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.

No comments: