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.