However, Flynn finds Boykin. And Nelson. And Jones. And AQ81. And Lacy on the dump-off. Then, it's Lacy pounding it up the gut. The Packers take a 10-point lead early.

Big Ben leads them back. Big Ben does a masterful job of annoying the opposition by extending plays. Look for him to make a couple of big plays to Antonio Brown on busted plays. He'll also extend plays and connect with Miller and Cotchery. Keeping the Steelers alive in frustrating fashion.

It's nerve-wracking. In a tight game, Lil' Wayne nails it: "Touchdown on Ike Taylor."

Packers 30. Steelers 27.

With the Bowl games on the horizon, I thought I'd provide a quick 7 Round Mock Draft for the Packers along with some others that have caught my eye. This mock will obviously change extensively between now and the Draft. Not all will be playing in Bowl games, but they're included nonetheless:

Round 1.) Eric Ebron, TE, UNC. With AQ81 as a Free Agent and J-Mike's future uncertain, Ebron looks to fit in perfectly as a receiving option. Others: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vandy; Louis Nix, DL, ND; Haha Clinton-Dix, S, AL; Kyle Van Roy, OLB, BYU.

Round 2.) Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State. I want Bucannon. Be sure to watch him in his Bowl Game. He's a missile. A sure tackler. Slaps wrists. Picks off passes. A turnover machine. I'd take him in Round 1. Others: It's hard to not select Jarvis Landry or Odell Beckham. The LSU WR's fit our scheme perfectly. CJ Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa; Kony Ealy, OLB/DL, Mizzou; Jackson Jeffcoat, OLB, Texas; Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford; DaQuan Jones, DL, Penn State.

Round 3.) Kenny Ladler, S, Vandy. Ladler isn't a fierce tackler, but he brings ball carriers to the ground. He's also great at making plays on the ball, while it's in the air. He's instinctive. He & Bucannon would compliment each other well. Others: Terrence Brooks, S, FSU; Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn; Michael Sam, OLB, Mizzou; Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech; Chris Borland, ILB, WI; Charles Sims, RB, WVU; Demarcus Lawrence, OLB, Boise State.

Round 4.) James Gayle, OLB, Virginia Tech. Gayle has ideal 3-4 OLB size. He doesn't possess the ultimate burst off of the line, but he's a productive player who pursues with desire. Further, Gayle has been a consistent player throughout his time at Va Tech. Others: L'Damian Washington, WR, Mizzou; Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State; Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois; Yawin Smallwood, ILB, UCONN; Tre Boston, S, UNC.

Round 5.) Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State. He's a leader. A sure tackler. Smart. Directs traffic. A strong inside blitzer. Gets sideline to sideline.

Round 5.) (For Greg Jennings) Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU. Hoffman has good size/speed combination. He has a nose for the end zone and catches the ball in traffic. I envision him as an ideal back-shoulder receiver in the Packers offense. Others: James Wilder, RB, FSU; Deandre Coleman, DL, Cal.

Round 6.) Shamar Stephen, DL, UCONN. He has the length that the Packers are looking for. He's not an overwhelming playmaker, but he's active and holds the point with passion. Others: Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville.

Round 6.) (For Erik Walden) Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky. He was all over the field for bad Kentucky defense. Still he stood out. Consistently among the best players on the field in an SEC game.

Round 7.) Alex Neutz, WR, Buffalo. Every time I watch Neutz, he's making big plays. Oh, and he's finding the end zone. Reminds me of a poor man's Jordy Nelson. Others: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

6-6-1. Back to even! Please allow me to pause and set the stage. I'm sipping a Stillwater Stateside Saison. This Farmhouse Ale feels like you're drinking flowers. It's the proper way to reminisce on last Sundays win as the feeling of that victory was beautiful. I'm listening to the Black Uhuru Bubbin' It Live album. I'm feelin' it.

Most years, there are a couple of Sundays where things seem to fall into place. Couple the Packers victory with the Lions loss and there was reason to celebrate. In heavy fashion. My gut says that if we can pull off three more wins, we'll be playoff bound. But, it starts with one win at a time. Here are some takeaways from the victory over the Falcons:

* At halftime, I turned to my wife and I said that it was mandatory to enjoy each play of the second half. The season was on the brink of elimination. The crowd was rightfully annoyed. McCarthy looked frustrated. The ball wasn't bouncing our way. All signs were pointing to a cursed season. And then, in epic fashion, the Packers rallied. In unison. With a NEVER SAY DIE mentality.

* Props to Mike McCarthy. I've long felt that he's a players coach. Right as it felt as though the season was nearing closure, McCarthy's team bought in. In full effect. With heightened energy. And, thus, we have hope.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! There are times that I watch him and I think that if both he and Rodgers stay healthy, Lacy may end up in the Hall of Fame. I seriously don't think that's a stretch. He reminds me of Jerome Bettis. He's powerful. He's deceptively fast with soft hands. Good vision. He pounds his way forward. Defenders seem hesitant to want to take him head-on. I agree with Alex Van Pelt who said that DB's "have to make a business decision whether you're going to take the big fella on."

* J-Bush! What up, Jarrett? Go get that Hall of Fame TE. Tony Gonzalez is the greatest TE to ever play. But, last Sunday, with the game on the line, Jarrett Bush beat him in a 1 on 1 battle. Well done, Jarrett. Oh, it was fine form to clinch the win with an interception.

* Johnny Jolly, yo! What a huge game! A run stuffer. The batted pass. And, the huge fumble recovery. WHAT IS LIFE!

* If Nick Perry ever stays healthy, he's going to consistently get 8-10 sacks.

* Big play, Mike Neal! That strip sack was enormous!

* Thought Pickett played well early in the game.

* Matt Flynn doesn't see the field very well. On multiple occasions, he missed open players over the middle of the field. There were numerous open plays down the field. With that said, I give him credit for finding the safety valves. 13 of his 24 completions were to the TE and to the RB. He relied on the underneath routes.

* Big ups to you, AQ81. The best game of your career.


* There was a Ryan Taylor sighting. And, I kinda liked it.

* Jarrett Boykin can play on my team any day.

* Good run after the catch Brandon Bostick.

* Keep pumping the legs, James Starks. But, remember to run North/South. Starks' lateral running don't produce good results. Ever.

* I like when Micah Hyde blitzes from the slot.

* Good game, T-Mon.

* Sean Richardson is an upgrade. He brings a physical presence. I didn't like when he was dragged two yards after contact for a first down. Nonetheless, I like the way he looks in uniform. Barring injury, MD Jennings shouldn't see the field again in 2013.

* Here's a great Eddie Lacy fact: Lacy is just 113 yards from becoming the second rookie back in franchise history to reach 1,000 rushing yards. In 1971, John Brockington rushed for 1,105 yards. Lacy is definitely within striking distance.

* Josh Boyd played. But, he got pushed around.

* Need more out of AJ Hawk and Brad Jones.

* Morgan Burnett disappoints. Immensely.

* Good hustle, Datone Jones.

* Victor Aiyewa looks to be a decent special teams player.

This week - it's the Cowboys. At the sight of one of the best memories of my life. Picture this: An XLV Championship. Standing 20 rows from the turf. With your Mom, Dad and older brother. Arms around one another. Confetti falling from the sky. Raised right index finger. #1, baby. #1. XLV Champs. Forever.

And, now, we return. With a similar mindset as the last time we went to Dallas. As it's transcribed on the XLV ring: "One mind. One goal. One purpose. One heart." One. One win. One game at a time. We need this one. Desperately.

Sadly, we arrive without Aaron Rodgers as the starting QB. For a moment, it felt like he'd be arriving as though it was Easter Sunday. And, thus, ultimately, the Packers would be elevating in grand form. But, instead, it's Matt Flynn leading the way. With the season lingering in the balance.

Dallas has weapons. Tons of them. DeMarco Murray is lethal. Dez Bryant is gifted. Jason Witten is abusively possessive. Miles Austin has game. Tony Romo is a natural. Terrance Williams might blossom into an elite WR in the league. Tyron Smith is a terrific left tackle. Travis Frederick is a solid Center. Bottom line - Dallas will score points. Likely, in abundance.

If the Packers don't score 30 points, I don't envision a victory. Thankfully, the Dallas defense is beatable. In fact, they're amongst the worst in the league. Throughout his career, Monte Kiffin has performed well against the Packers. His Cover-2 defense has caused both confusion and turnovers. Let's hope that it's different on Sunday.

