Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Take -> Week 8

Greetings, G-Force.

'Tis the October season. A time when the Packers collect victories and I celebrate with a wide variety of pumpkin beers. Today, I enjoy the Almanac Dark Pumpkin Sour, the Almanac Pumpkin Heirloom and the Dry Dock Imperial Pumpkin. A wide variety of pumpkin feel that is vastly different that your typical pumpkin beer. As I sip, I'm listening to the Michael Franti & Spearhead "Home" album. I figured the "Runfayalife" theme was appropriate after the beat down that the Packers put on the Panthers.

Here are some quick vibes from the last week:

* R-E-L-A-X. I get it, XLV MVP. I am cool as a cucumber in hot sauce, baby. I'm chill, bro.

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. Loved the early strike to Jordy.

* Jordy Nelson. Forever!

* Randall Cobb in the Red Zone! Among the best in the league inside the 20. Amazing for a man his size.

* Bryan Bulaga's hustle on the Lacy fumble is the type of play that Champions make. Pure effort. True determination. Playing to the whistle.

* Another tremendous game for Bakhtiari.

* TJ Lang is a terrific football player.

* Josh Sitton is flat-out ballin'.

* Corey Linsley. I'd trust this guy as the starting Center for the Packers for the next 10 years. And I've only watched him play 7 games in the NFL. ROCK SOLID.

* Davante Adams has a really bright future in this league.

* Didn't think I'd say this earlier in the year, but Randall Cobb is looking like a MUST sign. I get excited at the prospect of having Rodgers teamed with Nelson, Cobb and Adams for the next 3 years.

* I keep reading that Richard Rodgers is an improved blocker. I disagree. Maybe he's more willing, but improved? Not from what I see. On the other hand, I really wanted him to get in the end zone last week. Wish the XLV MVP hadn't overshot him on his final pass.

* Aaron Rodgers is in position to be the NFL's MVP.

* We are seeing so much play action and I'm stoked about it. Rodgers under center. Good things will happen.

* Bulaga's run blocking was tremendous.

* Eddie Lacy pushing forward. Fighting for yards. Great vibes! It's that time of year for the Green & Yellow Bumblebee.

* James Starks has great zest in his step. Getting to the outside with pizzazz. Goal oriented. Hope the Green Hornet's ankle is ok.

* While Jarrett Boykin might be out of the rotation right now, we haven't seen the last of him. He's going to make a couple of big plays this year.

* Great play design on the swing pass to Dorsey. 4 WR's on the field. And a TE. Cobb and Dorsey in the backfield. Really fun to see. Would like to watch Janis in the role that Dorsey played.

* Dorsey and J-Bush make a really solid gunner tandem.

* Brandon Bostick had a nice stick on punt return coverage, but man, that dude gets blown up on kickoff coverage.

* Also, catch the ball, Brandon Bostick!

* Lacy as a blocker. Relish it. He's been top shelf.

* I'd been begging for DuJuan to get some action. In mop up time, he got it. He didn't make the most of it.

* The Cobb block on the Starks TD was scintillating!

* Davante Adams needs to master the art of holding onto his blocks. Gives up too quickly.

* Riveting to see the Claymaker with his presence felt. Quick off the ball. Impactful. Didn't finish on 2 sacks, but 1 led to a Peppers sack and the other totally busted up a 3rd down. We saw hustle. We saw excitement. We saw confidence. The 2nd defensive play of the game, he set the standard.

* Mike Daniels' physicality on the 1st defensive snap of the game was intimidating. Wish he'd have wrapped Cam up. Nonetheless, it set the tempo.

* Really liked the Nick Perry bull rush.

* When Richard Rodgers catches the ball, he should run upfield.

* The Jordy Nelson stiff arm is contagious.

* Another day at the office for T-Mon.

* The first time I remember seeing Perry and Mike Neal on the outside with Clay & Peppers on the inside, Perry grabbed a sack. Looking forward to seeing more of that.

* Josh Boyd works hard.

* Letroy Guion has played really well the last three weeks. He was stout on the 4th & 1 stop. On the 3rd down play before it as well. He's been really solid in short yardage situations.

* Finally, Brad a Jones is benched. Barrington got the start and didn't make the most of it. He was fine, but not above average. I like Lattimore, but he needs to be more consistent. My ILB solution? Sean Richardson. Have you watched Arizona play? They put Deone Bucannon at ILB. The college Safety brings more speed than a typical ILB would. He can cover better than an ILB normally does. He hits as hard as most ILB's. He can get sideline to sideline better than most ILB's. Head on, he might not excel as much as some ILB's in the run game, but he makes up for it with a savvy approach and enhanced quickness. I'd like to see a little bit of Sean Richardson in that role. He played really well last week. Left wondering how we could get him on the field more often.

* Jordy Nelson is a phenomenal blocker.

* HaHa has drastically improved the tackling in our secondary.

* I think Cobb just junked another Carolina defender.

* Rodgers has been terrific with his feet during this 4 game win streak.

* Hyde's tackle on Olsen on 3rd & 10 in the 2nd Quarter was textbook. We didn't see that type of stop in past years.

* Brilliant game by Ras Davon. He was dominant. He's going to make big money this offseason.

* Casey Hayward with the pick! And, more importantly, a desire to make a tackle.

* Clay Matthews was SO GOOD last week. If he plays like that, we'll be super.

* Another decent game for Morgan Burnett. I remain cautiously optimistic that he's turned the corner.

* The Packer darling of the week is Sean Richardson. No question. If Burnett can't go, Richardson will get his opportunity to shine. Carpe diem, #28!

* Aaron Rodgers is totally taking Davante Adams under his wing.

* The yellow gloves look superfly! Especially on Hayward & Cobb.

* Felt like Julius Peppers was fairly quiet. Yet, he still finished with 1.5 sacks.

* Mike Pennel wants to be good. He's working hard. Playing with a high motor.

* Congrats to Charles Woodson. Sir Charles grabbed his 58th career interception last weekend. He's still 1 sack away from becoming the first player in NFL history with 50 interceptions and 20 sacks.

* I'm really hoping for a NE win this weekend. THE BEARS STILL SUCK!

This week - it's the Saints. In the Superdome. Aptly named the Superdome. After all, the Packers left that Dome feeling Super on January 26, 1997. I was there with my Uncle Pat. I'll never forget it.

We find out a lot about the identity of the 2014 version of the Green Bay Packers this week. A win and we can start dreaming about potential home field throughout or 1st round bye scenarios. A loss and we stay largely focused on the Detroit Lions and our chances of winning the Division. Detroit beat the Saints. Now, the Packers must hold serve.

Frankly, in past years, this game might have ended in a 41-27 defeat. But, not this year. While I'm not convinced that that the Saints are as mediocre as their record suggests, I do feel that the Packers are on a Super path.

The Saints are battling a multitude of injuries and as I write there's significant uncertainty as to the availability of a number of quality players. Pierre Thomas is out. Khyri Robinson might not play. If not, they'll be left with Mark Ingram as essentially a lone back. Jimmy Graham may or may not be available. Jonathan Goodwin might not play. The same can be said for Brodrick Buntley and Keenan Lewis. If the Saints are without their weapons, thus could be a really exciting Sunday Night match-up for the Packers.

If Graham is healthy, it wouldn't shock me if he tops 100 yards and 2 TD's. Colton will be a tough stop. Kenny Stills can get deep. And, as long as Drew Brees is whipping the ball, the Saints will be tough.

Defensively, the Saints aren't lethal. I like Rob Ryan as a Coordinator, but he has limited talent. Cameron Jordan is a man in the middle, but Akiem Hicks can be pushed around. If Buntley is limited, New Orleans will be in trouble as their depth on the DL is light. At LB, they have 4 average players in Curtis Lofton, Parys Haralson, David Hawthorne and Junior Galette. Lofton hasn't aged well, but he can still make plays. Haralson was a solid rotational player for SF, but isn't an every down player. In the secondary, outside of Kenny Vaccaro, I'm not concerned. Especially if Keenan Lewis can't go. With all of this said, Rob Ryan is dangerous. He draws up aggressive schemes. He will attack. With conviction.

If Rodgers is given time, he could throw for 400 yards. That's a big 'if' as I fear McCarthy could go into an early shell as he tries to establish a run game in order to limit crowd noise. Don't do it, Coach. Be aggressive. From the coin toss. Give the game to the XLV MVP. Let him win it.

The Packers need Julius Peppers to make a play this week. We need him attacking Brees. This is the type of game had was signed for. Pin those ears back, JP. We need pressure.

If Khyri Robinson, doesn't play, don't buy into the play action. Be on the attack. Mike Daniels is in line for a big game. Go intimidate!

The Packers pressure Brees when it counts. They knock him off his spot. Victory ensues in a nail biter. It feels Super.

Packers 30
Saints 27

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Take -> Week 7

Greetings, G-Force.

3 in a row! Tied at the top of the NFC North! Time to dive into a beer that I've never sipped before. The NeoMexicanus Native Pale Ale is crafted by Crazy Mountain Brewery, a small brewery tucked away in the heart of Edwards, CO. It's a beer that "is an exploration of a largely undocumented hop, native to the South Western United States." At the first sip, it offers a skunky, fruity feel. Fruit smell akin to the citra hop. The pour is cloudy with a solid head. The texture is sticky. My mind is blissful.

My second beer will be the Perennial Aria. It's been aging for roughly 15 months. It's a Belgian Style Ale fermented with Brettanomyces. When I last tasted, it was sweet up front, with a funky butt to it's finish. At 7.2%, I'm stoked to see how's it's evolved with age.

The Packers are 4-2. With 5 of the next 7 at Lambeau!

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* R-E-L-A-X. Yes, XLV MVP, I have relaxed.

* In the 1996 Super Bowl, Andre Rison was caught on camera screaming, "We got the fuckin' MVP throwing us the damn ball!" It feels like, once again, the Packers have the MVP throwing the ball.

* The Packers have great camaraderie on this team. They enjoy one another. It appears as though the locker room is selfless. Loved Eddie Lacy's tweet after the game. As I've mentioned before, Lacy is nicknamed the Green & Yellow Bumblebee. After the game, Lacy posted a photo of himself standing next to James Starks. He stated that Starks was his "Big Brother" and was now nicknamed the "Green Hornet." I'm on board. Huge game by Starks! Especially on the final drive!!!

* That was one of the most dramatic finishes I've ever been to (an asterisk is that I don't include non-Packers games such as the Tebow TD pass to Thomas to beat the Steelers in the playoffs). It was right there with Majik to Sharpe in the "After Further Review, the Bears Still Suck" game. It was there with the Favre to Freeman "He Did What?" game on MNF vs the Viqueens. It was right there with the Favre to Kitrick Taylor win over the Bengals. It was there with the Favre to Thomason victory over the Raiders to kick off the '99 season. It was there with the Favre to Bradford TD to beat the Viqueens in '99. It was there with Favre to Freeman over the Bucs in '99. This win is fresh, but as of now, if I had to rank them, I'd go: Majik to Sharpe, Favre to Taylor, Rodgers to AQ81!, Favre to Bradford, Favre to Thomason, Favre to Freeman over the 'queens, Favre to Freeman over the Bucs. This victory was action packed! It was special. I was back in Miami. For the first time in nearly for 4 years. It was sentimental. The victory was sweet. Without that buzz, it might rank 5th.

