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.