Though DeMarcus Ware hasn't had his best season, he's still a threat on every down that he's playing. Jason Hatcher is among the best DT in the game. He scares me. George Selvie has the speed to present issues to the Packers offensive tackles. We know Jarius Wynn well. He can't play. With that said, we're all forever thankful for his sack on Favre, when good ol' Brett was wearing Purple at Lambeau. It sounds as though Sean Lee won't play. That's a HUGE boost. Bruce Carter might also miss the game. Therefore, the front 7 of the Dallas defense will be heavily decimated. Eddie Lacy should run for more than 100 yards.

The Cowboys secondary confuses me. They have players. I'd take Brandon Carr, JJ Wilcox, Morris Claiborne, and Orlando Scandrick on my team. All have futures in the league. All, at times, have been abused in 2013. Spread 'em out, McCarthy. Let's attack.

It's a shootout. Without a doubt. Let's hope that Flynn sees the field. If so, the Packers will out-gun the Cowboys. If Flynn holds onto the ball too long, the Cowboys will get pressure and they'll force turnovers. The Dallas defense has lived off of turnovers. Without them, they're pathetic.

Dallas cannot cover us. No one on the field can cover Jordy Nelson. No one. No one on the field can man up against Eddie Lacy. No one.

Be creative, McCarthy. Be aggressive, McCarthy. If so, we'll have enough offense to win.

One final thought: Dwayne Harris is arguably the most dangerous return man in football. We can't let him beat us. Someone has to make the tackle.

Packers 34. Cowboys 30.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 6, 2013

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

5-6-1. It looks bleak. Yet, the philosophy remains to NEVER SAY DIE. At times, it feels like the team has quit. Like they've lost hope. But, it's not over yet. Detroit has a tough schedule ahead of them. The Packers have 4 winnable games on the schedule. Win out and the playoffs are a possibility.

As Packers fans, we aren't accustomed to meaningless December games. We've been spoiled over the last 20 years. And, now, we are faced with elimination. Painfully. But, as fans, we must stay unified. The aim is to repair this season; one win at a time.

Here's some takeaways from the Turkey Day disaster:

* A conservative Mike McCarthy is never a good thing. He's become way too predictable. On 2nd & 10. He's running Eddie Lacy. Note to McCarthy: the objective is to put your back-up QB in 3rd and short scenarios. McCarthy did Flynn no favors.

* Early in the game, Flynn did not go thru his progressions. If he'd have seen AQ81, it'd have been a big play. Instead, he was locked in on Jordy Nelson, who was well covered. A big missed opportunity early in the game.

* I am struggling with my take on Dom Capers. On the one hand, why isn't Clay exclusively on the left and Perry on the right? Didn't Clay have 39 sacks in 3 years from the left side? Hasn't Perry been dominant on the right side? To me, that's on Capers. On the other hand, it's tough to win with MD Jennings, Brad Jones and AJ Hawk in the middle of the defense. Jennings is awful. Jones shows glimpses of goodness, but he tackles too high. He reaches way too much. And, since coming back from his injury, he's been pushed around. This should be AJ Hawk's last year in Green Bay.

* More Capers: is it just me or has the DL quit? Other than Mike Daniels and Datone Jones. Maybe Pickett & Jolly are injured, but what are we doing with BJ Raji? In the XLV run, he was blossoming into an elite player. Today, I'm not sure how he's being utilized. Seems like more coaching flaws. His team appears to have given up on him.

* One final Capers thought: How long are we going to tolerate miscommunication in the secondary? I've been an avid Capers supporter. Last Thursday was the final straw. He has to go.

* Nick Perry played a tremendous first half.

* Clay was also active in the first half.

* T-Mon played well in the first half.

* JJ played until the final whistle.

* McCarthy looked to be going to the screen to slow down the pass rush. We had good success. Then we never saw it again.

* Marshall Newhouse cannot play in this league.

* Admire TJ Lang for stepping in at Center.

* Sean Richardson can tackle. He might lack speed and thus, he'll need to adjust his angles in pursuit, but nonetheless if he doesn't start and see significant snaps this week, then I am overly confused. How can MD Jennings be tolerated?

* In an effort to prevent a completely negative post, I'm going to move onto the Falcons game.

This week - it's Atlanta. At the once feared Lambeau Field where the Packers are 0-2-1 in their last 3 games. Good thing that the Falcons don't appear all that interested in the 2013 NFL Season.

When I think about a Falcons v Packers game, the first thing that comes to mind is the greatest quarter in my Packers lifetime: the 2nd Quarter of the 2010 NFC Divisional playoffs was awesome sauce. Rodgers was spectacular. Driver, Jennings, Jordy, and JJ all made plays. Clay & Sir Charles grabbed sacks. BJ was a lead blocker and doing THE RAJI, prior to proclaiming himself the Freezer. T-Mon had two picks, one in which Nintendo Nick escorted him to the end zone. Brilliant! My lil' brother and I were in attendance. A gold moment. Forever cherished. I left hoarse. Remained that way for weeks.

For both teams, 2013 is far different than 2010. The Falcons still have Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. They have some weapons. Plus, Harry Douglas is an average WR. Thank the Lord that the Falcons outbid the Packers for Steven Jackson. Jacquizz Rodgers is a shifty, low-to-the-ground runner with decent hands. When he's given opportunities, Jason Snelling performs. In the past, the Packers DL has been outwardly opinionated with respect to their dislike for the ATL OL. Especially Raji, who has claimed that they're cheap. Could this be the spark that ignites effort on the defensive side of the ball?

Let's hope that David Bakhtiari returns to health and that EDS is fit to play or else the Packers revamped OL will have issues with the ATL front 4. Though Atlanta's defense is among the worst tackling units in the league, we've seen Marshall Newhouse try to block Osi Umenyiora before. It doesn't end well. Jonathan Babineaux, Jonathan Massaquoi and Corey Peters shouldn't present much of a pass rushing threat. Sean Weatherspoon can play. The ATL secondary can ball, but they haven't played with much motivation. Regardless, I like Moore, DeCoud, Trufant and Samuel. They can all make plays on the ball in the air. With that said, their secondary depth is limited.

The Packers need this one. Desperately. The locker room needs it. The state of Wisconsin needs it. McCarthy has nothing to lose. He comes out aggressively. In attack-mode. He goes to the screen to get Lacy on track and into space. Lacy pounds away at the edges of the ATL defense.

Then it's Flynn to Boykin for a TD! Mark my words, Boykin has a big game. His size, hands and body control present match-up problems for Atlanta.

I'm afraid that Gonzalez, Harry Douglas and Roddy White will each grab 5 balls. Chase Coffman could also make a play or two. Then, it's Rodgers juking Hawk to pick up extra yards.

It's back and forth. But, the Packers are desperate. And, therefore, they're victorious as in the end, they want the game more.

Yes, I'm holding onto every last piece of hope. Hard as it might be. But, it's as simple as this: from '99-'02, you could argue that we wasted some of Favre's prime. I fear the same could happen to Rodgers. Every year counts. Therefore, I hold on. I hold onto this twisted season in hopes of turning it around.


Packers 24.
Falcons 23.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Take -> Week 13

Greetings, G-Force.

5-5-1. The record couldn't indicate a more average team. I'm here to give you good news. In 2007, the Giants looked like they weren't playoff bound in early December. Well, they won the Super Bowl. In 2008, the Steelers had to fight their way into the playoffs. They, too, won the Super Bowl. In 2010, it looked like the Packers season ended in early December. Yeah, they also won the Super Bowl. In 2011, the Giants appeared to be on their way to elimination in mid-December. They found fortune and found themselves in the playoffs. Eventually, they won the Super Bowl. Last year, the Ravens were so desperate late in the year that they fired their Offensive Coordinator. Yeah, you guessed it, they eventually won the Super Bowl as well.

Parity doesn't define this era of the NFL. Mediocrity does. It's a battle of survival. Get yourself into the playoffs and anything can happen. Literally.

Luckily for the 2013 version of the Green Bay Packers, no one seems to want to win the NFC North. The Packers, Bears and Lions are all struggling to grab the Division by the neck. And, thus, the Packers have life.

This was supposed to be an easy part of the schedule. Instead, the Packers have gone 0-3-1 in their last four games. 3, of which, were at Lambeau. Still, the Packers control their destiny. Win and we're in.

Here are some vibes from the tie to the 'queens:

* Mike McCarthy went to Matt Flynn at the right time. It wasn't too early. It wasn't too late. Tolzien had earned the chance to start. Tolzien earned the chance to redeem himself after Halftime. When he failed, he needed to be pulled.