* 3rd & 9. The defense desperately needs a stop. Philbin calls a run play. Miller had the blocking in front of him. HaHa takes on the Left Tackle and the Left Guard. He knives through both of them. He makes the tackle. The Packers get the crucial stop. HaHa was sensational in Miami. If that's the HaHa of the future, we have reason to be excited!

* Jordy Nelson. Forever!

* Once again, Randall Cobb shines in the Red Zone. He's seriously become a lethal Red Zone weapon!

* Boogie On, Davante Adams. Dude has flair. He's funky. He has shake. A good mix of James Jones & Greg Jennings. He's becoming dangerous after the catch. He's learning the Jordy stiff arm. He's playing with confidence. Soon, we'll see Davante on a double move. And, it'll be epic!

* I want Jeff Janis to get the ball, but the guy does not get in-and-out of his breaks. His route running needs significant work.

* TJ LANG! Play of the game with the fumble recovery. Plain and simple, he wanted it more. Well done, TJ. You deserved a game ball.

* Thought Sitton and Linsley played really well.

* Another good game from Bakhtiari. Yes, he got beat for a sack, but man, if you were paying attention, it was clear that Vernon jumped offside on the play. Should have been a penalty. Bakhtiari didn't have a chance.

* Bulaga will have better days. He won't play that film when he's negotiating his next contract.

* AQ81! Point to the sky, young man! Point to the sky!

* The jumbo package with Sherrod? I don't get it.

* On both sides, it was a terribly coached game. In the first half, the Packers controlled the clock. And, they had nothing to show for it. McCarthy needed to get greedy. He never did. He had multiple occasions in which all he needed was a FG to grab a 2-score lead. He never capitalized. He was ridiculously conservative. And, then, when all he needed was a couple of yards to get into FG range, he called the play-action and put Rodgers right into the face of Wake. Generally speaking, I'm in favor of the call, but not in that situation. I thought he should have pounded the ball at the left side of the line of scrimmage. We were having success running behind Bakhtiari. Wished he would have called a run to manage the game.

* What was Joe Philbin doing when he called the timeout before the 4th & 10? The crowd was rockin'. The Packers were scrambling after the sack-fumble. We looked unprepared. Philbin bailed us out. I'll be surprised if he's the Fins coach next year.

* Julius Peppers is SO CLOSE to having a multiple sack game.

* So is Mike Neal. Thought it was going to happen last week, but Neal seems to lack the killer instinct when he gets within striking distance. He doesn't drive through the tackler. Especially the QB. He's a bit passive.

* Once again, I thought Letroy Guion played a really nice game. On the goal line stop in the 1st Quarter, I thought Guion was a stud.

* Speaking of the goal line stop, what a play by Morgan Burnett on 4th down!

* Mike Daniels was quiet until the last drive of the game. And, when we needed a stop the most, Daniels was crucial.

* Soon, Clay Matthews is going to make a big play. He has to stay patient. He looks like he's pressing. And, possibly frustrated.

* My, oh my, Brad Jones is awful.

* AJ Hawk isn't tackling anyone is space.

* The fake-spike to Adams was legendary.

* Hyde not only was solid on special teams, but he looked assignment-sure on defense.

* Mike Pennel has to finish the sack.

* Casey Hayward! That was a tremendous interception. He was also more assertive when going to make a tackle.

* Ras Davon with the great break on the ball. But, dude, catch the ball. Elevate. Take your game to the next level.

* Sammy Swagga was disciplined. The interception was pure brilliance. Man, I hope he's OK. Something doesn't feel right about it.

* T-Mon was having a great game prior to the injury. Sure, he gave up the TD, but he was in perfect position. It was a great throw and a nice catch. Give credit where credit is due.

* Eddie Lacy. Yo, man. Hit the hole and go. If your first read isn't there, plant. Look for the cutback. Lower your shoulder. Burst through.

* I'm starting to really like this draft class. It's possible that we've drafted 3 gems. I like HaHa. I love Adams. Linsley looks like he can ball. I'm hopeful Bradford can emerge as a decent ILB and a solid special teams player. I believe that Janis will develop into a noteworthy WR and/or special teams returner. But, at this stage, it's clear that Aaron Rodgers has zero confidence in Richard Rodgers. He doesn't even look towards him. Even when Richard Rodgers is open, he's far from the XLV MVP's mind. And, as a blocker, Richard Rodgers remains useless. He's not even remotely developing. He can't even get in the way. I really hope I'm wrong, but I'll be surprised if Richard Rodgers ever amounts to anything.

* I'd love to see a no-huddle drive with DuJuan Harris as the back. I'd run a screen early in the drive.

* Why can't we figure out our special teams units? Can't make a tackle on a kickoff. Get a punt blocked. Absolutely unacceptable.

* Brandon Bostick should never play on special teams again. He's putrid. With that said, I still believe that we're going to see Bostick used in the next couple of weeks as a receiver. He'll be the target. There'll be a play designed for Bostick as he's either streaking down the seam or running a 15-20 yard crossing route. Wait for it. It'll happen in the next 3 weeks. I am convinced.

* Kevin Dorsey got his shot on kickoff coverage. He looked like he was afraid of contact. Disappointing.

* I said it before, I'll say it again: I believe Jeff Janis will block a punt this year.

* It's worth mentioning: Percy Harvin is out of the NFC!! He's been kryptonite for the Packers. Much like Colin Kaepernick. That's big news!

