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!