* How does McCarthy not hand the ball off to Eddie Lacy on 3rd & Goal from the 3. I have to assume that he knew that the Lions and the Bears had already lost. At that stage, don't you play for the win? Hand it to Lacy twice. And, if you fail to get in, you line up and play defense. Hope that the defense holds. Much like they did in the 4th Quarter. Try to get a 3 and out and play the field position game. As I wrote last week, a conservative Mike McCarthy is never a good Mike McCarthy. At that stage, the Packers had nothing to lose. Lacy should have been given the ball.

* I don't blame McCarthy for going for two. At that point, the defense had looked lifeless. It didn't appear as though the defense could get two stops in a row, much less one. It was the right decision.

* Dear Matt Flynn, I'm sorry if I've ever doubted you. Well played, man. An impressive performance, to say the least. You provided the spark that our season needed.

* Eddie Lacy was absolutely phenomenal. EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!

* Clay Matthews showed signs of being himself again. He was active in his pass rush. He was inspiring. For the most point, he held the point of attack. His led by example.

* I'm unable to comprehend this defense. I can't tell if it's the personnel or Dom Capers. Or both. But, one thing I'm certain about is that this defense is heartless.

* How does Davon House drop that pick-6? Had he caught it, it'd have been 14-3 and the outcome would have likely been completely different.

* Mike Neal confuses me. He shows flashes of All-Pro ability and then follows it up with below average play. No consistency.

* I really want to like Brad Jones. He seems like a really nice guy. But, man, he grabs at everything. Lacks physicality. He annoys.

* Mike Daniels is our best DL. By far.

* Someone needs to remind BJ Raji, CJ Wilson and Ryan Pickett that you're supposed to play your best football in a contract year.

* Morgan Burnett seems to whiff as much as he makes the tackle.

* Nelson, Boykin, and JJ make me believe that if we can get the ship righted, anything is possible. Unless, of course, Donny Barclay cannot get healthy. Marshall Newhouse can't play in this league.

* Lacy has brought a dimension to the Packers that we haven't seen in my lifetime.

* David Bakhtiari played a great game.

* Sitton and Lang were rock solid.

* Catch the ball, Brandon Bostick.

* It was nice to see J-Bush making an appearance as a gunner on special teams.

* Tim Masthay was a star.

* What an awesome touchdown run by Scott Tolzien. Followed by an extremely disappointing performance.

* Micah Hyde has to learn to jam WR's at the line. He needs to use his strength at the line of scrimmage. He's reacting too much. He should be the one forcing the issue.

* I'm ready to see Sean Richardson at Safety. It can't be worse that what's presently happening. And, one thing is for sure, he'll hit you!

* Sure it was Jerel Worthy's first game of the year, but that dude looked like a wimp. He was pushed around. A sieve.

* Eddie Lacy damn near willed the Packers to victory. What a stallion!

* That was big false start penalty on EDS in OT. Felt like the Packers were driving for the win. Spoiled all momentum.

* Andy Mulumba did a good job at the point of attack.

* Hurry back, Sammy Swagga!

* Datone Jones shows burst, but he has to finish the play.

* While the 3rd down OT defensive holding call on Minnesota was highly questionable, the refs missed a 1st down defensive holding call that appeared blatant. Nelson was grabbed. Badly.

* After the FG, the defense had the 'queens pinned on 3rd & 9. How do you not plan to stop AP? I knew it was happening from my living room. Capers clearly assumed pass. I'd have tried to make Ponder beat me.

* Jordy Nelson, you are the definition of a Green Bay Packer.

* Big props to the crowd in the 3rd Quarter. It appeared as though the game was slipping away. And, the crowd never lost hope. Felt like some of the old Lambeau Magic was trying to find it's way back onto the Field.

* An interesting note: the Packers continuously run the same play in which they drag a post route behind the slant near the goal line. We saw it on the 4th down play against the Eagles. We saw it on the crucial 3rd down play in OT. Both times, the pass went to Nelson in the corner. Both times, Jones was open on the slant. We also saw a similar play on the 2 point conversion with Quarless running to the corner and Boykin running the slant. Boykin was open on the slant. The ball went to Quarless, who was well covered. We saw the same play on the 3rd down TD pass to Boykin. Boykin ran the slant. He was open. He scored a TD. 4 times, they ran a similar play. 4 times the slant was open. 3 times the play went to the corner and it was incomplete. Once it went to the slant and it was a TD. I wonder if the QB's are being to throw it to the outside? If so, that seems like a tough, slow developing pass where the slant is a fairly easy throw, if you have a window available.

This week - it's the Lions. In Detroit. On Thanksgiving. A win and it'll be a day of grand celebration. A loss and we can start looking towards next years NFL Draft. The Packers need this one. Desperately.

We know the Lions. They know us. If the Packers plan on winning the game, they have to win the line of scrimmage. The Lions OL is soft. Their DL is dominant. There is no reason that the Packers front 7 doesn't get pressure on Stafford. Clay Matthews should dominate Riley Rieff. Mike Neal should beat up Jason Fox. Inside blitzes should find success against the interior of the Lions OL, especially attacking LG, Rob Sims.

We all know about Calvin Johnson. But, Detroit's other weapons can cause problems. Nate Burleson is healthy, once again. Burleson is a solid possession receiver. He's feisty and finds ways to get open. Joseph Fauria is an elite Red Zone target. Pettigrew is average, but he's good enough to move the chains. Reggie Bush has been lethal when he holds onto the ball. Joique Bell is a physical, underrated back who could be in line for a big game on Thanksgiving. Bell is the type of back that gives the Packers problems. He's tough to bring down and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. Further, he's deceptively fast.

If Barclay can't go, I'm concerned that Willie Young might have a monster game with his speed rush against Marshall Newhouse. We know what Suh and Fairley can do. Ziggy Ansah has been impressive in his rookie year. DeAndre Levy has been an interception machine. He jumps routes well. He's instinctive and sees the field well. Stephen Tulloch is a tough guy with a witty style. The Lions secondary can be beat. While Delmas is rock solid against the run, who can throw it over the top of him. Delmas is a fierce hitter, but he isn't the most fleet of foot. Look for the Packers to attack Chris Houston, Darius Slay and Bill Bentley. Slay has been a weak link when he's been on the field. Detroit has to be pleased with Rashean Mathis' play. Mathis has seen it all. He jumps routes well and uses his hands effectively. Look for Jones to run a double move on Mathis to see if he can't get over the top of him.

Early in the game, Flynn comes out throwing. Attacking the outside of the field. He finds Boykin on a comeback route. The same to Jones. Then, it's Jordy on a crossing route. Instead of trying to slow down the pass rush with Lacy, McCarthy chooses to open up the run game by throwing the football. The Packers grab an early lead.

But, true to form, Detroit fights back. Calvin Johnson wins a jump ball over T-Mon. Then, Burleson gets free from Sammy Swagga. Bush slashes through the middle of our defense.

Lacy responds. The Packers spread Detroit out. With room in the box, Lacy hits the hole with a vengeance. Emphatically punishing defenders. Throughout the game, Flynn consistently dumps it off to Lacy. In fact, Lacy ends the game with 5 catches. He's lethal in space.

Detroit responds with a physical run game of their own as Bell bunches the Packers ILB's in the mouth. Fighting for extra yardage and moving the sticks.

Trailing by 4 late, Flynn takes over. He finds Nelson down the seam for a big gain. Then, it's Boykin in the corner of the end zone for a Thanksgiving victory!

Packers 30.
Lions 27.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. I'm thankful that you follow along.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Take -> Week 12

Greetings, G-Force.

5-5. It may feel like the season is rapidly slipping away. If so, you couldn't be more wrong. Thanks to Jim Schwartz's coaching ignorance, the Packers still control their destiny. We are the two-time defending NFC North Champions. We won't go down without a fight. And, if either the Lions or the Bears are to steal what's rightfully ours, they're going to have to beat us for all of the marbles. In that scenario, my faith is in the Green & Gold. But, first, we have to beat the hated 'queens from Minnesota.

The loss to the Giants was ugly. A porous performance. Mostly lackluster. At times, it was heartless. Among the worst performances that we've seen from a Mike McCarthy coached team. For the most part, it was flat-out boring. The Giants weren't good. The Packers were worse. That sucked. Here are some takeaways:

* Mike McCarthy looks like he's carrying anciently tired eyes. Worn down. Beat up. In need of a long rest. He's showing a sense of frustration that I've never seen before. I didn't like how he called out Tolzien for the JPP pick-6. He claimed that Tolzien should have spotted JPP's stance. Well, Mike, did you notice it? The play was designed to go to the flat. If you noticed it, why not call a timeout from the sideline in that scenario? It was a big enough moment in the game to take control. Stay confident, my fellow Irishman. Be a Leader. Take ownership.

* I like Scott Tolzien. A lot. More than Flynn. In fact, I'm positive that I want him to be our back-up QB next year. Saves us a 3rd round pick in next years draft.

* T-Mon was Tramondous! A willing tackler. Aggressive. A great interception. Needed others playing with his intensity.

* We miss you, Sammy Swagga. You, too, Donny Barclay.

* Yes, Clay had an epic sack. But, this isn't the Claymaker that we know and love. On occasion, he seems helpless.

* What happened to the Defensive front since Rodgers went down? With Rodgers, they looked like a unit that could carry us to a Super Bowl. Since his injury, they've looked like a unit that is among the worst in the league. Did Rodgers play defense as well? Maybe his spirit carries more leadership qualities than anyone imagined.

* Loved the Eddie Lacy TD run. That was ALL Lacy!

* Micah Hyde is an Artisan when he's attacking he ball. He's uber talented when the play is in front of him. He's instinctive. When he's trailing the play, he's lost. Looks like he's thinking too much.

* Dear Mike McCarthy, how about we try to have the pass set up the run when they sack 8 in the box?

* Tolzien throws a great ball. He showed decent footwork. He has a great deep ball. A quick release. He's not afraid of contact. He looks confident. Doesn't get rattled. Wants to make plays. I like him.

* I like Brad Jones. He's steady. Has moments of beastly play. Shows flashes of brilliance. But, upon contact, he's going backwards. He has poor leverage. Tackles too high.

* Tighten the helmet, AJ.

* For 4 plays, we played with great passion. The TD by Lacy. The three-and-out that followed. It felt like momentum was on our side. Then, JPP happened. Pissed me off.

* I'd like to see more of Jamari Lattimore.

* At some point, I'd like to be done watching MD Jennings play football. With that said, why is the fake punt designed to go to him? Liked the call. Liked the design. Didn't like who was put in position to make the play.

* Jordy Nelson. Besides Calvin Johnson, who is a better WR? Anyone? Julio Jones? AJ Green? Brandon Marshall? Dez Bryant? D. Thomas? Wes Welker? I guess I'd probably take Green and possibly Jones or Thomas. But, after that, it's Jordy. For my eye anyway. Please sign a lifetime contract, Jordy.

* In 7 years of watching Mike McCarthy coach football, I've learned that a conservative Mike McCarthy offense is never a good thing.

* BJ Raji was offered an $8 million per year contract and he didn't jump all over it? What's wrong with this world? I want BJ in Green Bay. He's a huge part of the XLV for Life buzz. But, BJ, let me explain something to you. Dude, you've become a role player.

* Mike Daniels continues to apply pressure with goodness.

* Nice sack, Mike Neal.

* Good game, David Bakhtiari. You, too, Josh Sitton.

* A screen to Franklin is coming. Or another wheel route.

* Jarrett Boykin is gold. This might not spell good things for JJ's future in Green Bay.

* JJ seems to lack burst. Wonder if he's healthy. He's trying.

* In time, Tolzien will learn to finish drives. That prospect brings me great excitement!

* Need more out of you, Morgan Burnett.

* EDS was a fighter.

* Nice catch AQ81. Same for you, Brandon Bostick.

* Need better special teams tackling from Nixon & Stoneburner. Learn from Chris Banjo.

* Well done, Mason Crosby!

* I like having Marshall Newhouse's personality on the team. I can't stand his play. Drives me crazy.

* TJ Lang can play for my team any day.

* While I've been hard on McCarthy in this post, I'd like to point out that his throw back play to Kuhn was beautifully crafted. What was Kuhn thinking? He had an easy TD to the outside.

* Quick note: The first win for Aaron Rodgers? A home game against Minnesota. The first win for Scott Tolzien? You guessed it.

This week - it's the 'queens. At Lambeau. It's not a win-or-die scenario, but it's close. Another NFC loss, especially in the Division, jeopardizes tie breaking scenarios.

When you play Minnesota, the first thing that comes to mind: how to tackle AP? He's banged up, but he'll play. And he'll be going against a defense that needs to find its heart. Or else AP could rush for 200 yards again.

Once again, Christian Ponder will be taking the reigns as the starting QB for the 'queens. You have to wonder if he'll be on a short leash. They've turned to Cassell previously. Further, I imagine that Minnesota might hand the ball to Joe Webb in an attempt to display some Colin Kaepernick-type option plays.

Greg Jennings returns to Lambeau. Yawn. As a fan, I wouldn't even pay him the attention that he wants. He's not worth it.

I'm worried about what Simpson and Patterson might do to the defense on deep balls. The 'queens will attack the Packers on multiple deep throws. Hoping for the big play. If not by catch, by penalty. Ponder will put air under his deep ball. If our safeties are in position to make a play, they could capitalize. Might Burnett force a turnover?

The 'queens will be without Kyle Rudolph. A painful blow. A crutch for Ponder.

We know the 'queens defense. I like their front 7. I am afraid that Barclay will not play. that means that Newhouse will block Robison. Advantage Minnesota. In a big way.

The secondary can be had without Harrison Smith. Be aggressive, Irishman. They cannot cover us.

I'd like to see Lattimore's speed, power and desire on the field as the defense is stealthily on the prowl to slow down AP.

Look for McCarthy to give the game to Tolzien. Not just the ball, but the game. Multiple back-shoulder throws to JJ. 15 yard crossing routes to Nelson. 12-15 yard posts to Boykin. The ball in the flat to Franklin. The screen to Lacy. The out to AQ81. Tolzien uses play-action early. The Packers find success.

Ponder has tools. He moves really well. He can throw on the run. He gives you opportunities to make a play, but if you don't capitalize, he can beat you. He will move the ball. He will put points the board. He'll keep it competitive in what becomes a grinder of a game in the 3rd Quarter.

But, finally. Yes, finally! Finally, the Packers defense gets the big stop.

Note to the fans in attendance: don't get frustrated. This team needs encouragement. I fear that there's a possibility that we hear boo-birds if the Packers come out slow. This team needs a pick me up. Provide. Let's get this one!

Packers 23.
'queens 20.

For what it's worth, I've compiled another mock draft. But, I'm waiting until after Thanksgiving to publish it. Call me a dreamer, but I remain a believer.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Take -> Week 11

Greetings, G-Force.

5-4. A game out of first. If you let them, the vibes at 1265 Lombardi Ave., could look bleak. I’m not taking that stance. In fact, I’m quite contrarian to that notion. I still see 10-6 as a possibility. And, if we win the right games, that could come with a Division title. However, these losses in the Conference are starting to pile up and those will be painful when it comes to tie-breakers for a Wild Card berth. With that said, with the Giants and Viqueens on deck, the Packers still control their own destiny prior to the Turkey Day game in Detroit. A win in NYC and a huge sigh of relief will echo throughout Titletown, U.S.A. It’s not time to panic. It’s time to stay unified. Focused on the Division title. And, a win is needed this week in order for that goal to stay a potential reality. But, remember, we control our own destiny. Here are some takeaways from the painful loss to the Eagles:

-* Had to love McCarthy’s post game press conference. I totally cherish those moments when his emotions are fully on his sleeve. He was trying to will the Packers to victory. He wanted this one. Badly. Knew its importance. The loss hurt. He showed it.

-* Scott Tolzien played well. I’m happy we’ve committed to him for the near term. I thought he only made three bad throws. Two turned into interceptions and the other was the 2nd down throw to start out the 2nd half. It was the first action of this NFL career. He’d been on the active roster for less than a week. He took 6 snaps the week before the game with the first team. Even with those limitations, he had moments of brilliance. I liked the way he threw on the run. He rolled to his right like a natural. He had a quick release. He had some pep in arm. He looked like he has a future in the league. Of course, there were areas for improvement. He needs to look over the middle of the field. I thought Jones was open a couple of times over the middle of the field and Tolzien was glued to the outside. This is probably a produce of the coaching he’s receiving. McCarthy is afraid of the middle of the field right now.

* I thought the crowd sounded spectacular over the TV. Well done, Lambeau! You did your part.

-* Huge ups to TJ Lang! He’s now played EVERY position on the Packers OL. Not his best game, but man, he’s versatile.

* Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. We may never see the 2013 Green Bay Packers. It’s about survival right now.

* I couldn’t believe it. Scott Tolzien had driven the Packers 91-yards. He looked great doing so. And, then, on 3rd down. From the 5-yard line. He had Jordy Nelson wide open in the corner of the end zone. The play call was perfectly designed. Tolzien’s pass was late in getting there. It was behind Nelson. And, it felt like the most important play of the game.

* Congrats to Datone Jones! Two big sacks. Great to see him making an impact.

* Mike Daniels! The Bulldozer! Love when he enters the field on 3rd down.

* A yawn of a game for BJ, Pickett and Jolly.

* A speedy recovery to you, EDS. You too, Donny Barclay. Your turn, Lane Taylor.

* As a man, it’s awesome to have Marshall Newhouse on the team. His personality is infectious. He wants to win. He wants to be a part of this team. As a player, Newhouse can’t play. He’s a sieve.

* Thought T-Mon played really well. Wish he’d finish plays. Can’t figure it out. He’s in position to make the plays that he’s made throughout his career in Green Bay. He’s just not catching the ball. I’m baffled.

* Tolzien showed great footwork. His mobility surprised me. He showed sound foot work. I was also amazed at his command of the huddle. He seemed to be in control. He also appeared to be playing with great confidence. I liked his style. I saw enough to say that I’d be comfortable with him as our back-up for the future. Happy he’s signed for two years.

* The Packers are a karma-based organization. Soon – our good karma is coming back to us. It has to. Things were so close to being blissful last Sunday. McCarthy’s screen pass to Starks was perfectly designed. Starks couldn’t keep his balance while running down the sideline. If he had, it’d have been a TD. Instead, we faced 4th down one play later and Crosby missed a kick. Nelson loses his balance while running down the sideline inside the 10-yard line. Instead of a TD, it was 1st and goal from the 9. James Jones catches a beautifully thrown back-shoulder pass in the end zone. One foot in. One foot out. This isn’t a “woe is me” piece, but I trust in karma. And, I trust that karma is on the Green Bay Packers side. Thus, good vibes are coming. They have to be.

* I love Eddie Lacy.

* Welcome back, Matt Flynn. Still have a magic wand?

* I don’t like that we’ve folded in the 4th Quarter of the last two games, but I do like the attitude of this team. Seem to be unified. Not individualistic. A group that cares about one-another. A team that wants to win together and will put the team before themselves. I really like the camaraderie of the team. Generally, this is a staple of a successful organization. I can’t help but believe things get righted quickly. Like, this week.

* Don’t do me like that, Mason Crosby.

* I’m getting the feeling that this is J-Bush’s last year in GB.

* There is a ton of nice young talent on this roster. The depth is way better than I expected. It starts with Hyde, Daniels, Lattimore, Lacy, and Boykin. They present the prospect a hugely physical dimension in the future of the organization.

* Two games in a row in which the Packers have been brutalized in the 4th Quarter. Both games, the Packers had a chance to get off the field on 3rd down. Against the Bears, Hayward missed a tackle in the open field. Against the Eagles, it was Brad Jones. Is that Dom Capers’ fault? Not in my eyes.

* Sticking with Capers, I’m not an apologist. But, is it his fault that Clay Matthews is playing with one hand? Or that Nick Perry has one foot? Or that Brad Jones & Casey Hayward can’t stay on the field? Or that Pickett has a bum knee? Or that T-Mon can’t hold onto an interception? Or that MD Jennings is a stiff? Or that Nate Palmer has no pass rushing ability?

* One more Capers point: I wish the Packers would play more man. His zone-defense schemes have been tortured for years. Wish he’d ditch most of them.

* Morgan Burnett is struggling. He’s tardy on the deep ball. He’s missing tackles on a weekly basis. He’s been lost in coverage.

* That wasn’t the Claymaker that I know and love.

* At some point, we’ll force a turnover. And, it’ll happen in grand fashion.

* Jordy Nelson is elite. I can’t get enough of him.

* There was a high level of confidence between Jarrett Boykin and Scott Tolzien. Boykin looks like a legitimate NFL player. Blossoming in his enhanced role.

* Brandon Bostick! Hoping to see more him in the coming weeks. With AQ81 struggling to hang onto the ball, it’s time to give Bostick more reps on passing downs. I want to see Bostick streaking down the middle of the seam.

* At times, it felt like John Kuhn was the leader of the offense. He seemed to be directing traffic. Glue for Tolzien.

This week – it’s the Giants. In New York. Frankly, the Giants are one of the franchises that I respect the most in the NFL. They’re hard to dislike. Even though they’ve ended our season twice since 2007. They’re built the right way. They conduct business the right way. They have a rich history. They’ve tasted success. They’ve stayed level-headed over it. I respect them.

The Packers and the Giants have formed a nice rivalry. In 2007, the Giants ended the Packers season. For all practical purposes, the Packers ended the Giants season in 2010. In 2011, the Packers won a drama-filled contest in NY in the regular season, but the Giants got revenge and ended the Packers season in the playoffs. Last year, New York handed us a painful defeat in front of a national audience on Sunday Night Football.

Both teams have tasted huge success over the last 6 years as they’ve combined to win 3 Super Bowls. But, this year has not been like the rest. Both teams have had their share of issues and now, as we meet, it’s out of desperation and not in a jostle over playoff positioning or playoff advancement. A loss would be devastating for both teams. Not season-ending like in past years. Rather, it’d be a painful blow to both teams chances to make the playoffs. I’m not labeling it a MUST WIN, but it’s close.

The Giants have weapons. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks still run routes. Rueben Randle is an underrated WR who is also a dangerous return man. Randle scares me this week. A lot. Brandon Myers has limitations, but he’s also savvy. He’s tough. He has decent hands. He’s a solid route runner. He’s sure to grab multiple first-downs this week. Annoyingly so. They also have Eli Manning. The same Eli Manning that has torched the Packers defense on many occasions. Further, the Giants got Andre Brown back last week. Brown is an elusive back who rarely goes down on first contact. He has good vision. He’s shifty with enough speed to get to the corner. He’s dangerous when Manning is in shotgun. He’s sure to give the Packers defense headaches. Peyton Hillis has had a bit of a resurgence as a Giant. Brandon Jacobs – when healthy – has shown that he still has the legs and power to remain a noteworthy back.

The Giants OL has struggled. They can be had. Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe are below average. They protect Eli’s blind side. The Packers need Clay Matthews to have a big game. Jim Cordie is just a guy at Center. David Diehl is a savvy veteran who has generally played well against the Packers. First-round pick, Justin Pugh, is still learning the ropes of the NFL. He has shown potential, at times. But, he’s struggled with both speed and power rushers. I’d like to think that Mike Neal will be able to apply solid pressure this week.

Defensively, the Giants have some ballers. Tuck and JPP still man the edges. If JPP is unable to go this week, that’d be a huge lift for a beat-up Packers OL. Cullen Jenkins, our old friend and an XLV Super Bowl Champion, will be hungry for this contest. Jon Beason was an excellent in-season addition. Keith Rivers has talent. Spencer Paysinger makes plays every time I watch him. He often goes unrecognized and I don’t understand how. I enjoy Paysinger’s game. The Giants have invested in their secondary. They’ve paid Rolle. They signed Ryan Mundy. Prince Amukamara was a 1st Round pick. Terrell Thomas was a 2nd Round pick. Nelson should be able to get over the top for a big play. Especially against Prince, who is often times aggressive on the out pattern. Go get him, Mike McCarthy.

I expect McCarthy to come out attacking the Giants. Even with a depleted OL. I look for McCarthy to be aggressive. Early in the game, he throws the screen to Lacy to get the Hammer into the open field. Then, he tests the LB core of the Giants with a ball to Bostick. Boykin uses his body to get in front of Terrell Thomas. Jones beats Prince as Tolzien connects on a back shoulder throw. The Packers soften the Giants front as they’re only to keep 7 in the box due to Tolzien’s successes.

But, the Giants respond with a vengeance. March down the field. With the quickness. Brown grabs large chunks of yards. Cruz mans the slot. Randle wins on the outside comeback route.