* A couple of key elements with respect to the Packers getting compensatory picks in next years NFL Draft: Evan Dietrich-Smith has started all 6 games for the Buccaneers this year. In 5 games, CJ Wilson has 10 tackles and 2 sacks. In 5 games, James Jones has 26 catches for 328 yards and 3 TD's. He is on pace for 83 catches, 1050 yards and 10 TD's. Admittedly, while I understand that games started, statistics, post season recognition, and salary are all in the equation, I don't know the exact formula for the distribution of compensatory picks. But, it's worth mentioning that the Packers received a 3rd round pick for Greg Jennings after he had 68 catches, 804 yards and 4 TD's. Last year, Erik Walden finished with 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 45 tackles in 15 games. The Packers received a 5th round pick for Walden. If Dietrich-Smith starts 16 games, Wilson finishes with 5 sacks and Jones continues his pace and production reigns supreme in the compensatory equation; the Packers could finish with a 4th and a 5th as compensatory picks. That'd be exciting! Any way, as I slowly piece together my mock draft, I'm projecting two 5th round picks for the Packers.

This week - it's the Panthers. At Lambeau. In October. In the Throwback uniforms. That sounds festive! Party On, Packer People!

Cam Newton scares me. He could enter Colin Kaepernick territory this weekend. I was hoping for weather in the mid-40's. Instead, we're going to get nice fall weather. A picturesque day at Lambeau. Cloudy. Mid-50's. That calls for Fall football. A brisk air. A hoarse voice. The way Football was meant to be played.

If Kelvin Benjamin plays post his concussion and T-Mon doesn't play due to his injury, that's frightening. Benjamin is a big target that makes plays in traffic. With Sammy Swagga out for the game, it's likely House will have to shadow Benjamin. Casey Hayward will shadow Jerricho Cotchery. I'd expect Hayward to win that battle. J-Bush will muscle against Jason Avant. And, Micah Hyde will follow Greg Olsen. If the Packers try to guard Olsen with either AJ Hawk or Brad Jones, Olsen will explode. I wouldn't mind seeing Lattimore on Olsen, but I don't foresee Lattimore playing this week.

Jonathan Stewart will get the start. But, he's banged up. And, therefore, he doesn't scare me.

I watch a lot of football. I'm not overly familiar with anyone on the Panthers OL. Peppers, Matthews, Daniels, Neal and Perry better have big games.

Carolina's defense is overrated. It's a shell of what it was last year. Charles Johnson can get to the QB. He'll cause problems. Star Lotulelei is legit. Other than that, they have mediocre talent in Kawann Short, Dwan Edwards, Wes Horton and Kony Ealy. Don't get me wrong, I like Short and Ealy, but neither is ready to elevate to the next level. Maybe in time, but not at Lambeau this Sunday. Also, if Colin Cole sees significant playing time, the Packers better run right at him.

The middle of the Panthers defense is entertaining. Thomas Davis has stood the test of time. He's fought through injury. He still brings intensity. Luke Kuechly is arguably the best ILB in the league. He's dominant. He intimidates. He can do it all. AJ Klein intrigues. I was interested in him coming out of college last year. He's a try hard player who finds the football.

The Carolina secondary can be had. Antoine Cason, Josh Norman, Roman Harper, Thomas DeCoud, and Bene Benwikere are all interesting names. None are stars. I liked Benwikere coming out of college this year. He might be able to fight with Cobb for a bit, but he cannot battle him for 60 minutes. Neither Cason nor Norman has the size or muscle to fight Nelson. Both will also struggle with Adams as well. Roman Harper is old. Thomas DeCoud is just a guy.

I'd have Clay play ILB. I'd have him shadow Cam. I'd have Perry, Neal, Elliot and Peppers rotate on the outside to keep legs fresh. But, Clay would play every down. He'd shadow Cam. He wouldn't let Cam get loose. If Clay plays OLB, which I anticipate he will, it'll be crucial for Clay to stay patient. Especially on the read-option. We cannot let Cam get loose. The Panther will use a bunch of play-action. The Packers will have to stay disciplined. It won't be easy. But, if we're assignment sure, Cam will give the Packers opportunities to make plays.

Early in the game, the Packers establish the run. Lacy pounds away for chunks of yards. McCarthy lines the Packers up with 3-wide. He runs the ball with Lacy. Then, it's play action. And, a big ball. It goes to Nelson. It's a TD.

HaHa grabs a pick. The Lambeau Faithful elevates.

Lacy grabs more yardage. "EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE" echoes through the most hallowed of theaters in American sports.

The Packers grab an early lead. Cam loses patience. His body language looks defeated. He throws another pick. This time to Hayward.

Packers 27
Panthers 16

I'm way behind on my studying of Draft Prospects for next year. I've been working too many 12-15 hour days. With that said, here's a list of players that have jumped out at me so far: Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri; Kevin White, WR, WVU; Denzel Perryman, ILB, []_[]; Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky; Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State; Rashad Greene, WR, FSU; Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State; Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan; Cody Prewitt, S, Ole Miss; Justin Hardy, WR, ECU; Trey Flowers, OLB/DE, Arkansas; Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss.

I'll have a Mock Draft out in the next couple of weeks. I plan on spending time to get caught up.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Take -> Week 6

Greetings, G-Force.

Two wins. 5 days. Both against our most heated NFC NORTH rivals. That's cause for two different beer treats. Russian River's Temptation and the Crooked Stave Mama Bear's Sour Cherry Pie will treat me swell.

Here are my quick hits from the last week:

* Single back. The XLV MVP under center. Eddie Lacy as the back. A Packers fans delight. Stick with it, Mike McCarthy.

* Tim Masthay! The Packers were playing a beat-up, defeated Viqueens team. Early in the game, field position was crucial. Masthay was rock solid. Constantly dropping kicks inside the 20. This allowed the Packers defense to play with speed, intensity and confidence. Christian Ponder wasn't going to engineer 85 yard TD drives.

