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.
* "EDDIE, EDDIE, EDDIE!"
* 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.
* "EDDIE, EDDIE, EDDIE!"
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!