Then – McCarthy tries to eat up clock. He aims to pound Lacy. He knows that he needs to slow down this game. The Giants pass-run combo presents too many problems for the Packers. Even with the Giants troubled OL. The Packers are too beat up on the DL and at OLB. It doesn’t matter that Eli has struggled this year. He’ll ball this weekend. He normally does against the Packers. So, McCarthy eats clock. With Lacy.

This game could come down to special teams. Both teams have made big special teams plays this year. Micah Hyde goes Artisan on a punt return to swing the field position. The Packers go in front on a James Jones TD.

Then, finally, the Packers get the big turnover. It comes on inside pressure. Lattimore and Hawk come on an inside blitz. Manning doesn’t do well with inside pressure. He launches it high in the air. Off his back foot. Falling to the turf. FINALLY. YES, FINALLY, T-Mon makes the game changing play. It’s not season-saving. But, it’s close.

Packers 27. Giants 23.

Keep the Faith!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Take -> Week 10

Greetings, G-Force.

On twitter, I was encouraged to double up on my whiskey before this writing. I didn't heed the advice. Rather, I'm casually sipping a Russian River Consecration. Sure, Monday Night was a bummer. But, don't fret. Yes, we are entering uncharted boundaries. Let me remind you: The Mike McCarthy era has seen drama. Plenty of it. But, we haven't had to deal with the loss of our MVP QB for an extended period of time. With that said, McCarthy will, once again, rally the troops in Super fashion. And, ultimately, the next 4 weeks will define the 2013 Green Bay Packers. If, indeed, McCarthy holds the locker room as unified as I imagine, we'll be positioned to make an XLV type run in December. McCarthy has seen difficult tests previously. He's battle tested. The Packers will prevail.

The McCarthy Way has held a "Next Man Up" mantra. The same applies for Seneca Wallace in the absence of the NFL's best player. Seneca Wallace doesn't have to be Aaron Rodgers. He has to play within himself. He has to be calm with his feet. He has to be efficient. He needs to protect the football. He needs to play smart. He needs to hit on the big play attempt when he receives an occasional opportunity. Oh, and he needs help. Help from the fans!

G-Force, the time is now. Yes, now. It's time to elevate. It's time to be a difference maker. Get your ass off your seat. Get on your feet. It's the fans job to help make Lambeau a tough place to play. If you're at the game and someone tells you to sit down, encourage them to GET UP! Be loud. Be in charge. 2 of the next 3 are at home. We must hold serve. What happened to the days of opponents using timeouts early in the game as they couldn't get organized due to fan volume? Or false start penalties? It's up to the FANS to draw those penalties. Get after it. Leave hoarse! Your boss will understand the next day. Trust me. I lived that life. I loved that life. Help make the experience at Lambeau grand. That starts with making noise. In 1979, Peter Tosh sang "I'm recruiting soldiers for Jah Army." Today, in this writing, I'm recruiting fans to impress their might against the Eagles.

I give the Bears credit. They knocked Rodgers out of the game. It was the only way they were going to win the game. His injury for a period of time was the only way they were going to compete for the Division title. Now, they have life. Here's some takeaways from the loss:

* McCarthy made two crucial calls: I loved the onside kick. Brilliant decision. Worked perfectly. Not a surprise that Crosby hit the ball exceptionally well. Also not surprised that The Artisan, Micah Hyde, and Jamari Lattimore were the reason we recovered. The other McCarthy call was the decision to not challenge the AQ81 drop in the 2nd Quarter. Was he inbounds? I don't know. But, with Seneca on the field without a weeks worth of reps, every point was vital. If called a completion, we'd have been in scoring position. Needed to challenge it. Instead, he drove home with two challenges in his pocket and a "what if" lingering in his mind.

* Did I hear an "EDDIE, EDDIE, EDDIE" chant? Thought so. He's such a stallion. Put the franchise on your back, young man. During the 3rd Quarter, my wife turned to me and said, "Scottie, will you buy me a Lacy jersey for Christmas?" My response, "Yes, Star! Always need a 'G' under the tree!"

* Jamari Lattimore! Dude can flat out play. I felt like another blocked punt was coming. Was glad it was him.

* I might be alone here, but I believe Seneca Wallace can lead us to 3 victories over the next 4 games. I really do. But, the defense will have to play better. For years, I've wanted a veteran back-up. In Seneca, we have that. Play on, Seneca.

* Please be fit enough to play Clay & Nick Perry. Palmer and Mulumba have been fighters. Good against the run. But, they have little ability to get to the QB.

* Though they didn't get home last Monday Night, I like the interior pass rush. I'd rotate Raji in for Datone Jones, at times, but I feel good about the inside pass rush. They'll also benefit from the return of Clay & Perry.

* Though it wasn't an extraordinary play, congrats to Datone on his first career sack.

* Wish Mike Neal would have finished the play on the Bears first TD. Neal had the sack. Didn't finish the play. He wore down in the 2nd half. He, too, would benefit from the Claymaker & Perry being healthy.


* Great to see Starks running like he was slingshot through the line.

* TJ Lang's injury was a big blow. Marshall Newhouse was not up to the challenge. I'd have played Taylor at G & kept Barclay at T.

* I'm probably being dramatic, but I felt the biggest play in the game was he 2nd & goal from inside the 6 after the onside kick. The Packers had ALL momentum. Fortune was on our side. I liked the play call. Nelson was open. Then he was grabbed. It wasn't pass interference. It was holding. Unquestionably. There was no doubt. Jordy Nelson was held coming out of his break. It should have been 1st & goal from inside the 3. In a game where points were at a premium, that was a big call and it changed the entire complexion of the game.

* Casey Hayward has to make the 3rd down tackle. Huge failure.

* T-Mon needs to pick off these passes that are hitting him in the hands.

* Jordy Nelson is a superstar. He's an absolute stud in the slot. LOCK. HIM. UP!

* David Bakhtiari will have better days.

* Wished Sammy Swagga would have attacked Forte with a fierce heart.

* Dom Capers tried a lot of different blitzes. Nothing worked. He tried man coverage. He played zone coverage. Both failed.

* Kept waiting for McCarthy to take a shot deep with Jordy against the smaller Tim Jennings. It never happened.

* A loss brings a lot of negative things to light: like our inability to force turnovers.


This week - it's the Eagles at Lambeau. A time for the G-Force to help Lambeau return to the most mystical of theaters in all of sports. Without the XLV MVP, the crowd has to rise up. The crowd has to be a difference maker. When the defense is on the field, the crowd must be in rowdy form. Regardless of whether it is 1st, 2nd or 3rd down, the fans must make it difficult for Nick Foles.

Foles is coming off of a 7-TD performance. One for the ages. He has weapons. LeSean McCoy is as lethal as any back in football. When Bryce Brown holds onto the football, he's a first-class runner as well. Riley Cooper is an average player who is coming off of a breakthrough game. At this time last year, you may recall that Zach Ertz was my ideal 1st round target for the Packers.

Let's take a moment to remember DeSean Jackson's epic 2010 punt return in Week 15 against the Giants. Without it, the Packers never win the XLV trophy as we'd have been watching the playoffs from our living rooms. Instead, I have one of the greatest moments in my life. Standing in Jerry-World. One arm around my Dad, my Mom and my brother. All grinning ear-to-ear. And the other arm raising a right index finger in the air. #1, baby. Then slamming warm Jack Daniels in the parking lot to the heartbeat of Lil' Wayne's "Green & Yellow." I love you, DeSean Jackson. I'm not fickle. That love will last forever. Cheers, mate!

The interior of the Eagles OL can be attacked with authority. Expect Capers to come after them. The Packers will need a healthy Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, if they expect to have success against Lane Johnson and Jason Peters on the outside. I envision the Packers coming with large amounts of inside blitzes from Hawk, Lattimore and Jones. Look for the ILB core to have a sack or two this weekend.

Defensively, Philly has talent. Though the unit hasn’t been consistent, they have solid individual performers. Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry were guys that excited me at the college level. They’re young and energetic. The LB core consists of 4 athletic pursuers in Connor Barwin, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Trent Cole. They seek to destroy. They’ll be tough to consistently run against. On the back-end of the defense, Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams are two journeymen CB’s who have had mixed NFL careers. Both can be had, but it won’t happen without a fight. Nate Allen and Patrick Chung are combative playmakers who are littered with ability. Both are risk-takers who can be exposed with play-action and double moves. If McCarthy has the courage to call it, a big play should be found with Jordy Nelson streaking down the middle of the field out of the slot. All year, McCarthy has been conservative in his approach with respect to attacking the middle of the field. He’s chosen to design plays outside the hash marks. If he looks for something deep down the middle of the field, Nelson should be able to find success. Go get it, McCarthy. Be an Irishman on the attack!