* That's the Letroy Guion that I thought the Packers had signed.

* Mike Daniels was dominant. A bull. Completely overpowering.

* That might have been the best game of Morgan Burnett's career. Statistically, he may have had better games, but he was a commander. He saw the field well. He wax a firm tackler. Loved the 3rd down play in the 1st Quarter when he read the crossing route, took the proper angle and made the tackle short of the first down. You set the bar, Morgan. Live up to it.

* JULIUS PEPPERS! AMAZING! Loved his post game interview on the NFL Network. Great work by the fans as they yelled, "THE BEARS STILL SUCK!" Peppers didn't acknowledge it. But, he embraced it. Guaranteed!

* Jamari Lattimore! Playing with brilliance. He'll have a Pick-6 this year. Maybe this week.

* I enjoy an active Clay Matthews. Hope that groin is fully rested.

* Hope Datone Jones is healing. Don't want the injury to be a season long thing.

* Luther Robinson with the crucial play on the Peppers Pick-6!

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! I heard the chants. That means the weather is turning.

* Great game, Josh Sitton.

* Don't be shocked if Jeff Janis blocks a punt this year. With Kevin Dorsey's promotion from the Practice Squad, he, too, will be a threat to block a punt.

* Sean Richardson is playing well on special teams.

* I'd like to see Jeff Janis on the reverse.

* Congratulations, Davante Adams! Nice slant route. Epic 1st career TD.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! The Green & Yellow Bumblebee! He was stinging defenders. Running with confidence! Looking for contact.

* Liked seeing James Starks get the corner.

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. The 66-yard TD pass to Rodgers was design. It was creativity from the play-calling shed. I also loved the play-action pass on 1st and 10, up 14-0 in the 1st Quarter. McCarthy went for the dagger. Rodgers barely under threw Nelson or else it'd have been a 51-yard TD.

* Aaron Rodgers. Yes, Aaron, I can R-E-L-A-X! He's an MVP candidate.

* Randall Cobb has become a lethal Red Zone target. I'm still not sold on him as an elite slot receiver, but he's among the best in the Red Zone.

* I'm still looking for a time when the Packers go no-huddle with DuJuan Harris. Would love to see him on the screen. Might happen this week.

* The short down-and-out to AQ81 is a first down every time, it seems.

* While I'm not a huge Brandon Bostick fan, I'm confident that the Packers are saving him for something. There'll be a game soon that he gets at least 3 targets. Much like Finley in '09 at Minnesota and AQ81 vs Minnesota at Lambeau in '10. It'll happen soon. My guess is that we will see Bostick running down the seam against the Bears after the bye. But, it might happen in New Orleans as it'd give the Bears something else to plan for. Bostick is soft. But, he is a downfield threat, when healthy.

* David Bakhtiari has been elite two weeks in a row.

* Jordy Nelson. FOREVER!

* TJ Lang is fun to have in Green & Gold.

* I wouldn't have guessed it, but Corey Linsley might be the best Packers draft pick from this years class.

* Bryan Bulaga looks like a man who wants to get paid.

* Richard Rodgers confuses me. He's so big, but he has absolutely no idea how to win the leverage battle. Mike Daniels should talk to him about it. If Rodgers can master this art, he might become an average blocker. He genuinely looks like he wants to block. He simply plays too tall instead of maximizing both his length and his frame.

* J-Bush is very quietly having a really nice year on special teams.

* It's not saying much, but it was the best we've seen Casey Hayward play since 2012. Good to see him smiling.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! It worked last week, so I'll offer my pep talk, once again. In my best form of patois, here you are, Eddie: Galang Sponji, Eddie! Ju be Bumblebee on dem would-be tacklers. If so, everything will be cook & curry. Mek We Dweet!

* Jeff Janis is in the box score!

* Mike Pennel was giving effort.

* AJ Hawk was hitting like he meant.

* Liked HaHa on the blitz.

* There was a Nick Perry sighting. In a big way.

* Still love the way Dom Capers is rotating defenders. Keeping legs fresh. Utilizing depth. He'll need to do the same in the sweltering Miami heat.

* Mike Neal might only have 1 sack this year, but he'll have a 2-sack game soon. He's active. He's pursuant. He'll find fortune.

* 6 sacks. 16 QB Hits. 3 turnovers. 1 TD. WOW!

* I really feel like the internal competition at ILB & S are pushing Lattimore and Burnett to stretch their talent lengths. It'll be interesting to see how they perform as the season continues to evolve.

* On the year, the defense has 12 sacks and 10 turnovers. I'm hoping for a 40/40 season.

* If you haven't watched the Alshon Jeffrey SoundFX clip from the Packers v Bears game, get after it. He refers to Rodgers as "Houdini" and it's beyond sublime.

* Kurtis Drummond, FS, Michigan State is a name to watch in college football. Cody Prewitt, FS, Ole Miss also intrigues, but he's a 3rd round prospect. I was bummed when I saw analysts had Kevin White, WR, WVU as a 2nd round prospect. When they had the Dub-V WR as a 7th round prospect before the year, I knew they were crazy. I'd be stoked if he was in Green Bay.

I lived in Miami for 8 years. I haven't been back in nearly 4 years. I've been saving it for this weekend. Brotherman Vargas & I are heading to SoBe to Rebel Rock at Joe Robbie...I mean Landshark...I mean Dolphin... I mean Sun Life Stadium. A visit to Sun Life reminds me just how precious it is that I'm a Packers fan. I love how the Packers have consistently renovated Lambeau Field. We've preserved our History. The blood of Starr, Hornung, Nitschke, Dickey, Lofton, Sharpe, Majik, Favre, Butler, Rodgers, Woodson and Matthews is all in the same land. So is the snot of Lombardi, Holmgen, and McCarthy. The same should have held true at the Orange Bowl. The OB was legendary. Fully historic. Ghosts of Football Stallions echoed thru the Stadium. The Palm Trees waved harmoniously in favor of both the Dolphins and da []_[]. I loved the Orange Bowl. I miss the Orange Bowl. For me, a large piece of Miami died when the Orange Bowl was knocked down.