Look for McCarthy to offense the open this week. Sure, "EDDIE, EDDIE, EDDIE!" will be the hammer. But, I expect McCarthy to trust Seneca. A lot. I also expect Seneca to be more comfortable than he was last week. "EDDIE, EDDIE, EDDIE!" will likely get his 20 carries. Starks will get 8-10. Ball possession is an emphasis. But, so is getting the ball to JJ, Jordy, and Boykins. I'm also ready to see a play designed for Chris Harper.

Seneca is a grizzly vet. He's going to rely on the TE. He knows his strengths. He'll trust AQ81. As the Eagles continue to move 8 in the box, Seneca accepts the challenge and lofts one deep down the sideline to JJ. JJ comes own with the grab!

LeSean & Bryce Brown cause problems for the Packers. They slash their was into space. They catch screens and passes in the flat. Similar to Forte, they chip away at the Packers defense. But, the return of Clay & Perry brings much needed enthusiasm to the defense. The pizzazz returns. So does the pass rush. Consistently, the defense gets us off the field on 3rd down as the defense nears the Red Zone.

Look for Sammy Swagga to run with DeSean all day. The last time we saw T-Mon lined up against Riley Cooper, T-Mon was grabbing the game clinching interception in the Wild Card Game at Philly. Again, T-Mon bellies up.

It's a grind it out kind of victory.

Packers 23. Eagles 19.

G-Force, find the high gear of your soul and be happy, happy all my friends. You can't keep us down. We're majesty. All for One. One for All. Elevate!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Take -> Week 9

Greetings, G-Force.

A quick note: I noticed that I picked up quite a few readers last week. Please know that I'm not trying to be Bob McGinn or any other journalist. I don't intend to be. I'm a fan. I write for the fan. My intent is to be an Optimistic Realist. I often use the words "we" or "us" as I consider the Packers my own. Welcome. And, thanks for reading! The readers inspire me to continue.

5-2. Perched atop the NFC North by our lonesome. What a beautiful buzz. In celebratory fashion, the rivalry at the Dome that's named after a Shopping Mall was closed to echoes of "Go Pack Go!" Well done, G-Force! The crowd was loud and in charge. It was a grand 4th Quarter. The chants that rang thru the dome were truly sublime. Pure ecstasy!

When I looked at the schedule before the season, the first thing that jumped out at me was the Viqueens and Bears in back-to-back weeks. In convincing fashion, a win was placed next to the Viqueens game. Now, it's time to do the same to the hated Bears. 'Tis the Season, get after a Pumpkin beer. My favorite is the Imperial Pumpkin from Dry Dock. Here's some vibes from the win over the 'queens:

* Mike McCarthy continues to impress. I wondered what tricks would be up his sleeve. The biggest one was Jordy in the slot. On two critical 3rd downs, Jordy was in the slot and was given a free release. Both went for TD's. Credit to Rodgers for his pinpoint accuracy on both balls. Word up to Jordy Nelson as he made great catches on both plays.

* Can we please sign Jordy Nelson for life? On the "Aaron Rodgers Show" - Rodgers talked about carpooling with Nelson. He called them good friends. Can't we just lock him up? I mean Nelson is quickly catapulting into one of my favorite WR's that the Packers have ever had. He seems to "do it for the love and not for the money."

* It's unlikely that Aaron Rodgers can win the MVP award as Peyton Manning has been beyond brilliant, but man, Rodgers has been MVP worthy. Playing with what appears to be a 2nd tier supporting cast, Rodgers' play was elite. Only 5 incomplete passes. He connected with 6 different receivers. He threw for 285 yards and 2 TD's. He was in complete control. Fully cerebral. All game.

* Jarrett Boykin is so impressive. Love the way he picks the ball off the turf. Strong hands. A willing, talented blocker. He's gifted.

* Myles White feels like he's a part of something. He's in on the celebrations. He wants to be a player in this league. He wants to prove himself. He's hungry to be a good blocker. Lined up in the slot, he was occasionally late in getting to the CB, which hindered potential big runs for Lacy and it clearly affected White's body language. He's a proud kid.

* Have to appreciate Marshall Newhouse. Total team player on the sidelines. A cheerleader. He was a Tackle eligible on the Lacy TD and he was the 1st to greet him.

* There was sensational camaraderie shown between Lacy & Starks post the Starks TD. Lacy was genuinely excited for Starks & shared the joy.

* Eddie Lacy has taken over for Donald Driver as having the best smile on the team.

* Micah Hyde is the Artisan. In his youth, he was aged to perfection.

* I've thought long and hard about this. I've thoroughly scoured depth charts. Where would you rank Mike Daniels as far as interior pass rushers? Here's who I'd put ahead of him: JJ Watt, Muhammad Wilkerson, Jason Hatcher, Henry Melton, Suh, Fairley, Geno Atkins, and Darnell Dockett. That's it. Some might say Justin Smith, Chris Jones or Dontari Poe. And, while I'd agree that Smith, Jones and Poe are better all around players, I'd take Daniels as a pure pass rusher. No matter how you slice it, he's definitely a top 15 interior pass rusher. Let me remind you that he's a 4th Round pick in his 2nd year. Cheers to you, Ted Thompson. I'll continue to say it, Mike Daniels makes a play every single week. He plays to his strengths and he's a true bulldozer.

* Thought Chris Harper played well for the Packers on special teams last week. Active. Looked like a willing tackler. Wonder when he gets introduced to the offense.

* Don Barclay is a solid player when he plays straight ahead. He uses leverage well. He's willing. But, when he has to move, he often times struggles. The good thing for Barclay is that the weather is changing and the game is about to slow down a bit. Props to McCarthy for sticking with him. He's an above average run blocker.

* Liked the design of the package with Taylor & Newhouse lined up in the backfield with Lacy. It didn't work in large part due to Bostick missing his block. Was happy to see how often they used Newhouse as an extra lineman. Remember 2003 when Kevin Barry was consistently used in Jumbo packages? It worked well then. It looked good in the Dome. Well done, Mike McCarthy. Keep things interesting. Soon, we'll see play-action and a deep ball out of that formation. This week? Possibly.

* Before the season, I wrote often about my desire to see more of Jamari Lattimore as an ILB. I'm liking what I'm seeing. With each game, Jamari Lattimore becomes more comfortable. He attacks with a vengeance. He's solid in pursuit. He's had sacks in back-to-back games.

* Put this on a Thought Pad: Including playoffs, prior to last week, Jared Allen had played 12 games vs the Packers. He'd accumulated 44 tackles & 17 sacks. Last week, he had N.O.T.H.I.N.G. ZERO. ZILCH. He was SHUTOUT. CHEERS TO YOU, DAVID BAKHTIARI!

* I've been hard on EDS. At times last week, he was great. He does get tossed around on occasion, but for the most part, I've liked his push over the last couple of games.

* It's a 2-man race for Coach of the Year: Andy Reid and Mike McCarthy.

* Jarrett Boykin was targeted 6 times. He had 5 catches for 89 yards. Myles White was targeted 7 times. He had 5 catches for 35 yards. Greg Jennings was targeted 3 times. He had 1 catch for 9 yards. ¡Be Great, Greg!

* AQ81 was good, not great, in the blocking game. And, he looked good the two times he was targeted as a receiver.

* Eddie Lacy. THE HAMMER! I love the nickname. Let's keep him running North & South rather than East & West.

* Once again, the Packers stacked one side of the line of scrimmage and ran a pitch play with success. A play-action is coming out of this formation soon. Trust me.

* Really liked the screen passes to Lacy. On the first one, I wish Josh Sitton had blocked Kevin Williams. If so, it'd have been a TD.

* James Starks slashing thru the 'queens defense is a thing of beauty.


* Please, Jordy. Forever. You & Me. I beg of you.

* Johnny Jolly, BJ Raji & Ryan Pickett all made nice plays on AP.

* Good news for you, Morgan Burnett: You only have to play AP once more this year!

* Two weeks in a row that Jake Stoneburner has had a bad penalty. Clean it up, young man. But, know that I appreciate your desire.

* I wish that Chris Banjo and Sam Barrington had an extra step. They both have a heart that you cannot teach. Might lack a bit of instincts. But, they play with great desire. The kind of guys that you root for. But, both look a step slow.

* Welcome back, Casey Hayward. Big plays are coming.

* Good game, T-Mon. He's not the XLV version of T-Mon, but he has a big play coming. Sure, he's a step slower, but I like his mind. Thought the first PI call was awful.

* By the way, on the 2nd to last play of the 1st half, AP did not get out of bounds. Horrible officiating.

* Here's a 3-play stretch. Micah Hyde makes a tackle on 3rd down to get the Packers off the field. Micah Hyde runs a punt back 93 yards for a TD. Micah Hyde is on the field for Kickoff Coverage. Some would call him a Football Player. I might as well. But, first, I'd call him an Artisan.

* Eddie Lacy initiates contact.

* Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba aren't stars, but they're serviceable.

* Mike Neal isn't ever going to be an above average player in space, but I like him as a pass rusher.

* Keep plugging, Datone Jones. You're getting closer with each game.

* Imagine the Packers pass rush when the Claymaker and Nick Perry come back. Daniels, Perry, Clay and a Jones/Neal rotation. We'll get home with just 4. Often.

* Sammy Swagga continues to be elite. I'm scared of what his financial demands will be.

* Brandon Bostick has a hard time releasing off the line of scrimmage. Need to not have him as one of the 7 guys at the line to try and help him get a release.

* MD Jennings is a smart player. He knows where to be. He has a hard time finishing the play. But, he seems like a man that is due good karma.

* AJ Hawk with another above average game.

* Thought Lang and Sitton were excellent.

* The Packers will block another punt. Soon.

* I'm going to overlook the Cordarrelle Patterson kickoff return for now. Patterson is a player with a bright future. Last year at this time, I had him as an ideal target for the Packers in my Mock Draft.

* The sooner Franklin is taken off of Kick Returns, the better.

* Keep on, keepin' on, Mason Crosby.

* Brief pause to recognize the brilliance of Ted Thompson......thanks, Ted. Thank you, Ted. No, really, thank you, Ted. With all sincerity. You're brilliant. Far smarter than I. I questioned this teams depth. I did. I admit it. I thought we were a "9-7 team. 10-6, at best." And, while we're not out of the woods, I didn't think this team would win 3 straight without Clay.

* Quick note on Mike McCarthy: Are the doubters finally confident in this man's system? The Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, Dom Capers, and Aaron Rodgers combination is lethal.

* Dom Capers has the defense playing good football without two of our best defenders in the Claymaker and Brad Jones.

This week - it's the Bears. In life, I aim to be a peaceful man. A lover, of sorts. I like to smile. I enjoy being around those who smile. Rarely, if ever, will I use the word "hate." In fact, there's one thing in life that I hate. That's the Chicago Bears. Well, maybe Ray Nutler as well. But, I hate the Chicago Bears. Everything about them. In fact, I might hate the Chicago Bears as much as I love the Green Bay Packers. Seriously. Some of you may know that I travel from Denver to Chicago every other week. Because of this, I've grown to hate the Bears even more than I did already. This deeply rooted hatred has grown extensively.

I have to admit. I wish Ray Nutler was playing this week. The Packers own him. In grand fashion. I wish we could watch him throwing it into Hayward's lap. Oh well.

Allow me to remind you of one thing: Halas Trophy. Soldier Field. Visitors Locker Room. Gon' Pop Tarts on the Bears and XLV is a cherished vibe. Trump Card Forever!

The stats suggest the Packers should run away with this one. The Packers are averaging an NFC high, 438.9 yards per game. Furthering the potency is the fact that Lacy is averaging 4.0 yards per carry and Starks is averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Meanwhile, the Bears defense is last in the NFL in sacks and yards per pass play. They've given up 34 plays of 20 yards or more, which is tied for 31st in the NFL. They're last in yards per pass play. They're 24th in average rushing yards given up per game, and they're 28th in the NFL in third down percentage and completion percentage. Further, they're beat up with Henry Melton and Lance Briggs being out for the game. Charles Tillman's status is also in question. It's my guess that Tillman will play, but he, too, is injured.

On paper, the potent Packers offense should scorch the beat-up Bears defense. But, this is Monday Night Football. It's the Bears and the Packers. The greatest rivalry in sports. Throw the stats out the window. This one is for real. Rise Up, Lambeau!

While the Bears will be playing without Ray Nutler, they will have Josh McCown. If you watched the Bears play the Redskins, the Bears were more impressive with McCown than they were with Nutler. I give the credit to Mark Trestman. I think Trestman is a sound coach. He has solid offensive design. He has a system. And, by all appearances, the Bears have bought into that system. I believe that McCown is a bigger threat to the Packers than Nutler. The Packers know Nutler. There's not much video of McCown running the Trestman system. McCown is a running threat. He's a decent passer on the run. With the Packers injuries at OLB, it wouldn't surprise me if McCown makes a number of annoying plays as he uses his legs to elude pressure and create positive plays for the Bears offense. Especially early in the game.

Who would have thought it, but the Bears OL is physical, while the Bears DL has been pushovers. Jermon Bushrod has proved to be a good signing. Jordan Mills and Kyle Long have been solid picks. I still question Mills, but I give him credit for the start to his season. Yes, the Bears OL has been mightily improved.

At the skill positions, the Bears have been better than they've ever been. Matt Forte is legit. Michael Bush is a bruiser. Brandon Marshall is a superstar. Alshon Jeffery has evolved into the WR that I thought he might. Martellus Bennett was a good offseason addition. Earl Bennett is a reliable 3rd WR.

I would like to remind you that 2 years ago, I was a big-time promoter of Jeffery. I’ve mentioned this often, but it’s worth reiterating; when I was watching Jeffery play against Vanderbilt his last year of college, Casey Hayward matched up with Alshon Jeffery. On that day, Jeffery had 2 catches. Hayward had two interceptions. There’s familiarity there. I wouldn't mind seeing Hayward lining up against him. With that said, last year, Sammy Swagga played well against Jeffery when they matched up against each other.

The Bears defense is not the Bears of old. Yes, they force turnovers. Yes, Tillman and Tim Jennings make up a top-shelf tandem. Though, you can watch the NFC Championship game from the XLV run and see that a bigger WR (uh-um, Jordy Nelson) can run a 15 yard post and get his body in front of Jennings. When this happens, Jennings cannot stop the bigger WR.

The Bears do have hope for the future in young LB's Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene. In order for the Bears to win on Monday Night Football, Bostic and Greene might need to come of age.

On defense, the Bears also will need Julius Peppers to return to form. He hasn't been himself in 2013. Regardless, he's a beast. Shea McClellin hasn't looked worthy of a 1st round pick, but he applied decent pressure at Lambeau last year. Corey Wootton was a talented DE, but due to injury, he's playing out of position at DT. A healthy Stephen Paea should help the Bears defensive interior. James Anderson is an average, physical LB. Major Wright has displayed playmaking skills. Chris Conte can be had. When either Zack Bowman or Isaiah Frey walk onto the field, they'll be targeted.

Devin Hester. Don't even think about it.

As always, this will be a physical contest. A bruising game. The Packers come out throwing the ball. It's a 15 yard post to Nelson. The same to Boykin. Then, it's play-action to Quarless in the flat. It's Rodgers to Boykin for the TD.

The Bears respond. The Packers double team Marshall. Jeffery & Marshall's wide length present problems for the Packers as they win a couple of jump balls. McCown uses his legs to disrupt the Packers rhythm. It's McCown to Bennett for a TD.

The Bears defense struggles to get off the field, much like the 'queens. McCarthy does a good job mixing Lacy and Starks. The Packers establish the running game. Grabbing 6-7 yards at a time. The Packers offense continues to find fortune.

Forte irritates the Packers defense. He picks up multiple first downs. They get him to the outside and into the open field for a 20-yard pick-up. They've gone to the pitch often this year with great success.

Eventually, the Packers inside rush rises to the occasion. Daniels and Jones apply pressure. Moreover, Hawk and Lattimore find success on inside blitzes. Brad Jones sees his first action in multiple weeks and he, too, finds success on inside rushes. Capers' disguise fools McCown and T-Mon grabs his first pick of the season.

I have an odd feeling that either Bostick or Harper makes a play this Monday.

It's Monday Night Football. It's Lambeau Field. It's the Bears and the Packers. In a shootout, it's a golden victory for the Packers.

Packers 34. Bears 27.

Remember it: Halas Trophy. Soldier Field. Visitors Locker Room. Trump Card. Forever.

That’ll NEVER get old.


Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.