Miami has a special place for me. My cell phone will always be my 305 are code. My first dog was named Clayton. After Mark Clayton, who is one of three players to catch a TD pass from both Marino & Favre. The others? Mark Ingram & Keith Jackson.

But, this week, I have no love. The Packers are going to show the Dolphins what real Swagga looks like. It's a statement game. Win this week and 5 of the next 7 are at Lambeau. In order for the Packers to get a first round bye, we have to go 8-0 at home and 4-4 on the road. 12-4 should do the trick. Well, this HAS to be 1 of the 4. It won't be easy.

The Packers face Joe Philbin. He knows us. We know him. It'll be unbelievably hot. With 30% chance of rain, it'll be ridiculously humid.

I wasn't high on Ryan Tannehill coming out of college. I still don't think highly of him. If you attack him with upfield rushes and keep him in the pocket, he panics. Look for Peppers, Matthews, Elliot, Neal and Perry to not let Tannehill outside. With Daniels pushing forward, look out!

The 'Phins miss Mike Pouncey. They better hope plays this week or else trouble will ensue. I anticipate that Pouncey will play.Especially if Samson Satele cannot play. They're vulnerable up the middle. Daryn Colledge and Shelley Smith will try to block Mike Daniels. If Daniels is hydrated, that'll be comical. I hear Smith might start over has Dallas Thomas, who has been awful. If either Samson Satele or Pouncey plays, they'll need to double on Daniels. All day. I'd like to see Datone Jones against this interior, but my guess is that Jones will be sidelined. I imagine that Josh Boyd's feisty pizzazz will be problematic for the Dolphins interior as well. Guion is in line for an opportunity to have another big game. Luther Robinson will be active, at home in Miami, and hungry to make an impact.

Branden Albert is a star at LT. Ja'Wuan James is a rookie. He played in the SEC, so he's used to playing against elite talent. But, he's never seen Julius Peppers before. Go get him, JP!

The Dolphins weapons are simple. Stick Sammy Swagga on Wallace. Don't let him get deep. No biting on double moves. Single coverage. Brian Hartline is a possession receiver. Stick T-Mon on him. Tell him to be aggressive. Jump routes. Give him help over the top in case of a double move. Philbin WILL test both CB's with double moves. He knows them too well. So, tell Sammy to be disciplined is his homecoming. Tell T-Mon to make the big play. Give T-Mon help, in case it's necessary. Hartline is a solid, underrated receiver who runs great routes. Brandon Gibson is a decent slot WR, but I fancy Hayward can have his way with him. I believe in Jarvis Landry. He has a bright future, but Davon House matches up well with him on the outside and T-Mon matches up well with him on the inside. Richard Matthews is also a noteworthy WR who can be tricky to defend. Dom will undoubtedly be watching like a hawk as to who the Dolphins are putting on the field. He will play the match-up game.

On 3rd down, watch Charles Clay. It wouldn't surprise me if Clay catches 5-7 balls. Philbin will get Clay open in the flat. I'd have Lattimore or Burnett and not AJ Hawk on Clay. They match-up better. Dion Sims better not do damage.

Lamar Miller can be lethal. He has breakaway speed. He's dangerous. He must be contained. Know shown Moreno is expected to be back. He'll be a solid change of pace back, who offers great versatility.

Defensively, the Dolphins can get to the QB. Cameron Wake scares me. Olivier Vernon can flat out ball. Randy Starks is legit. Jared Odrick plays with conviction. Philip Wheeler can run. Jelani Jenkins has been a better player than his college teammate, Bears LB, Jon Bostic. Koa Misi hasn't become the player I thought he might become. I wanted Louis Delmas. He loves to play GB. He can hit. Cortland Finnegan is a pest. Although Brent Grimes is still licking the wounds James Jones gave him in January of 2011, he has a nose for the big play. Jimmy Wilson has tackled well, but he'll be exposed.

It's big that Dion Jordan and Derrick Shelby won't be playing. The Dolphins depth is thin. Look for McCarthy to incorporate the run game early to preserve the defense and to tire the Miami front. The Miami rotation is light upfront.

Single back. 3 wide. Lacy. BOOM!

Single back. 3 wide. Play action to Adams on the pump fake for a big one. McCarthy wants this game. He has elite respect for Philbin. Philbin wants go beat his former mates. Badly. McCarthy has been saving an Adams double move. It comes this week. Adams shows the slant. Hungry for the big play, Grimes bites. Adams carries on deep. Rodgers hits him in stride. Adams has a TD.

Multiple times over the last 4 weeks, we've seen Adams on the slant. This week, that slant is a double move and a big play. Watch it.

Annoyingly, the Dolphins keep this thing close. They chip away with multiple 3-4 yard plays that sustain drives. They milk clock. They test our endurance. Capers fights fatigue with multiple substitutions. Again, we see confusion and wasted timeouts as the Packers struggle to find the right personnel defensively.

Once again, the Packers struggle on 3rd down as Wake and Vernon collapse the pocket.

But, a big Tannehill mistake occurs. The Packers take advantage as Rodgers and Nelson strike.

The Dolphins score late to make the score close. The Packers recover the onside kick.

Packers 27
Dolphins 23

To the many Packers fans that'll be in attendance, be careful. Dol-fans can pester. Intentionally. Smile. Acknowledge. Carry On. No need to respond. From my experiences, they're seeking a fight. More so than they do in Chicago and New York where the fans are more or less being loud to intimidate. Dol-fans will swing. Aggressively. Be smart. Enjoy. Let's own Sun Life Stadium this Sunday!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

My Take -> Week 5

Greetings, G-Force.

Trump card lives. It reigns supreme. In glorious fashion.

Sometimes, silence is the loudest noise. The pre-game walk down Lake Shore Drive was entertaining. Beautiful energy in the air. A Great Lake fog raged thru the sky. It felt like a good day was ahead.

As we walked into the Stadium, the Bears fans were spitting fire. Confident. In their minds, this was the year the Bears were taking down the Packers at Soldier Field. The opening drive elaborated those thoughts. "BLOW PACKERS BLOW!" "FUDGE PACKERS!" "SLICED CHEESE!" Yeah, that's what was being yelled into the air. It was loud. It was emphatic.

In 2000, I was at Soldier Field with my old friend, Center. Midway thru the 4th Quarter, he yelled, "Hey Soldier! Half the Stadium is Packers fans. And, half the Stadium is empty!" Well, on Sunday, for the last 10 minutes of the game, he could've yelled, 'Hey Soldier! 1/4 of the Stadium is Packers fans, 1/4 of the Stadium is Bears fans and the other half is empty!' Dominance. Authoritative.

My Dad was in pure disbelief as to how quickly the fans were leaving in masses. With more than 13 minutes left, Bears fans were sprinting for the exits. Bears fans were silent. Instead, "GO PACK GO!" rang loudly. On repeat.

After the game, as my Dad & I were walking out of the Stadium, we were called "Fuckers." My Dad replied with "thanks." We weren't saying a word to anyone. Simply walking with each other. Embracing the silence that echoed loudly as Bears fans suffered thru another afternoon of rooting for Ray Nutler. Stay classy, Bears fans.

As we walked from the Stadium to Navy Pier, the loudest noise was the sounds of the Lake Michigan waves crashing. Bears fans were silent. Packers fans listened to their leader. We were living 5 letters: R-E-L-A-X.


Here are some quick vibes from the last week:

* Yes, XLV MVP, I am relaxed. Thanks for calming me. In MVP form.

* Great break on the ball, T-Mon. It should be noted that in the two Packers wins this year, T-Mon has made the game changing play. It's also noteworthy that I've been in attendance for the two wins.

* So stoked that McCarthy gave the game to Rodgers. Well coached. Good creativity. Solid design. Showed looks we haven't seen before. Offered confusion. Was surprised to see Lacy lined up as a WR. Saw Cobb lined up out wide in 2 WR formations.

* The design on Cobb's first TD was pure brilliance. Nelson in the slot. 3 receivers to the right. AQ81 wide to the right. Single coverage on Cobb and AQ81. I called a quick out to Cobb for a first down. Instead, it was a wheel route for 6. Gold!

* Loved Sammy Swagga in gazelle mode as he was sprinting past potential tacklers. Sammy Swagga has dropped the hammer at Soldier. He's clinched the Trump Card game with a pick. He sealed the NFC NORTH title with a pick last year. And, he danced all over Soldier for 62 yards in the victory this past Sunday.


* The T-Mon block on the Sammy Swagga interception was magnificent!

* It was another day in the park for Randall Cobb at Soldier Field.

* Ray Nutler makes me smile.

* While HaHa's speed is inconsistent; when he hits you, he means it. Big tackle on Bennett at the 1!

* Clay Matthews didn't look healthy on that interception. I expected that to be a TD!

* Julius Peppers was in position. He couldn't finish the play. On multiple occasions. He, too, looked hobbled. Seemed to be walking gingerly.

* For years, I heard Bears fans hate on the Cheesehead. For the record, I've never worn a Cheesehead. But, on Sunday, I saw more "Grater Heads" than I've ever seen Cheeseheads at a stadium. Yes, the Bears fans are rocking Foam Cheese Graters. In high quantities. I'm fairly confident that the only things they were 'shredded' on Sunday were their own fans, Ray Nutler, and Mel Tucker.

* On Sunday, I saw multiple Bears fans fighting each other in the stands. Like full-on meltdown mode. It was both terrifying and comical.

* On Sunday, I heard multiple Bears fans shouting vulgarities and obscenities towards Ray Nutler. I could only laugh.

* Jordy Nelson tossing Kyle Fuller to the turf with his stiff arm was straight comedy. Welcome to the Greatest Rivalry in Sports, Rookie.

* Jamari Lattimore be hip-boogie on Soldier Field. Dude has shake when he dances.


* Morgan Burnett flexes on Soldier Field. Chicago, seriously. Morgan Burnett was flexing on you in the 4th Quarter. For Bear fans, seriously, that's rock bottom. Full on ugly.

* Datone Jones goes Jared Allen lasso on Soldier Field. Yes, Chicago, Datone Jones was rubbing salt. Feel the pain.

* Eddie Lacy lacks confidence. He's not seeing the field well. He's not lowering his shoulder. He's not attacking contact. He's looking for the big play rather than punishing forward with confidence to get positive yardage.

* In my best form of patois, I offer this Lacy this pep talk: Galang Sponji, Eddie! Ju be Bumblebee on dem would-be tacklers. If so, everything will be cook & curry. Mek We Dweet!

* Micah Hyde has to be better than he was in Chicago. He wasn't turning to see the ball. He wasn't making tackles. He looked lost. He looked dazed. He looked confused.

* Not sure what's up with Casey Hayward? But, ShowCase used to be a willing tackler. Not a physical guy, but he'd at least show his nose on a tackling attempt. Now, he's afraid. He's overly soft.


* Jayrone Elliot with an appearance and a nice tackle. Kid is on the board. Liked his length on the field. Looked pedestrian. But, got rid of the kinks. And, hopefully the nerves are gone.

* Mike Pennel saw the field! And, then he was pushed backwards. Pennel did have a tackle and an assist.

* Letroy Guion is far from the player that I thought he was. Awful.

* J-Bush is running with belief in himself!


* Richard Rodgers is on the board! And, he was running free a couple of times in the 2nd Quarter. He improvised well on broken plays. He's still a terrible blocker.

* David Bakhtiari was spectacular. So was Bulaga. And TJ Lang. Sitton as well. I'm also really liking Linsley's evolution.

* Davante Adams has a solid future.

* A lot of talk that Starks needs to see the ball. I agree, but it would also be nice to see DuJuan Harris in the hurry-up one time.

* A lot of tackles for AJ Hawk. All of them multiple yards downfield.

* Nick Perry looks like he's carrying sand bags as he runs. Lacking intensity. Looks defeated.

* I used to be a huge stats fan. For the most part, I've grown out of stats nerdism. Not fully. But, mostly. Largely, it's because of games like this. The Bears had the ball for more than 36 minutes. The Bears rushed for 235 yards, while the Packers rushed for 56. The Bears were successful on 63% of 3rd downs. The Bears were successful 50% of the time. Nutler threw for 256. Rodgers threw for 302. Smells like a Bears win, right? Yeah, except they had Nutler throwing 2 picks. 38-17. The Packers stomped the Bears in their own crib.

* I'm not sure what else Dom Capers could've done. He played everyone. He came on a variety of blitzes. He used a number of different schemes and alignments. We simply couldn't win 1 on 1 match-ups.

* I really wish T-mon had held on for the defense's third interception of the day.

* Need more consistency from Mike Daniels.


This week - it's the Viqueens. On a short week. It'll wrap up 3 games in 12 days. All against the NFC NORTH. Two of them on the road. A 2-1 record in these 3 games would be a success. We need this one. Badly.

The 'queens have talent. A lot of it. I've been watching Teddy Bridgewater since he was in high school. I went to see him play under the lights on Friday Night. Twice. He's always been able to run. He's always seen the field well. He's always made big plays on 3rd down. He's elusive with his feet. But, you can frustrate him. Chip away at him. Get in his head. He will occasionally lose both composure and confidence. As a defender, you have to talk to him.

The 'queens have weapons at WR in Cordarralle Patterson, Greg Jennings, and Jarius Wright. At TE, they'll be without Kyle Rudolph. Rhett Ellison will take his place and he's a significant downgrade. Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon are a sound 1-2 punch at RB. Not household names, but Asiata is the type of back that has long given the Packers headaches.

The 'queens have big investments at Tackle in Phil Loadholdt and Matt Kalil. John Sullivan has been a staple at Guard. Vlad Ducasse and Charlie Johnson are potentially weak links on the OL, but they'll be battling an area of struggle for the Packers in 2014. So, don't be shocked if we see a lot of Matt Asiata pounding between the tackles. Right at the mouth go the Packers defense. Eating clock. Keeping Rodgers off the field.

Defensively, Minnesota has some stars as well. Harrison Smith shocks me. I didn't think much of him coming out of college. Now, he's an elite Safety. Captain Munnerlyn was a nice pick-up. Xavier Rhodes has developed well over the last year and matches up well with Jordy. Josh Robinson isn't a star nickel back, but he's OK and Robert Blanton can be attacked with a worthwhile receiver. It might be wise to get AQ81 involved early in the game.

The 'queens don't have great depth on the DL, but they have a talented front 4. Robison and Griffen have given the Packers fits with their tireless pursuit. Sharrif Floyd is big and still finding himself at the pro level, but he's a force. Linval Joseph is strong. He's brute. He punished us as a NYG last year. Minnesota will also be playing without Chad Greenway, but they do have great talent in Anthony Barr. Barr will soon be a household name for NFL fans. I don't like having him in the Division.

Special teams could play a role in this game. Patterson and Marcus Sherels are both dangerous returners for the 'queens.

I don't like Thursday games. I'd be furious if I rooted of Minnesota. Bridgewater is supposed to play on a bum ankle on 3 days rest? In temperatures that are likely to be in the high 50's. With rain. And wind. If this was Sunday, it's no worries. That's fall football in the Midwest! But give the players a chance to heal during the week, so we can get the teams best performance. Minnesota has a big decision to make on Thursday Night.

Both teams are 2-2. It's a monster game for both teams in what his sure to be tough competition for the NFC NORTH crown. The weather levels the playing field. It'll demand toughness. The more physical team will win.

Minnesota will pound Asiata at us. McKinnon will get his opportunities as well, but I don't imagine the turf will be ideal for his scat back ways. Instead, it's Asiata in bunches. Coupled with short routes to Patterson. And reverses to Patterson. They'll send Patterson in motion on multiple occasions. Drawing attention away from the pound it away attack that they'll implore much of the night. They'll try Wright on short routes out of the slot. We see Casey Hayward show up as a solid match-up against Wright. And, for the first time in 2 years, Hayward makes a big play. T-Mon muscles against Jennings. Sammy Swagga runs with Patterson. The Packers keep a Safety over the top on Patterson.

Lacy heeds my pep talk. He runs with might. He bullies forward. Edgar Bennett gives him a 'mudder' discussion. Finally, Lacy gets going in 2014. Then, there's a screen to Starks who slashes forward and pounds into Blanton for a first down. It's Nelson delivering a stiff arm as he jabs forward for yardage. Davante Adams grabs his first TD.

Its October in Titletown, U.S.A. It's sloppy. It's a win.

Packers 23
Viqueens 16


Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.